It's often been said that men marry their mothers and women marry their fathers.

Now researchers have found that the observation has more than a little truth to it. Up to two-thirds of men may have unwittingly fallen in love with a woman very similar to their mother, a study suggests.

A personality test given to the mothers and wives or girlfriends of British men found they tend to have a lot in common. Men whose mothers have strong values, such as respecting others' opinions and being kind, appear to look for the same things in their other half.

Those who grew up with an affectionate mother also tend to have a wife or girlfriend with the same trait. Mothers share more traits with their sons' wives or girlfriends than they do with their offspring themselves, according to dating website eHarmony's research.


Relationship expert Rachel Lloyd, from eHarmony, said: "It's well known that we tend to migrate towards people who share similar traits with us and, to varying degrees, we seek to recreate aspects of our original relationships with our parents.

"With mums as our primary caregivers in life, it's no surprise men are attracted to women who possess similar values." Men, their female partners and mothers were asked to rate themselves for 18 personality traits, ranging from extroversion to emotional stability.

The research covered 53 men, their mothers and the women they had been in a relationship with for at least a year. The main shared traits of mothers and wives included being kind, tolerant and monogamous.

Miss Lloyd said: "From growing up in a tolerant household to looking up to an empathetic mother as a role model, it adds up that men are drawn to women who embody these traits.

"If a man has been raised in a household with a mother in a committed monogamous relationship, one would expect they would seek a woman who values this too."