Opposites don’t attract when it comes to music—or dating, for that matter.
When dating app Bumble introduced a new feature that allowed people to sync up their Spotify accounts with their profile, I was thrilled. Finally, I could avoid deadbeat dudes who listen to Nickelback—or bros who live for country music festivals in the summer (sorry, just ain’t my thing).
I’ve always thought the type of music someone listens to is a good indicator of what their true personality is—not the kind of person they are after two drinks at a company happy hour, but who they are alone in their bedroom on a Friday night. My number one dating requirement has always boiled down to music taste. There’s a very distinct type of guy I envision myself with (hence the reason why I’ve been single for three years). Not only must he have a damn good head of hair, but Mr. Wonderful also needs to love going to concerts and be cool with me crying to Lana Del Rey while clutching a bottle of wine.
Because my friends always make fun of me for fawning over this dreamy musician type who may or may not exist, I decided to do a deep analysis on whether or not I was just being stuck up and making excuses not to date, or if I had low-key unlocked the secret to finding a successful relationship: similar music taste.
Music is a form of artistic expression and a reflection of who you are. Having that compatibility with a partner is extremely important.
Between on-the-go apps and ever-changing technology, we have access to more music than ever before. Personally, I feel as though I have a better understanding of myself because of all the jams I listen to. Music is a form of artistic and creative expression with the potential to influence, enhance and reflect your mood.
As humans, we’re always searching for a connection to something so we can better understand ourselves. If what you’re connecting to is the same thing as a potential partner, perhaps you two would also connect on a deeper level as a couple.
Musical preference is linked to three distinct thinking styles, according to a study conducted by David M. Greenberg, Simon Baron-Cohen, David J. Stillwell, Michal Kosinski and Peter J. Rentfrow.
Empathizers (Type E) take a “strong interest in people’s thoughts and emotions,” whereas Systematizers (Type S) have an interest in “patterns, systems and rules that govern the world.” Those who score between Type E and Type S are classified as Type B for “balance.”
Greenberg et al. conducted multiple studies where they analyzed data on participants’ thinking styles while asking them to listen and name their preferences for 50 musical clips spanning a wide range of genres. They found empathizers preferred mellow music reflecting “sad emotions and emotional depth” as heard in R&B, soft rock and singer-songwriter genres, while Systematizers leaned towards structured, more intense sounds heard in hard rock, punk, heavy metal and even classical genres. Their music choices reflected “intellectual depth and complexity” within those experimental genres. Type B preferred music that was a mix of the two thinking styles.
The study also found that people who prefer multiple genres of music tend to be open thinkers.
The personality trait of openness was the strongest predictor of musical sophistication. People who score highly for openness are imaginative, have a wide range of interests and are open to new ways of thinking and changes in their environment. Those who score low on openness (or who are “closed”) are more set in their ways, prefer routine and the familiar and tend to have more conventional values.
This is extremely important when it comes to dating. Personally, I want someone who is open to liking the weird mix of pop, R&B and electronic that I like. In turn, I want to be introduced to cool new artists I may have never discovered on my own. If a guy is still stuck in his pop-punk phase from middle school in the early 00s, then we’re going to have a problem much larger than what’s on the surface. For example, if he’s still blasting “American Idiot” everyday—because he’s so stuck in his ways—perhaps he won’t be open to exploring new bars or restaurants. And because I’m an empathizer, I also want someone who is very self-aware and doesn’t just see things in black and white.
So, before you agree to go on a date with someone, the closest thing to peering deep into their soul might be to browse their Spotify playlists—it’s a lot more telling than you think.