I’d written before about the power of scent, particularly when dating; but didn’t quite cover everything, particularly about the specific issue of men and scent.
Fragrance on men is an oft-discussed topic in the CatholicMatch forums and with good reason. It seems that many men might not even consider wearing a scent if they didn’t have the goal of attracting someone. If that is the case, then, some further clarification might be in order.
I think many of the guidelines I presented before can certainly apply to men, particularly about not using too much. As I said before, if someone can smell you before you enter a room, it’s too much. The same applies to hallways in girls’ dorms!
This brings to mind the subtlety of sillage, the lingering scent that’s left after the wearer leaves the room. This does not mean the fragrance should hang heavy in the air. It just needs to be a faint, distant reminder. Think of it as a passing glance rather than a fixed stare. I think we could all agree that fixed stares can be downright creepy, while a passing glance is almost never a bad thing.
While I can think of many women who wear too much fragrance, I can easily think of many more men who seemed to have bathed in their cologne or aftershave. And if it’s cheap cologne or if the scent doesn’t mix nicely with a particular man’s pheromones, it can be downright uncomfortable to be around. For whatever reason, too, I hear more people complain about being allergic to men’s colognes than to women’s fragrances.
So less is indeed more; on that we can all agree. But what I think is worth pondering there is whether or not any fragrance is necessary. Whenever the topic of men and scent comes up, many women say they prefer no fragrance at all. A fair amount of women have mentioned in the forums that they really like nothing beyond a faint reminder of soap, perhaps a bit of aftershave but nothing more.
What I wonder, though, is why: Is it because of too many men from the past who, because they overdid it, or wore an allergenic cologne, ruined it for women? Or is it because there’s something unnatural to women about a man who wears a manufactured fragrance?
I am particularly fascinated with the idea of pheromone parties, wherein people seek out a potential mate based on signals from their olfactory sense. One of the guidelines that party goers need to be mindful of is avoiding fragranced products while prepping for the party. This would stand to reason, of course; a fragrance mixes with our pheromones and alters the experience for the receiving nose.
I wonder if women who don’t like fragrance on men are more sensitive to pheromones and want an unobstructed scent pathway when they’re around a potential mate. I also wonder if traditional gender roles lead us to think that fragrance and women is a package deal; whereas with men, it’s just not very masculine. Either of these possibilities could explain why many women prefer men to wear very little manufactured fragrance, if any at all.
What say you, good people of CatholicMatch? What’s your scent preference for men? Do you, like many others, think fragrance on a man is less masculine? Do you think fragrance on women is more feminine? And what about pheromone parties: Are they a silly trend or are they a smart way to find a potential mate?