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I happened upon an interesting article in the June issue of Marie Claire last night. Yes, I realize the newsstands have moved to July, but this Match Girl doesn’t always get a chance to read her mags in an up-to-the-moment fashion. In any case, this fascinating piece by E. J. Balloch entitled “Scent of a Marriage” talks about the role of smell in a romantic relationship. This is the kind of thing we don’t always think about, but it brings to light an important concept.
Have you ever been so in love with someone that getting a whiff of his (or her) sweaty t-shirt is a sexually charged moment? I hadn’t really thought about it like that before, but maybe this is why I love doing the laundry in our little love nest in Brooklyn. I have definitely gotten caught sneaking a sniff while stripping his pillows of their cases… though not his dirty socks, at least. Josh and I both rotate fragrances frequently, but I guess the perfumes or colognes we use just become a part of our larger scent profiles.
Back to the experts though. Balloch talks about how her first marriage was not a good scent-match. “The truth is,” she writes, “I was never drawn to my ex’s smell. My first scent memory of him, as we tipsily leaned into each other after a holiday party, was of expensive, tasteful cologne, like the men’s section at Saks. His clothes, when they came off, smelled of Tide and Downy. He was too pristine, too sanitized.”
It turns out, he didn’t dig her smell either. And he let her know it:
“In the end, he flat out told me that I literally stunk like hell to him. Was my funk just god-awful? Maybe, maybe not. It turns out that it doesn’t really matter. The appeal doesn’t have anything to do with an objectively pretty or spicy smell, like lilacs or nutmeg. It has to do with that ineffable sense that signals: This smells like my person, however salty, grassy, or musky. This is the person I need to mate with. My ex and I weren’t broadcasting sexual cues to each other at all.”
Hmm. Balloch goes on to explore the integral relationship between smell and romance, detailing that she and her current husband are a better match. In fact, one of the first things he complimented her on was her scent. And four years later, they’re still majorly into each other’s smells. The high-on-life writer even claims that she and her funky-smelling hubby have gotten it on every. single. day. since they first got together.
Maybe there is something to this whole scent thing. I love that it goes beyond perfume and cooking supplies and laundry detergent. Isn’t it interesting to think about what makes your smell unique? Are there certain perfumes, shampoos or spices you think your honey associates with you?
One thing to take away from this article: if you’re single and looking for your next mate, make sure you don’t ignore those scent impressions right from the get-go. To this day I find myself catapulted back to March 2009 every time I catch a whiff of what I call Josh’s “first date cologne.” I don’t know which one it is–he’s never told me and I don’t want to know. I just know that when it finds itself in the rotation, memories of new love flood me. And no matter what’s on his neck today, I’m still intoxicated.