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The Look (and Smell) of Love

The Look (and Smell) of Love

By David Servan-Schreiber, Ode Magazine

Michael is a well-known New York psychotherapist. He’s 45 and recently divorced. Since he’s a therapist and understands the importance of positive thinking, he describes himself as “in between relationships.” A rational man but a romantic at heart, Michael is keen to fall in love again. I asked him what he’s learned about the stormy relationships between men and women that will help him find someone new. Why do we fall in love?

“It’s very simple,” Michael explained. “There are three signs that can tell you if someone you like from a distance could turn out to be the love you’re looking for. Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll spend the rest of your lives together, but these signs will give you an indication of whether there’s even potential for a loving and passionate relationship.”

I had no idea that we could be so certain of anything concerning matters of the heart, but I have a lot of respect for Michael as a therapist and for his knowledge of human nature, so I heard him out. “First of all,” he said, “you mustn’t kid yourself about how attractive you find this person. Of course, attraction is not the same thing as love, but it’s definitely a good start. So ask yourself, ‘Do you really find this person attractive?’—without cheating. Second, do you love the way her skin feels, the taste of his body and, most of all, her smell? It’s essential that you do, because it will never change. You can fool yourself about your physical reaction to someone’s smell if you’re just sleeping together. But to fall in love, you must be hooked on it.”

I remember research that showed moths of a certain species stay with one partner for life. Their sense of smell is so powerful that they can detect a mate’s aroma at a distance roughly equivalent to that between New York and Boston. If we retain anything in the human brain that’s even close to that kind of olfactory sensitivity, I’m prepared to believe we shouldn’t ignore the importance of our loved one’s smell.

Third is the quality of communication, Michael went on. “It’s emotional communication that counts. For us primates, emotional fulfilment comes from intimate physical contact. Monkeys express mutual interest and intimacy by picking fleas from each other’s coats. This same impulse is expressed differently but is just as important for humans. When you meet a potential partner, there are two things you need to look for. Do they ask questions about you? And, when you answer, do they listen to what you say? Do you get the sense that they really want to understand you?”

I’d like to believe this last point is really the key to love. But I think Michael is probably right: We shouldn’t ignore our more basic animal instincts.

8 Animals the Mate for Life
10 Signs Your Falling in Love

Read more: Guidance, Humor & Inspiration, Love, Relationships, Sex, Spirit

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Megan, selected from The Intelligent Optimist

Ode, the magazine for Intelligent Optimists, is an international independent journal that publishes positive news, about the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better.


+ add your own
3:26AM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

Thank you :)

2:51PM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

Am i attracted to my man? Yes!
Do I like his smell? Only out of the shower!
Does he understand me? Hell no!

I'm glad he doesn't... why? It keeps him on his toes

2:22AM PST on Mar 8, 2013

Thank you :)

1:40PM PST on Mar 4, 2013


2:37AM PST on Mar 4, 2013


7:03AM PST on Dec 9, 2012


4:43AM PDT on Jul 18, 2012

There's got to be more to a life-long, or even long-term relationwhip than this - there's something about respect, about shared ambitions and goals, interests etc.etc.

9:06AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

No wonder he's divorced ...

7:40PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

Thanks for the post.

4:22AM PDT on Jul 8, 2011


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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