I like you because you look like me: the psychology of why we’re attracted to things

By May 19, 2010 Myth or Reality

This morning on my rollerblade, I came across this guy that I must have passed a zillion times, just him and his dog. Usually I’m going by so fast, he’s basically a blur, but the wind was fierce this morning, slowing me down and giving me quite the glimpse. And here’s what I found out: this man looks exactly like his schnauzer. I mean exactly. Right down to the gray bushy eyebrows and poofy mustache.

I wish I’d had my phone to take a picture for you, but what was I going to say, “Excuse me, your resemblance to your dog is simply uncanny, may I document it with my Blackberry and post it on Twitter?”

This is not news, we’ve all heard about this phenomenon before and seen plenty of pictures (like the one I found for this post). And they always make me hope that I look like my dogs – because they’re both simply beautiful. This morning’s sighting did the same. So there I was, imagining my picture next to Baloula’s and Silas’ furry mugs and wondering why someone would buy a schnauzer anyway (I’m a big dog kinda girl) and thinking about how odd it really is that people look like their dogs…

When it hit me.

Maybe we choose our particular dog because s/he looks like us. And (totally guessing this is subconscious) we think the dog is cute/beautiful/irresistible because we’re seeing ourselves in the dog. Like how we think our own children are beautiful – duh, because they look like us.

Is that how we pick our friends? Our lovers? The careers we want to have? Our clothes? The blogs we read? Our food? The authors we love? Our favorite writing platforms? Of course – in many cases – not because they look like us, but because the act like us, vibe like us, feel like us…or who we want to be.

Is it all just narcissism? Or maybe we could classify it as a pristine edition of self-love.

Image credit: examiner.com

Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • --Deb says:

    Well, you already know that my dog and I look alike … not only that, we’re both Boykens. My last name is Boyken and he’s a Boykin Spaniel (a legitimate breed that is the state dog of South Carolina, originally bred by a man named Whit Boykin). I swear I didn’t make it up, but I love that not only do our “names” make us kind of family to begin with, but that our looks really truly make him look like he’s MY dog. Love it.

    But, even more, of course, I love HIM.

    Oh, and as proof:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chappysmom/2199057402/in/set-72157603638706611/
    .-= –Deb´s last blog ..Who Are You Talking To? =-.

  • Kathryn says:

    I’ve been thinking about self-love a lot lately so I’m voting for that :).

    I’ve seen the same thing with older couples and it’s been shown that because they’ve been together so long they have mirror each others facial expressions and physical poses causing them to look alike.
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..Is the Digital World Turning into a McWorld? =-.

  • Siddhartha says:

    I was going to say something biological about how we’re attracted to similar features, etc. but then I thought about how much we all LOVE seeing our name written, or better yet in print. It is mesmerizing to see one’s own name on an envelope, a program, a book cover…

    Or, best of all, in BIG lights on the marquee.

    I think liking our own image an ego thing (but subconsciously).
    .-= Siddhartha´s last blog ..Most Criticism is Unjustified; Different and Weird Are Okay =-.

  • Christopher says:

    I was actually thinking about this the other day when I was trying to figure why there are just particular people that I don’t get along with. When it came down to it we just didn’t have much in common personality wise. Same concept, interesting concept.

    p.s. Deb, you and your dog look so much alike it’s uncanny. How cool is that.
    .-= Christopher´s last blog ..3 Examples of How a Story Can Help Sell a Product =-.

  • Aaron Pogue says:

    I can see the narcissism angle, but I wonder if maybe it has a little more to do with resonant frequencies and sympathetic vibration.

    It could easily be that those people or things so like us are the ones most compatible with the worlds we’ve created for ourselves (for the same reason). It’s not that we only want things like us, but things like us fit easily into our realities.

    I once wrote a wedding poem essentially to that effect, saying it’s the similarities between two people that allow them to stay together, and the differences that make them useful to each other. It takes some incredibly precise balances of the two forces to make something stable.
    .-= Aaron Pogue´s last blog ..Your Blog Posting Schedule in Google Docs (Redux All Over Again) =-.

    • Siddhartha says:

      Okay, I’ve already left a comment and I’m not usually one to comment on someone else’s comment, but I have to say I dig this: “…resonant frequencies and sympathetic vibration.”

