Finding your partner by smells

In the modern world of dating theres a lot of gimmicks setup to catch the eye of the potential singles market. Everyone knows about the free weekenders online daters get sucked into. But sometimes something seems so far fetched it might actually work…

One such idea a friend had was the idea of picking someone by smell. Now this concept isnt’ actually new. Pheromone parties were all the range a while back.

The get-togethers — which have been held in New York and Los Angeles and are planned for other cities — ask guests to submit a slept-in T-shirt that will be smelled by other participants.

Then, voila! You can pick your partner based on scent, or so the theory goes.

The parties started as an experiment in matchmaking by a California woman weary of online dating, but it turns out they also have a root in science. Researchers have shown that humans can use scent to sort out genetic combinations that could lead to weaker offspring.

The issue my friend thinks is the one dimension of the test. What you need is a range of things to smell and that rating is mapped against others who gave a similar rating.

So say I rated coffee beans (1), vanilla (2) and citrus (3). Then someone else who also rated them in a similar way would get matched with me. Of course the number of items to smell would be something like 10 , 15 or 20.

I know its not a perfect science, but its not much worst than 3mins of speed dating conversation or the hot or not style of dating currently being pushed by the likes of Tinder.

Prays said she’s learned from the experience that while scent is powerful, it isn’t enough to detect a good match.

“Animals have babies and they move on, and that’s what the pheromone party is,” said Prays, who may start including a few pertinent details on the index cards, like a person’s relationship expectations. “The most successful thing about it is, it opens up conversation.”

I did float the idea with the guy behind the speed dating events, and to be honest he did laugh a lot. But even he could be pursued to give it a try in the right conditions. So who knows where this might go?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and

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