Computer dating is almost as old as computers themselves. Moving the process online was a natural development. Now a startup wants to add genetic analysis to help you narrow the field and, if not find your One True Love, at least avoid some pairings that could turn into duds -- or worse.
Research in the past has suggested that genes indicating compatibility between immune systems might mean that two people were "chemically" well matched for a relationship. Now, companies are trying to combine that idea with now-easier genetic testing to offer a service allowing couples to find out if they're biologically compatible.
"We're trying to bridge the gap between the digital and biological worlds of love," said Jana Bayad, CEO of San Diego, Calif., startup SingldOut, in an interview with CBS MoneyWatch. Other companies are also trying to make a business out of the genetics of compatibility.
Here's how it works. Someone living in San Diego or Boston subscribes (SingldOut plans to expand the service to at least Los Angeles and New York), receives a DNA test kit in the mail, swabs their mouth and returns the sample.
The kit tests the human leukocyte antigen, or HLA, of which there are three types. The less your HLA matches your partner's, the more compatible you supposedly are. In the 1990s, an experiment reportedly found that people tended to be more attracted to the smells of the opposite gender whose HLA makeup was most dissimilar to their own.
Evolution-centric theory suggests that the attraction is a natural one because a person is driven to look for someone with complementary immune issues, so that their offspring would in theory be less susceptible to diseases, rather than more susceptible if parental weaknesses reinforced each other.
SingldOut also looks at a gene involved in the regulation of serotonin. According to Bayad, the gene controls your inclination to react to stress in either a cool-headed or high-strung way. Basically, the company says science can determine whether someone is high-maintenance or low-maintenance. A couple is fine so long as both people aren't of the high-strung variety.
Bayad emphasizes that the genetic factor accounts for only 40 percent of compatibility.
"The whole purpose of this is to help single people, especially professionals who don't have time to go out and mingle, and see if they have chemistry with people," Bayad said. "It sheds some light on who you are as a person and how to make a relationship work."
Company executive Elle France actually tried the system with her romantic partner.
"We were compatible," France said. "There is typically a lust type of thing when people first meet each other, and they mistake it for long-term chemistry. Typically, a lot of people make bad choices early on. They confuse chemistry for attraction. A lot of people try to deny or justify or make themselves believe that they have something. Their relationships go on longer than they should have."
"I have used it," said Bayad. "I do have my profile set up. I do have my results." However, her partner has not. Sometimes you have to do something crazy like throw caution to the wind and just trust to fate ... and a computer server.