This Might Be Why Some People Look Just Like Their Partners

Science has a possible explanation.
Brad Pitt, pictured here with ex-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow and ex-wife Jennifer Aniston, isn't the only one who morphs into whoever he's dating.
Ron Galella/Getty Images
Brad Pitt, pictured here with ex-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow and ex-wife Jennifer Aniston, isn't the only one who morphs into whoever he's dating.

When Alice, 21, and her girlfriend Melissa, 20, walk down the street in their hometown of San Antonio, Texas, there’s no shortage of double takes. That’s because the two, who have been together just under a year, look uncannily similar.

They look so much alike, a series of photos Alice shared of them on Twitter went viral in July:

“Did y’all get a blood test or something because I swear y’all twins,” a Twitter user asked.

Offline and online, the couple’s likeness gets people talking. At this point, it doesn’t faze them.

“I’m sure it’s weird initially for other people, especially if we’re in public and happen to kiss or show PDA,” Alice joked to HuffPost. “I know the first thought that goes through everyone’s head is, ‘Wow they look alike, I wonder if they’re related...’ Personally, we both think there are things that make us look completely different to each other.”

Alice and Melissa aren’t alone in finding love with a lookalike. Earlier this summer, a viral tweet showed how Brad Pitt slowly morphed into every one of his girlfriends from the early ’90s onward. The actor nailed the looks of his lady loves ― from their choice in sunnies to their beachy waves and highlights.

“Outside of Brad, I see this all the time on the street,” said dating coach Chantal Heide, who is based in Waterloo, Ontario. “I think it’s because we’re built to seek what’s familiar to us; there’s a certain sense of comfort when we’re with someone we feel is like us. There’s no place like home, right?”

Science might agree. The theory of assortative mating suggests we benefit from our tendency to select life partners with an eye for certain genetic traits. A 2013 study expounding on that theory suggests a lot of us are strangely attracted to our own faces and people who look like us.

In the study, 20 heterosexual couples were asked to look at photos of seven versions of their partner’s face. Each version was morphed with another face: Some were faces of men, others were of women; some faces were considered average-looking, others attractive.

One of the images was a mix of the partner’s face with the subject’s face, though the subject wasn’t aware of that. For subjects in the control group, it was a version of their partner’s face combined a mirror version that looked digitally altered.

When the subjects were asked to rank the images from least to most attractive, they liked the version that was blended with their own face the most ― even more than they liked the mirror version of just their partner’s face. (Egotistical much?)

So it’s weird, but not uncommon. But why do we date our doppelgängers? It’s likely for the benefit of our future kids, said Madeleine A. Fugère, a professor of social psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University and the author of The Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships.

“Evolutionary speaking, genes that are somewhat similar to our own (but still different enough from our own) may be optimal for reproductive success,” Fugère said.

“Some researchers believe that stimuli which we see frequently may be more easily processed by the brain as well,” she added. “It is also possible that we feel more trust for individuals who seem more familiar to us.”

The biological goal is to find someone who’s similar to you, but not too similar. (To be clear: There’s a benefit to diversifying your gene pool. Mate with someone too similar and you run the risk of genetic defects, as the European royal families of the 19th century so famously demonstrated.)

What about those couples who don’t initially look alike, but slowly start to resemble each other, like Brad Pitt and any woman he’s dated ever? There’s a theory that explains that, too.

A study from the late ’80s showed that couples who originally bore no particular resemblance to each other when first married had, after 25 years of marriage, come to look alike.

The researchers posited that after years of sharing the same emotional experiences ― and developing the same facial expressions in response ― “subtle shifts in facial wrinkles and other facial contours” began to appear.

Our faces change without us realizing, but sometimes, couples choose to dress and style themselves in similar ways as well. Ryan Abraham, 29, and his boyfriend Ruben, 31, certainly do. (Their favorite hashtag on Instagram? #boyfriendtwins.)

It all started when Ruben shaved his head to match his bald boo. After that, their wardrobes started melding, too.

“Sometimes one of us will experiment with something like a new facial hair style, and the other one will like how it looks so he’ll try it too,” Abraham said. “People comment when we make little changes like that, and sometimes, we get a little flak, but we don’t really care.”

“Some people love it, some people hate it, but we’re happy so that’s all that matters!” he said.

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