Smell Dating then sent batches of 10 mixed swatches back to the clients to sniff this week.
A match will be made if one client likes the scent of another and the olfactory attraction is mutual.
Clients, who pay a one-time fee of , dive in nose-first, unaware of a potential smell-mate’s age, gender or sexual orientation.
“Most normal dating services, you rely on profile pictures, assumptions that come from visual information,” Brain said.
For three days and nights I wore the same cotton T-shirt, through sweaty workouts and while I slept. I passed off the damp, stained tee to the New York University researchers who run Smell Dating, who saw it not as an object of disgust, but as boyfriend bait.
They cut my T-shirt into swatches, stuffed them inside little zip-top bags and mailed them to 10 people who’d also signed up for this bizarre social experiment.
By sniffing other people’s body odor instead of swiping right on their photos, the thinking goes, we rely on primal bodily intuition.
A small but growing trend in social media is to go nose first when it comes to romance: whether by throwing get-togethers that hook people up based on the smell of their T-shirt, like Pheromone Parties, or by matching people based on how similarly they smell the world, like the Israeli social network Smell Space.
Smell Dating is the first mail-order smell dating service, but its creators aren’t the only ones wagering that we’re better at choosing partners through our noses than our eyes.
“I’m like so many other people in New York City, using Tinder, using OKCupid,” Donaldson said, “and my main issue with these things is you feel like you’re shopping for somebody as opposed to making a genuine connection with another human being.” Brain said she and Lavigne consulted “a lot of smell researchers” about their art project, which explores whether a person’s body odor can trigger Cupid’s arrow. ” said a worker, wincing as he sniffed a swatch before putting it into a plastic bag marked #34.
“We wanted to see if people would be interested in meeting other people just based on this one bit of information rather than this avalanche of information that you usually get,” said Lavigne as he watched volunteers wearing hooded white jumpsuits and blue rubber gloves cut up the worn T-shirts at the Sweat Shop. In Brooklyn, Donaldson tore into the first plastic bag, removed the swatch and sniffed.
Smell Dating, then, is a throwback—a way to connect us, at long last, with our most basic, biological mating cues.
In the game of “which sense would you most be willing to lose? But evolutionarily, smell is one of the most important senses.