Lots of women have mothers who nag them about their figures, wonder aloud why their daughters haven’t found a decent fella or tsk disapprovingly about the way they raise their kids. Not mine. For the most part, my mother leaves me to my own devices. Or so I thought.
According to a study by the University of Western Australia, the overt ways mothers try to influence their daughters’ personal lives don’t hold a candle to their more dire biological hand-me-downs. Scientists studied the DNA of 150 college students and found “the more varied [her] genes…the more boyfriends a woman was likely to have,” the assumption being genetic variation leads to attraction.
The study was cited in an inspiring online article called “Still Single? Not as Skinny as You’d Like? Blame Your Mom.” While few activities are more satisfying than condemning others for your own personal failures, the article is misleading, considering any person’s genetic makeup depends on a mother and a father. Still, the theory is this: if your dumb mother mates with a man whose genes are too similar to hers, dudes aren’t gonna dig you. Conversely, if she’s sharp enough to breed with someone from the other side of the genetic fence, well, attach a revolving door to your bedroom.
I’m no scientist, but this theory has lots of holes. How does having more boyfriends necessarily ensure commitment and marriage? I know at least five women from my high school who married, and are still married to, the guys who pinned carnations to their dresses at senior prom. They’ve only had one “boyfriend” during their entire adult lives. On the other hand, I know tons of women who’ve gone through men like Tiger goes through porn stars, yet still cry themselves to sleep each night because no guy presents a ring.
The study, or more accurately the article based on the study, suggests women with a melting pot for a genetic code should have men beating down their doors with marriage proposals. But if you believe other stats, most marriages in the US are still made up of people from like backgrounds. People may wade across the gene pool while dating, but unfortunately, they seem to go back to their side of the tank come settlin’ down time.
And here’s poor Jennifer Aniston again, the go-to girl in any discussion about women relationship-hunting men avoid like the plague. The article uses her to prove its point that uninteresting genetics doom one to singledom. But further research shows Aniston’s dad was of Greek heritage and her mother was Scottish and Spanish. Thus, she should have lots of boyfriends. And well, hasn’t she? Why, come to think of it, she’s also had a husband.
Comparing oneself to Jennifer Aniston feels like romantic suicide, but admittedly, there are similarities between us. I’ve got a genetic mix, too, with African, Italian, Irish, English and German blood coursing through my veins. I suppose I should thank my mother for her procreative wisdom. And, like Jen, I’ve had a marriage, and a handful of relationships intermingled with periods of romantic drought. I’d say that’s par for the course for most people. In fact, I’d say Jen and I have had fairly robust romantic lives thus far. Is this because of or in spite of our blend of DNA?
I think universities and magazine writers just want to create controversy, so come up with flimsy facts and build worlds of truths around them. I mean, I just disproved this DNA theory in seven hundred words. Where’s my six-figure research stipend?
So many reasons are blamed for the state of our relationships: feminism, genetics, male psychological dysfunction, women in the work place, the advent of birth control, economics, education gaps. It’s hard to accept we’re having so much trouble making relationships happen. Love may be about scientific truths and social realities, but it’s also about luck and just following the natural course of life. Ultimately, we’ve got to accept this, ignore the research and leave poor mom alone.