The T-Shirt Test

Welcome to Smell Dating. Yes, it’s a thing

You truly can be attracted to someone because of a T-shirt, and while you might be thinking wet T-shirt contest, which I only entered once to defend my university and natural breasts everywhere, it has more to do with scent. When it comes to picking a mate, the visual sense is the dominant factor in our society. Clearly that is why the network show “Dating In The Dark” wasn’t successful, except in Denmark where it originated and maybe they are just a more evolved society. So, what about the olfactory sense?

Everyone knows that moment when you want to steal your boyfriend’s T-shirt because it smells like him. It turns out the smell factor is more important than you might think in the dating game.

A study had men wear a T-shirt for two days without any strong odors like smoking or Old Spice and put them in a box. Women were then asked to rate the smell of each T-shirt in terms of sexual attraction. They had to smell the T-shirts through a hole in the box so it wasn’t just the expensive label or ironic saying on the shirt which attracted them. While you may not find Major Histocompatibility Complex in a Tinder profile, it is the MHC genes at play here.

The theory is that women were attracted to the smell of men who had different MHC genes from them which would be a boost for the offspring as their diverse immune systems would have more chance to fight off disease. Women who were ovulating and not pregnant or on the pill had the highest correlation with the different genes. The research has also been conducted with mice and fish but how you got them to wear T-shirts is still a mystery.

Another study showed that women who sniffed their partner’s shirt reduced their stress level of cortisol compared to sniffing a clean shirt or a stranger’s worn shirt. I have to admit that there is something that kind of drives me wild when my man would come home from the office and take off his coat and I could smell his dress shirt. So now there is Smell Dating.

Yes, it’s a thing. They send you a T-shirt, which you wear for three days and nights without deodorant (which might just kill your dating life right there). You send it back and then they send you different swatches of T-shirts to smell and if there’s a match, they connect you. You would think with all of these natural pheromones flying around that the security line at airports with people taking off their shoes could be the new dating mecca. I mean who can forget the famous boot sniffing sex scene with Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish Called Wanda?

And how about our canine friends? There may be that moment of embarrassment when they dispense with the hey whasup? and go straight to butt sniffing. But what they can tell from this olfactory interaction is the gender, whether they are spayed or neutered, health status, and temperament of the other dog. We have to depend on sight, conversation, and some good Google snooping.

What we have to learn from all this is the importance of a person’s essence. All the expensive perfumes and cologne and Febreeze we used in a pinch after the gym are only cover ups. If we can take away the outer trappings and get close to someone and take a deep breath filling up our lungs and our hearts and say, “Oh yes,” you know you are home.

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