Sep. 13, 2013 at 4:19 PM ET
Heading out for a first date? Forget dinner or drinks—go straight to the ice cream parlor instead. A study led by Alan Hirsch, M.D., neurologist, psychiatrist and founder of the Smell and Taste Institute in Chicago, Ill., found the best indicator of a couple’s compatibility might be their ice cream favorite flavor..
He pin-pointed the personality traits likely to impact a romantic relationship associated with a love of strawberry, vanilla, rocky road and a few other flavors.
“You would expect like goes with like, and that those who love vanilla have personality traits that make them best suited for fellow vanilla fans. But we found that’s not always the case,” says Hirsch.
The study uncovered that in most instances, having a favorite ice cream flavor different than your mate is best for romantic bliss, although certain flavors are good together.
Find your preferred ice cream and see what flavor might suit you best:
Logical, thoughtful and intuitively oriented, the study found that fans of this fruity flavor carefully weigh all options before making a decision. Those who love strawberry also quietly strategize rather than shoot from the hip. “They tend to be shy and reserved and get to know a perspective partner well before committing to a relationship,” says Hirsch. But even though strawberry ice cream lovers don’t fall head-over-heels in love at first sight, once they do commit to the relationship, they're loyal and supportive best friends.
Best flavor mate: Strawberrys are most compatible with other strawberrys as well as rocky roads, mint chocolate chips and vanillas. Coffees are close second.
Ambitious, confident and skeptical are this flavor's key traits. “Mint chocolate chip lovers make ideal attorneys,” says Hirsch.
Mint chocolate chippers can be argumentative—maybe even finding tarnish on the silver lining of any cloud. While their willfulness aids them in business, Hirsch says this can wreak havoc on their romantic lives. “Living by the quote, "good things don't last," forces the mint chocolate chip lover to be prepared, frugal and plan for the future,” he says. And sometimes they expect that future to include the demise of a romance.
Best flavor mate: Mint chocolate chippers are most compatible with the same flavor. Butter pecans are good runners-up, too.
This flavor may be associated with boring, but vanilla lovers are anything but, says Hirsch. “They’re colorful, dramatic risk takers who rely more on intuition than logic.” Found to be emotionally expressive, they readily demonstrate public displays of affection.
They do best with mates who can help balance them. “They are idealistic, set high goals for themselves and can be crushed when [they're] unable to obtain these unrealistic goals. They rely on a secure, romantic relationship to redirect their energies toward realistic, obtainable goals,” says Hirsch.
Best flavor mate: Believe it or not, a rocky road is the perfect balance for vanilla’s drama.
Lively, dramatic, seductive and flirtatious, coffee ice cream-lovers approach life with gusto, enjoying every minute. “They aren’t concerned about the future and thrive on the passion of the moment,” says Hirsch. That means fans of coffee ice cream get bored by the same old, same old.
Stephanie Manes, L.C.S.W., a relationship therapist in New York City, says a relationship with this kind of person would probably score high in the excitement and adventure department, but the fun can turn to heartache pretty quickly. “With big highs can come big lows.”
Because they throw themselves into all that they do, they often find themselves over-committed and starting new projects without finishing the old ones.
On the plus side, though, Manes says coffee ice cream-lovers dive head-first into the thrill of a new romance. “They won’t hold back in showing how they feel and may be pretty generous with their enthusiasm about the object of their affection.”
Best flavor mate: Hands down, go for a strawberry.
Charming and engaging in social situations, lovers of rocky road aren’t afraid of a challenge. They’re aggressive and goal directed, says Hirsch. But while these traits usually lead to success, they can sometimes inadvertently hurt the feelings of those around them.
“They are often cynical of the motivations of others in social situations,” says Hirsch. Rocky roads have been known to lose their temper when faced with life's inconveniences, and are particularly impatient when forced to wait in line.
A warning to those who are involved with rocky roads: Despite their success, the study says they are very sensitive to even minor slights and respond best to encouragement rather than criticism.
Best flavor mate: Another rocky road.
The study says butter pecans are devoted, conscientious and respectful, with a high standard for their own performance. “They are orderly and pay attention to the most trivial details,” says Hirsch. Not wanting to be wasteful with time or resources, fans of this flavor were found to hold high standards for right and wrong and show integrity in all their work and in their social relationships. Butter pecan lovers also fear hurting the feelings of others and thus are reticent to express their true thoughts.
Manes says relationships with this kind of person may not be wildly exciting, but they can bring a lot of stability and can offer a safe base to build a foundation for long-term commitment. “Because they are by definition hard workers, and like to see a job through, they are more likely to put in the effort that committed partnership demands.”
Just don’t expect a lot of ‘“I love yous” or long talks about feelings.
“Emotion is more likely expressed through action, so if you thrive on emotional connection, you will probably feel pretty lonely with someone like this,” says Manes. “But if reliability and accountability are your highest priority, you won’t be disappointed.”
Best flavor mate: Mint chocolate chip
While researchers have yet to find a universal flavor that's compatible with all others, strawberry is pretty close. But if your date doesn't dive into a gallon of your ideal flavor mate, you can still have fun finding out his second favorite flavor. Or create your own romantically compatible sundae for two.
No word on the best romantic choice for chocolate lovers. But then again, can you imagine not getting along with someone who likes chocolate?
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.