What are pheromones? What do they do?
Dear smelly snooper,
Pheromones are hormones produced by your body and sweated out your pores. The many factors that go into what pheromones are released are based on your mood, hormones and genetics. Everyone’s pheromones are different, which gives everyone a distinct body odor.
These magic compounds in perspiration help bloodhounds track someone’s scent. Like the most stinky fingerprint you can imagine, the exocrine glands are individual for every couch potato and athlete alike.
They’re also on tons of animals. You know that sick looking ball of snakes on Animal Planet? It’s like a giant knot of garter snakes in a mating ritual? They’re all releasing pheromones, going crazy, letting each other know they’re ready to get it on.
Humans do the same thing, but in a more club-like setting. When people are dropping-it-like-it’s-hot, they’re sweating and releasing pheromones. There’s been recent research to suggest that one aspect of initial attraction is a small component in sweat that is genetically determined. A factor exhibited in your immune system, people who have this genetic characteristic are more attractive to certain people.
In reality, this isn’t the end-all-be-all of love at first sight. The ugliest, rudest, most insane person could sweat attractive pheromones and no one would care. But they could play a role in primal attraction.
Many companies have now capitalized on localizing odorless pheromones and selling them in sweet smelling perfume. Look at sex panther from Anchorman. Essentially a gimmick, none of these perfumes, nor Tag or Axe, will get the opposite sex to want you so bad they will cause you physical harm (see any Tag or Axe commercial).
Not even in the natural world will the attraction be that insane. Many bird species have delicate dances and rituals. Male wildebeests must herd their women, but rarely hurt them. Sea urchins send up little pheromone messengers to let the other sea urchins they are open for business.
Male anglerfish are the weirdest, clingiest of all. Once they find a female, they latch on and fuse to her body, becoming parasitic. For life. Consider that when you think your breakup isn’t going too well.
There is some rumor saying that generation Y has perfume, cologne and deodorant to blame for bad love lives. How much of a basis is there for this rumor?
Dear sweet sniffer,
Actually, a lot. There’s evidence suggesting that in the mid 20th century, the rise in washing routines in some states was correlated with their raising divorce rates.
Of course there’s a ton of other factors in this connection, like family breakup after WWII and the decline of Catholicism as a major religion in the household.
Regardless, it’s hard to ignore the biological explanation. If pheromones are constantly washed away from the body, and then antiperspirant is slathered on, how can anyone really know when an attraction is forming?
This is not to say that hippies find love faster and easier because they don’t bathe. Perhaps it is a small factor. But with our huge human brains and complicated lives, there’s way more than just smelly stuff coming into play. It may play a role in initial attraction, but not lifelong love.
So don’t quit showering and wearing deodorant just because you wanna get laid. It will probably backfire really really bad.