There is something about cracking open a new book that makes one filled with hope. With equal measure finishing a great book can leave a hollow feeling. Those who know this struggle well revel in the act of what is called, “deep reading”. Psychologists note that reading is the second most transformative act one can take part in. The first is writing. But today due to the internet, tablets, smart phones, and e-readers people are more or less skimming, and not really delving in deep like they used to. That’s a shame. For if true readers are a dying breed so lessens a great segment of the dating pool which makes preferable mates. According to two studies those avid readers are smarter and more compassionate, two vastly appealing features for a significant other. Both these studies were Canadian. One took place in 2006 the other in 2009. Each study was a collaboration between Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, along with York University’s Raymond Mar, a psychologist. Oatley and Mar were able to prove that fiction readers showed more empathy—knowing exactly how another feels and being moved to compassion. These readers were also better able to hold beliefs, ideas, and interests that were not their own, something called “theory of mind.” If you have ever been in a multicultural relationship, you know just how important these are.
Today, psychologists say those who have trouble with empathy should read fiction. The idea is that if you can see the world from behind someone else’s eyes, you can better identify with him or her and through the experience people in general. One of the most important relationship tools you can have is how to relate to one another. Theory of mind is considered a natural part of the human experience. But it takes the right kind of social interaction in life to bring it out and help one to develop it. Anyone who has ever been with a selfish lover or even a narcissist knows how important theory of mind is. If you are considering having children with someone, know that just having books in the home increases the child’s word count and cognitive abilities from a younger age. They are also better adjusted socially. A study Mar conducted in 2010 found that children who read more had a better developed theory of mind and could relate to people more. So that would go for not just your love interest but should you wish to have children, your potential offspring as well.
Someone who is a reader should have a better vocabulary. Few relationship skills are more necessary than communication. A person who can communicate exactly what they mean clearly, and perhaps in different ways so you can grasp it should their first attempt not strike you, is the type you wish to keep around. Chemistry and rapport are certainly important. But what we often forget is that relationship and problem-solving skills are necessary too. We don’t often screen a potential love interest for these. Many times we just lead from the heart. So when you go into someone’s apartment for the first time, be cognizant of whether or not they have a bookshelf and check out what is on it. If you are out with someone special, ask them about their reading habits. What was the last book they read? What was a book that changed their life? Their answer may mean the difference between you sticking around or rushing out the door. For more on finding the perfect mate read,Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate by Patti Stanger and Lisa Johnson Mandell.