man holding his grifriends hand and looking at another woman

Why you choose romantic partners who’re similar to you

Dating can be an emotional maze which baffles us as we go through the cycle of break-ups and finding new partners.

We often wonder why we choose who we do, especially when we get introspective and seek out common aspects between our past and present partners.

Well, a study from the University of California confirmed that we date similar people – similar physically and personality wise.

Apparently people have a ‘type’ of person they always select which either reflects personal desirability and sometimes it reflects where the person lives.

This study comprises of three different studies based on evolutionary psychology (Study 1), sociology (Study 2), and close relationships (Study 3), which investigated a dataset of 1000 past and present heterosexual relationships. Information regarding ideal partner preference and perception of partner’s traits were collected through voluntary live interviews and social media sites, culminating in 2014.

In this study the researchers calculated the extent to which the past and present partners of a focal person (the person who dated all of the partners) cluster on various measures.

Apparently people have a ‘type’ of person they always select which either reflects personal desirability and sometimes it reflects where the person lives.

In one of the studies, researchers found that people’s past partners have similar physical qualities even when partners were short-term or in a casual relationship and that during the selection process people may have difficulty in differentiating between a short-term and casual relationship and a long-term committed one.

Intelligence and educational level were other attributes which played a major role in selection but this clustering, according to the study,  was largely due to where were people went to school or the field that they worked in.

This was based on study 2 which examined qualities which were self-reported by ex- romantic partners themselves in a demographically diverse sample. The exes of a particular person tended to be similar on various variables such as education, religiosity and intelligence.

Researchers say that for such qualities which depend on where people live (like education and religion), similarities emerge because educated and religious people tend to meet each other and not because they actively seek out each other.

For qualities which are observable such as attractiveness and masculinity, similarities emerged because attractive people seduce other attractive people.

This study is different from other similar research on relationships as it looks at people’s relationships over time and not just one committed relationship.

Now you know why your ex romantic partner is so similar to the previous one and why you are most likely to select someone similar again.

Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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