How much do we really know about the genetic factors that influence relationship compatibility? Strong scientific evidence suggests that the genes in our immune systems help us to decide which partners to choose.
Researchers have repeatedly found that we seek partners with different immune system genes, since these will ultimately give our children improved resistance to pathogens. Another study found that the more different your immune system is from your partner's, the less likely it is that he'll cheat on you!
Multiple Studies Suggest Genes are the Best Matchmakers
Since 1995, the field of "pairomics," the study of human mate choice at the genetic level, has grown substantially. Scientists have uncovered a number of other genes directly involved in relationship compatibility!
Among other findings, researchers have discovered that a gene involved in serotonin transport in the brain plays a significant role in marital satisfaction. To put it simply, there are two variants of this gene that exist in nature, a short version and a long version. Spouses carrying the short version are found to be more attentive and sensitive to their partners' positive and negative emotions compared to spouses with the long version.
It may sound ideal for both partners to have the same short version of this gene, right? Not so fast! Another study out of UC Berkeley found that couples sharing the short version of this gene are less likely to be together 10 years into their marriage. Although these couples tend to really enjoy the positive aspects of their relationships, they get very hurt by the negative aspects as well. Both of these independent findings support the notion that genes do play a role in relationship compatibility.
Mating Based on Population & Cultural Surroundings
In 2012, researchers in France found several hundred genes involved in our choice of partners. Using whole-genome scanning techniques, the researchers studied the genomes of couples with European, Mexican and Nigerian ancestry, scanning the genomes of each population to look for genetic factors that could predict relationship compatibility. After controlling for socio-demographic factors, the researchers were intrigued by what they found. There is a tug-of-war going on across our genomes! We are simultaneously attracted to partners with certain dissimilar genes, but also certain similar ones.
Not surprisingly, genes involved in the immune system showed extreme differences among couples. Other genes that were different between couples included genes related to brain development and cell growth. Interestingly, genetic factors that were more similar between couples were mostly related to skin color and perception of taste.
How to Put this Research to the Test
All of this research has serious implications. It's clear that genes DO play a role in relationship compatibility. It is widely accepted that genes play a role in physical traits, diseases and our behavior. Now there is a growing body of evidence that our genes also help us pick our life partners! At Instant Chemistry, we're constantly looking for ways to bring this science out of the lab and put it into practice to give you the best chance of finding long-term relationship success. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!