Your Genes Influence Who You Settle Down With

And your top candidate will likely seem familiar.

by Dan Roe
Jan 12 2017, 1:00pm

If your genes can't have you all to themselves, they'll seek out the next best thing: A recent study on assortative mating has uncovered statistical evidence that you're more likely to lock things down with someone just like, well, you. 

By analyzing three studies with publicly available genetics data on more than 24,000 heterosexual couples of European ethnicity, the researchers discovered that most couples were highly likely to date someone of a similar height, body mass index (BMI), and even blood pressure.

The researchers also tested correlations between other metrics of desirability, such as education level. As the study authors put it, "For educational attainment, we find that this direct estimate of the correlation at genetic value among partners is higher than the expected value." In plain English: Two PhDs are more likely to date each other than they are someone without a college education. While you could easily chalk this up to a matter of life choices or socioeconomic effects (both important factors to be sure), the researchers found that genes associated with pursuing more education (yep, those exist) were more often than not shared between mates. 

The new research represents a continuation of the growing field of science that studies assortative mating—basically, how we choose our partners—in human beings. 

And like all theories of attraction, there's plenty of room for interpretation: "This doesn't mean that [educated] people choose mates based on actual years of education," Matthew Robinson, a University of Queensland geneticist involved in the research, told Science magazine. "But it likely implies that they select for similar interests, which are associated with education."

genetic code