Why are we attracted to people who look like our parents?

It’s a bit awkward to think about, but experts have long claimed that we tend to be attracted to people who resemble our parents.

But what is the reason behind the phenomenon?

According to Northumbria University’s senior lecturer in psychology Tamsin Saxton, humans are similar to animals in that we often learn what an “appropriate” mate looks like from our own family unit – a practice known as positive sexual imprinting.

Quoting Saxton, The Independent explains that while humans are rarely sexually attracted to close family members, they do learn what makes a good or bad partner from their parents.

ideal family size
Image via iStock.

"When you ask people to judge the similarities between heterosexual couples and their parents from photos, a fascinating picture emerges. Women tend on average to pick partners whose faces look a bit like their fathers', while men often choose partners who slightly resemble their mothers. Resemblance doesn’t stop at faces – you can also see subtle similarities on average between partner and parent height, hair colour, eye colour, ethnicity and even the degree of body hair," Saxton said.


"People who report more positive childhood relationships with a parent are more likely to be attracted to partners who resemble that parent.

Image via iStock.

"Parental resemblance probably isn’t at the top of anyone’s wish list. Like most people, you probably want a partner who is kind, intelligent and attractive. But if all else is equal, then that comfortable feeling of familiarity might be enough to get a relationship underway, or to maintain feelings of trust in a relationship."

Fascinating stuff.

Does your partner resemble your parents at all?