Oh, baby—your alleles are talking to my alleles.
That’s what’s happening when you’re falling in love.
Well, one of the things.
Many of us know about the role of dopamine, vasopressin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine in love-making and coupling; the hormones that lead us to bond with our mates for long-lasting domesticity and bonding are also key to how we choose the parents of our future children.
Whether you know it or not, your pheromones are often choosing someone else’s pheromones when in close proximity, and you’re starting to bond for life.
The cluster of chromosomes in your body called MHC (Major Histocompatibility Complex) not only controls part of your immune system, but can determine if you’re compatible with whomever you’re smooching. A higher diversity of parental MHC means healthier immune systems in offspring, and so once again our DNA longs for reproduction, whether we’re even thinking about babies or not.
Just like the old song goes: First comes odor, then saliva, then comes daddy pushing the baby carriage.
If your MHC is different enough from your partner, then that means—according to the real chemical “you” controlling your body—that your children will have a healthier and more diverse immune system.
MHC is present in both pheromones and saliva, so that means once you accept your mate’s smell, there has to be that kiss, which is really a test of how your immune systems will work or not.
Of course this doesn’t predict the length of any relationship or the health of any future parents, but it may explain why we just can’t quit some of our exes and why we desire to be so close to one another (and why we enjoy the smell of our lover’s clothes).
And when that MHC is blocked—whether by cologne, oils, or hormone-altering chemicals—we get a different result than we would have otherwise.
So let that natural smell brew! Well, long enough to let your MHC proudly display and attract that special someone who will want to put up with your stink and taste for an undetermined amount of coupled bliss.
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