“Is Uncle Frankie Aunt Tilly’s brother?” I asked mum. I was 11 years old and visiting an old aunt and uncle in Singapore when I innocently addressed this question to my mum. She laughed and replied, “Hello…? He’s her husband!” But I kept thinking why couples look alike.
I remember being puzzled, “Then why do they look alike?”
Mum’s smile changed to a pensive look. “I never really saw a resemblance before. But now that you mention it, they indeed look alike.”
When we got home, we rummaged through our collection of old photos and found a wedding photo of Aunt Tilly and Uncle Frankie taken years ago. They definitely didn’t look alike then. So how did they grow to look alike?
Why do couples start to look like each other?
This question pops up in my head every time I meet a couple who seem to resemble each other, particularly older couples. I decided to throw the question to a knowledgeable group of friends and got some rather interesting answers. None of them are subject experts, but ordinary people just like you and me, mulling over this strange magical thing called relationship.
Couples resemble each other in a happy marriage
Is it love, is it familiarity or is it the habit of staying together? Looking alike could be a sign of healthy and happy marriage too. We try to figure out this phenomenon of convergence of appearance.
1. Familiarity breeds similarity
It’s funny but when you live with someone for a long time, you actually start mimicking their expressions and mannerisms. You may imitate the way they smile or grimace or simply raise an eyebrow.
You unconsciously adopt their expressions and gestures because you see them every day. That’s what most people mean when they say, ‘You’re so alike (in mannerism).’
2. Sharing life experiences together
When you share experiences together, these are etched on your face. So if you are laughing a lot together, you could develop similar laugh lines around your eyes and at the corners of your mouth. Likewise, if you are stressing over situations together, you could have similar furrows on your forehead. Wrinkles on the same spots on your face could make you look alike, you know.
3. You are what you eat, and drink
If you are eating the same kind of food, processed or cooked in the same way, chances are that, it’s going to settle on your face and body the same way. For example, if your diet has a high concentration of carrots, you may develop a similar skin tone – orangie perhaps!
Or if both of you enjoy your alcoholic beverages, over time, both your faces will look puffy and bloated and you’re going to have a nice beer belly. So much for similarity!
4. Having the same hobbies
If you and your partner love the outdoors and are perhaps biking together, you may both get a nice tan. Your features still look different but if you are both spotting freckles and pigmentation, you now have something in common to make you look alike. And that explains the convergence of appearance.
5. Matching your styles
It’s easy to get influenced by each other’s clothes and even hair styles as you grow old together. This may sound quirky but many couples do this for convenience. They buy T-shirts of the same colour and are so happy about it that they post it on social media to let others know how compatible and alike they are.
Some couples even visit the same hair salon, point to their spouse and say, “Just cut the same way.’ Frankly, as you age, you just want any style that’s comfortable. How can you not look similar if you both have the same hair crop?
6. Likes actually attract
There definitely is a tendency to choose a partner that has physical characteristics similar to yours or a parent’s. If you have blunt features, you feel comfortable if your partner has blunt features too. This is a key factor that builds the foundation for similarity in looks as you grow older.
7. Blame it on aging
When you are young, your facial tissues are perky. There are clearly defined compartments holding skin and other structures in the right places. With age, your features begin to melt into each other like hot wax, and with a definite migration downwards. This law of gravity applies to all of us but when you are a pair, the visible signs of ageing make you look alike.
Does this explain why couples look alike?
Well, basically it is the perception of others. Just because you copy each other’s expressions and mannerisms, doesn’t necessarily mean you begin to look like your partner. However, when others see the two of you do so many things alike, they begin to imagine you are so alike even in looks. Just a mind impression. Some say, happiness as you grow old, can make you look alike. I know many happily married couples who don’t look alike at all. So this theory works for some people but not for everyone. And thank God for that or I’ll be sporting a walrus mustache by now!