Trust me, college kids: this is your dating manual.
When I was in college, I thought I knew what kind of men I found attractive: Long-haired, dark-eyed, soulful poet/musician/itinerant existentialist types were just so romantic to a girl whose cultural formation was heavy on Leonardo DiCaprio and Hanson. Surprisingly (to me), the man I married wasn’t anything like the guys I dated before him.
That’s a pretty common occurrence, it seems — what we think we find attractive is often missing in people we’re genuinely attracted to. Our bodies have minds of their own, and according to Ranker, one part of our bodies that determine attraction is our … immune system?
It might sound crazy, but each person’s immune system is totally unique and has the capability to assess the similarities and differences it has to the immune systems of those around it. The “major histocompatibility complex” (MHC) is the thing your immune system uses to distinguish its own cells from other cells. Everyone’s is unique. Studies have found that humans are attracted to people whose MHC is most unlike their own — or, at least, they prefer how they smell.
That does indeed sound crazy, Ranker, but not nearly as crazy as some things that married couples begin to find irresistibly attractive. To that end, I’ve decided to compile my own list of traits that college students have literally no idea they will one day find irresistibly attractive …
1. A burning desire to take the garbage out on time
I’m an enlightened feminist who realizes that women are just as capable of taking out the garbage as men are, but man. I hate doing it. Getting four kids ready for school in the morning is already insane enough, but trying to dash out the door mid-toast-buttering because I hear the garbage truck rolling up and also remembering to lock the door behind me so the toddler doesn’t open it and let the dog who loves chasing garbage trucks out is a special kind of hell. A cheerful morning person who loves to roll the garbage cans out to the curb well before the trucks show up is a keeper, y’all.
2. Expert swaddling skills
I’ve had five babies, so by now you would think I’d have these myself, huh?
What I do have is a husband who is excellent at swaddling. I mean from day one, this guy just got it. He took to swaddling like I took to getting pregnant. Each of our babies slept wonderfully in Daddy’s perfect, secure swaddles instead of waking up screaming when their poorly-wrapped blankets fell apart and exposed their teeny legs to the cold, cruel air. Trust me, you want a spouse who can swaddle, especially if you lack the manual dexterity to magically transform blankets into a cocoon. One day that ability will make you swoon, and not entirely from lack of sleep.
3. Ability to handle bodily fluids
Life is gross, y’all. It’s gross even if you don’t have kids, because diarrhea and vomit happen to the best of us. But if you have kids, that grossness is multiplied exponentially. So someone with an incredibly overactive gag reflex like my sister, who vomits at the sight of vomit and gags when someone hacks up mucus, absolutely must marry a man who’s unfazed by the grosser things in life. Otherwise she’ll end up trying to clean vomit off a wailing toddler while also vomiting on said toddler, and that’s just not gonna work. If you’ve got a strong gag reflex, forget about great abs or a winning smile. The most attractive thing in your world will one day be someone who is fearless in the face of vomit, so date accordingly.
4. Fondness for instruction manuals
We all know that marriages have been wrecked on the shores of IKEA product assembly. Here’s a dirty little secret, though: I like assembling IKEA products because I think it’s fun to try and figure out their manuals. It’s kind of like cracking a secret code, and when I make sense of it I feel all Alan Turing and awesome for a minute.
This admittedly odd trait has saved many otherwise ill-fated IKEA products that we still use, 10 years later. And while my “I’ll just figure it out” husband has never actually said that he finds my fondness for instruction manuals attractive, I’m putting it on this list because he should.
So there you go, college students. You can listen to Ranker and date according to your immune system, or listen to me and date according to qualities of future attractiveness. The choice is yours … just remember who to thank when your significant other patiently assembles your PAX wardrobe from IKEA. You’re welcome.