How many times have you gone on a blind date with a guy who seemed perfect on paper (i.e., according to his profile, or your matchmaking friend’s review)—but in person, your chemistry could only be described as … crickets?
It could be your (or his) DNA, suggests a new study published in the journal Human Nature. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, have discovered a connection between several genetic traits and attraction.
For their study, they recruited 262 young, single Asian Americans to take part in a speed-dating scenario. After each three-minute “date,” the researchers asked the participants how desirable they found the other person to be, and whether they were interested in a second date. The researchers also examined the daters’ DNA.
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What they found? Men with a gene variant linked to leadership and social dominance were considered more attractive; while women who had a gene variant linked to sensitivity were seen as more desirable.
In other words, “speed-daters were more attracted to men and women who had gene variants that were consistent with prevailing gender stereotypes,” explains lead author Karen Wu. (Though Wu and her team note that their experiment should be replicated to see if the results are consistent across cultures and ages.)
This isn’t the first time DNA and romance have been linked: A 2014 study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that carriers of a certain genotype were more likely to stay single. So do findings like these mean we all have some sort of superhero gene-detecting ability?
Not quite, says Wu: “Speed-daters were most likely detecting the underlying genes through their partners’ behaviors during the date."
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But let’s be clear: No one is suggesting that you act delicate to land a second date. Or that men go all macho to impress a lady. Of course, “there are many other factors that also contribute to dating success,” Wu points out. Like, if you and your date have anything in common. Or you’re physically attracted to each other. Or you want the same things, or share the same values. You get the idea.
Besides, Wu adds, “We found the [DNA] effect to be fairly small.”
The golden rule of dating—proven outside the lab time and time again—still holds true: Above all, it’s best to be your awesome self.