Love is mysterious, but it's probably not destiny.
According to the research, your hormones, interests, and upbringing all help determine who you fall for — and who falls for you.
Since your partner plays a significant role in your long-termhealth, happiness, and even your career prospects, we've scoured the studies and collected some of the psychological reasons two people click.
If you're really, really alike
Decades of studies have shown that the cliché that "opposites attract" is totally off.
"Partners who are similar in broad dispositions, like personality, are more likely to feel the same way in their day-to-day lives," said Gian Gonzaga, lead author of a study of couples who met on eHarmony. "This may make it easier for partners to understand each other."
If you look like their opposite-sex parent
University of St. Andrews psychologist David Perrett and his colleagues found that some people are attracted to folks with the same hair and eye colour of their opposite-sex parents, as well as the age range they saw at birth.
"We found that women born to 'old' parents (over 30) were less impressed by youth, and more attracted to age cues in male faces than women with 'young' parents (under 30)," the authors wrote. "For men, preferences for female faces were influenced by their mother's age and not their father's age, but only for long-term relationships."
If you smell right
A University of Southern California study of women who were ovulating suggested that some prefer the smell of T-shirts worn by men with high levels of testosterone.
This matched with other hormone-based instincts: Some women also preferred men with a strong jaw line when they were ovulating.
Love and sex news: in pictures
Love and sex news: in pictures
1/13 Timetable of Love
A new study has revealed that Sunday at 9am is the most popular time of the week for Brits to get busy in the bedroom. Our weekends tend to be a lot sexier than our weekdays, with three of the top five most common times for sex falling on a Saturday, at 11.30am, 10.30pm and 11.30pm
2/13 Singletons judge potential partners on their phones, says new study
A new study has found that women are 92 per cent more likely than men to judge a potential partner negatively for having an older phone model.
3/13 Online dating risk
A new report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found that last year, singles were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and apps. Con artists are increasingly creating fake online profiles and tricking people on dating sites into handing over often large sums of money.
4/13 Sainsbury’s sells same sex valentine’s day cards for first time
For the first time, Sainsbury’s is selling a range of Valentine’s Day cards that represent same-sex couples. The simple designs feature illustrations of a woman and a woman, and a man and a man, with the caption ‘You + Me.’
5/13 Mother's blood pressure before conception could influence sex of child, study suggests
Pregnant woman measures the blood pressure with automatic sphygmomanometer.
6/13 Couples oversharing on social media do so to mask relationship insecurities, expert suggests
Couple sitting on couch with their phones in their hand
7/13 Injection of ‘romantic’ hormone could help treat psychosexual problems
8/13 One in ten British women experience pain during
9/13 Erectile dysfunction 'linked to risk of early death'
Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) are 70 per cent more likely to die early, a new study has found. US scientists believe that the disorder may be linked to poor cardiovascular health, and suggested that men with ED should be screened for health issues that could cut their lives short
10/13 Watching porn does not cause negative attitudes to women
The average porn user may have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users, a contentious new study has suggested. Researchers at Western University in Canada have even argued that many pornography fans might be “useful allies” in women’s struggles for equality in the workplace and in public office. They reported in the Journal of Sex Research that the 23 per cent of people who said they had watched an “X-rated” film during the previous year were no more or less likely to identify as feminists than those who did not watch porn.
11/13 The characteristics of men who pay for sex
Men who pay for sex share similar traits to rapists and sex offenders, according to new research. A study from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), claims that men who have sex with female sex workers feel less empathy for them than men who do not buy sex. Part of this reason is due to the fact that they view them as "intrinsically different from other women,” according to the authors.
12/13 Heartbreak can actually change the rhythm of your heart
Losing a loved one really can break your heart, research suggests, although not for ever. People who lose a partner are at an increased risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for the next 12 months, scientists found. The risk seems to be greatest among the under 60s and when the loss of the partner was least expected
13/13 'Weird' sexual fetishes are actually very normal
A number of sexual fetishes considered anomalous in psychiatry are actually common in the general population, a study has found. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), sexual interests fall into two categories: normal (normophilic) and anomalous (paraphilic). Researchers asked 1,040 Quebec residents, representative of the general population, about their experiences of sexual behaviour considered abnormal by the DSM-5. The study, published in The Journal of Sex Research, found that of the eight types of anomalous behaviour listed in the DSM-5, four were found to be neither rare or unusual among the experiences and desires reported by men and women
If you keep your hands and torso open
Body-language experts agree that posture speaks louder than words.
Keeping your hands stuffed in your pockets and your shoulders turned inward sends the signal that you're not interested. But talking with your hands and standing in an open stance shows that you're available.
If you stare into each other's eyes for two minutes
University of Massachusetts psychologist Joan Kellerman asked 72 unacquainted undergrads to pair off and stare into each other's eyes for two minutes.
"They later reported they had increased feelings of passionate love and affection towards the other person," Scientific American reports. "This suggests that long periods of eye contact can connect you to someone and even ignite feelings of love inside you for that person you have never previously met."
If you literally "warm" your date up
Yale psychologist John Bargh performed an experiment in which participants held warm or cold beverages and had to rate whether someone's personality was warm or cold. Participants who held warm beverages judged the person to have a warm personality, because their minds were already primed to think that way.
If you take someone on a coffee date instead of an ice-cream date, they may feel more warmly toward you.
If you own a dog
In a University of Michigan experiment, women read vignettes about men. Whenever the story featured a person who owned a dog, women rated them with higher long-term attractiveness.
This is because, researchers have hypothesized, pet ownership could signal a nurturing person or one with a tendency toward relationship commitment. It could also make you appear more relaxed, approachable, and happy.
If they are less or equally good-looking
In a 1996 study, each participant was rated on physical attractiveness and then randomly assigned to date another participant. Then, participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with their dates. The participants who were more attractive were harsher in their judgments — even if they were both equally attractive. The better looking someone was, the less satisfied they were likely to be.
But this only applies to the really attractive people. For the rest of us, according to the matching hypothesis, we are more likely to love those who are equally as attractive as us.
If you get Botox
In a European study about facial age and attractiveness, researchers wanted to determine whether Botox actually does help women find partners.
The women who went through facial procedures experienced a significant reduction in perceived age, and people rated them as much more attractive and healthy. The more treatments the women received, the more they were considered youthful, healthy, and attractive.
If you play music
Researchers in France found that musical practice is associated with sexual selection. In an experiment, a young man holding either a guitar case or sports bag asked 300 young women on the street for their numbers. When the man held the guitar case, more women were willing to give him their number.
If you wear the colour red
In a Slovakian research study, women who wore the color red were more successful in mating-game scenarios. This can be attributed to sexual signaling, because women use the color red to attract potential mates.
Women are attracted to red on men, too, since, as The Huffington Post argues, it signals status.
If you have a certain type of facial hair
In an Australian experiment, researchers found that women consider faces with heavy stubble more attractive than heavy beards, light stubble, or clean-shaven faces.
Beyond attractiveness, researchers also found that facial hair affects perceived fertility as well. The more facial hair a man had, the more masculine a woman perceived him to be — especially when she was in the fertile phase of her menstrual cycle.