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Dating agencies are generally based on the idea that users may increase their chances of a successful relationship by arranging meetings with a series of compatible people. Let us suppose that this is true, because it seems reasonable.
The problem for the agencies then becomes to determine what exactly
makes people compatible. I believe that most of them are questionaire based, asking people what they think they want, and what they are.
I assume that this works to some extent, but it totally overlooks the biology of the situation. I've covered part of this before (see 'Marianne's moor dating service' link), but I now propose to incorporate part of that concept in a much wider scheme.
First of all, of course we should do the compatibility questionaire thing. We should also try to hone this scientifically for what actually works based on success rate. If people are generally shown to disregard their stated preference in any category, it can be junked or weighed down, as otherwise it is just wasting time and discounting potentially good matches.
Secondly, we test the major histocompatibility complex loci of each applicant. There's no point arranging meetings between people who share alleles - they're not biologically compatible, however shared their interests may be. Female applicants would of course have to forgo birth control pills while playing for this to work.
Thirdly, it turns out that I may have been on to something before. Apparently, when in an intense situation people are not able to determine the source of their arousal. An experiment put (presumably single) men in a vertigous situation, or not, then a young female researcher gave a contact number on some pretext. Subsequently, there were more calls to that number from the men on the cliff edge, as they could not determine the basis for their arousal. (I'd link to where I read this if only I could remember, sorry)
Now, the dating service would need to be careful here, as there's a risk of leading people into relationships which fail after a short period. I therefore propose that this be used only to cement already developing relationships; a couple's second date should be something adventurous.
If there's anything else which is scientifically shown to increase the success of the ensuing long-term relationships, that should be included. For example, men may benefit from being reminded 2 weeks ahead of their fifth wedding anniversary, (perhaps with a list of appropriate gifts) and so on.
(Incidentally, before anyone asks, this should work for homosexual customers. The forms may be different, and the MHC thing may or may not work, but analysis of long-term couples should help determine this.)
Marianne's Moor romantic services
[Loris, Sep 12 2009]
Major histocompatibility complex
A hidden factor underlying who you find most attractive [Loris, Sep 12 2009]
||Interesting approach - and no dating service I've heard of has done anything remotely like this. Of course, it may be that the preference here is tiny compared to other factors that are readily available via questionnaires. In that sense, "scientifically based" is a misnomer - it's just this one more factor that you've heard about, it's not like all the others aren't "scientific" enough.
||You could offer a matching service for women on birth control, too. I mean, matching or not matching - as long as the preference doesn't change, it doesn't matter which way it points, right?
||(When I first read your post and hit the histocompatibility part, I thought you were going off on a drug-crazed rant or something - it took some reading up through the Wikipedia link to figure out that this had a real research background.)
||It's late and you lost me on this one, but isn't this a "spit party"? I saw it on "The Future of...Sex". They match people based on non-matching immunities.
||jutta, I wish I knew how significant the MHC effect was. I believe that it's non-negligible, based on the experiments described in the wikipedia article having generally positive results. I think for this to make sense people are (subconsciously) seeking a maximally diverse partner for the MHC alleles; they're not just the same or not- there is a continuum.
Incidentally, I was going to call this 'MHC-based dating service'. But then I figured that it should include any other biological factors which may have an effect. And it would be silly to throw away what already works, it just needs rigorous validation.
||Regarding the birth-control issue, I think it does matter - at least it does if the resultant couple decide to have children together in future. Because the children would then presumably be at increased risk of disease.
Forgoing birth-control pills while meeting potential mates is the way to get your body to evaluate their compatibility appropriately. After a mate is selected, resuming them is presumably okay. (Hmmm. They might make your partner appear less attractive though.)