How Our Sense of Smell Affects Our Relationships
Scents, Sense of Smell and Sensory Triggers
Dear April Masini,
I've always heard that scents are powerful, but I never really thought much of it until I started dating a new guy. He wears the same cologne my dad wore when I was growing up, and now whenever I'm around my new guy, I think of my dad! He's a really great guy so I don't want his "scent" to be the one thing that ruins our chances. Do you have any advice for what I can do to get over the memories that are being triggered by his scent? It could save our relationship!"
Sincerely, Sensory Overload
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Sensory Overload,
Love isn’t just about chemistry — it is chemistry. Sex is a physiological process. Love affects your body’s chemistry and physiology. Smells, like other sensory input, clearly affect romance and relationships. A look at the multi-million dollar perfume industry makes it pretty clear that big businessmen already recognize the effect scent has on the senses - and they’ve cashed in. Men and women on dates cash in whenever they use nice smelling soaps, colognes, or other body products.
When your date smells like your past — for better or for worse — you have a couple of choices of what to do.
How to handle the sensory triggers that certain scents stimulate:
- Recognize why every time your date gets close to you, you feel like asking him for your allowance (he wears the same cologne as your dad did when you were 11) — or whatever your sensory experience is — and by recognizing it, you can let it go, emotionally.
- Buy him or her a new scent — whether it’s perfume, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, or the air freshener in their powder room — simply replace it. Tell them you prefer this particular scent much better.
- Train yourself to associate your new surroundings and experience with the new scent. For example, if your parents used to fight when you were a child, at Christmas, and the smell of holly and Christmas cookies makes you depressed, be aware of trying to associate new behaviors and experiences with holly and Christmas cookies this year. Or if you fell in love for the first time to the smell of freshly mown grass, and you find freshly mown grass an aphrodisiac now, have an aromatic latte every time you feel yourself swooning on the lawn. The smell of the coffee will present a new sensory experience over the smell of the mown grass.