Kathryn Lindsay
Updated Mar 31, 2016 @ 3:01 pm
smell dating
Credit: Kathryn Lindsay

As a single woman who is willing to try anything — well, almost anything — to meet my special someone, I was intrigued by Smell Dating when I wrote about it back in February. The premise is this: For $25, Smell Dating sends you a t-shirt to wear for two nights and three days. No deodorant, no perfume, just your natural (sometimes) sweaty smell. Then you mail the (at this point, smelly) t-shirt back and in return you get samples of t-shirts worn by other people who have done the same thing. After a few big sniffs, you choose your favorite t-shirt smells on the Smell Dating website and if there’s a match, the service connects you over email. The rest — a date, marriage, lifelong love — is up to you.

I’ll admit that wearing a shirt for three days straight without deodorant or perfume, letting someone smell it, smelling theirs in return, and then going on a blind date, seemed like exactly the opposite of something I’d be into doing. However, after I found out that Smell Dating was only open to 100 people at a time in New York City, the exclusivity and urgency drew me in. Plus, it would probably make a pretty good story, right? (Maybe not one to tell my grandkids, but definitely when I’m trying to make people pay attention to me at parties.)

After I had officially registered on the Smell Dating website, I gave all my friends fair warning.

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Luckily, I was wrong. I could shower. When the t-shirt arrived, it came with detailed instructions, and my adventure began.

Day One

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This is me feeling fun, fresh, and ready to find love in a much deeper v-neck than I expected.

Day Two

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This is me feeling proud that it had been two days and I didn’t smell! I tried to help the process by using my most aromatic LUSH products in the shower and spending a lot of time at a local coffee shop that specializes in Nutella drinks and baked goods.

Day Three

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This is me officially smelling bad and really wanting to take off the shirt now, please.

That night, I finally changed out of my shirt and sent it off, praying not only that it would bring me a whirlwind romance, but also that whoever smelled it wasn’t allergic to cats.

The Smell Test

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My Smell Dating samples arrived in little tightly-sealed bags, which we neatly displayed on the HelloGiggles office floor for the purposes of this photo. Then, I got to work, giving each bag a sniff. I sorted the samples into piles of “yes,” “maybe,” “no,” and for one particular sample, “hell no,” which I threw across the room.

The samples are pretty bare bones: All you get are a slice of t-shirt without any additional information than smell. It could belong to a man or a woman, so you have to throw your sexual orientation out the window for the moment and just listen to your primal instincts. When it came to smell, I wasn’t looking for a pleasant odor as much as I was just trying to eliminate the bad ones. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I liked about the ones I chose, but maybe that was the point.

Finally, I entered my choices in on the Smell Dating website and was soon told I had three matches. I reached out to one of my matches at random, who I’ll call James, and we set up a time to meet for drinks after work.

The Date

We met for drinks at a bar in between our offices that served mostly beer which, it turned out, he couldn’t drink because of allergies. James then spent a good five minutes trying to get me to eat an olive, despite the fact I do not want to eat olives, ever.

We talked about other things in between, like how we found out about the project (he, a friend; me, my job) and whether or not I was going to write about our date (“Maybe!”). I learned that James and I had very different approaches when it came to choosing our matches. He took detailed notes whereas I simply listened to my gut, and after we connected, he didn’t look me up on social media, whereas I did everything in my power to find him online and see what I was getting myself into.

It was a perfectly pleasant date and something I had never tried before. However, was it love? Can smell really predict romantic attraction?

Well, the next morning I received this text:

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If I had to guess, this was based solely on my adamant dislike of olives. More likely, though, it’s because we just didn’t click, as is the case with most blind dates, no matter how much you like how they smell.

The most important takeaway from my Smell Dating experience — other than that maybe body odor isn’t the best predictor of romantic success — is that I’m both charming and fun, and that’s something he, and nobody else, should ever forget.