Contrary to popular belief, falling in love doesn’t just ‘happen’. In fact, waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right to come waltzing into your love life is a terrible strategy.
Sure, having lady luck on your side helps. But here’s another tip: use science.
If you’re ready to fall (and stay) in love, here’s 15 science-backed ways to help you down your path to bliss (Source: L. Ramsey, J. Orwig):
1. For a first date, get coffee, not ice cream: Yale psychologist John Bargh has conducted a couple of studies that reveal an underlying connection between body temperature and personality. He found that when we feel warm physically, we also tend to behave more warmly toward others. Therefore, if you want your first date to go smoothly, seek out warm places and foods — they might just help to heat things up later on.
2. Another first date tip – Be positive: contrary to popular belief, men aren’t just interested in how you look. That’s what a large 2010 study revealed after grouping over 2,100 male university students into three categories. The first group were given photos of women and asked to rate whether they found the women attractive, or not.
Two other groups were provided the photos along with information about the women’s personalities — one group had mostly positive personality traits and the other mostly negative. The researchers discovered that the group with mostly positive personality traits found a wider variety of women attractive overall than the other two groups. So, when you’re on that first date, just remember to be positive!
3. Listen up: this may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually super critical for all parts of a relationship — at the beginning and when that honeymoon period ends and the inevitable conflicts arise. A 2010 study of 373 couples from the University of Michigan found that those who were able to discuss issues calmly and listen to their partner when having an argument were less likely to separate later on than couples who didn’t do this.
4. Make eye contact: maybe that staring contest isn’t such a bad idea. Zick Rubin, a social psychologist, conducted a study back in 1970 on 158 college-age couples. By observing how much time the couples made eye contact and how they responded to a survey about their relationships, Rubin concluded that the more eye contact the couple made, the stronger their relationship. Other studies have arrived at similar conclusions, and that even among people who are strangers, staring into each other’s eyes appears to increase feelings of intimacy.
5. Give thanks: a “thank you” can go a long way not just for the recipient of the remark, but for the one making it as well. A 2010 study found that people who felt grateful for a kind act done by their partner also reported feeling closer to him or her. The feeling of gratefulness was more important than the act itself.
6. Smile: not only can smiling help you be more memorable, but it could also help you appear more attractive to the person you’re wooing. According to a 2014 study on happiness and attractiveness, researchers found that the attractiveness of a person increased depending on how intense of a smile they had.
7. Embarrass yourself: as mortifying as it might be to share some of your most personal details, it might actually help win over your date. According to a four-part study conducted by Harvard Business School researchers, the 79% of those surveyed preferred to date a “revealer,” classified as a person willing to confirm even sketchy behavior, compared to “hiders,” or people who chose not to share that information.
8. Create your own secret language: that goofy inside joke or expression you and your significant other share could be one way to deepen your romantic bond, according to a University of Texas study. Plus, it builds a shared identity, which is important for creating a feeling of “belonging.” Beyond a made-up language, couples that are likely to last tend to start to speak like one another, part of a 2010 study on language found.
9. Use touch to your advantage – but don’t go too far: one 1992 study found that brief touches between strangers were good for heightening their attraction to one another. Of course, unwanted touches won’t do you any good.
10. Kiss passionately: in a survey described on ScienceOfRelationships.com, where 695 adults rated their best and worst kisses, researchers discovered that the majority of adults ranked their most memorable, best-of-the-best kiss as one with passion. Passion actually won out over feeling in love when kissed, a long-anticipated kiss, a surprising kiss, or just a good technical kiss with all of the right lip action.
11. Consult a female friend: falling in love may happen rather fast, but staying in love can last much longer. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to tell if your relationship will stand the test of time. That’s where your female friends can offer a healthy, unbiased perspective. In one small 2001 study involving 74 couples, researchers found that female friends of those couples were relatively more successful — than male friends — at predicting whether the relationship would last six months later or not.
12. Say “I love you” before having sex: this really only applies if you want the relationship to last. Back in the early 2000s, Illinois State University communications professor Sandra Metts did a study involving 300 college-age men and women to find out if having an emotional connection — in particular saying “I love you” before having sex — could have a positive impact on the trajectory of the relationship. As it turned out, it did!
What’s more, Metts found, couples who had sex first and said “I love you” after had a negative experience: The introduction of that conversation was often awkward and apologetic.
13. Beware of artificial covers, like clothes and makeup: people who are narcissistic are actually better at making themselves appear outwardly attractive, according to a 2012 study by two researchers at Washington University. This breed of human also appears to be more successful at being confident and humorous upon a first meeting — two other, generally, attractive qualities.
But as Scientific American points out, narcissists’ popularity quickly wears away with time. While not everyone with these traits is a narcissist, it’s always good to keep an eye out if you don’t want to end up dating someone who’s incapable of loving anyone more than themselves.
14. It helps if you’re alike: couples who act alike tend to be more satisfied in their relationship, according to a 2007 study that examined how similar each person was personality-wise compared to their partner. Couples with similar personalities tended to have more satisfying relationships with one another, likely because they could share emotional experiences at a similar level, according to the researchers.
15 Make your spouse feel like a winner: psychotherapist and New York Times best-selling author M. Gary Neuman has studied hundreds of couples in thriving and failed relationships. He found that, on average, 48% of people in a failed relationship said that they felt a lack of appreciation from their spouse.