      Sounds wonderful, whatever it is.

      I want some.
      .-= Siddhartha´s last blog ..Most Criticism is Unjustified; Different and Weird Are Okay =-.

    • Carlos Velez says:

      Aaron, you’re talking about that social constructionism stuff aren’t you? I dig it. That makes a lot of sense. I find myself intensely attracted to fiction characters that are like me or are excellent examples of traits I aspire to (Miles Teg from the Dune series as well as Leto I and II, and Samuel from East of Eden). I hope to be as insightful, wise, and senstive to others as these remarkable characters.

      The poem was a great one, I’m staking a claim on it right now. Yup, that was for my wedding. Thanks for rockin’ it.
      .-= Carlos Velez´s last blog ..The Conscious Man 4: Listening With Empathy =-.

    • PicsieChick says:

      Yowza. That is *compelling* stuff! Seems like we might be resonating in harmony, Dude!

      Great reply!

      Hugs and butterflies,
      ~T~
      .-= PicsieChick´s last blog ..Whisper Fiercely … beauty =-.

  • Edgy Mama says:

    I have three rescue pets–all of whom are blonde. We have no diversity in our household.
    .-= Edgy Mama´s last blog ..Moog Ale, Asheville swimming teacher retires, and Monday =-.

  • Gail says:

    OK, if we’re attracted to bloggers that look like us, then we must be twins!
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..Where are Your Manners? Stop Putting Your Logo on Your Facebook Personal Profile! =-.

  • jesse says:

    or maybe liking something like us validates our place in the world. as in, “see! this dog is beautiful, so I must be okay, too?”

    maybe finding those similar characteristics is like putting an exclamation point after your name. we don’t get quite so lost in the crowd if our partner looks like us, or our dog looks like us, or we find authors that speak our voice.

  • Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Julie ,
    You keep asking these profound questions disguised as Fairy Floss. I don’t have a dog because I have a mirror. Having both seems way too extravagant.

    I’m attracted to people who take what they do seriously but who don’t take themselves the same way. And if they make me smile too…..That’s a bonus.

    If that’s narcissism, blow the rest to that devastating dump, smithereens!

    By the way, my compliments are always frightfully long-winded.

    Regards

    Leon

    • Julie Roads says:

      I’m going to hope that the meaning of ‘fairy floss’ got lost in translation. Thank you, I think, for the compliment!

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    Deep.

    I can only ponder this after a hash brownie.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..How to Tell if Your Relationship Can Be Salvaged =-.

  • PicsieChick says:

    Since Aaron so nonchalantly put such perfect language to those vague ideas that were fluttering around the periphery of my consciousness I have to dig pretty deep to add something enlightening to this discussion. :-)

    If we are here “for a purpose” (and I suspect we are), isn’t our first order of business to understand ourselves, and to ensure that we are operating at our most vital? And wouldn’t it serve this purpose perfectly to surround ourselves with things (and animals, and people) who augment our characteristics with their similarities and even their familiarity? I think this magnetism we feel towards things that are like us is part of our path to self-actualization. The people we surround ourselves with help us open all those internal doors to the Divine and the Purpose that we all have inside. Like the second key needed to open the Safety Deposit Box of your heart. We can try all we want, but our own key, without help, can only get us halfway there.

    I’m reveling in the company of all of the soul sisters and brothers I’m finding lately in the virtual world. Drawn to their thinking that seems so similar to my own, and yet learning so much from their similar yet still different voices. It feels meant to be. I’m glad I’ve found you.

    Oh, and I don’t *look* anything like my two border collies….but I have been accused of the odd OCD tendency here and there.

    Hugs and butterflies,
    ~T~
    .-= PicsieChick´s last blog ..It Holds Me…. Hostage =-.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    If I didn’t know any better, you watched this week’s episode of “Criminal Minds” when the team sought a killer who was murdering women because their facial bone structure mimicked his own. The moral of the episode was narcissism can kill.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..Former Facebook User Explains Why He Quit =-.

    • Julie Roads says:

      I can say with strong certitude that I never have or will watch that show! Mark it up to a crazy cosmic coincidence.

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