How Pheromones Determine Who Is Attracted To Who

Human attraction is a hard case to crack. Millions of years of evolution from our biological ape cousins and still, no one has the answer. You might have heard a sorry mate say in passing, “if only I was taller”, or “if only I was rich”, or “if only I knew how to keep a girl’s attention other than just buying her drinks all night”. Science would tell your sorry mate, “If only you smelt better. Pheromones matter.”

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A couple of weeks ago I did an article on men around the world trying to understand women. They approached it like a science; if subject does this, do this. If subject says this, say this etc. I concluded that although their efforts were valiant, they were unwarranted, and were not the key to a solid male/female relationship. Well, now a different sort of science is taking its place. Where we once assumed that attraction was translated via vision, it is now becoming clear that smell may play a large part in sociosexual relations. But surely, we can tell if someone is attractive just by the way they look. Apps such as Instagram and Tinder simply would not exist, if this weren’t the case. Unfortunately, technology is yet to evolve to the point of smelling another over a vast distance.

The Science of Pheromones

The European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology defines pheromones as:

“Ecto-hormones, as they are chemical messengers that are emitted into the environment from the body where they can then activate specific physiological or behavioural responses in other individuals of the same species.”

In layman’s terms: the physical incarnation of attraction. The same journal claims that humans have believed to be mainly visual in our attraction due to our poor sense of smell. However, we receive these pheromones through our nasal cavity, and therefore can only become truly intimate with someone who we perceive to ‘smell good’.

The science of pheromones

Being this intimate you’d certainly hope your partner smelt alright.

Is this discovery wild? Nonsense, perhaps? I will be the first to step forward and claim that my attraction to another has been dulled by my potential partner’s lack of fragrant hygiene. If a person has B.O, of course, no-one is going to want them. But smell tells us more than just cleanliness. According to recent scientific discovery, not only does smell tell us if you or your potential partner is healthy (and therefore ripe for reproduction), but also whether you two are compatible for each other. A study in Frontiers in Psychology determined that while males tend to focus heavily on the visual, females are receiving pheromones to distinguish between a man who can support them and a man who cannot.

Pheromones subconsciously communicate the following:

  • Male pheromones communicate his status among other men (is he ‘alpha’ or ‘beta’?).
  • Female pheromones communicate fertility.

The next time you slide on into that stranger’s DMs, bring your best nasal game to your first awkward coffee date. It might help you determine the love of your life. Or not.

Pro-tip: Leave the Lynx Africa in the deep corners of your darkest closet, where it belongs.


Jay is a writer and content producer for The Versatile Gent.

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