Scent of a Man

According to Wikipedia, “the role of pheromones in human behavior remains speculative and controversial.”

However, years ago I read this interesting article on a blog about the role our noses play in physical attraction. The author talks about a guy she dated in high school, who was a perfect match, except that he smelled wrong. It wasn’t that he had stinky socks, or had forgotten to take a shower. His personal smell just repelled her. It didn’t matter what cologne or deodorant he used. She couldn’t stand his smell, and eventually broke up with him.

My ears totally pricked up when I read that, because I’d had a similar experience as a teenager with a young man who will remain nameless. I never confessed to my male friend that I couldn’t abide the way he smelled. But it was true. I liked everything else about him, but I found his smell completely repellent. I always thought I was a little crazy, until I read the article above.

Conversely, I adore the way my husband smells. He thinks it’s weird, and would rather that I gushed over his hot physique, high power sales skills, or rapier wit, but sometimes when I’m sitting next to him I can’t help just leaning over, resting my nose on the back of his neck, and inhaling. I can smell his smell on his shirts, even after he washes them. And when he’s not here I like to sleep with his pillow, just because it smells so nice.

The author of the article went on to extrapolate that perhaps our olfactory cells are attracted to the smell of someone whose genes are compatible with ours. As far as that goes, here’s the proof that our genes are eminently compatible:

But Tony has a different explanation for my infatuation with his scent. On an international flight when he was in junior high, his airplane “care package” included a trial-size bottle of Brut cologne. From then on, he wore it on every first date. Fortunately, when he first asked me out ten years later, he hadn’t made it through the bottle yet. So he was wearing Brut cologne on our first date, and credits it (as well as his hot physique, high power sales skills, and rapier wit, of course) with the fact that we were married just six months later.

As we were leaving on our honeymoon, he gifted the little bottle of Brut to his best man. Sure enough, he too was engaged within six months, also to a woman named Sarah. No doubt the Brut has been passed on again, and has probably resulted in multiple other instances of marital bliss.

In any case, whether it’s due to his natural scent, or his bottle of Brut, the way to this woman’s heart is definitely through her nose. I’m curious to know about you, my readers. Are you attracted to the smell of your significant other? Or am I just weird?

photo credit: Brut

8 thoughts on “Scent of a Man

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  • September 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    My children, when wet… their hair smells like spiced cinnamon. My daughter sits on the sofa and sniffs my hair, she says I have that same natural smell, and my husband was surprised to find himself agreeing.

    As for his…? He smells like machine coolant. It’s addictive. His own scent has always been masked by this, and he only very rarely puts on aftershave, which is… wOW, but rare. My first fiance smelled of cinnamon gum and Drakkar, and I *LOVED* the smells. His cars always smelled of strawberries – I now prefer vanilla in mine, though.

  • September 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I think smell is a huge factor in compatibility. I also dated a guy who had many wonderful qualities, and was very attractive, but I couldn’t get over his smell. It wasn’t b.o. or anything typically bad, just not something I liked.

    On the other hand, whenever Ben leaves I put off doing his laundry as long as I can. I love smelling his dirty clothes because they smell so strongly of him. Weird, I know. It is powerful though. And, judging by the adorableness of Gideon something must’ve clicked in our DNA.

  • September 17, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I never really thought about it before, but I love to smell my husband too.

    And now that I think about it, remember that loser guy that I was dating before my mission? Well, I never really cared for his smell at all. I didn’t think it mattered that much, but judging by how things turned out, I guess it did.

  • September 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    When I fell for A we both lived in musty basement apartments. A few years back, years after college was over, we unpacked an overlooked box that was filled with a few of his college sweatshirts. I was amazed at how Incredibly good they smelled to me. It was a little embarrassing how alluring I found musty basement scent. To clarify I don’t find all musty basements wonderful smelling just his musty basement. Kind of strange but true

  • September 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Sarah! I feel exactly the same about my husband’s smell. I also read articles on this topic, saying things like the more compatible your genes are, the more you like each other’s smell, and the more good-looking your kids will turn out.


What do you think?