The other day, I happened upon this site, ScientificMatch.com, which is a dating service that finds compatible matches for you based on your DNA. As much as I want to believe in the mystical and spiritual aspects of love, anyone who has spent any time on one of the Discovery Channels knows that many aspects of love and attraction can be tied to activity in the brain, hormones, scents, and a host of other pathways tied to the physical world.
As an adolescent youth, I would have refused to believe any of that. I wanted very much to believe in the "magic" of finding love and the fuzzy-hearted Hollywood version of love at first sight. However, as a young adult who has been through a handful of failed relationships and is currently single, I realize that making a relationship work can be quite hard and sometimes two people are simply not meant to be together.
ScientificMatch.com fully embraces this fact and feels that the most compatible matches are based on differences in your immune system. When you join their service, they send you some sterilized cotton swabs for collecting genetic material from inside your mouth. This material, your DNA, then gets shipped off to the lab anonymously (by member ID only), and their computer start to analyze your DNA and find potential matches.
Here is an expert from their DNA Matching overview page:
The DNA analysis at ScientificMatch helps you find a partner with physical chemistry. When you share the magic of chemistry with someone, you'll realize some amazing effects -- which, admittedly, often sound fantastical. We've identified six specific benefits of chemistry, which we'll describe in detail -- complete with sources cited. These sources (except for one, the New York Times,) all meet the gold standard of researched information: They're all peer-reviewed articles published in renowned, scientific journals. Of course, the results represent averages across populations; individual experiences may vary. The benefits shown are in comparison to couples who are inappropriately matched according to our DNA-matching process, all other things being equal.
When you share chemistry with someone:
1. Chances are, you love their natural body fragrance--they smell "sexier" than other people.
2. You probably have a more satisfying sex life.
3. If you're a woman, chances are you have a higher rate of orgasms.
4. There's a lower chance of cheating in your exclusive relationship.
5. As a couple, you're probably more fertile.
6. Your children have a better chance of being healthy.
That's what they do for you, but why do they go with differences in the Immune System? The explanation is actually quite interesting and at first glance seems to make a lot of sense from an evolutionary standpoint (man, I love science!):
Physical chemistry is based on the immune system. When we analyze your DNA, we look exclusively at your immune system genes. So, quite literally, when we say that two people have "chemistry", we're saying that their immune system genes are perfectly matched with each other.
By perfectly matched, we mean different. After we analyze your DNA, we match you with other people who have different immune system genes from yourself.
The theory is that nature wants us to breed with other people who have different immune systems because it creates babies with a wider variety of immune system genes, and therefore, more robust immune systems - in other words, healthier babies. It also discourages inbreeding and the associated health consequences, and it enables us as a species to adapt to changing diseases and disease environments.
Since nature's goal is to perpetuate the species, it encourages us to mate with others who have immune systems different from our own.
For example, you've probably noticed that you're not sexually attracted to your brother, sister, mother, or father. That's because they're all part of your immediate gene pool, and you all probably have very similar immune systems. Nature doesn't want you to mate with them, because the health of your baby, and the longevity of our species, would suffer.
You may have experienced the power of chemistry in another way: Perhaps you know someone who looks just like "your type", but somehow you just don't feel that "sexual spark" when you're together. They seem more like a brother or sister than a potential lover. It could be that you have too much in common -- namely, your immune system genes.
Conversely, maybe you've found yourself talking to someone who you distinctly did NOT consider to be your type, and yet with whom you distinctly DID feel a sexual spark. Again, your immune system genes could be at the source.
As much as I appreciate any attempt for people to find love in this world, I can't help but think of the movie Gattaca starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman in which people's DNA determines their place in the world. Of course, that's a totally different story ... but is it so far off? How much of a leap is it to go from "I'll date you cause you have good DNA" to, "I'll hire you cause you have good DNA." I guess the major difference their is the optional aspect of it. With ScientificMatch.com, you are opting to have your DNA anonymously analyzed because you think it will help you find that perfect someone. In something like Gattaca, there was nothing "optional" about it - it was discrimination against people via mandatory DNA testing.
Of course, let's not even go down that road. There are always going to be insane and fanatical people that believe that anything will eventually lead to the downfall of the free man. This site is about love and goodness and ultimate happiness, so let's not even try to extrapolate it out into anything negative.
As much as I would love for Love to remain a mysterious and magic aspect of life, I think that that viewpoint is naive. Everyday Science is helping our lives to be safer, more effective, cleaner, more efficient, and all around better; why is it so hard for people (including me) to accept that fact that science can help in this matter too?
I am very curious to see if this company is successful. They seem very new and at $1,995.95 for a one year membership, they might have some trouble gaining critical mass. Of course, if you are one who has faith in science, is two thousand dollars a high cost for finding compatible and long-lasting love?