Scents & Sensibility
Miranda Christophers, accredited psychosexual and relationship therapist, featured in The Telegraph, Huff Post and Cosmopolitan among others, and the co-founder and Clinical Director of The Therapy Yard shares her professional opinion on the relationship between love, attraction and the senses…spoiler alert: it’s official, perfume and home fragrance are a good move.
The human senses play a key role when it comes to love and attraction. They gather information to be interpreted by our brain, in order to identify if we are attracted to a person. Consciously or not, we are taking it all in.
Our senses play a part in memory too, particularly our sense of smell. Scientists believe that smell is the most powerful memory inducer due to the olfactory bulb and cortex being so close to the amygdala and hippocampus. Have you ever walked into a room and noticed a scent that has reminded you of someone? Have you ever borrowed a loved one’s item of clothing because it smells of them? Have you ever noticed how you can’t get enough of someone because their scent rouses feelings of romantic or sexual attraction?
During sexual attraction, and when we experience romantic or loving feelings, certain chemicals in our body are released. It is our senses that gather the information to make that happen. Our senses have the ability to turn us on or turn us off, attract or repel, or make us feel safe or not, amongst other things. Equally they detect when things are not quite right.
What creates attraction to a person involves a combination of factors but ultimately when we start to consider our senses, we can understand more about what this looks like to us. As a therapist, when working with clients to understand sexual desire and what helps to create it, or makes them feel alive as a sexual being, I turn to their senses. Sight, touch, taste, scent and sounds. Each of these senses can trigger feelings of pleasure, connection and arousal.
Pheromones, believed by many to play a role in attraction, are understood to be odourless, but whilst not detected directly through smell, they are, in fact, picked up by the olfactory bulb via the vomeronasal organ in the nasal cavity. They are understood to have a role in romantic and sexual attraction, as well as mood. This takes us back to our senses and helps us get a picture of all that our brain is detecting and interpreting via them.
Given that we identify scents that smell ‘good’ as appealing and those that we do not like as not appealing, we can appreciate why perfumes, colognes, scents and candles are so desirable to create an aroma for ourselves and surroundings. A delicious scent can invoke romantic and sexual feelings, be irresistible, magnetic and linger in the memory for many years to come.