Certain people have a knack for identifying which couples are into each other. Do you have the gift? That depends on your own relationship status.
Hand-holding, nuzzling, heavy-duty eye contact... are those the signs of true love? Are there gestures that reveal whether two people are truly smitten? That all depends — namely, on whether you’re in love yourself. According to a study published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, single people can most accurately assess whether couples are truly into each other. People who are happily coupled up, however, have the worst romance radar, proving that love is blind in more ways than one.
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal came to this conclusion by filming couples, some of whom had been seeing each other for several months and were deeply in love, while others were admittedly not that emotionally involved. The footage was then shown to volunteers (both unattached folk and those in relationships) who observed the couples’ behavior and rated their perceived level of attachment. In terms of detecting love, single people hit the nail on the head twice as often as people in relationships, who often mistook casual couples’ affectionate body language — snuggling, a hand on the knee, intense eye contact — as a sign these two were smitten when they actually weren’t.
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Why, exactly, are couples so clueless in pinpointing who else is head-over-heels in love? Most likely because they’re projecting their own upbeat attitude about love onto others, says researcher Mark Bernieri, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Oregon State University. On the other hand, single people seemed to be more level-headed in their observations. “People who are not romantically involved are more cautious and more dispassionate about their judgments,” Bernieri said.
So the next time you’re wondering: “Are we meant for each other?” about your own budding romance, steer clear of your starry-eyed friends who are already romantically attached and ask your single pals what they think. Whether they say this person’s The One or just for fun, they may well save you plenty of time trying to figure it out on your own.
Lisa Cericola is a New York City-area writer who’s very much in love. At least, she thinks so.