We Don't Really Know Who We Want to Date

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When the one walks into your life — or maybe when you swipe onto their profile — you just know. Right? That's what you may have heard about falling in love, to a certain extent. That's also why we like to make lists about what we're looking for in a person — you know, to be ready.


It's also almost entirely what populates our dating profiles, and new research suggests it might be more work than it's worth. A team of psychologists has just published a paper looking into how we decide on which qualities our ideal romantic partner will have. As it turns out, those qualities may as well be random. Study participants who described their perfect date one way tended to mirror descriptions put forward by other participants; for example, if you say you're looking for someone who's funny and another person opts for someone who's physically active, you're also likely to gravitate toward people who are physically active.


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"Why do we order off the menu for ourselves?" asks study coauthor Paul Eastwick. "Because it seems obvious that I will like what I get to pick. Our findings suggest that, in the romantic domain, you might as well let a random stranger order for you — you're just as likely to end up liking what you get."

So don't stress so much about finding a perfect alignment or a high matching score in your dating options. Maybe even try letting your friends set you up more. The good news is that a lot more people out there might make great partners than you think.