We all know what instant attraction feels like – your eyes meet across a crowded room then suddenly, bam!
It’s like someone’s hit you over the head with a lust stick. Your cheeks flush, your pulse starts to race and you suddenly lose all power of sensible speech.
Then there’s the slow burn – when the passion between you grows over time until one day, you can’t imagine not wanting to be permanently glued to one another’s hips.
I’d had both kinds of beginnings to relationships before, but none of them had lasted.
One of us either realised years on that we weren’t that compatible or grew bored.
Now, at 40, and tired of one promising partnership after another falling apart, I decided to adopt a new approach to finding long-lasting love.
I’d met my current beau, Matt, 35, at a fitness convention last year and although things had been going well, I wanted to know for definite whether we had a long term future together before investing too much emotionally.
On paper we had lots in common – we both loved fitness and sports, enjoyed going to the cinema and eating out, and had the same quirky sense of humour.
But was that enough to cement us together for life? And was happily ever after down to compromise and hard work or chance compatibility?
I needed an answer.
“It’s chemistry,” my wise, blissfully married best friend Mel told me.
“If the chemistry is right between you and you’re a good match, it just works.”
Many of my smugly coupled up friends bandied this word about when I asked them for their thoughts on what makes two people a good match.
Yet I still wasn’t entirely sure what they meant by ‘‘chemistry’’. Did they mean physical or intellectual appeal? Or was it some elusive mysterious connection between two people that couldn’t really be explained?
I had never believed in soulmates. To me the idea that any one person among billions could only be destined for one other seemed ludicrous.
Plus I’d never really “just known” that a man was right for me.
No, there had to be some other way of discovering whether Matt and I would be likely to make it to old age together.
And, after a few hours spent researching the subject online, I accidentally stumbled upon it – DNA testing.
It’s become the modern-day method for determining everything from a person’s ancestry to their likelihood of getting certain illnesses – even what types of foods and exercise might suit them best.
But a number of scientists have claimed in recent years that our genetics also play a vital role not only in how attracted we feel towards a potential mate, but how well-suited we are to them.
As I discovered to my delight, one company in Switzerland, called GenePartner, provided special DNA tests to determine just this.
The clinic, which also offers an online dating service, was founded by geneticists Dr Tamara Brown and Joëlle Apter to help people not only find love, but keep it.
“We measure how well suited two people are by comparing genes found in their immune systems called HLAs,” Dr Tamara informed me.
“Studies have shown that people tend to be more attracted to those with HLAs that are very different to theirs which means, at least in scientific terms, opposites really do attract.”
All we had to do was apply for a DNA testing kit, post back some cheek swab samples, then all would be revealed.
“Let’s do it!” I urged Matt.
“But there’s nothing wrong with our relationship,” he replied, looking slightly hurt.
“Why do you want to find out if we’re right for each other? Aren’t you happy?”
Of course I was. After all, I wouldn’t have stayed with him for over a year otherwise. But I’d been left broken after the “War of the Roses” style breakdown of my last long-term relationship.
With discussions of Matt and moving in together surfacing, I needed some reassurance that this wouldn’t happen again.
Luckily, Matt agreed and I sent off for a DNA testing pack.
But after I posted back our sealed saliva-soaked cotton buds, fear suddenly struck.
What if the test showed we weren’t a good match and that things wouldn’t work out? Would I have to think about ending it? And worse, would he?
The scores were in four categories – level of attraction, meaning how attractive one partner was to the other, type of interest, which determined how platonic the attraction was, symmetry of attraction, meaning how equally we were attracted to one another, and chances of a successful pregnancy. There was also an overall score.
I was happy to discover I rated very highly on Matt’s attraction scale, but he didn’t rate as highly on mine.
“I always knew I fancied you more,” he mumbled looking crestfallen.
“I do fancy you though – lots,” I insisted, feeling I’d let him down.
Okay, so maybe he was 30% more attracted to me genetically. But didn’t women always value personality more than men generally anyway? Plus, the findings referred to biological attraction, and the summary warned: Please note that biological attraction is not the same as optical attraction which is based on looks and appearances.
Biological attraction is the subconscious attraction we feel for certain individuals without really understanding why.
“People need to match both socially and biologically to have good, long-lasting relationships,” explained Dr Tamara.
“It is possible to find out both when meeting of course, but over the last decade the number of singletons searching for partners online has increased dramatically. In this virtual world, chemistry is something we cannot sense. That’s where DNA testing can help. If you are a strong biological match, it goes a long way towards lasting happiness.”
Thankfully, the results also showed that our interest in one another was equally non platonic, which meant we were unlikely to slip into to the realm of being more like friends than lovers if we did move in together.
The likelihood of procreation? It concluded that Matt and I had a high probability of successful pregnancy, which was a relief.
Overall, our genetic patterns showed that, with social compatibility thrown into the mix, we had a very good foundation for a stable, successful relationship.
Good job really, given that we’ve found a suitable flat.