DNA-Compatability Dating Works, Kind Of

Here's a feel-good for you! When this Cosmo writer tried a DNA-dating site, she thought it was a stunt. But it worked.

Writes dating blogger Carrie Seim, who resigned herself o the experiment in the spirit of "why the hell not?"

GenePartner.com is a straight-from-sci-fi site that analyzes couples' DNA compatibility. Simply swab your suitor's cheek, send it to a lab in Switzerland and wait to hear if you're a match made in genetic heaven. Why waste months wining and dining if your double helices just don't align? The theory behind DNA dating comes from the famous "Sweaty T-shirt Experiment" by Swiss biologist Claus Wedekind. He asked male volunteers to wear t-shirts – sans deodorant – for two days. A group of ladies then sniffed the stinky shirts and ranked them by sexiness. (Fun with pheromones!) Turns out women lust for men whose immune system genes (known as MHC, for Major Histocompatibility Complex) are most different from their own. Subconsciously, we gravitate toward guys with mix-and-match MHC because it can make our future kids' immune systems stronger and better able to fight off disease. Scientists believe immune system diversity may also contribute to higher fertility rates for couples.

Long story short, these factors can measure your physical (read: sexual) compatibility — not the likeness of tastes or long-term potential. And it does nothing to eliminate the awkwardness of asking for said DNA swab; one senses the author had to do a lot of the "help-me-out-it's-for-work" begging familiar to any freelance writer.

Eventually, I narrow my DNA dating spree to three swab-able bachelors: a dashing doctor I've been crushing on, my gay BFF and the chubby bearded dude who stocks wine at my local Trader Tom's. Each man holds a special place in my heart – I'm dying to know which is my genetic soul mate.

She sends their swabs into the lab and awaits her destiny. The results?

Two weeks later, a thick envelope arrives in the mail from Zurich. I hold my breath and scan reports on Biological Attraction, Symmetry of Attraction, Probability of Successful Pregnancy and Overall Compatibility. According to GenePartner, I'm off-the-charts compatible with my gay pal Trent. We have a 98% chance of successful pregnancy. (Mother Nature loves irony.) Trader Thor and I are completely incompatible – our "symmetry of attraction" is in the DNA Dumpster. (This likely means some of our genes are closely related, terrifying in its own right.) As for Dr. Tom? His DNA is totally hot for mine! Biologically speaking, we're "very attracted" to each other and our love child would be a genetic Wunderkind.

And indeed, six months later, they're still going strong, with a great how-we-met story into the bargain. But of course, this is a flawed sample, since she was already into the dude in question. Even more interesting would be to see who the lab matches you with — and if sparks fly. After all, Seim knew she wasn't into the other guy, and the gay one and she clearly had a chemistry of some kind — while it certainly doesn't invalidate the results, it was something of a self-selecting population. Most interesting of all would be to see who we're attracted to in person — with the signifiers of clothes and environment and speech — and then see what the correlation was. After all, if we're already drawn to those we're a good match for, there's no reason for the service. If the matches only predict sexual compatibility, well, the founders might be onto something highly lucrative — but not exactly what they had in mind. And I'm not just thinking sperm-banks.