Thursday 20 June 2019

Looking for love? Rule No1: Opposites don't attract. . .

Library Image.
Library Image.

John Costello

Scientists hold the keys to love, writes John Costello on new book, The Science of Relationships

Would you date your daddy? Or consider matrimony with your mam? The thought might make us retch, but boffins believe we are pre-programmed to marry our parents.

This is just one of the revelations in The Science of Relationships, a book that seeks to solve conundrums surrounding the game of love.

"Scientific research has proven that people tend to be attracted to characteristics found in their parents," says Dr Jennifer Harman, Colorado State University psychology professor. "They are comfortable with the characteristics and the dynamic of their parents' relationship, which they find normal."

The book draws on scientific studies in an attempt to answer questions such how best to go about finding the perfect partner.

"We really are studying the motives behind why people do things in relationships," says Dr Harman, who is a contributing editor of The Science of Relationships.

'By doing studies and surveys we can test if certain patterns of behaviour in old wives' tales are true. Things like 'birds of a feather flock together' and 'opposites attract'."

But while the study confirmed that women are drawn to husbands like their fathers, it found little proof that opposites do attract.

"Most people like to be involved with people that have the same outlook and values," says Dr Harman. "So the research shows that opposites don't attract very much. And when opposites do attract most of the time people will find that while at the beginning they may have believed they were different, over time they find they have a lot in common."

Other helpful hints when it comes to the game of love include the fact that men actually prefer a three-to-two hip-to-waist ratio rather than rake-thin models. This is a sign of fertility and health. But beer bellies and love handles are a no-no for women who prefer their beaus to have a one-to-one ratio.

Women also find certain characteristics more appealing during different phases of their fertility cycle.

When they are at their most fertile they find more masculine traits attractive, while when they are not ovulating they find feminine traits more appealing.

"We give a lot of information on physical attraction and what makes someone attractive to other people," says Dr Harman.

"There are things you can work on to make yourself more attractive. Women can improve their facial symmetry by using make-up.

"Another example is how men can part their hair a little differently to make their face a little more balanced."

But when it comes to walking up the aisle with your soul mate scientists believe it could be a case of being careful what you wish for, as married couples lose the spark after tying the knot.

However, we can all help revitalise our relationships with fresh experiences as a buffer against boredom.

With the scientists behind the book trying to put the kybosh on clichés by using science to answer the many questions surrounding romance, they all agree the game of love is more complex than ever.

'Online dating has changed the amount of information people have before they even interact with someone," says Dr Harman. "They usually can see a photograph and have a certain amount of personal information that if you just met someone at a bar you would not have.

"The access to people means it can be harder to commit, because there are so many people available.

"The impact on dating is that people don't tend to jump into relationships as quickly."

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Irish Independent

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