The Super-Interesting Reason All Your Exes Look The Same

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 The Super-Interesting Reason All Your Exes Look The Same

When I met my current (and hopefully last) boyfriend, one of the things I liked about him was that he looked like one of my exes. He had the same sad eyes and prominent nose. 

He was a version of my ex, but without the history and emotional baggage, and he was at a better place in his life so he was more open to a long-term relationship. I wondered if I could actually build a life with this version, and it turned out that I could.

I don't just have one type — I have many types. But there are certain things I consistently find attractive, like the previously stated sad eyes, beards, and a nice smile.

And according to an article in Time, this consistency falls right in line with the theory that what we find attractive is most likely due to our life experiences.

We all have unique views on beauty, and a new study by researchers Laura Germine from Massachusetts General Hospital, and Jeremy Wilmer from Wellesley College, found that it's not just a cliché — beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Our physical preferences are mainly based on experiences such as what your first love looked like or which actor/actress you see all the time in the media, rather than a natural, genetic preference for certain traits.

"If you think about your first romantic relationship, that person's face, or someone who looks like them, might be attractive to you for years to come," said Germine. "On the one hand, it's common sense that our individual experiences will be important for who we find attractive, but on the other hand, we know that people's ability to recognize faces is almost entirely down to differences in genes."

The study used 35,000 volunteers — including 547 pairs of identical twins and 214 pairs of fraternal twins — and had them complete a facial preference study.

The hope was that by studying people who were genetically the same (or at least very similar) and who grew up in the same environment, the researchers would gain some insight into the nature versus nurture effects of how we view attractiveness comes from.

If something (such as what you find beautiful) is influenced by genes, you'd think that identical twins would have similar opinions than fraternal twins. In addition, if the family environment is highly influential, then fraternal twins would have the same kind of preferences.

But that wasn't what the study found. "In our case, we found that even though identical twins share all of their genes and their family environment, they were really, really different from each other in their facial aesthetic preferences," said Wilmer.

What you think is attractive could be different than what every single member of your family thinks is attractive. No matter how close you are to someone, they won't have the exact same life experiences as you. 

"From an evolutionary standpoint it might be advantageous, because you learn from your own specific environment, which faces to pair with positive information. The kinds of faces you fnd attractive would be very specific for you. A good sort for you might not be a good sort for someone in the village down the road," Germine said.

I may have a type, but because I associate so many positive qualities with them — intelligence, great sense of humor, and a loving heart — and because my life experience has been good with these traits, my attraction to them has proved to be a good thing.