Continued from Thursday…
Today is the last day I will be posting chapter eight from my book Don’t Use My Sweater Like a Towel.
I hope that over the past four days these posts about our sense of smell has been informative about how we have evolved over time, and well if nothing else the importance of taking a shower and brushing your teeth!
Has smell ever been a deal breaker?
Have you ever had to tell your partner that he or she smells bad?
Do you notice how people smell in public?
Would you pursue a person you find attractive, even if you didn’t like the way they smelled?
Is smell a deal breaker?
Some studies I read show that women are more attuned to their sense of smell than men, but while I found the sexes to be equally aware of the scents of others, men tended to be more forgiving. For me, no amount of scented commercial product will cover up offensive body odor, but a 23-year-old man I surveyed disagreed. “I would get to know them. If the personality superseded the smell then yes [I would date them]. Smells can be covered, a personality cannot.” His friend added that “maybe she could have just come back from a camping trip.”
One participant shared that he thought younger guys, in a quest for sex, are willing to overlook odor, at least for the night. That showed up in other responses as well, mostly attributed to “beer goggles.”
But is it alcohol, youth or hormones that make them more tolerant? As I have looked back on my own history with smell in relationships, I must admit I dated some stinky men in my early to mid 20s. There was the guy from Colorado, a few musician guys, the rock star guy, and more than a couple of dirty skater boys. Bottom line: they stunk. They had b.o., but back then, I was totally okay with that.
Recently, I got a booty-text-message from a friend with whom I had a brief fling a few months ago. We just fooled around a bit, but the next day, his b.o. remained in my bed, on my freshly washed, clean, white sheets. It was a Wednesday, and I normally do my laundry on Sunday. I didn’t want to wash the sheets, but I had to, because I knew the b.o. smell would get stuck on me, and I would have to shower every morning before I went on with my day.
When I got his recent text message, all I could think was “I don’t want to wash the sheets.” But in my 20s, I would shower, but I don’t think I ever washed the sheets after b.o. boys spent the night. Is there something that changes? As we get older, do we become more discerning, more aware of what we like and don’t like; or do we just become smell snobs?
The deal breaker question made an interesting divide across age lines. While the 20s age group and folks in their 50s and 60s were split evenly on whether or not smell would cause them to end a relationship, middle-aged people were much more decisive. Seventy-five percent of 40-somethings and seventy-four percent of 30-somethings said that smell would be a deal breaker.
A woman I surveyed in her 50s, who owns her own perfume company, says that, even in her business, she “would not just be judgmental of smell or looks. It is more important what is on the inside of a person not on the outside.”
A 62 year old gentleman I spoke with also claimed smell played no part in attraction for him. But when we came to the last question, he said something profound: “If there was a strong attraction, I think the smell may be okay.” In other words, you won’t even be attracted to someone whose smell you don’t like.
Maybe we turn into smell snobs, maybe we don’t; but there is no denying that scent plays a major role in human attraction. Just as smell can evoke powerful memories, it can trigger a connection between primitively compatible people. Dr. Fisher tells us, “We each have a personal ‘odor print’ as distinctive as our voice, our hands and our intellect,” another mystery of nature, that can be acknowledged, but never fully explained.