Are We Attracted to People Who Look Like Our Parents?

It's more of a myth that we're drawn to people who look like our parents, a study says – but these five other qualities are definitely worth considering.

A black couple cuddling holding a heart

Have you ever heard that people are naturally attracted to those who look like their parents?

Chances are you have. It’s a commonly held belief, sources say, but it turns out there’s little – if any – science to the idea.

The issue was highlighted in an article in Scientific American, bringing light to the original studies that suggested the idea and how the scientific data doesn’t actually support it. That original research includes a 2002-era Scottish study that also was published in the New Scientist under the headline “Like Father Like Husband”.”

“Upon closer examination of the study, the interpretation that was offered by scientists and in the piece in New Scientist seems questionable,” the author of the newer article writes.

While research does show that we have a general preference for familiar things, this doesn’t always relate to likeness to a parent, the article notes.

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With that in mind, what do people naturally seek out in a partner? The Scientific American article points out that key factors include youthfulness and health, and non-physical similarities like a comparable value system and worldview.

These aren’t necessarily what’s bestin a partner. The research on that is mixed, as you might expect, but Psychology Today offers some insight. What bubbles to the top as the most important qualities in a partner? Here are the top five.

  • Kindness, loyalty and understanding
  • Similarity
  • Conscientiousness
  • Emotional stability
  • The belief that relationships take work

For many parents, of course, partner choice is a thing of the past – and the focus now is all about maintaining a healthy relationship with co-parenting kids. Consider these ingredients for a healthy marriage, and also keep in mind that there are things you can do to make your marriage stronger.

Some of the most important things you can do include recommitting yourself to your marriage daily, verbalizing your appreciation for your spouse and acknowledging “the little things.” Another key tip is to stop trying to “fix” your partner.

Most of all, know that it’s an ongoing journey that requires time and dedication, author Todd Patkin told Metro Parent.

“Don’t let your enthusiasm for working on your relationship be short-lived,” Patkin says. “Start by remembering what you said you’d do when you made your vows: Love your spouse. Honor her (or him). Cherish her. Comfort her. Remain faithful to her.

“And do these things in good times and bad, in sickness and in health – every day.”

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