Being In A Relationship Can Change Your Tastebuds, Study Finds

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If you've ever thought that some couples start to look more alike, act more alike, and basically become more of the same person the longer they're together, you're not wrong. Well, at least not completely. New research shows that being in a relationship can actually change part of you — namely, your tastebuds can change when you're in a relationship — over time.

In a way, it doesn't surprise me at all. Have you ever hung out with someone so much that you start to take on their quirks and tastes? I never used to like spicy food until I lived with two girls who doused everything in chile — and I sort of had to learn to like it. Now I've got a taste for it. It's easy to see how with couples it could be an even bigger change, especially with couples who have been together for a long time.

That's exactly what a new study published in the journal Appetite found. Researchers looked at 100 couples and measured their taste preferences by spraying bottles of different flavors onto their tongues and recording how they felt about sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, and umami flavors. The couples tested had been together from between three months and 45 years, and the researchers found that the longer they had been together, the more their tastes lined up. Interestingly, however, this did not correlate with relationship satisfaction, so it does just seem to be a case of how long you're together, rather than how happy you are.

"Our study shows that partners become more congruent over time in terms of smell and taste preferences, however, this congruence is not equally related to relationship satisfaction," the researchers explained. "This surprising result highlights the need for more research aimed at exploring mating mechanisms linking partners’ congruence in odor preferences and the relationship satisfaction." But whether you're happy or not, if you start to eat enough of your partner's favorite foods, you might just get a taste for them. And the same seems to be true of smell, as the two senses are related.

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

It's really interesting stuff — and I can certainly see how it happens. But, that being said, you should never force your tastes to change to match your partner's. Sure, it may happen naturally over time, but being compatible doesn't have to mean being the same. The ways that you are different can also make you compatible."A big sign that people are compatible to me is what I would call 'acceptable differences,'" Rob Alex, who created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night with his wife, tells Bustle. "These are differences that are not dealbreakers, but will add lots of conversation to your together time."

Or sometimes, your different tastes just plain convenient. In fact, I love the fact that my partner and I don't always like the same foods. My girlfriend's love of olives hasn't changed my tastebuds at all — I still know that they are little ovals of evil and anyone who likes them is wrong forever. But it does mean that she gets extra olives, tomatoes, and anything else I don't like whenever we eat together. And I get more peanut butter. Win-win. (Really only I win, because she has to eat olives, but you get the picture.)

This all goes to show that being in a long-term relationship can be a powerful thing. "Long-term relationships will change you — either for better or for worse," Jianny Adamo, Counselor and Certified Relationship Coach at Fearless Love, tells Bustle. "Love has the power to transform us, so hopefully we have chosen well and picked a partner that can grow with us. [Their] friends and family become our friends and family and vice versa. Their debts or assets will either take or give to our relationship. Their ability to support, listen [to], and cherish us will be wind in our sail, but if they tend to criticize, invalidate and can't hear you, this will take from you."

Love really can do anything — except make me like olives.