Matching: How do we choose our partners?


Matching: How do we choose our partners?

Our choice of partner that we do online or offline is not random at all. All people have their own criteria of attractiveness, which they apply, for example, when leafing through profiles on a dating site or sitting in a bar with a cocktail, looking at other guests.  
But there is nothing random in our choices and there are quite obvious components that influence who we choose and who chooses us. There are three key psychological factors that come into play: similarity, proximity and partner selection.

The role of similarity

Let's start with similarity. We are more likely to be attracted to people who are similar to us in terms of looks, personality, interests and lifestyle. Most relationship studies center around how similar a couple is in terms of personality, attitudes, and beliefs. The findings typically demonstrate that the higher the agreement between couples on these factors, the more satisfied they are with their relationship. This also applies to demographic factors such as age and appearance.

One of the triggers for attraction is that it serves as a source of confirmation for our own opinions, which is related to the reciprocity hypothesis: there's a higher possibility that someone similar to you will return your affection. People also appreciate things that are familiar and predictable. This makes time spent together in a relationship feel more natural and rewarding.

The role of Proximity

The proximity effect is the name for people's natural tendency to prefer new things more after repeated encounters. In other words, we get 'fonder' of each other and things when we're around them more often. A good example would be how students who sit next to each other in class are usually more likely to become friends.

This is due to an evolutionary explanation. We have an instinctive fear of the unknown, but as things begin to become more normal, they excite us and seem safer. 

However, the increased use of dating websites and apps has skewed this effect through "choice overload." Having multiple partners to select from might change our view of who would be a suitable match in real life — “with additional alternatives, we're more inclined to prioritize various traits than when conducting separate evaluations of potential partners, and such qualities may be irrelevant if you're happy once a relationship moves offline.”

Partner Selection Criteria

The way males and females choose a partner is highly different, and the reason for this is evolutionary psychology. "Male selection" occurs across the board in all human societies, with male siring an infinite number of children, so they favor indicators of fertility and those who will be sexually faithful. Given that females can only have a limited number of children and the fact that childcare is such a time investment, girls tend to be more choosy when it comes to selecting a mate. Rather than just looking at superficial qualities, they are instead searching for mates with good character traits and financial stability.


When it comes to attraction, similarity, proximity, and partner selection all play a role. By understanding how these factors influence who we are attracted to, we can gain a better understanding of the choices we make in our relationships.

Author profile

Ann Adams

Online Dating Expert

Ann Adams, a renowned online dating expert, offers valuable insights and practical advice to navigate the digital dating landscape, helping individuals find love online with confidence and success.

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