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 some psychological reasons that affect whether someone will fall in love with you.
If you make eco-friendly purchases
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.”
If you play hard to get
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.
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.
Women prefer familiarity, but men prefer novelty
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.
If you use a lot of hand gestures
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.
If you’re really, really similar to them
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.