Just read this interesting article in Time Magazine about how romance is linked to smell. We respond to olfactory cues and in fact, smell helps us narrow our choices of potential partners.
MHC (the major histocompatibility complex), a set of genes that controls the immune system and influences tissue rejection is especially critical. You jive best with a partner whose MHC is sufficiently different from your own. Studies show that couples with similar MHC’s have trouble conceiving or an increased risk of miscarriage.
A study had females smell various t-shirts worn by different anonymous men, then pick the one that appealed to them most. Most women chose ones worn by men with a MHC dissimilar to her own (=good). Those who chose the t-shirts worn by men with similar MHC (=bad) were on birth control. The daily dose of hormones confounds the MHC-smell detection system.
A chemist associated with the studies “wonders if the Pill may contribute to divorce… Women pick a husband when they’re on birth control, then quit to have a baby and realize they’ve made a mistake.” Here’s an in depth description of the study & a scientific explanation here.
Watch out Match.com, ScientificMatch.com is taking over. My friend Pavla read about this online dating service where you send in saliva samples and the program matches you with a mate with dissimilar immune system genes. Only $1,995.95 for a year for anyone except convicted criminals or women on birth control.