Throughout my life, I’ve been told that I look like my sister or my mom or even my dad. I’ve also been told on occasion that I resemble a cartoon or an elf or one of my friends. Sometimes I see what people are talking about; sometimes I chalk it up to ‘us Asian girls with long hair look alike’. For the first time, though, someone commented to me today that my husband and I look alike. In fact,  before knowing that we were married, she asked if we were related–as siblings. In recovery, she followed up with “Maybe it’s true that couples start to look alike after a while.” Now, I’ve heard people say this about old couples, but always thought it was a function of reading only wrinkles–and I’d like to think both of us are still far from that state.

Of course, I can see how spending a lot of time with someone can lead to converging ideas, opinions, preferences and ways of looking at the world. And after more than 10 years together, we already find ourselves finishing each other’s sentences and unknowingly offering word-for-word recommendations to friends. But the idea of starting to look alike is somehow disturbing to me.

On the quest for an answer, I turned to Google and it turns out that studies have shown that the longer couples have been together, the more similarly they are perceived in terms of personality and appearance, even when viewed separately and when participants didn’t know who was married to whom. Part of the explanation is that shared experiences and the emotional responses to those experiences become etched into our faces, but there’s also apparently evolutionary bias towards finding a genetically similar partner to increase the likelihood of particular traits being passed to future generations. So, we’re hardwired to be attracted to people who look like ourselves, even if we don’t realize it… creepy thought.

I’m still in denial, but on the upside, one of the studies found that the couples who reported greater happiness were more likely to have increased in physical similarity. Maybe we are just having too much fun together!

Either way, I will be scrutinizing our photos to see if we’re really becoming twins. To anyone else who’s been with their partner for some time, watch out–it could happen to you.

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5 thoughts on “Lookalike?

  1. Yep, 38 years and my abdomen finally looks like his…and that is not good at all! We share our love of snacking at night when we shouldn’t. I love the research that you bring into this piece. The last 10 years I have thought of myself as being an introvert…like him. Surprise…I’m not. I do think we meet each other half way in most things. xo

  2. Can’t say I looked for someone with similar trait when I picked my husband. He had curly red hair and mine was brown and straight. Interesting thinking though.

  3. I’ve heard that too. I don’t think it is so much that your actual appearance changes. I think it has more to do with taking on mannerisms and habits. No science behind that, just my two cents.

  4. Well, for what it’s worth, my husband and I on more than one occasion have been called Santa and Mrs. Claus by complete strangers (one time we were announced as we entered a Starbucks)… 42 years worth of love and laughter and must have done something to us.

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