Smell is a powerful sense, especially when it comes to attraction. But why do some people smell good to us, and others don’t? The answer has to do with hormones—specifically, pheromones.
“Pheromones are chemicals that animals and humans produce, which change and influence the behavior of another animal or human of the same species,” says Erica Spiegelman, wellness specialist, recovery counselor, and author of The Rewired Life. “Pheromones are a hormone and—fun fact—are secreted outside the body, unlike other hormones that are secreted internally.” Studies suggest that they’re secreted by the skin, sweat glands, saliva, and urine.
For the purposes of this story, we’re most interested in the role pheromones play in the way we are attracted to each other and the way we behave. “It’s all about the DNA,” Spiegelman explains. “If someone smells unattractive to you? It could mean that your DNA is similar. They have done many studies and found that T-shirts of people with different DNA than their own smell better to most people.” Basically, our bodies protect us from procreating with people who have similar DNA by making them smell bad. She adds that pheromones in animals can also indicate when a female is fertile.
So what’s the deal if someone smells amazing to us initially but then smells terrible down the line? As we age, our pheromones actually change. “Look at how a newborn smells: sweet and powdery. That changes as we become teens, too—different hormones are released internally and smelled externally,” Spiegelman says. “Studies have shown that younger people don’t find older people’s smells attractive.” So, in the instance above, she says that if you both are around the same age and you age together, you’ll probably remain attracted to their smell.
“Pheromones can trigger many behaviors in animals and humans,” Spiegelman adds. “Some of that includes the bond between a mother and child, warning other animals to back off, danger, sexual arousal, and if there is food around.”
Extra relatable @ that last one.