Once in love, our hearts and brains are working overtime. But what draws us to a person in the first place? Abigail Goodman*, a single magazine editor in New York City, has noticed a strong shift in what attracts her to a certain man. Throughout her twenties she bounced from short relationship to short relationship, always pulled towards a specific type: tall and dark, with a big personality. "I used to be attracted to the guy who could hold the room, tell the jokes, command the dinner table," she says. Now 33, Goodman is no longer dating casually, and hopes to find someone with whom she can settle down and start a family. And she understands that he may not be the one she originally imagined. "These days I'm much more drawn to the quiet observer type," she says. "It took dating a couple of those [extroverted] people to realize that they’re usually making up for something else."
According to Fisher, like attracts like. "People tend to fall in love with someone of the same ethnicity, age, socioeconomic background, intellectual ability, level of attractiveness, and religious values," she explains. But subtle factors also affect who we choose as our mate. "I think we are unconsciously attracted to people who are chemically unlike us," she explains. "For example, a person who is high in dopamine is also curious, creative, and outgoing. That person is more likely to fall for someone who is high in testosterone, who is more likely to be conscientious, a scheduler, and a planner. This creates more variety in babies and brings a greater array of parenting skills to the family."
Finding your chemical opposite happens naturally, Fisher says, so no need to put it on your soul mate checklist."When you walk into a room, you immediately weed out the ones who don’t look right, who are wearing the wrong clothes, etc.," she explains. "You then talk to those remaining and learn about their values, interests, and background and make the next cut. But in the end, you are attracted to someone because of their chemistry."