A Swiss company called GenePartner.com (“Love is no coincidence”) has taken the search for a mate to a new level by developing a biological matching system using your human leukocyte antigen, or HLA, genes to find your perfect match.
The company works with several dating sites around the world–Sense2love and Eventful Dating to name two–and tests interested people by mail. It’s quite easy; you get a couple of Q-tips, scrape the inside of your cheek and that of the other party or parties you’d like to have checked, and return it to the company. Later, you receive access to a closed account on the company’s website, where you can read at your leisure about how well you supposedly fit together, genetically.
“This all sounds like some kind of animal attraction,” says my colleague J, when he hears about GenePartner, which I was researching for my new book, My Beautiful Genome: Exposing Our Genetic Future, One Quirk at a Time.
He clearly finds the thought appealing. So appealing, in fact, that he thinks we should both get a test as soon as possible.
This does not come out of nowhere. For a couple of years, he’s been energetically advocating that we produce a baby together. It’s not that we should live together or have anything to do with each other in the traditional way — we are both involved with other people — but since his girlfriend can’t have children, he thinks the arrangement makes sense. Particularly from a genetic point of view.
“We’re both good-looking people, right?” he says, referring mainly to himself. When I shrug, he argues further that we complement each other well: “You’re gifted in the rational direction, while I’m an excellent example of the artistic, aesthetic type.” An ideal combination, in other words. When I’m not convinced, he moves on to the purely physiological advantages.
“My grandmother lived to be over a hundred, and she was fit as a fiddle right up to the end.” And then the trump card: “My liver and pancreas are in top form!” Which undeniably says something about a robust physique, when you take J’s consumption of wine into consideration. Now, he’s trying a scientific argument as a last resort to persuade me: We can have an HLA test done, which can show whether we should propagate before it’s too late for me.