Photo courtesy of nosedig.com
Women who are deeply in love are less able to smell men who might be rivals for their affections
You knew that love put a gleam in your eye and a spring in your step, but did you know it also puts a filter on your sense of smell? According to a new study, being deeply in love creates a barrier to recognizing the smell of other possible rivals for your affections:
Body odours are known to play a role in human sexual attraction. But how does falling in love affect our perception and processing of these smells?
To find out, Johan Lundström and Marilyn Jones-Gotman of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, asked a group of 20 young women with boyfriends to fill in a Passionate Love Scale questionnaire (pdf format) to determine just how much in love they were. Meanwhile, the women’s partners and male and female friends slept for seven nights in a cotton T-shirt with pads sewn into the underarms to soak up their sweat.
In a series of trials, each woman was asked to pick out their lover’s or a friend’s T-shirt from three garments, two of which had been worn by strangers. The women’s scores on the Passionate Love Scale made no difference to their ability to recognise a lover’s shirt, or that worn by a female friend. But those who were more deeply in love were less good at distinguishing a male friend’s odour from those of strangers.
This backs a theory of romantic attraction known as “deflection”, which
argues that being in love with someone entails a reduction in the
amount of attention we give to other potential suitors.
Your nostrils in love
Annette Marie Hyder
are gates guarded by armored affections
that protect against the onslaught
your sense of smell when you are in love — a chastity belt
hung against wandering eyes and hands