The New Dating Game

We put to the test new research that reveals how people couple up. PLUS: Vote—whom should Milly have picked?

UPDATE: Rob recognized Milly immediately when she came into Deleece (4004 N. Southport Ave.) They ate dinner—French onion soup, steak, and crème brulee—and talked about work, Rob’s garden project in Humboldt Park, and Milly’s dogs’ obedience training. “I was fascinated with that,” says Rob, “because, though I don’t have a dog, I like dogs.”

Later, at Ten Cat Tavern (3931 N. Ashland Ave.), it was a slow weeknight and pool tables were easy to come by. The pair played doubles, and by the end of the night, while they hadn’t won any games, they were playing better than a few hours before.

“I think Milly is a really cool and interesting person,” says Rob, “we didn’t really hit it off, but I had more fun [with her] than I have on a lot of other blind dates.” Since the date, they’ve left each other voicemails and agreed that they’d hang out in the future.

The anthropologist Helen Fisher believes she knows why people fall in love—the right combination of timing, shared interests, intelligence, and now, evolutionary biology. Her new book, Why Him? Why Her? (Henry Holt; $25), puts forth her theory that every individual falls into one of four personality “types” (explorer, builder, director, negotiator) and that your “type” is determined by the ratio of certain hormones (testosterone, estrogen) and neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin) in your body. This balance affects what questions you ask on a date, and, ultimately, whom you’re attracted to and why. The rub: Both of the old adages are true—birds of a feather flock together and opposites do attract. 

WHAT ARE YOU?

Explorers (dopamine) seek risk, novelty, and adventure. They’re always trying something new and have many interests. On a date, they’re usually relaxed and comfortable right away.

Builders (serotonin) are traditional, cautious, and social. They follow schedules and rules, and are interested in building community. These people play by dating’s rules—they’ll be on time, and will do the heavy lifting to make a relationship work.

Directors (testosterone) are independent, tough-minded, and ambitious. They’re also experts, and will choose in-depth discussion over chitchat. On a date, they’re a bit self-absorbed.

Negotiators (estrogen) rely on their intuition. They’re agreeable, trusting, and romantic, and they strive for authenticity. On a date, instead of asking about your job or a specific topic, they’ll listen to you and try to forge connections. 

 

The Bachelorette

Milly

MILLY   age: 33   neighborhood: LINCOLN SQUARE
personality type: EXPLORER

I have a lot of interests but running is my passion. Right now my goal is to run races in cities that I’ve never visited, like the race that I’ll run in Fargo this spring. I can be spontaneous; I’ll drop everything to shoot photos if it looks interesting outside. When I was 27, I went to Europe for a month by myself. It forced me to really talk to people. I would love to learn how to drive a Nascar car—the speed and adrenaline rush appeal to me. I take my two dogs, a retired greyhound and a schnauzer, out a lot, for walks, to the doggy beach, and on play dates.

FIRST DATE CREDO
I like to avoid that first-date awkwardness by doing something active.

 

 

The Bachelors

Milly

PAUL   age: 35   neighborhood: PILSEN
personality type: DIRECTOR

I try to avoid routine as much as possible; that’s just how I’m wired. I’m a sculptor, writer, and furniture designer. Every article of furniture that I build has the potential to be designed in a new way and given a really sculptural look. I love adventures and traveling. If I could do anything, I’d be kayaking down a river that’s winding through a tropical rain forest. Large doses of nature are really good for me. I think I’m a thoughtful and sensitive person, very in-tune with people, though if I believe something strongly, I’m very passionate about it.

FIRST DATE CREDO
I head to some place we can talk, like a bar with good atmosphere and cool people. I usually let the other person talk and reveal themselves.

 

Milly

ROB   age: 36   neighborhood: LOGAN SQUARE
personality type: BUILDER

I studied art in college, then worked with Habitat for Humanity. Ten years ago I started working with a cabinet shop in Chicago. Now I’m a self-employed carpenter. I like the ability to choose the projects that are most interesting and fascinating to me. I’m also involved with a community garden project in Humboldt Park. I love that the neighborhood kids can use the garden—one girl told me that it’s “peaceful.” In the future, once my business is more established, I’d like to spend more time on my creative pursuits—photography and drawing.

FIRST DATE CREDO
I’m always interested in meeting up somewhere and walking around—Wicker Park or downtown. I’m a little outside the box, and I  think arty and eclectic in my tastes.

 

Milly

MATT   age: 30   neighborhood: WRIGLEYVILLE
personality type: EXPLORER

I’m an urban garden designer and work for a company that designs green roofs. I love that I’m always learning something new and that no two projects are the same. I’m really into trying new things. I go to a lot of concerts, love to cook (grilling is my specialty)—and recently I started taking swing classes. I’d like to travel more. I’ve been around the U.S. and to India, but I’d like to go to Europe. I take my friendships seriously. If people need to count on me, I’m there for them.

FIRST DATE CREDO
Default dates don’t do it for me. I want to try something new and fun—especially if it’s outdoors. A sense of humor and honesty are important, and I always ask about family.

 

According to Fisher, explorers and builders “flock together”—they’re attracted to people with personalities like themselves, so explorers are attracted to explorers, and builders are attracted to builders. Directors and negotiators, on the other hand, are “opposites attract”: They’re attracted to each other—directors to negotiators and vice versa. By Fisher’s theory, Milly should go out with Matt. But after reviewing the profiles, she decides to go out with Rob. Check back to see how their date goes!

 

Illustrations: John KEnzie

 

The New Dating Game

Whom should Milly pick?

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