The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

We seek romantic partners who look like our parents, finds study

Freud would say 'I told you so'

Olivia Petter
Saturday 28 October 2017 13:31 BST
(Getty Images)

The Oedipus complex might not be so farfetched after all, as a new study reveals that we’re attracted to people who look like our parents.

Freud would have been delighted with the findings, conducted by scientists at Glasgow University, which concluded that heterosexual men and gay women looked for women with the same eye colour as their mothers.

Similarly, they found that heterosexual women and gay men were attracted to men whose eyes were the same colour as their father.

The team of researchers gathered their data by asking 300 men and women about the eye colour of their parents and their partners.

They concluded that participants were twice as likely to go for someone whose eye colour was that of the parent whose sex they were attracted to.

The study correlates to a theory known as positive sexual imprinting, whereby birds and mammals choose their mates based on attributes exhibited by their parents.

By successfully applying the same concept to humans, as these researchers have done, one could argue that their findings mimic Oedipal ideologies.

Coined by Sigmund Freud in 1910, the Oedipus Complex is a psychoanalytic theory which refers to a person’s unconscious attraction to their opposite sex-parent.

The theory takes its name from Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex, in which the protagonist unknowingly marries and has a child with his mother.

Though the research is not quite suggesting that we are a nation fated to incest, it suggests that many of us subconsciously look for aesthetic traits in romantic partners that resemble our parents – and who knows the extent at which this could be true.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in