Do Couples Really End up Looking a Lot Like Each Other?

There are couples who over the years end up looking alike even in their physical appearance. However, there are also the so-called "romantic doppelgängers".
Do Couples Really End up Looking a Lot Like Each Other?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 February, 2022

Have you ever noticed that some couples end up looking a lot like each other? Perhaps you have friends who’ve been together since high school and who, to this day, dress almost identically and could even pass as siblings. Furthermore, they probably use similar gestures, possess the same sense of humor, and have identical culinary tastes. They may even express themselves in a similar way.

However, the phenomenon doesn’t stop there. In fact, it’s not only couples who’ve been in relationships for more than a decade who bear some resemblance to each other. Sometimes, you meet people who are in fairly new relationships whose partners could pass for their twin. This reality is well known on social networks, to the point that the term “romantic doppelgänger” has been coined.

It’s as if, in these cases, the idea that opposites attract isn’t applicable at all.  Perhaps that’s because there are times when we seek soul mates in every sense of the word. Experientially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. A curious phenomenon that it’s worth looking at.

Some people are attracted to what’s familiar, because it gives them security and confidence. This would explain why a certain number of couples are alike in their style and even in their physical appearance.

image representing how couples end up looking a lot like each other

Do couples really end up looking a lot like each other?

It’s certainly true that, sometimes, you’re attracted to someone who’s the complete opposite of you. Due to this fact, they often tend to appear to you as mysterious, challenging, and unusual. For this reason, it’s perfectly understandable to feel attracted to them. However, on the other hand, many of us tend to be drawn to figures who are familiar to us in various ways.

You might fall in love with a fellow student or a colleague. Or, someone you met on social media via a shared hobby. Even when using dating apps, you tend to reflect your tastes and passions in order to find like-minded people.

The similar and the familiar make you feel secure. Furthermore, what makes you feel safe awakens your confidence. Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist at Indiana University wrote the book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How it Can Improve Your Sex Life. In this, he tells us what’s familiar to us is what attracts us the most, although we’re not always aware of it.

Romantic doppelgängers: when the resemblance is also physical

From evolutionary psychology, comes a somewhat controversial answer to the question of whether it’s true that couples end up looking a lot like each other. According to this approach, what happens is that it’s more common for us to look for individuals with certain similarities to ourselves. This is known as “selective mating”.

According to this evolutionary theory, we prefer that our mates resemble us physically. That’s because it means they possess similar genes, which increases the probability that the relationship will be successful both emotionally and reproductively. However, this is a rather controversial explanation.

Another theory tells us that we’re attracted to people with some physical resemblance to our parents. You might think this idea sounds rather strange. However, it seems that those who experience this unconscious type of attraction abound. In this way, if a person has eyes, hair, features, gestures, or a certain air that reminds them of their father, mother, uncle, aunt, etc. it ignites a greater feeling of harmony in them.

According to the evolutionary psychology approach, we’re attracted – unconsciously – to people who have a certain resemblance to us. This gives us confidence and security.

Silhouette of a couple in the sky symbolizing how couples end up looking a lot like each other

Couples end up looking a lot like each other (but not as much as you might think)

Regardless of whether we’re searching for people who look like us or not, we return to the question is it true that couples end up looking a lot like each other? As a matter of fact, Stanford University conducted a study in 2020 to answer this very question. The conclusion they reached is simple, understandable, and illustrative.

They studied 517 couples between the ages of 20 and 69. The goal was to understand if, over the years, the couples reflected clear physical similarities. The conclusion was negative: the faces of those people who’ve been in a relationship for decades don’t become alike.

However, there’s something else of relevance here. This is the phenomenon of social and emotional mimicry. In other words, over time, and due to the environment and shared experiences, certain similarities tend to be created between couples. They converge in personality styles, intelligence, way of communicating, dressing, lifestyle, attitudes, and values, etc.

Therefore, coexistence, if it’s positive, brings us closer in many more aspects than the mere fact of being physically similar. In fact, it seems that physical similarity is reserved for the romantic doppelgängers. Those people who, consciously or unconsciously, are attracted to those with similar traits to themselves.

As you can see, the world of human attraction continues to harbor nuances and dynamics well worthy of further investigation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gaunt, Ruth. (2006). Couple Similarity and Marital Satisfaction: Are Similar Spouses Happier?. Journal of personality. 74. 1401-20. 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00414.x.
  • Gonzaga, Gian & Campos, Belinda & Bradbury, Thomas. (2007). Similarity, convergence, and relationship satisfaction in dating and married couples. Journal of personality and social psychology. 93. 34-48. 10.1037/0022-3514.93.1.34.
  • Tea-makorn, P.P., Kosinski, M. Spouses’ faces are similar but do not become more similar with time. Sci Rep 10, 17001 (2020).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.