Skip to Content

DNA-Based Dating

Sexy smells: Online dating gets weirder.
July 22, 2008

No luck with Match.com or EHarmony? Online daters now have a new way to screen potential dates. Two companies offer genetic analysis that purports to find your perfect love match based in part on the smell of his or her sweat.

The genetic tests for both companies–ScientificMatch, based in Naples, FL, and GenePartner, based in Zurich, Switzerland–are based on the same study, performed more than a decade ago in Switzerland. Women were asked to rate the odor of men’s sweaty T-shirts, and then both sexes were tested for the genotype of several genes within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a family of genes that is crucial for immune function. Women were more likely to prefer the sweaty smells of men whose MHC genes were most different from their own.

While it sounds bizarre, the finding does have a potential evolutionary explanation. According to an article from the Economist,

The children of couples with a wide range of MHC genes, and thus of immune responses, will be better protected from disease… . That could be particularly important in a collaborative, group-living species such as humanity. Moreover, comparing MHCs could be a proxy for comparing kinship, and thus help to prevent inbreeding.

Does it really work for finding a date? Probably not. Subconscious feelings about a person’s smell likely make only a minor contribution to each person’s attractiveness equation.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.