The winter months are the most popular time of year to seek love and summer engagements, for romances.
But we may be looking from misconceptions of what love, romanticism and happiness are.
Is it better to look like your partner? Are married couples really happier in the long run? Is monogamy the best option?
The answers may surprise you.
At the BBC we collect some of our favorite scientific research (many of them contrary to logic) on this subject.
1. Neither you nor anyone has really a «type» of person
Online dating is now the most common way to meet a partner, although it can be intimidating to feel like one more profile among millions.
However, it can also be encouraging to know that amid the wave of photos of people appearing on the screen, the perception of how attractive someone is may be influenced by the faces we’ve seen previously.
In this sense, research suggests that our perception of beauty, far from being deeply rooted, is much more ephemeral.
Getty ImagesIn dating apps there is the «flash effect», which makes faces look more attractive. So, if someone visits your profile, maybe it’s not a bad idea to see you in the middle of a set of other people’s engaging photos.
On the other hand, the fact that users of dating sites take a quick look at the photos, can also work in our favor.
Psychologists have detected that faces in such applications are subject to what is known as a «flash effect», which makes faces look more attractive because we look at them for less time.
The reason behind this, the researchers suspect, is that this mechanism prevents us from taking a second look more closely for the fear of missing a good candidate.
In other words, the idea that everyone has a «type» is not true.
2. Opposites are not always attracted
It is not entirely true that opposites attract. There are certain popular characteristics in a couple, regardless of what your personality is like, such as being nice and not very neurotic.
Getty ImagesHaving an opposite or similar pair to one can work in certain cases. But sometimes «the best» features in a couple, vary depending on your own character.
For people who have an anxious style of attachment in relationships and who worry about the possibility of being abandoned, for example, having a personality more similar to your partner increases the level of satisfaction.
And there are other things where it’s best to look like early risers or night owls.
But sometimes, finding your own personality reflected in someone else can turn off the urge to have a relationship.
Some studies suggest that if one person is diligent, it’s good that the other isn’t the same for balancing the relationship.
3. Yes, getting married makes you happier, but not forever
If you and your partner are compatible, maybe they’re getting married. But what does that mean for your personality and your happiness?
Studies show that marriage causes long-term changes in people’s personality.
Research carried out over four years with a group of 15,000 Germans revealed that after marriage, people showed a decrease in their level of openness and extroversion.
Getty ImagesThe effect of the «conceited married couple» can be real. But looking on the bright side, there are people who claim that after they got married they improved their ability to self-control and their ability to forgive, qualities essential to maintaining a long-term relationship.
And what about the issue of the arrogance of married couples? It may come from the fact that married couples really believe they are happier… at least for a while.
Research shows that satisfaction levels increase in couples after marriage, but after a few years, the degree of satisfaction returns to previous levels.
4. Separations change your personality
Studies have revealed a phenomenon that seems to be the opposite of the «effect of the arrogant married couple»: people also experience personality changes after the end of a long-term relationship.
Getty ImagesWhen women get divorced, they tend to be more outgoing. Getty ImagesWhen men get divorced, they tend to get more neurotic. Research of middle-aged people who have divorced showed that women become more outgoing and open after slasher the nexus with their husband.
The men, on the other hand, didn’t handle the separation so well. They tended to get more neurotic and more meticulous after the divorce.
But a common feature is that both men and women tend to be less dependent after they separate.
On the other hand, just as separations change your personality, your personality affects the way you’re going to recover after a divorce.
More outgoing personalities tend to marry again faster, while more neurotic ones show a tendency to establish short relationships after divorce.
5. Polyamory can improve your friendships
Of course monogamy is not the only option.
Polyamory, a style of relationship between more than two people, can be a growing trend.
Unlike infidelity that can exist in a monogamous relationship, in polyamory this happens openly and with consent.
Getty ImagesPeople in polyamorous relationships tend to have more intense friendships than monogamous couples. Research has shown that people who are in polyamorous relationships maintain stronger friendships outside their love life, unlike monogamous couples.
And on the other hand, an online study found that polyamorous people are more likely to practice safe sex.
But if you’re not polyamorous, don’t worry, because you’re not necessarily missing out on all the fun.
It may be that these people are simply more open to all kinds of relationships (including friendships).
And research has shown that, in general, polyamorous people have roughly the same level of psychological well-being and the same quality of relationship as monogamous couples.
Read the original story in English at BBC Capital
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