A dear old friend, now deceased, once told me his gorgeous girlfriend didn’t have any objectionable body odors.
“I swear, Daddy,” he said, “nothing at all, maybe just some sweet smells and flavors now and then. She’s not like other girls, honest. Lots of things about other girls turn me off.”
“But that’s impossible,” I countered. “Everybody sweats; everybody shits. Maybe she douches a lot, but everybody’s asshole stinks.”
“Not Carol. No smelly odors at all,” he insisted.
At the time we were all young adults, living in what we thought was an objective world. We weren’t experienced enough to understand the more subtle interactions of cause and effect. Point is that my friend was in love.
Human sensory responses adapt to passion. Whatever the experience, those qualities relating to love and desire manifest themselves as subjective. Enjoying what we see, hear, smell and feel about each other makes us more comfortable together.
Cuddling on a sofa with your soul mate, there’s a level of comfort you couldn’t attain with many of your friends. Elbows, ribs and knees all seem to fold together easily, comfortably. How a loved one’s skin reacts against the texture of our own. Hands unconsciously roaming to physical places on another evoke varying degrees of comfort, depending whose hand and where it lands. Unless someone takes polyamory to an unheard of extreme, we can’t love everybody on that heightened sensory level.
Last week, Garce’s post exploring early hominids had me wondering if research into our ancestors could result in theories regarding attraction at various junctures along the genetic trail. Were early Sapiens comfortable mating with Neanderthals? Why do some people have an attraction to women with a unibrow? Why does body hair on a woman turn one on and others off? Why do some women prefer clean-shaven men? Is that slope to his brow attractive? What are we most comfortable with?
Of course, much of this attraction thing is built on culture and personal experience, an aversion to particular behavior, or a penchant for type. Maybe he reminds you of your grade-school crush (who never even looked at you). That cute cheerleader you took to the prom and who fucked the quarterback afterward? Well, she put you off the cheerleader type forever, didn’t she? Or maybe you’re the one who fucked that quarterback. What did he have that was so special?
But what I find most intriguing is that palpable sense of comfort that evolves into love, as well as the converse: How love is so pliable as to make us more comfortable with each other. How our own physical reactions minimize negative traits and embellish the positive in those we find ourselves attracted to.