Have you ever been on a date that has gone nowhere due to a lack of chemistry? You had common interests, you got along well, and you might even like the way you looked at each other, but the date didn’t go any further. Okay, he loves them. And his absence as well. But next time this happens and when you’re trying to make it not work, remember that the answer may lie in your genetic code.
When the Beatles released the album “Abbey Road” with the song “Because”, “Love is old, love is new. Love is all, love is you”. . “Love is everything, love is you”), almost no one figured out that they were so literal.
As an evolutionary question, the genes we carry may be one of the variables in this intricate calculation of attraction. Mainly the part of the genome responsible for the body’s defense, the MHC or HLA, which stands for Major Histocompatibility Complex.
Several studies, from Switzerland to the United States, from Germany to Brazil, show that this chromosomal region, which refers to the immune repertoire, hinders the choice of a possible partner, which we believe is so magical and irrational. Even the saying “attracts the opposite” is corrected by scientific evidence: it is people who are genetically different who are attracted to each other.
Professor Maria da Graça Bicalho, Director of the Immunogenetics and Histocompatibility Laboratory at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), explained that each of us has a unique MHC and that this variability makes us more or less sensitive and resistant to different threats. our immune system: “During the evolution of species, we have developed mechanisms to ensure the diversity of MHC genes. One of these strategies is related to reproduction, especially the selection of a mate with a different MHC.”
Did you like the smell? maybe it works
From this theory, the nose is promoted to the angelic role of Cupid: “Each of us has a hundred HLA identities, which also resonate with a unique-smelling HLA identity. And that affects the choice of partner,” she says. That is, this genetic mark of our cells appears in the smell we breathe and smell, through controversial pheromones, which gives us clues about the future of flirting.
By the 1990s, it was already known that female mice preferred MHC to males. But in 1995, Swiss biologist Claus Wedekind set out to test his theory of humans. The famous experiment would take a picture worthy of an open-air TV program on Sundays: Wedekind and his colleagues at the University of Lausanne asked a group of men to wear the same shirt for a few days without deodorant or perfume. Then they would give the women clothes to smell. They rated the men who had the most MHC as possible from them as best they could.
This research was a model for many others, including one conducted with Brazilian students at the UFPR and led by Bicalho. The national version replaced sweatpants with week-long cotton bags with collars and came to a very close conclusion from Switzerland. Four years later, Maria da Graça’s team used a database of the population of southern Brazil to analyze the genetic information of stable couples and found that, in most of these romantic couples, there was a big difference in MHC.
Does that mean we have to find someone to spend our Valentine’s Day smelling of cleavage? It can be more fun than dating your favorite dating app if you’re not pregnant or taking a birth control pill. In such cases, Swiss trials have shown that women prefer men with MHC to their peers.
“It can be said that from a biological point of view, what we share with other species is that we are looking for mHC partners that are not ours. But we must remember that these biological factors are not unique, but they are not. limiting and there are other priority values that are included in this equation (social, cultural, ethical, economic …), confusing or diminishing the priority option. A different MHC partner “, says Bicalho the universe.
In “The Secret Life of the Mind,” Argentine neuroscientist Mariano Sigman, a leading figure in decision-making, cites Wedekind’s experiment as explaining why we feel: “Many emotional and social decisions are much more stereotyped than we accept. ) is hidden in the mystery of the unconscious, so we do not perceive the deliberative process.
But they have criticized the idea that smell can be a driver of the heart. Many scientists question the existence of pheromones, such as the case of Richard Doty, an otolaryngologist and olfactory researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, who argues that our odors are determined by bacteria.
“It’s a nonsensical idea that there are these magical genes that are somehow linked to the smells that permeate the environment. New York would be in a state of constant chaos as people jump on top of each other.”
‘Love is thinking’
Love is not simple from a sociocultural or scientific point of view. So his relationship with genetics is expected to go beyond the MHC. As we know, other important agents are neurotransmitters, the body’s chemical messengers.
Depending on the expression of the genes of oxytocin receptors, for example, known as the love hormone, a person may have more or less empathy, and may or may not have a tendency to have long-term relationships.
Research conducted by the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University looked at different neurochemical reception genes, and found that this particular substance plays a key role in romantic love because it is linked to the way we attach and empathize with each other.
Dopamine genes, a protein associated with emotions and pleasures, can interfere with the people around us and the size of our social circle. It was noticed that serotonin, the famous neurotransmitter of happiness, indicates how obsessive we can be about love.
Based on the same logic that affects different personality traits in how genetics relate to each other, there are those who have researched what our genes might say about sexual behavior.
A team led by neuroscientist Bianca Acevedo of the University of California, Santa Barbara, for example, also looked at genetic interference in the reception of certain neurotransmitters. They found that genes associated with the hormone oxytocin and basopressin could provide clues about the romantic commitment of individuals, as well as the frequency and satisfaction of their sex lives.
the formula of love
For evolutionary anthropologist Anna Machin, who was part of the Oxford neurotransmitter study and author of the book “Why We Love,” love is a chemical reaction in the brain that is covered by different layers of culture. In an interview with the English University, he answered the essence of this feeling:
Neurochemistry is the basis of love in all cultures, while cultural perspectives on love can vary, and there are cultural differences depending on political systems, place, heritage of romantic romantic poetry, and so on. There are also societies that reject the cultural concepts of Romanticism, but neurochemistry persists. Although homosexuality is a cultural pressure against it in many societies, it is an example of a neurochemical process that takes place because biological processes are at the root of our behavior.
Anna Machin, evolutionary anthropologist
Well paid, the game is here
Last year, the science fiction TV series “The One” premiered on Netflix, where the couple are no longer (sometimes) made up of good old flirtations, but through DNA compatibility tests. It goes without saying that the consequences of forming perfect pairs in the lab take a suspenseful turn. But the fictional chaos doesn’t seem to have discouraged companies that sell genetic testing to couples in real life.
This is the case with the Canadian companies DNA Romance and Instant Chemistry. Under the slogan “Science-Based Online Dating”, the first is aimed at single people and combines genetic markers with psychological personality tests. The latter works in three areas, neuro, bio and psycho compatibility, reducing conflict, keeping the relationship burning and, in their words, “helping couples achieve their goals”. The complete Instant Chemistry kit costs $ 259, more than R $ 1,200.
Before you open your wallet and test your saliva for someone who is “genetically ideal,” it’s a good idea to remember that scientists themselves acknowledge that we need more experiments on the subject. After all, DNA can be a path, but it is not a destination. And love, in all its beauty and complexity, is far from a sentence.