The natural body odors of our partners can turn us on — or off.
By Dr T J Jordan
There is something called odor compatibility. And there is body odor attraction. Diane Ackerman* calls smells “the suburbs of the heart.”
Whether we are attracted to body smells that are somewhat different from our own (as in sexual body odor attraction) or those that are similar (as in odor compatible friendships), we are more profoundly affected by body odors than most of us realize.
When deodorants, perfumes, and scented soaps are omitted, we are subconsciously drawn to some people’s odors and repelled by others. Whether someone is likely to be a potential sex partner, a new friend, or someone we won't want in our social orbit depends partly on what we smell.
The Smells of Our Romantic Partners
Our cultural programming prevents us from rubbing our urine on our naked feet to attract a mate (like some monkeys) or publicly smelling each other's hind ends for information about anal secretions (like dogs). And we don't usually make a show of evaluating each other with an obvious sniff test (like stallions).
Nevertheless, we are profoundly impacted by the smells of sweat, saliva, breath, and skin oils as well as the sexual secretions of our romantic partners. Even when we are unaware of a body scent, the odors of certain other humans impact our moods dramatically.
What we sense as a pleasant or an unpleasant odor in a romantic partner impacts how much we want to be sexual with them — or to avoid being physically close to them.
Liking a partner's body odor actually is a predictor of relationship commitment and longevity. Disliking a partner’s odor is a factor in sexlessness and break-ups.