Icelandic Dating

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Anyone who has been on the dating scene for any length of time knows it’s full of pitfalls, including ‘who-pays?,’  the awkward goodnight kiss when you’re not really feeling it and the you-don’t-look-anything-like-your-profile-picture moment  (“No wonder his tie was so wide,” you think “That photo must be from 1975!”)

But one pitfall you don’t probably have to fear: that your date might turn out to be your brother or sister.

It could happen, of course, but the chances of unwittingly dating a relative are a good deal higher in Iceland where the population is pretty small and the place is pretty isolated. For this reason, Time’s Samantha Grossman reports, Icelanders can run the prospective date’s name through Íslendingabók (the Book of Icelanders), a genealogical database that not only will assess your relativity to the other person but  can let you know if you are genetically connected to anyone noteworthy. One man discovered he was distantly related to Bjork … and that his ex wife was his seventh cousin.

All Icelandic citizens are accounted for in the database, which claims to log 12,000 years of Icelandic genealogy.

Lucky for us we only have to look on our date’s Facebook page to get a little better idea of who they are (though in some cases it might feel like a background check would have been the better plan). And yet there is a slim chance that one could date a relative without one’s knowing it here as well. Take the story of “Rachel” and “Shawn”, for example, from ABC News Primetime (2007), a half-sibling couple who were born less than a month apart from each other by different mothers who were pregnant by the same man. They didn’t meet until they were in their 20’s and fell in love.

The phenomenon is known as Genetic Sexual Attraction, when family members separated early on reunite and one or both fall in love.

See? All of a sudden a picture from 1975 doesn’t feel like the worst thing that could happen does it? Sis?

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