“Ew,” my friends would tell me when I’d try to describe it.
But breathing him in was powerful and delicious, and I liked the idea that his scent spoke just to me.
Researchers agree that our sense of smell is important to human relationships, and that we are hard-wired to be drawn to people whose scent we like—be it from a bottle or their armpits.
But the idea that humans emit invisible chemicals that could drive us to a partner is hardly the consensus today. My first boyfriend had a smell I haven’t been able to shake years later, like dirt and earth and just-wet soil.
These pheromones shape the social and sexual lives of some creatures, like invertebrates, insects and rodents, by attracting them towards evolutionarily compatible partners, which are desirable because they lead to better offspring.