Ask the Loveologist: The Scent of Desire
Q: I have been with the same guy for a few months and at first I liked his smell, although now I think it was just his cologne that I was attracted to. When I met him after work, his scent repelled me. How can I tell him that I can’t stand his smell when he is not all cleaned and perfumed up. Is there anything that either of us can do to get over this smell problem?
This is one area that will not be helped and if there is any bright side it is that you know that there is a fundamental attraction problem before you tried to have kids. Scent is our most basic and primitive sense and our noses, more than any other sense we possess are best wired to tell us whether the person we are with is a good match. Trusting your sense of smell to pick the right partner for you is built into our biology.
The more you understand about the essential truth of compatibility as a reflection of scent, the more that you will want to be around your next boyfriend before he showers and shaves. Physical attraction itself may literally be based on smell. We discount the importance of scent-centric communication only because it operates on such a subtle level. Although we are often oblivious to the scent signals we are sending and receiving, these subconscious messages are designed to not only help us choose a partner with whom we have the potential of creating healthy offspring, but scent compatibility also predicts relationships longevity and faithfulness in a relationship.
Our sense of smell and what attracts or repels us is blueprinted in our immunological gene structure called the MHC. Every individual has their own genetic scent makeup which is as unique as their fingerprint. What’s more, when it comes to reproduction, the healthiest progeny comes from two individuals whose MHC is most distinct and different from each other. This assures that any offspring has the widest range of immune function and therefore is the most disease resistant.
While a woman’s scent changes throughout her monthly cycle, with the strongest scent attraction during her most fertile times, there isn’t a cure for true scent incompatibility. Not being attracted and frequently repelled by someone’s smell is one of the most common reasons cited by dissatisfied partners in marriage counseling. One reason for a significant turnaround in scent attraction has been linked to the influence of the female pill contraceptive which skews a woman’s sense of smell. Craig Roberts, who led the study, said: “The results showed that the preferences of women who began using the Pill shifted towards men with genetically similar odours. Not only could MHC-similarity in couples lead to fertility problems, but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the Pill, as odour perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners.”
Don’t be discouraged, you are not alone in being confused by the wide array of colognes, body washes and deodorants that effectively disguise our base scent attractions. I have been promoting the use of true scent products that enhance your own natural chemistry for years, intuitively knowing that products made chemically are not just bad for your most sensitive tissue, but also cover up your own natural odor and may just interfere with our ability to find and smell our true mates. So take this message to heart or rather to your nose and be grateful for the biological gatekeeper that doesn’t only bring you breath, but will inform you on the most life determining relationship issues in your control. Author Rachel Herz’s book “The Scent of Desire” is the first of many volumes on the often overlooked olfactory system that will forever change how we think about our relationships.