It’s not just you, we see it too! Long-term couples do look alike and there’s actual science backing this truth.
Have you ever come across a couple and realized that they look weirdly alike? You’re not alone. In fact, various studies have been done on this very phenomenon, and the science behind why this happens is remarkable!
Mirroring facial expressions
Experts collectively agree that long-term couples resemble each other because they are mimicking, or mirroring, each other's expressions. When you’re having a conversation with your partner, or any loved one, you naturally begin to mimic some of their reactions. Now, when a couple has stayed together for an upteenth amount of time, they’ve spent years laughing, crying, and smiling about the same things, because of their shared experiences. As a result, their facial muscle movements are working in similar ways, and this can sync their wrinkle patterns, and facial structures too!
American Psychologist, Dr. Paul Ekman, said:
Common life experiences over years and years can alter facial musculature and wrinkle patterns, leading to an increased resemblance...
There is no question that we unwittingly use our facial muscles in the same way as the person we are looking at.
Subconsciously choosing what's familiar
Social psychologist and author, Justin Lehmiller spoke with Time about this phenomenon and mentioned that people are more likely to gravitate towards what’s familiar to them. He said:
You’re familiar with your own appearance, so seeing other people who share those similar sorts of traits might lead to more liking for that reason.
Not only are you likely to choose a partner that has similar characteristics as you, but you might be attracted to a person who resembles your parents as well. A 2018 study conducted on biracial people found that their participants were attracted to, or were involved with, partners who looked like their parents.
These traits might come to be seen as comforting. They’re familiar to you.