Scientists Reveal: What Turns a First Date Into a Relationship?

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The study showed that when partners synchronize their physiology and adapt their behavioral actions throughout a date, they are romantically attracted to one another.

Hebrew University researchers believe they have an answer to the question.

Shir Atzil

Hebrew University’s Shir Atzil. Credit: Yaniv Vaknin

Seeking love? Then you’ll understand how important that first date might be. What draws us to certain individuals when we fall in love but not others? Most of us will be surprised by the response, but not the team of researchers led by Dr. Shir Atzil of the Department of Psychology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“Connecting with a partner depends on how well we can synchronize our bodies. We specialize in studying parent-infant bonding – and we had already seen the same thing there,” she explained.

The study focused on how the physiology and behavior of a heterosexual couple adjust to one another during that first meeting. The research was based on a speed-dating experiment with 46 dates. Each date lasted for five minutes, during which time each partner’s physiological regulation levels were monitored using a wristband.

Throughout the date, each partner’s behavioral actions—such as nodding, moving an arm, or shifting a leg—were also observed. The pair evaluated their feelings of sexual and romantic desire for one another after their experience. The research clearly demonstrated that couples are romantically attracted to one another when they synchronize their physiology with one another and adjust their behavioral motions to their partner throughout the date. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Intriguingly, the study also showed that the degree of synchrony affected men and women differently. Although for both genders synchrony predicted attraction, women were more sexually attracted to men who showed a high level of synchrony – “super-synchronizers”; these men were highly desirable to female partners.

“Our research, ” said Atzil, “demonstrates that behavioral and physiological synchrony can be a useful mechanism to attract a romantic partner. However, we still don’t know whether synchrony raises attraction or does the feeling of attraction generate the motivation to synchronize?” Atzil is planning to investigate that area of research.

Reference: “Bio-behavioral synchrony is a potential mechanism for mate selection in humans” by Lior Zeevi, Nathalie klein Selle, Eva Ludmilla Kellmann, Gal Boiman, Yuval Hart, and Shir Atzil, 21 March 2022, Scientific Reports.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-08582-6

3 Comments on "Scientists Reveal: What Turns a First Date Into a Relationship?"

  1. Curious as to the purpose of this study? I hope to gawd they’re not trying to make a self-help guide, “Do This for Everlasting Love According to Science” book >_<

  2. synchrony is just a symptom / signal of attraction not a modality to produce it.

  3. I found the article informative. Date behavior is an interesting topic that helps understand attachment and the beginnings relationships.

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