According to a biological and neurological compatibility score.
With the high rates of divorce in today’s society, the process of finding “the one” can be daunting. But what if science could give you that extra assurance that you’ve found your soulmate?
That’s exactly what a company called Instant Chemistry aims to do. Instead of leaving it up to the trials of fate, Toronto-based founders Sara Seabrooke and her husband Ron Gonzalez created the company to provide couples with a science-backed way to confirm their compatibility.
“Relationships grow, but your DNA and core personality stay constant,” the creators, who met as medical students studying neuroscience and genetics, write on the website.
“Instant Chemistry uses cutting-edge scientific research to bring you the latest advancements in relationship science,” the creators write. “Our solution is a multipronged, comprehensive compatibility assessment that provides results that are understandable, meaningful and most important, point the way toward lasting love.”
How does it work?
You order a “relationship kit” containing two test tubes for saliva, and you and your partner each spit in a tube to fill it with your DNA. Send the tube back, and then Instant Chemistry will extract certain genetic information from the samples to determine “biocompatability” and “neurocompatability” scores.
First, they analyze the genes of your immune system to create a Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) profile of you and your partner. As the creators explained to The Guardian, HLA controls what bacteria grows on and in you, which produces your unique odor and taste.
“How often have you heard something like, ‘I liked him, he was cute, but we didn’t have any chemistry.’ That’s not magic, that’s science,” Gonzalez said in the interview.
Although the HLA system is comprised of a number of different genes for the immune system, there’s three in particular — HLA-A, HLA-B and HLA-DRB1 — that play an important role in “biological compatibility,” which reflects the ability to produce healthy offspring.
The creators of Instant Chemistry think that biological compatibility could be a gauge of compatibility between two people. One study showed that couples with very different HLA profiles tend to have children who can better defend themselves from infections, but even more striking, research suggests these couples enjoy greater sex lives, marital stability, and find each other more attractive.
Research has found that we can subconsciously detect how similar or different a person’s immune system is from our own through scent. These instincts can affect human attraction.
In addition to the HLA profile, Instant Chemistry produces metrics on four behavioral genetic variants — the serotonin transporter, dopamine receptor, oxytocin receptor, and a dopamine enzyme — to create psychological profiles.
A 2013 study found that individuals with two “short” versions of the serotonin transporter, as well as higher negative and lower positive emotional behavior at the beginning of a marriage, can predict declines in marital satisfaction over time.
The creators say that individual variations in these genes can determine a number of things that factor into a relationship, like how individuals communicate and process emotions.
To date, about 300 couples have signed up for the Instant Chemistry DNA analysis, so the founders can’t yet make solid conclusions about the reliability of their relationship science — it’s best to stay skeptical for now.
In fact, Gonzalez tells The Science Explorer that he agrees with some of the skeptics. “It’s a very complex biological process. We don’t know enough yet.” However, Instant Chemistry is setting the foundation for a better understanding of compatibility science, and despite the healthy skepticism, Gonzalez argues that “we also have to try to do something” to further our knowledge.
Now, the team is working to develop a rapid saliva test for instant HLA results, and Seabrooke and Gonzalez imagine an app that could geolocate singles based on high biological compatibility. A futuristic Tinder made especially for science nerds?
“There’s always that component of love that is random, but there is a huge subconscious area of scientific compatibility that is occurring under the surface. A lot of that is biological,” Gonzalez concluded in the Guardian interview. “People think of love as a conscious thing, and it’s not. So much of it you have no control over. You’re just along for the ride.”
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