Drew Barrymore with Tom Green (left) and ex boyfriend Justin Long (right).
Scientists have long been fascinated with the rules of attraction. Every year, new theories emerge about what we look for in a potential mate: some scholars argue that men are "hardwired to be attracted to women who look like their mothers", while others think single ladies are likely to fall for men whose features resembled their own.
The most common thinking, however, is that we each have a ‘type’ that we subconsciously seek out. Awkwardness aside, this theory gives rise to a niche matchmaking service online.
One dating site is capitalising on this concept and is set to launch a service that uses facial-recognition technology to find potential dates for users. What’s more, at a premium cost of $5300, Match.com and matchmaking service Three Day Rule are asking members to send through pictures of their ex partners to “determine the type of look they're attracted to”, reported Mashable.
Vanity Fair speculates that Cara Delevigne could potentially be Prince Harry's next girlfriend as she "bears more than a passing resemblance to Cressida".
“People have a type and it's not necessarily about height or race or hair colour, but a lot of it is about face shape," said Three Day Rule founder Talia Goldstein.
The idea is that facial structure should be factored into the list of things each client is looking for, along with factors like age, occupation, personality and interests.
"I've noticed over my years in matchmaking that people have types," Goldstein said. "I always ask my clients to send me photos of their exes. They say that they don't have a type, but when I see the photos, to me they look very similar. The ex's may be different ethnicities, or have different hair colour, but their facial structures are the same."
The matches are expected to come from the dating site’s database or an affiliated professional matchmaker's personal network. According to Match.com, the service is catered to a small pool of high-end clients, who will each be assigned a dating coach that will get to know their preferences and “go on pre-dates with potential mates as to not waste the member's time.”
Interestingly, finding potential mates based on ‘facial compatibility’ isn’t exactly new. Sites like FindYourFaceMate.com made headlines last year by promising to find user’s ‘dating doppelganger’ using customised facial recognition software.
The technology tracks key points on the face and matches individuals in the database with “similar placement and spacing”. That is, it pairs those who have similar facial features or share a “similar level of attractiveness”. Elsewhere online, the phenomenon of ‘boyfriend twins’ (gay couples who share a striking physical likeness) has also sparked the question of: “How much facial resemblance is too much?”
So what do we really yearn for in a partner’s visage? Gossip sites and glossy magazines are ever eager to convince us (with the magic of Photoshop and careful juxtaposing) that celebrities – just like mere mortals – are also prone to dating the same‘type’.
Following Prince Harry and Cressida Bona’s recent break-up, Vanity Fair speculated that model Cara Delevingne may well be the next ‘princess’, since “Cara bears more than a passing resemblance to Cressida, as the two slight blondes both have a grungy, just-rolled-out-of-bed-in-these-clothes style, as if they are constantly en route to Coachella.” As if one can casually be substituted for another.
From a psychological standpoint, relationship therapist Elly Taylor explains that we sometimes become unwittingly drawn to those who bear a similar set of physical characteristics because of a much deeper reason.
“The Imago theory goes that we are attracted to both the positive and negative qualities of our parents in a potential partner because we are unconsciously compelled to work out our issues with them as adults...This can come in the form of looks or be as subtle as gestures or quirks,” says Taylor.
“Is it healthy? Not really, the less we [recognise], it the more power it has over us.”