Stephen Mason Ph.D.

Look At It This Way

The Scent of Sex

Why your sweetie smells so swell

Posted Apr 04, 2010

How can you tell if someone is turned on to you? Wouldn't it be great if we could all have those little bubbles above our heads like the characters in the comic strips? You catch the eye of a prospective roll in the hay, their bubble reads, "Let's get it on" and away you go to the loft. And even if the attraction were not mutual, as in "Get Lost" it would still save a lot of time, trouble and face. The funny thing is, we once did have such clear and unambiguous bubbles - only they were smelled not read.

It's true. Dogs have little problem picking up the sex signals of possible mates because they are still there loud and clear. The scent of a female in heat is unmistakable. She's ready, willing and able. No question. No ambiguity. And with insects the signals can be even stronger. Researchers have found that certain male moths will fly tens of miles to reach a female wafting her perfume on the evening breeze.

But the scent of love is not universal. Birds, for example, have little need for a strong sense of smell. High in the air, above the odors that mostly hover close to the ground, our feathered friends rely on their sense of sight. They see something that looks like a good time waiting to happen and proceed to check it out. There then follows an extended period of courtship. He moves, she moves, they both turn in a half circle and so forth. This behavior reminds me of nothing quite so much as the carefully choreographed moves you see in a Singles' bar. They dance the dance only because they can't sniff out the bottom line signal: "Are we equally receptive or not?"

The theory is that when homo sapiens began walking upright we lost much of our olfactory sense. With our heads suspended in space somewhere between that of a Bloodhound and a Blue Jay, the human nose is only so-so. We can smell but we can hardly say the nose always knows.

The smell center in your brain is located deep down, smack dab in the center of your emotionally charged limbic system. It evolved very early and it remains the seat of passion. When you catch a scent, it goes directly to where you live. So how can you use this knowledge? Unfortunately, only the most rudimentary ability to smell sex signals accurately remains. Some unscrupulous entrepreneurs have marketed pheromones in a bottle with considerable success. Just put a few drops in your cologne and you become irresistible. Actually, your money would probably be better spent on soap and water...and maybe a book.

Speaking of books The SCENT of EROS by James Vaughn Kohl is one of my favorites. He explains in detail why many women find sweaty men sexy, why odor preferences change after puberty, why a reduced sex drive is often associated with a reduced sense of smell, why female roommates may have synchronized menstrual cycles and why large-breasted women may smell better than small breasted ones. See <> for more information and remember, even if it doesn't help you to get close...maybe it will help you to understand why.

About the Author

Stephen B. Mason is a psychologist, a former university professor, syndicated newspaper columnist and radio talk-show host.

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