- Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
- True love may seem perennially elusive to some, but there are certain factors that can increase your chances of finding it.
- According to various psychological studies, some of those factors include playing hard to get, owning a dog, and even caring about the environment.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Love is perennially elusive – but not impossible to find.
Certain factors make it more likely that someone will be smitten with you: if your personality is similar to theirs, if you share the same worldview, or even if you do something as simple as gesture a lot, for example.
We dug into years of psychological research to find those particular traits and behaviors. In the process, we busted some myths and learned that certain clichés turn out to be true.
Here are 13 psychological reasons that affect whether someone will fall in love with you.
1. If you make eco-friendly purchases
- Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
It’s easy being green – but only if you’re seeking something serious.
A 2016 study found that men and women who make eco-friendly purchases are perceived as more desirable for long-term relationships, while those who make luxury purchases are perceived as more physically attractive and more desirable for short-term relationships.
The study notes, “Compared to luxury purchasers, eco-friendly purchasers were ascribed greater warmth, competence, and good partner traits, but less physical appeal, and they were preferred for long-term but not short-term relationships.”
2. If you play hard to get
- Robert Alexander/Getty Images
A 2014 study found that men in a speed-dating experiment wanted a woman more when she played hard to get by acting disinterested in questions. But playing that game made them like her less.
This dynamic was only observed in certain situations, though: The men had to feel “committed” to pursuing the woman. If not, her hard-to-get behavior made them neither want nor like her less.
Alas, love is complicated.
3. If you display the right facial expression
Happiness is generally attractive on women – but not so much on men.
In 2011, researchers conducted experiments on more than 1,000 people, showing them photographs of members of the opposite sex and asking them how attractive the people in the photos were.
Results showed that men rated women most attractive when they looked happy and least attractive when they displayed pride. Women, on the other hand, rated men most attractive when they displayed pride and least attractive when they looked happy.
Interestingly, shame was ranked pretty attractive in both men and women.
4. Women prefer familiarity, but men prefer novelty
- Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
We may all have a “type,” but men are more likely to be attracted to new faces than women are.
In one 2014 study, men and women were shown a random series of faces, some of which repeated. They were then asked to rate their attractiveness (much like a proto-Tinder).
For men, familiar faces were rated as less attractive, even ones just shown twice. For women, however, the opposite was true, indicating that the women preferred familiarity in a romantic partner, whereas men wanted novelty.
5. If you use a lot of hand gestures
- AFP Contributor/Getty Images
Looking for love? Put yourself out there.
Literally – fill up the physical space around you with hand gestures and an expansive posture. In one 2016 study, researchers observed men and women in speed-dating sessions. Results showed that people were twice as likely to say that they wanted to see their partners again when those partners moved their hands and arms, compared to when their partners sat still.
For the same study, researchers set up profiles for men and women on a GPS-based dating app, showing them in both expansive and contractive postures. Sure enough, people were selected more often when they were pictured in expansive postures.
6. If you’re really, really similar to them
- Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Decades of studies have shown that the old cliché “opposites attract” is totally off.
“Partners who are similar in broad dispositions, like personality, are more likely to feel the same way in their day-to-day lives,” said Gian Gonzaga, lead author of a study of couples who met on eHarmony. “This may make it easier for partners to understand each other.”
The studies generally found that this was true for long-term partners and married couples as opposed to new ones.
7. If you share three basic compatibilities
- Kathrin Ziegler/Getty Images
According to the work of Canadian psychologist Eric Berne, the best-matched couples vibe on three different levels.
• The parent: What you’ve been taught
• The child: What you have felt
• The adult: What you have learned
When two people are really compatible, they connect along each tier. Couples therapist Peter Pearson gave us a few questions for figuring out compatibility at each level:
• The parent: Do you have similar values and beliefs about the world?
• The child: Do you have fun together? Can you be spontaneous? Do you think your partner’s hot? Do you like to travel together?
• The adult: Does each person think the other is bright? Are you good at solving problems together?
8. If you stare into each other’s eyes for two minutes
- Wikimedia Commons
Back in 1989, University of Massachusetts psychologist Joan Kellerman asked 72 unacquainted undergrads to pair off and stare into each other’s eyes for two minutes.
“They later reported they had increased feelings of passionate love and affection towards the other person,” Scientific American reports. “This suggests that long periods of eye contact can connect you to someone and even ignite feelings of love inside you for that person you have never previously met.”
9. If you respond to their “bids” for attention and they do the same for you
- Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images
Starting – and growing – a relationship seems to largely depend on how people attend to one another.
After 40 years of studying couples, psychologist John Gottman says it’s a matter of “bids.” For example, if a bird-loving wife points out to her husband that a goldfinch just landed in a nearby tree, he can “turn away” from her by dismissing the remark or “turn toward” her by sharing her enthusiasm.
As Emily Esfahani Smith reported in the Atlantic, the results of the “bids” are staggering: in one of Gottman’s studies of marriage, couples who divorced after six years had the “turn toward” reply 33% of the time, and the couples that were still together had the “turn toward” 87% of the time.
10. If you smell right
- PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images
A University of Southern California study of women who were ovulating suggested that some prefer the smell of T-shirts worn by men with high levels of testosterone.
This matched with other hormone-based instincts: Some women who were ovulating also preferred men with a strong jaw line.
11. If you look like their opposite-sex parent
University of St. Andrews psychologist David Perrett and his colleagues found that some people are attracted to folks with the same hair and eye color of their opposite-sex parents.
“We found that women born to ‘old’ parents (over 30) were less impressed by youth, and more attracted to age cues in male faces than women with ‘young’ parents (under 30),” the authors wrote. “For men, preferences for female faces were influenced by their mother’s age and not their father’s age, but only for long-term relationships.”
12. If you take care of a dog
In a 2014 experiment, 100 Israeli women read vignettes about men.
Whenever the story featured a man who owned a dog, women rated that man as a more suitable long-term partner than a cad who didn’t own a dog.
The researchers concluded that owning a pet signals that you’re nurturing and capable of making long-term commitments. It can also help you appear more relaxed, approachable, and happy.
Not into pet ownership? The good news is that simply being seen with a dog can make you seem more dateable. In one 2008 study, a 20-year-old man approached hundreds of women and asked for their phone numbers. When he had a dog with him, he was much more likely to score their digits.
13. If you are equally or less good-looking compared to them
- Westend61/Getty Images
In a 2010 study, each participant was given random photographs of strangers mixed with composite images of themselves morphed with those strangers. They were then asked which ones they were more attracted to, and the participants chose the composites.
According to the study, “Three experiments demonstrate that people find others more sexually attractive … if the face being rated is a composite image based on the self.”
This is an update of an article written by Drake Baer for Tech Insider.