Siblings or Dating? The wild reason some couples look alike
About a month into our relationship, my girlfriend and I attended an opening night show together.
Since we were both dressed up for the occasion, I suggested we take a quick photo on the red carpet. It was the first time we took a picture as a couple.
She put her arm around me and we smiled awkwardly as a friend fired a few snaps at my phone before handing it back and apologizing for not being able to get the flash to work.
As we were ushered into the theater, I scrolled through the shots.
The lighting was terrible and neither of us were looking at the camera, but there was something undeniably satisfying about our aesthetic – a kind of elusive synergy.
“Is it just me, or do we look really good together?” I asked a friend a few days later, smugly shoving my phone at her.
“Wow. You really do. You guys totally complement each other,” she ignited.
My observation was obviously biased – most couples would claim they look great together – but there’s a section of people who we all agree are eerily good with their partners… almost cosmically made for each other.
It’s hard to put your finger on whether it’s a compatible energy thing, similar dress sense, or physical resemblance, but you’ll know when you see it.
Science has many theories as to why this happens, but one of the most popular explanations is a phenomenon called “the familiarity effect,” which is based on the fact that we tend to develop a preference for things that feel familiar to us.
This is thought to be because the more we are exposed to something (such as our own reflection), the easier and therefore more pleasant it becomes for our brain to process it.
In a study published in the journal Perception, people were asked to rate the attractiveness of images of different faces, some of which had been edited with features they were familiar with.
Not only did participants consistently give higher attractiveness scores to familiar faces, but they also reported finding less familiar faces more attractive after seeing them repeatedly. This may also shed light on why someone we find cute on a first date can become insatiably sexy as we continue to see them.
There is also another, stranger reason for this.
Research shows that couples literally start to resemble each other if they have been together for a long time. And this happens even if they don’t look the same at first.
An article published in PLOS One who examined photos of people early in their marriage, and then 25 years later, found that most of the spouses in the later photos began to look alike.
It’s a surprisingly common occurrence among couples who’ve been together for years, and it’s probably the result of something called empathic mimicry, which happens when people who share a strong bond — and consequently experience greater levels of empathy for each other — mirror each other. expressions of others, causing them to develop similar facial musculature over time.
For some couples, this doppelgänger effect is so pronounced that you would think they shared the same genes. You just need to look at Instagram pages like @SiblingsOrDating or TikToks with the same hashtag and ask users to guess if two people are related or romantically involved.
There are also deeply creepy theories, such as the Freudian suggestion that we subconsciously seek mates who remind us of parental figures (one study even found that heterosexual people rated photos of potential mates as more attractive when a photo of their opposite-sex parent quickly passed over). screen first).
It is still unclear why we are attracted to people who complement us physically or are similar to us. And frankly, I’m not sure we should take the romance out of all this with science.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that my girlfriend and I look really, really good together.