Candy hearts, lavish flower arrangements, and boxes of chocolate line the shelves of stores, waiting to be purchased by lovebirds for their Valentine.
But if you don’t have a partner to celebrate with on February 14th – and you’d like that to change – don’t despair. We’ve got you covered.
In the interest of bolstering your love life, here are some science-backed ways to fall and stay in love.
On a first date, get coffee, not ice cream.
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.
While on that first date, be positive.
It’s not all about looks.
A large 2010 study grouped over 2,100 male university students into three categories. The first group was given photos of women and asked to rate whether they found the women attractive or not. The two other groups were provided the photos along with information about the women’s personalities – one group saw mostly positive information about personality traits and the other mostly negative.
The researchers discovered that the group given 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, remember to think positively.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but listening is critical for all parts of a relationship – including the very beginning, the time after that honeymoon period has ended, and moments when 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.
Make eye contact.
Maybe that staring contest isn’t such a bad idea. Back in 1970, Zick Rubin, a social psychologist, conducted a study on 158 college-age couples. He observed how much time the couples spent making eye contact, and then had them fill out 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: Staring into each other’s eyes appears to increase feelings of intimacy even among strangers.
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 them. The feeling of gratefulness was more important than the act itself.
Based on 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.
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, 79% of those surveyed preferred to date a “revealer,” classified as a person willing to come clean (even about sketchy behaviour), compared to “hiders,” or people who chose not to share that information.
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 in the relationship.
Beyond a made-up language, a portion of a 2010 study on language found that couples who are more likely to last tend to start speaking like one another.
Use touch to your advantage.
A 2006 study conducted in France with 120 women found that a light touch on a woman’s forearm was associated with a greater chance that the woman would give her phone number to the man asking for it than if he hadn’t touched her briefly.
Of course, unwanted touches won’t do you any good.
In a survey reported on ScienceOfRelationships.com, 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.
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 were relatively more successful than male friends at predicting whether a given relationship would still be going six months later.
Say “I love you” before having sex.
If you’re interested in making a relationship last, saying those three little words can be a key factor.
In the early 2000s, Illinois State University communications professor Sandra Metts studied 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. Turns out, it did.
What’s more, Metts found that couples who had sex first and said “I love you” after had a negative experience. The introduction of that conversation after sex was often awkward and apologetic.
Beware of artificial covers like clothes and makeup.
People who are narcissistic are better at making themselves appear outwardly attractive, according to a 2012 study by two researchers at Washington University. This type of person also appears to be more successful at being confident and humorous during a first meeting – two other qualities usually considered attractive.
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.
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 participants were personality-wise 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.
Make your partner feel like a winner.
Psychotherapist M. Gary Neuman has studied hundreds of couples in thriving and failing relationships. He found that, on average, 48% of people who were in a failed relationship said that they felt a lack of appreciation from their partner.
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