Updated 16 April 2014

Pheromone parties: why you should sniff your date's armpits

You could be choosing your next partner based not on how they look or what they say, but on how they smell.


An artist in the American state of Georgia has started the practice of throwing parties for single people with the intention of finding them a date based on their scent. Attendees each bring a T-shirt in which they have slept for the previous three nights, without any deodorant or perfume. Each T-shirt is inside a plastic bag which is then sniffed by members of the opposite, or same, sex.

If the smell of a certain T-shirt appeals to an attendee they can introduce themselves to its owner with the hopes of making a romantic connection.

Judith Parys, an LA native who has taken the pheromone party concept mainstream and was interviewed by VICE Magazine reports that while there are many hook-ups, she unfortunately "can’t guarantee that it will last".

Read: Avoid these on a first date

A person’s scent is affected by a range of things, including what they eat, their hormones and genetic factors. The fact that so many factors come into play means that someone’s scent offers a relatively holistic, yet subtle, representation of themselves and their lifestyle, making it a useful tool for determining the suitability of a potential mate. Provided, of course, that you can decipher it.

Fortunately, this isn’t up to you, or at least your conscious mind. The myriad aromas that make up your personal pong are much more easily deciphered by your mind’s deeper workings. This means that participants are less likely to identify specific smells that attract them but rather obtain a gut-feel that a person might be suitable for them.

Read: Are you a dating disaster?

Research has also shown that men can deduce a woman’s fertility from her scent. This harkens back to mankind’s most primal instincts in which fertile women were procreationally advantageous. A recent study showed that men who smelt the t-shirts of women who were in the high-fertility part of her cycle found them to smell more attractive than those of women in a low-fertility part of their ovulation cycle.

While modern attraction is based on characteristics that can be consciously isolated and evaluated, such as physical attractiveness, sense of humour and wealth, it appears that the old ways of animalistic attraction still work.

Read more:
Signs of a winning date
Humans can smell fear
New insights into the smell of death

Sources: Vice/The Science of Relationships/Proceedings of the Royal Society B


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