Today in Sex: Familiarity Breeds Bewilderment

You know those couples who seem so in sync they're more like twins than spouses? They finish each other's sentences, know each other's birthdays without checking a calendar, and, in some unfortunate cases, even start wear matching outfits? Yeah, well, according to a new study to be released in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, these couples probably haven't been together for very long.

According to this research, done by two professors from University of Basel, along with one from Indiana University, "couples married for an average of 40 years know less about one another's food, movie and kitchen-design preferences than do partners who have been married or in committed relationships for a year or two."

Huh? Does anyone else find it odd that they asked about kitchen-design preferences? Inquiring about granite countertops v. polished cement seems kinda out of left field, but I guess you cook these bewildering meals in the kitchen.

To test their hypothesis, I asked my boyfriend of six years, what my favorite food was. First he guessed potatoes, then steak, then oysters. All good guesses, but then he gave up when I nixed his picks. I was prepared to question our entire relationship because he didn't know the correct answer (a perfectly cooked, medium rare—more rare than medium—cheeseburger) and then I realized I had no idea what his would be.

The guy eats everything and anything. Charred entrails, eyeballs, vindaloo, scrapple—I've never seen him turn anything down, except for dessert, which makes him somewhat mentally ill in my book. I had no idea which food would be his favorite. "I like everything," he shrugged. So there, I was kind of right.

The researchers explained that despite actually knowing less about each other, long-term partners assumed they knew more about each others' preferences than the people in short relationships did. Wrong!

The team came up with a number of reasons this might happen. For one thing, people who've only been together a couple weeks or months are generally more likely to listen to each other and be concerned with making a good impression. And when couples have been together for years, they tend to remember the way things were at the beginning.

Like when your mom insists that you "love" fish sticks, because you couldn't get enough of them when you were five.

The heartening news is that even though your grandmother might not know that grandpa is a closet sushi fan, "despite their relative disadvantage in predicting partners' preferences, long-term couples reported more satisfaction with their relationships than did younger couples."

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