Why Him? Why Her?
A massive Internet survey proposes the answer to an age-old question
By Helen Fisher
"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness for you. But there is one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place, to eat to your days together. And may your days be very long upon this earth."
The Apache Indians of the American Southwest probably recited this wedding poem for centuries before I heard it in La Jolla, California, in 2006. It was an early June evening, the sky still pink and blue, the sea smells wafting through the windows as I sat in a folding chair on the second story of a fancy Italian restaurant. An older gentleman was conducting a short wedding ceremony, one mixed with rituals from the Christian, Jewish and Apache traditions. And before me glowed the two celebrants, Patrick and Suzanne—one of the first couples to marry after meeting on the Internet dating site I had helped to design, Chemistry.com.
Patrick had been a journalist in New Orleans until he lost his job, his home and all of his belongings to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. West he went, taking up residence with relatives in Los Angeles in February 2006. Days after settling in, he joined Chemistry.com and received his first recommended match: Suzanne, a lawyer living in LaJolla. That first night they talked for three hours on the phone. They met the following weekend and fell passionately in love.
I like being around people who are in love. They have a contagious energy. This force was palpable in the groom, the first to arrive for the nuptials. He burst into the room, filling it with his vivacious charm. Although we had never met, he greeted me warmly. We instantly struck up a conversation about the evolution of the English language, his experience as a journalist in some dangerous parts of Asia and some of my past work on the brain chemistry of romantic love.