Over Time, Couples Develop the Same Tastes—But That Doesn't Mean They're Happier

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If your date's preference for well-done steaks or aversion to sushi is a dealbreaker for you, you may want to reconsider: A recent study shows that couples begin to develop similar smell and taste preferences if they stay together long enough.

The research, which is set to appear in the journal Appetite, was conducted by researchers from Poland and Germany. The team studied 100 heterosexual couples ages 18 to 68 who had been together for 3 months to 45 years. They predicted that the pairs who had been in relationships the longest would share the closest tastes, not unlike how some long-term couples grow to resemble each other in personality [PDF] and even appearance over time.

To test this hypothesis, subjects were given a set of scented felt-tip pens to sniff. After sampling fragrances like cinnamon, coffee, lavender, Coca-Cola, peach, and leather, they were asked to rate how much they liked each scent on a scale of one to five. Next researchers had participants do the same with the five basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami) presented in spray bottles.

They found that a couple's smell and taste preferences are more likely to be similar the longer they have been together. This is especially true with taste. The study authors write that this is probably the product of a shared environment. If a couple lives in a neighborhood that smells like grass, or if they drink coffee together every morning, they may grow to like those stimuli more than they did at the start of the relationship.

But just because two people share a taste for certain foods and aromas doesn't necessarily mean they're happy together. Partners that liked the same foods weren't any more likely to be satisfied in their relationships, and those that shared smell preferences were actually less satisfied. So if you still can't stand your husband's love of anchovies after four decades of marriage, you may be doing something right.