When it comes to love, first impressions matter. How important are they and if they change, are the questions we will try to answer. Even more important is what counts in a first impression. Is it subjective or is it universal?
We all wonder how we're doing every time we go on a date, while analyzing every move of the person we're on a date with. It's like we're trying to find something wrong with them and maybe they're doing the same thing with us. So how can we seduce the other person?
Fortunately for all of us singles, a study has tried to find the answer. They identified two specific factors that made all the difference in the first impressions of a romance.
What fuels the flames of love?
Love. Even the word itself carries a lot of weight once you hear it. Our minds go wild with the idea of love because it's the one thing that no one fully understands, but that everyone wants to some degree. Because no one can really control it, everyone is afraid of it, some more than others.
We want to try to understand as much as we can in the hope of getting an ideal version of it. It all starts with a first impression. But what exactly fuels the flames of romance the very first time?
The process of understanding
To conduct the study, the research team examined three factors that typically impact the formation of romantic first impressions: selectivity, popularity, and compatibility. Think about dating apps, for example. They use all three, showing you popular matches in your area, suggesting people compatible with you based on your interests, and allowing you to choose among them.
For this process, the author of the study explains the process of determining which factor was dominant as such: “If Daniel liked Rose because he tended to like everyone, it would be selectivity, if Daniel liked Rose because everyone liked her, it would be popularity , and if Daniel only liked Rose beyond his own flirting tendency and general popularity, it would be compatibility.
An amazing study
For the study the researchers analyzed the first romantic impressions of more than 550 speed-daters, not all of whom were heterosexual, and asked participants to rate their romantic interest in potential partners. There were more than 6,600 speed dates in total during the experiment.
What they quickly realized was that compatibility and popularity were two of the key factors that determined whether people were inclined to seek someone out as a potential partner.
“Although we expected compatibility to be an important factor, we were surprised to find that compatibility was just as predictive of romantic pursuit as popularity was,” said study author Alexander Baxter , Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology, University. University of California, Davis.
Let's explore what this entails.
A popularity contest
After the speed-dating encounters, the researchers asked participants over the next one to three months if they were still dating someone they had met and how their feelings had changed for them over time. They wanted to get more statistics on whether the initial first impression predicted what happened next.
They realized that people were especially likely to pursue a romantic relationship with popular suitors and with whom they were most compatible. There is something desirable about someone who is perceived positively by others, hence the popularity factor, and there is something attractive about being able to bond with someone we connect with, hence compatibility; but is one more powerful than the other?
What matters most
While being popular plays into who made a good first impression on dates, it didn't determine relationship success. “Our results suggest that while being popular is helpful when it comes to getting a second date, having a unique connection with a potential partner may be just as important,” said Baxter.
This means that compatibility matters more than popularity: “We were surprised to find that a good first impression is not just a popularity contest, it's also about compatibility, even when people are still getting to know each other,” added Baxter, In other words, while it's helpful to be popular when it comes to getting a second date, having a unique connection with a potential partner can be just as important.
So yes, being popular will get you dates, but not necessarily a relationship. Compatibility, on the other hand, can do both.
Do first impressions matter?
Now, all of this begs the question of whether first impressions are immutable or whether everyone should get a second chance even when the first meeting doesn't go well. The answer is probably somewhere in between. While we are probably able to determine some level of compatibility during a first impression, first impressions should not be the most determining factor either.
“A person may not be immediately attractive, but relationships can develop based on compatibility effects, such as a sense of humor or how well he or she understands you,” says Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology. She adds, “These things won't erase first impressions, but they can change them.”
Fundamentally, sometimes you have to dig deeper and not be too harshly selective. People can be nervous, uncomfortable or in a hurry on first dates. Sometimes you just need to know yourself better.
Attraction does not determine a relationship
Remember that things are never all black and white. Someone can make a good first impression and it can go downhill from there.
“Chemistry doesn't always happen on the first date, and many people start as friends and fall deeply in love,” notes Lori Zaslow, co-founder of a dating service. You never know how your perception will change as you spend time with someone. Not only does what you're attracted to change, but attraction can wax and wane based on chemistry, history and your current environment.
So what does this mean?
Much of what determines relationships is intangible. We still cannot and do not fully predict, control or understand love. Our reasons for loving are based on a mixture of hormones, pheromones, timing, experiences, history, baggage, mood, etc.
All we know now is that compatibility and popularity are two of the key factors.
Hunting for the chosen one
So what to do with this information? You just have to continue to be yourself and do what you love and believe that this is the only way to attract the right person.
I am a web editor specialized in people news. I am passionate about the world of celebrity and I love to follow the latest trends, scoops and gossip that make the buzz