Article Thumbnail

Why Your Girlfriend Thinks Your Apartment Smells, Even Though You Don’t

Women have evolved to have a keener sense of smell than men

I’ve had several relationships with women in my adult life that were nearly ruined by towels.

Five years ago, my sisters came to visit me in New York and were appalled to find I owned exactly one towel. The towel was the linchpin to my foolproof cleanliness regimen: I would use the towel until it reeked, at which point I knew it was time to do laundry. I thought my system was genius. My sisters were disgusted, and bought me a second towel.

Shortly after their visit, I started a relationship with a woman who, after seeing my dearth of towels, dragged me to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought me a third.

And last year, a girlfriend demanded I buy a new batch of towels if I ever wanted her to stay at my place again, citing the fact that the three towels I owned smelled like complete ass. (The towels in question were the same ones I owned five years prior.)

It’s only now that I’ve come to appreciate the splendor of a clean, fluffy towel and understand the error of my ways. My old towels smelled terrible and should have been replaced.

But it’s not my fault. I swear! Science will even back me up on this. Because when it comes to sussing out smells, men are hopelessly inept compared to women.

Until recently, women’s keener sense of smell was attributed to emotional differences between the sexes. Indeed, whenever the women in my life would complain about my stinky towels, I’d privately dismiss them as whiny nags. My towels smell fine, I told myself. These women are trying to towel-cuck me, and I will not have it!

But a 2014 study from medical researchers in Brazil found that women have a higher concentration of neurons in their olfactory bulb, the brain region that receives sensory information captured by your nostrils. That is, women are wired to better perceive smells than men.

The prevailing theory why is that women evolved a more acute sense of smell to better select a mate. Smell is a major determinant of attraction for women, with females more naturally attracted to the body odors of men with genetic makeups different than theirs. Mating with someone with different genes increases the genetic of diversity of your children, making them more immune to disease.

TL;DR: Women developed better senses of smell so they could give birth to healthier babies.

No wonder fertile women have even stronger senses of smell. Conversely, it’s harder for men to mask their body odor, presumably so they can better attract women with their irresistible man funk.

The research explains why women are so often grossed out by men’s living spaces, and why men are so oblivious to otherwise glaring food, trash and bathroom smells.

So dudes, if your lady says your place reeks, don’t counter with, “Well, it smells fine to me.” Just clean it to the point it passes her sniff test. Because if you wait until your natural habitat is noticeably smelly to you, you probably won’t have a lady friend to share it with.