There’s an old analogy psychologists use when challenging their patients to pinpoint patterns. You can try it yourself — but be warned, the results may freak you out. If all of your exes were put into a room, what would they have in common? Would they get along? Would they all have different faces and bodies — but be eerily the same in many ways?
If you believe in a recent study, the answer is, well, duh.
Though you probably already knew you had a ‘type’, researchers set out to figure out exactly what that means and if it is a vital assessment. Based out of Toronto, Canada, researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by interviewing not only hundreds of people — but also their ex-partners and current love interests.
That tendency to fall for the same kind of person time and time again (even if they’re not the healthiest match) isn’t just common; it’s now recognized by scientists. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that most of us really do have a “type” when it comes to the personalities of our romantic partners. The researchers examined interviews with the current and former partners of hundreds of people to reach this conclusion. Unlike other studies, they didn’t have people self-report info, since that can be skewed when matters of the heart are in play. (Ya know, if you have a terrible breakup, you probably won’t be happy to sing their praises.)
Instead, they used a German Family Panel study that went on for many years across several ages groups. This way, they collected data over time — not only of the primary survey participants, but those they used to date and those they ended up with. They interviewed all parties many times, before, during and after breakups to receive the most accurate data.
What they found was more often than not, current and past flames described themselves (not their partner) the same way. In fact, they were more often to match on personality traits than they were to differ.
“It’s interesting because we often see people who, following a breakup, think that they have a better idea about who they want or need as a partner,” Yoobin Park, the lead researcher told The Huffington Post. “Sometimes they’re looking for a person that’s not necessarily the same type of person as their ex.”
What can we learn from this? The more we are aware of our habits and our methods of choosing partners, the more we can learn from the dating process. Even if most people have the tendency to be attracted to certain types of people, you can decide what matters the most to you. Having someone who makes you laugh is great — but if you also pick emotionally unavailable folks, perhaps reconsider your priorities.
After all, the person you end up with — hopefully — is the best parts of everyone you once dated. Fingers crossed.