• Emily Soukas with Lachie, who she met on a blind date. (SBS Dateline)
Finding love in New York City has been a tough game for Emily Soukas – but will the solution be found in her genes and brain chemistry?
Emily Soukas

30 Sep 2016 - 12:19 PM  UPDATED 4 Oct 2016 - 10:13 PM

When I was first approached by Dateline for this story, I was told it would be about the science of love. How intriguing! Can there really be a science to something that is supposedly all about feelings and emotions?

To me, it seemed like oil and water trying to mix.

On the other hand, if there’s some kind of formula for falling in love, then wouldn’t that solve a heck of a lot of problems and give us the opportunity to end up with our happily ever afters?

Out of pure curiosity and the desire for adventure I agreed to participate. Best-case scenario, I would learn something about myself. Worst-case scenario, I would end up embarrassed on television for the world to see.

But what started as fun and games, exploring this Pandora’s Box called Love, turned into the realization that despite having access to science that can suggest our best match, we still run up against the ‘human factor’ – we all have expectations.

Dateline: Love, Sex and Science

As a society, we have been imbued with the desire to want to ‘find love’ or ‘fall in love’. For many, this is the be-all-end-all – the only thing that truly matters in life.

We like to think there is someone out there in the world whose puzzle piece fits perfectly with ours, and this other person will make you feel the butterflies and fireworks, the pits in your stomach, the floating on clouds, the ups and downs and side-to-sides.

This other person pulls the rug out from underneath you and turns your world from black and white to technicolour.

Love is it. Without it, we are incomplete. With it, we are whole.

And we generally know and accept that these things are defined by emotions and feelings that are potentially fleeting, so we also look for our puzzle piece to be something more. We need that puzzle piece to share our basic set of values, to have the strengths that make up for our weaknesses, to communicate with us, to support us in our goals, and to be our partners in crime. All of this adds up to our expectations of love.

With that in mind, we sent my DNA and the DNA of an ex boyfriend to Instant Chemistry to look at whether our biochemical reactions and processes are compatible… or not. I was curious to learn if this test could confirm what I believed I had known about that relationship, and surprisingly did just that.

Without telling them anything, Instant Chemistry reported back that we were, in fact, quite compatible and that distance is what ultimately drove us apart. So much of our compatibility was driven by our physical attraction to one another and with a long distant relationship there was no way to maintain that.

The test took practically everything I had known anecdotally and pointed to chemical reactions that drove desires and responses. Instant Chemistry presented a test to know if I had found my puzzle piece and how my DNA could serve as a tool to continue to maintain that relationship.

So, I began to question my expectations of ‘finding love’ or ‘falling in love’ and instead wanted to seek the true compatibility they demonstrated could be measured and found. Does this person share my set of values? Do this person’s goals complement mine? Will this person be able to support me physically and emotionally? Are we truly compatible?

After doing the test I went on a blind date. I showed up late, frazzled, and completely uninterested in doing this experiment. Sure it all sounded great that I could meet a total stranger, ask him 36 questions and potentially fall in love, but the frustrations I had experienced the day before were bumming me out.

Creating online dating profiles and getting sucked into the (fake) world of Tinder did nothing but depress me. There were so many guys allegedly out there, and I wasn’t intrigued by any of them. It was all based on physical stimulation and not on emotional or intellectual stimulation.

By releasing my expectations of ‘love’, I was able to relax and be present

My date was an excellent sport, and we went through the 'The 36 Questions That Lead to Love'. After Question 2 (“would you like to be famous? In what way?”), I thought maybe this guy isn’t a loser.

After Question 4 (“What would constitute a perfect day for you?”), I thought maybe I would want to hang out with him.

By Question 8 (“Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.”) I thought he makes me want to listen – this could actually be good. The rest of the questions went by quickly and by the end I was definitely smitten, attracted to him, and wanted to see him again.

By releasing my expectations of ‘love’, I was able to relax and be present, which is why I believe I actually connected with my date.

I was forced to stay rooted in the present moment and just be. It was something I hadn’t experienced in years and was truly amazing. I allowed myself to be released from the burden of expectations; I didn’t have to worry about my expectations not being met. Instead, I was focused on actively listening to learn if I was compatible with my blind date, something that is really quite black and white.

But where the science falls short is the human factor: releasing expectations is really hard to do.

We have made it a habit of creating expectations in an attempt to control and define. If we can control something, we hold onto the power, which means we have the ability to keep ourselves safe and secure. However, in creating expectations, we create illusions of things we think exist or want to exist.

We revert back to the expectations of ‘finding love’ or ‘falling in love’, setting ourselves up for disappointment, embarrassment, resentment and general hurt. When we let expectations get the better of us, we lose the opportunity to stick to the science and see what is or is not in front us.

How the brain responds to love
Love has traditionally been considered a mystery of the human condition, but modern science is bringing us new answers on the origins of love, and where in our brains we can observe it.
Love, Sex and Science
Can brain scans and DNA tests really help you find the person you should marry? Dateline looks into the role that science is playing in modern dating.

We hold onto an idea or a hope for the future – “he’ll pick me later, I can change him, he’ll get out of his own way and let himself fall in love with me”.

So how do we combat this human factor?

Like many things in life, I believe practice makes perfect. With repetition, we have the opportunity to form new habits, to stick to the science, and to allow ourselves to walk away from trying to fit square pegs in round holes.

We have the opportunity to be open with ourselves and say, “we are not compatible” and walk away, or, say, “we are compatible, let’s move forward”. I’m hopeful that in the future I’ll be more mindful of seeking compatibility, and will eventually find my perfect puzzle piece.