The scent of desire, it turns out has more to do with our biological imperative than we might have ever imagined. That magical x factor in seeking and connecting to your special someone is actually right under your nose- or at least in it. Author Rachel Herz’s new book The Scent of Desire will be the first of many volumes on the often overlooked olfactory system that will forever change how we think about our relationships. And even though I have long been promoting smell as our primary sexual sense, I had no idea that its reach went to the very core of the species regeneration.
Our sense of smell and what attracts or repels us is blueprinted in our immunological gene structure called the MHC. Every individual’s own genetic scent makeup is as unique as their fingerprint. What’s more, when it comes to reproduction, the healthiest progeny comes from two individuals whose MHC is most distinct and different from each other. This assures that any offspring has the widest range of immune function and therefore is the most disease resistant. This actually makes perfect sense in terms of our biological imperative to go forth and multiply, but it also profoundly affects the whole courting process as well as the likelihood of making your love sustainable. MHC compatibility is a predictor of not only bearing healthy offspring, but relationship longevity and frequency of cheating on your partner.
Even more remarkable than the biological compatibility of scent between partners is the new recognition that our ability to smell is completely intertwined with our ability to feel.
Recent research on people, who suffered anosmia (scent blind) usually from a traumatic injury to the head, shows that they also became unable to feel a wide range of emotions. ‘Our sense of smell and our emotional experience are fundamentally interconnected, bi-directionally communicative and functionally the same.’
Suddenly the axiom to ‘Wake up and smell the roses’ is not just good advice but actually may save your life. Without scent, we lose the texture and depth that makes life the rich and varied tapestry that it is. Imagine not being able to smell or taste not just a ripe melon, but your lover, it would make the experience almost inaccessible. Practice smelling, indulge in scent and taste and bear witness to the emotional response that accompanies this. It will surprise you.
I have been promoting the use of true scent products that enhance your own natural chemistry for years, intuitively knowing that products made chemically are not just bad for your most sensitive tissue, but also cover up your own natural odor and may just interfere with our ability to find and smell our true mates. So take this message to heart and as you breathe- inhale deeply, build your vocabulary and experience of scent especially around the people you love most. It will make you feel better.
A great review of this topic can be found in the article ‘Scents and Sensibility’ in Psychology today. The book is definitely worth the price.