“You’re… different now” may be one of the most common things people hear when starting out in a new relationship. But it turns our friends aren’t just jealous haters. According to a new study, romance really does change us.
The trend of combining two people’s names into one couple name may be on to something. New research found that people in relationships change to become more like each other and less like their friends and family members. Just take Brangelina, for example. Brad Pitt went from blond, vapid party boy, married to the ultimate SoCal girl, to Very Serious Actor (with beard) and Super Dad. Part of it could be attributed to just growing up, but you have to give Very Serious Actress and Super Mom Angelina Jolie some credit, too. By the time they hooked up on Mr. & Mrs. Smith, she was far from her wild-child days and deep into adopting orphans from underprivileged countries and working as an ambassador for the UN.
It’s not just celebrities that end up significantly like their significant others. As much as I hate to admit it, for all of my husband’s and my wildly divergent views when we met, we’ve now met comfortably in the middle on pretty much everything except the appropriate food for Christmas breakfast. (It’s not cereal! It will never be cereal!) And people even tell us we look like brother and sister, which creeps me out a little even though it’s totally true. And who among us hasn’t gotten a haircut, started listening to different music or gone goth (ahem) to fit in with a boyfriend or girlfriend?
It makes sense from a relationship perspective — people who are alike probably have more things keeping them together — but now it also makes sense from a science perspective. After looking at hundreds of newly coupled-up pairs and comparing them to people who were just friends, researchers from Florida reportedly found that while each loved-up individual had previously expressed viewpoints and preferences in line with their friends, now they more closely lined up with their loved one.
“The results confirm what most friends complain about — romantic partners are a distraction from friendships,” said Brett Laursen, Ph.D., one of the authors and a professor and graduate studies coordinator in the Department of Psychology at Florida Atlantic University. “Friends no longer shape habits the way they used to. Romantic partners now dictate terms. Your friends were right: You aren’t the same person you were when you were single.”
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, assuming you have good taste in romantic partners. After all, who doesn’t like Brangelina better than they ever liked Brad or Angelina? (Except maybe Jennifer Aniston, bless.) A partner can bring out good aspects of ourselves we didn’t even know existed. Still, all of this can be painful for the friends who suddenly got ghosted. Because now it’s official: Your best friend’s boyfriend’s opinion really does matter more than yours. (But that doesn’t mean you can’t make fun of his guyliner or her sudden love for WWE!)