The New Dating Term "Doppelbanger" Explains So Much

HBO | Katrina Marcinowski
HBO | Katrina Marcinowski

If your favorite game on the internet is weighing in on pictures that ask the question "siblings or dating?" you're not alone. Not only is there a whole Instagram account dedicated to posting pictures of couples who look like they could be blood related, but there's also a storyline about it in the newest season of "The Sex Lives of College Girls."

In the show created by Mindy Kaling, Leighton Murray (played by Reneé Rapp) tells her roommates that her type is, well, basically herself: "a 5'6" blond woman from a cosmopolitan city — preferably New York." And users on social media are referring to people with this attraction preference as "doppelbangers."

According to Urban Dictionary, a doppelbanger (or dopplebanger, as it's sometimes spelled) is "someone who is attracted to people who are similar to them in terms of aesthetic or physical features." It's more than just a funny name, though. The reason people want to date and have sex with people who look like themselves could be because of what's called "assortative mating."

Talia Bombola, LMFT, says assortative mating is the tendency for people to choose partners who have similar physical characteristics as them, such as eye color, hair color, height, etc. This would be like a tall person wanting to be with another tall person, or a person with blue eyes being attracted to another person with blue eyes.

The reason this happens may have something to do with "family lineage survival," says Bombola. In other words, it could be a subconscious human desire to want to continue your bloodline and create offspring that look like you.

But this isn't the only theory that could explain doppelbangers. Beth Ribarsky, PhD, professor of interpersonal communication at the University of Illinois Springfield, says it could be because of familiarity. "We are more likely to be attracted to people who seem familiar to us because it provides an inherent sense of comfort," she says.

In the LGBTQ+ community specifically, daters are known to call this the "twincest" or "clonecest" phase — especially when someone has recently come out, just as Leighton did in the show. As you explore uncharted territory, it can be comforting to date and have sex with people who look like you.

Dr. Ribarsky also adds that "we are more likely to be attracted to individuals of a similar level of attractiveness." Depending on how attractive you are, you will likely go for someone who you deem to be within the same attraction scale as you — and this could, of course, make it so that you're dating people that unintentionally look like yourself.

Ultimately, whatever the reason may be, who you are and aren't attracted to doesn't have to be justified. Even if your significant other does happen to look like your long-lost twin, attraction is in the eye of the beholder — just don't be salty when your picture gets posted to the Siblings or Dating? Instagram account. It's fair game.