Is Divorce In Your DNA?
Some Men May Have Divorce Potential In Their Genes
Could there be a divorce gene? Maybe. A Swedish study points to a specific gene variant that appears to be associated with how men bond with their partners.
The connection the Swedes found relates to a specific type of hormone receptor that some men carry while others don’t. Specifically, the variant is a receptor for vasopressin, a hormone that influences bonding and social and sexual behavior. The team found that men who carry one or two copies of allele 334 often behave differently in relationships than men without it.
In this case, having the gene seems to be a relationship negative. Men with two copies of the variant were twice as likely to have experienced a relationship crisis in the past year that those who lack the gene.
According to lead researcher Hasse Walum, a post graduate student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, about 1,000 couples participated in the study, which included a questionnaire about recent marriage struggles.
“Women married to men who carry one or two copies of allele 334 were, on average, less satisfied with their relationship than women married to men who didn’t carry this allele,” says Walum.
“Does this mean you should demand DNA from any man you date and discard anyone packing allele 334? Hardly. The study won’t help you use genetics to predict whether your potential partner will want a divorce”, says Walum.
“There are of course many different factors influencing how happy people are in their relationship and the gene variant we have studied will make a very small part of these factors,” he says. Walum is planning to continue studying the issue in the future — searching for a similar genetic connection involving women.
“One interesting study we want to do is to look into if we can find similar results for an association between the oxytocin receptor gene and pair-bonding in women,” he said. “In the present study, we only found an effect of the variant of the vasopressin receptor in men which is kind of what we expected since the effects of vasopressin has been shown to be more prominent in males, whereas the effects of oxytocin is more prominent in females.”