When you’re out for a romantic evening, you want absolutely everything to go right, whether you’re just meeting your Match.com date for the first time or celebrating your 10th anniversary. With that in mind, it might be a good idea not to wear perfume on a date if you’re looking to end the evening on a high note.
The power of smell is undeniable. Avery Gilbert, author of What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life, explains to How Stuff Works that we unconsciously pick up on scent cues when we look for a partner. “People tend to mate nonrandomly, picking people who have different genes for the immune system,” he says. Smells can also affect your mood and your spending habits; as The Wall Street Journal explains, malls often use scents to attract shoppers and tempt them to spend more.)
But perfume can also turn a hot night into a pitiful fizzle. Here’s why you might want to consider saying no to the spritz on your next date:
Your date might be allergic to your perfume
The perfume you find alluring might make your date reach for the aspirin or the inhaler. As Philadelphia olfactory researcher Pamela Dalton, PhD, MPH, tells WebMD, “Being forced to breathe in others’ fragrance choices is a lot like being forced to breathe in secondhand smoke.”
If your date is asthmatic, you’d definitely do well to go scent-free. A 2017 study published in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health surveyed people with asthma about their physical reactions to scented consumer products such as air fresheners and laundry detergents. Nearly 64 percent reported suffering symptoms such as breathing difficulties, migraines, and actual asthma attacks; in addition, 46 percent said they specifically had adverse reactions to people who wear scented products. Asthma.net adds that while the plant oils used in perfumes may not be a problem for asthmatics, the other chemicals used in popular perfumes often are.
Your perfume could have a negative association
Another reason to skip the scent: According to How Stuff Works, our sense of smell is strongly tied to memory. That’s why sniffing Play-Doh immediately brings flashbacks of your kindergarten days. Depending on the perfume you use, your partner might be reminded of an ex, an older relative, or a funeral parlor — talk about an instant date mood-killer.
Scent expert Olivia Jezler explains to Quartz that scent associations can be cultural, too: While the British adore the smell of roses, Americans tend to find the fragrance too old-fashioned. And people from Asian cultures choose scents with medicinal herbs over ones with fancy florals. So if you’re still eager to dab on cologne before your evening out, ask your date whether they prefer spicy, garden-y, or ocean-breeze perfumes. That way, you’ll be sure that they associate your fragrance with you and not Great-Aunt Nellie.
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