Whether you learned it in Psych 101 or you heard it referenced jokingly on a TV sitcom, the idea that you may be more attracted to guys who look like your dad is not a new one. The concept stems from Sigmund Freud's Oedipus complex, coined in 1899 and named for the mythical Greek king who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. Carl Jung coined the parallel phenomenon the Electra complex in 1913 to describe when a woman feels a sense of competition with her mother for her father's affections, named after the mythical female figure who helped kill her mother.
If you notice that you gravitate toward guys who somewhat physically resemble your dad, you shouldn't feel ashamed. Attraction is complex, and there is a lot of data out there that proves you're not alone.
There are a few different theories as to why this happens, so to better understand the science behind why women are more attracted to men who look or act like their fathers, I spoke to two experts in human development and sexuality.
"The idea that women are attracted to men who resemble their fathers came from Freud over a hundred years ago, but like many of his theories, there isn't much scientific data to support the idea of the Oedipus complex," says Michael McGee, Ph.D., M.Ed. and Assistant Professor of Health Education at Borough of Manhattan Community College. He explains that scientific literature does suggest women are attracted to those who resemble their own kin, but not too closely.
Researchers don't yet know exactly how this phenomenon affects the quality or longevity of romantic relationships, says Sarah Merrill, Ph.D. Human Development at Cornell University. "Hopefully future studies will elucidate if this is problematic, helpful, or if it even matters at all," she says. McGee agrees that while this is an interesting area of study, "there are lots of contradictions within it."
With the help of these two academic experts, I've broken down some of the current research. Here's what you should know about whether or not the Oedipus (or Electra) complex can actually be backed up by more recent scientific data.