Relationships are complicated – otherwise divorce lawyers, relationship counsellors and infidelity dating websites would be out of business. Your closest friend could become your lover, and your partner of decades could one day become a stranger.
But one team of scientists claim that love isn’t so complex after all, and were able to pinpoint the seven ways which friends attempt to deduce whether a pal is attracted to them.
A classic study into heterosexual relationships by US researchers asked 90 undergraduate students at the University of Montana about how they interacted with friends of the opposite sex who they were romantically interested in.
While the tests themselves might not work, watching out for such behaviour could uncover whether a person is attempting to scope you out as a future lover.
The result was around 158 techniues which participants secretly carried out in the hope of revealing whether a friend fancied them, too. The researchers were able to reduce this down to seven common tests. Here are the top three methods, according to the New Scientist.
Testing their patience
Trying to assess how much of certain types of behaviour a person can stand was one of the most popular techniques, the study found.
This could include hinting for compliments and asking for help when it doesn’t benefit the friend being tested. The results may reveal whether the person reciprocates romantic feelings.
Researchers found the second most popular technique was “triangulation”, where a person will involve others to test the strength of the relationship.
One participant said that he would test a love interest’s level of commitment by meeting other women and monitoring how she reacted.
A history of love
A history of love
1/13 Plato's Symposium
One of the Plato’s most famous works, this dialogue between Greek philosophers that takes place over dinner, explores the very nature of love, what it means to be in love, and has shaped the modern definition of platonic love.
2/13 Romeo and Juliet
Shakepeare's tale of two young star-crossed lovers has stood the test of time and continues to be adapted for film, stage and even opera.
3/13 Troilus and Criseyde
Considered one of Chaucer’s finest works the poem written in Middle-English brought about the term ‘all good things come to an end’ as Criseyde’s lover dies a tragic death in the Siege of Troy.
4/13 Pride and Prejudice
Having sold over 20 million copies, Jane Austen’s novel based on the themes of manners, upbringing, morality and marriage continues to make women worldwide swoon at the thought of finding their very own Mr. Darcy.
5/13 Sigmund Freud
Freud thought that not only a couple’s love for one another, but the parent’s love for the child and the child’s for the parent were basically of the same kind.
6/13 Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte’s eerie tale of jealousy and vengefulness still haunts readers today and even inspired Kate Bush’s 1978 hit.
7/13 Orpheus & Eurydice
Perhaps the ultimate tragic love story, this Greek myth explores love at first sight and Orpheus’s doomed journey to the Underworld to be reunited with his wife.
8/13 Song of Songs in the Bible
A celebration of sexual love, The Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon is widely considered one of the most beautiful expressions of love and harmony.
9/13 The Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
A story of love so epic that it led to the creation of one of the Wonders of the World, The Taj Mahal, this is a grief stricken Mughal Emperor’s exquisite manifestation of love for his favourite wife who died in childbirth.
10/13 Madame Bovary, Flaubert
Flaubert’s 19th century realist novel follows narcissist Emma Bovary and her descent into adultery and despair as the boredom of bourgeois life consumes her.
11/13 Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
Tolstoy’s exploration of love as a kind of fate which can be a blessing but also a curse that leads to destruction is deeply embedded in modern culture.
12/13 Doctor Zhivago
Set during a war, the classic love triangle of a man who has fallen for two women is a tale of broken hearts and twists of fate.
13/13 Layla and Majnun
Persian poet, Nizami Ganjavi, narrates a story of young love which can only be united in death as the legendary lovers are buried side by side, to be reunited in the afterlife.
Yawning and swinging your arm around the person you like at the movies may seem like a warn-out stereotype, but similar behaviour was adopted by participants.
The volunteers admitted to joking about liking the other person romantically, or increasing levels of touching to see whether they were comfortable and responded positively.
A separate study by US psycologists took a different approach to relationships - and claimed that it possible to make anyone fall in love with you by asking 36 simple questions.
Questions included whether the person would want to be famous, what a perfect date would involved, and what they feel most grateful about in their life.
Such questions were designed to create mutual vulnerability between a pair.