Here’s What It Really Means to Have a Romantic Type

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Have you ever noticed that all of your exes look alike? Or, if they somehow vary in appearance, they at least have a ton in common — from similar education and religious backgrounds to the same uncanny ability to text you at the worst times in your life? While it may seem that you simply have a “type,” a new study revealed that who we’re attracted to is largely based on our own desirability and where we live.

Published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, scientists from the University of California, Davis, analyzed the characteristics of more than 1,000 former and current heterosexual couples. They discovered most people’s previous partners have similar physical qualities — even when it comes to casual flings. “During the partner-selection process, people may have difficulty differentiating between partners that prove to be casual and short-term versus committed and long-term,” the study authors noted.

The scientists also found that people seem to go for others with similar intelligence, religious, and education backgrounds (and similar levels of attractiveness). But that’s not entirely because they’re solely going out looking for certain types of people. Instead, the similarities likely occur because attractive people tend to seduce other attractive people, and those with similar backgrounds tend to meet each other — and also because of where we live. “The exes of a particular person tended to be very similar on variables like education, religiosity, and intelligence, but this type of similarity was entirely due to the school that people attended. Within their local school context, people were no more or less likely to select educated, intelligent, or religious partners,” the authors noted.

“Do people have a type? Yes,” lead study author Dr. Paul Eastwick, associate professor of psychology, said in a statement. “But sometimes it reflects your personal desirability and sometimes it reflects where you live.”

Here’s What It Really Means to Have a Romantic Type