By Thomas Whitfield
– It’s Time You Had the Talk
Scent is experienced via the olfactory bulb. It is connected to the amygdala (part of the brain used for processing emotions) and the hippocampus (associative learning). Due to conditioned responses, we often attach a scent to an emotion we’re feeling when we smell it; then, anytime we smell the same scent, we experience the same feeling. This is one of the reasons scents can bring back old memories or emotions you thought were buried.
My apartment still smells like my ex, and I can’t get it to go away. He moved out two months ago. I’ve washed everything; none of his clothing is still here, but when I walk into my apartment, I still smell him. It’s very upsetting, because he left me. I’m still in love with him, and it just makes it harder. It’s almost to the point that I don’t even want to go home, because I know it’s going to smell like him and make me sad. But I don’t want to move—I love my apartment. Ugh. – Male, Gay 25
I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult time with your relationship ending; I promise it will get easier. It’s very true that smell can be tied to emotion, but there’s more here going on. You’re anticipating being sad when you get home, which is going to increase the odds of you feeling sad. Instead, give yourself something to look forward to at home, and when you notice yourself thinking about him, distract yourself and do the things you were looking forward to. Have friends over and create happy memories in the apartment that have nothing to do with your ex. Light a candle and get an air freshener; a lot of this is probably in your head.
My beau smells, and I don’t like it. When I first met him, I thought he was super sexy, and I loved how manly he is. He’s one of those guys that refuse to wear deodorant, and what I once found really hot is now too much. It’s getting to the point where I don’t know if I can stay with him, and I get nervous when we’re around my friends, because I don’t know if they’ll notice. Can I break up with someone because of his smell? – Male, Gay, 31
You are allowed to break up with someone for any reason, or no reason: It’s your life. Is this a deal-breaker? You can’t force someone to wear deodorant, but yeah, you can let him know that it’s something that’s bothering you. Start by talking to him about it. Find out what it is about deodorant that he isn’t into. Does he like his smell, or is it about health? There has been research linking some deodorant to health issues. Is there a compromise you’d be willing to make? If not, then maybe it’s time to let him go free and find someone who enjoys his scent. There are absolutely guys out there that dig it.