Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Finding your perfect match

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People say there are plenty of fish in the sea. But how do you know if you picked the right one?

You might be thinking, “There are more than 10,000 members of the gender I am looking for at UMass. How am I single?” But your “soul mate” might not be here.

There are scientific, religious and just hopeful ways to think about finding a mate, the perfect match, your significant other, soul mate or whatever you want to call it.

When we initially meet someone, some part of us judges them based on looks. How could we not? We see them before we hear them speak or have the opportunity to judge them based on character. So how can love at first sight be true? It must be lust at first sight.

When and if we decide to pursue this person, we decide based on their character. Without physical attraction, mental attraction is just not as strong. The same happens the other way around, though. If we find someone to be not extremely physically attractive at first, but get to know them and find their personality attractive, their appearance becomes more appealing. And so goes the famous saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, the attraction in a relationship is based on both types of appeal.

Sometimes people need a sign for if they should be with a certain someone. Is it “meant to be?” Is there really such thing as fate? It depends on your beliefs. Some religions say yes. For example, in Judaism, the term “soul mate” is literal. According to the Torah, during creation Adam was made having both a male and female within him. God split him to create Eve.

According to this belief, a relationship is between a man, a woman and God. Every person’s soul is essentially half a soul, matched up with another soul out there to complete the whole. Some people might have a couple souls that match, but there is only one that is the perfect match. Once you find that particular person, you complete the full soul. This is what is behind the common phrase, “You are my other half.”

It’s a bit different when it comes to scientifically understanding whether or not you belong with your “soul mate.” What is the attraction? It incorporates more senses than you may think. Things are happening in your brain telling you whether or not you would want to be with this person when you don’t even realize it is happening.

“There are a small number of human genes…that may play a role in determining how attractive you are to a potential mate. Suitable partners can literally sniff each other out, finding an optimal genetic other half using their noses,” said Tim Dowling in his Sept. 8, 2013, article in The Guardian, “Can you smell the perfect partner?

The theory has been tested in the well-known T-shirt test.

In the so-called smelly T-shirt experiment, first performed by a Swiss zoologist named Claus Wedekind in 1994, Wedekind analyzed DNA looking specifically at the major histocompatibility genes (MHC). These genes mediate the interaction of white blood cells, or immune cells, with other body cells.

The students used in the experiment consisted of 49 females and 44 males. The men were asked to wear plain cotton T-shirts for two nights while avoiding anything that could change their natural odor.

Two days later, the shirts were put in cardboard boxes with holes in them, and the women were asked to rank the boxes by smell based on intensity, pleasantness and sexiness. Results showed that women preferred the T-shirts worn by men with different compatibility genes from themselves. This means that unconsciously, women may choose mates who would put offspring at some genetic advantage.

To judge a person in this way, we must not only smell their MHC genes, but also taste it through saliva. As reproducing mammals, we inherently look for a mate who would be beneficial in reproducing. That doesn’t exactly cross our minds when we say yes to going on a date with someone, but it plays a role in if we want to continue seeing him or her, whether we know it or not.

Don’t let this research stop you at a party or around campus. We are still young but thinking about more permanent relationships and the future is something that is normal to be crossing our minds. I believe that things are meant to be and that everything happens for a reason, although we may not know what the reason is at the time or even for a while.

Karen Podorefsky is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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