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The romantic part of me still can’t help thinking that smell communicates something deeper than what we can see, touch, hear or taste.
“The underlying theory is that you somehow select immune compatibility in a mate,” says Noam Sobel, an expert in olfaction and professor of neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
It sounds like a gimmick, sure, but researchers believe that the nose plays a much larger role in our social lives than we realize. Dating has quickly become a visual enterprise; in 2005, very few Americans had tried online dating, but now 15% have, and technology like Tinder, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat reinforce the visual conventions that society says we should find attractive.
The nose also deserves credit for much of our pleasure, especially when it comes to another of our chemical senses: taste.In the game of “which sense would you most be willing to lose? But evolutionarily, smell is one of the most important senses.It helps us make sense of our environment by keeping us safe from spoiled food, for instance, and tipping us off to threats like fire or gas leaks.I’d never heard that you should also smell like yourself, though, until I joined a matchmaking service called Smell Dating. After 72 hours, the cotton was pickled in my essence.For three days and nights I wore the same cotton T-shirt, through sweaty workouts and while I slept. I passed off the damp, stained tee to the New York University researchers who run Smell Dating, who saw it not as an object of disgust, but as boyfriend bait.