The nose knows
according to an article in Psychology Today. Scent has a lot to do with your attraction to a potential mate. Pheromones. We gots 'em.
It all boils down to genetics. The more in common you have with your intended partner, the less satisfaction there seems to be. But a simple genetic test can't help since the MHC (major histocompatibility complex) is so varied. We just can't tell what Nature thinks is a good match. And when the match is not good, there are problems:
"... The number of MHC genes couples shared corresponded directly with the likelihood that they would cheat on one another; if a man and woman had 50 percent of their MHC alleles in common, the woman had a 50 percent chance of sleeping with another man behind her partner's back. ..."
But the safeguards can be fooled. Then you are left with the above problem. Birth control pills not only play havoc with your hormones, they can fool women into choosing a mate they otherwise would not have.
"... Women generally prefer the smell of men whose MHC gene complements are different from theirs, setting the stage for the best biological match. But Wedekind's T-shirt study revealed one notable exception to this rule: women on the birth-control pill. When the pill users among his subjects sniffed the array of pre-worn T-shirts, they preferred the scent of men whose MHC profiles were similar to theirs—the opposite of their pill-free counterparts. ..."
And by then it is too late...
"... As a result, explains Charles Wysocki, a psychobiologist at Florida State University, when such a couple decides to have children and the woman stops taking birth control, she may find herself less attracted to her mate for reasons she doesn't quite understand.
However, all is not lost:
"... Once a relationship has progressed to long-term commitment, says Herz, a woman's perception of her partner's smell is so intertwined with her emotional reaction to him that it could be difficult for her to assess his scent as if he were a stranger. ..."
But what of the men? There are a few studies to determine if the men are affected by the scent of a woman on birth control. It seems to make women LESS attractive. But, women not taking the pill and ovulating turn out to be the most alluring. Here I thought it was the bare boobs and that thong the stripper was wearing. Silly me.
Messing with fertility pills is not the only way we can fool our partners. Deodorants, perfumes, and lots of bathing can mask or alter our scent. One line of thought is that this is making our society less inhibited about sex since we need to be more intimate to be close enough to smell our partner. Perhaps the solution to our oversexed society is to bathe less. A stinky armpit would surely kill romance either way.
So if you are in it for the long run "... Think twice about opting for the pill if you're seeking a long-term partner. The first few weeks of a relationship are critical to assessing compatibility, so make sure your nose is up to the task. ..."