Dear Ursula,

My new boyfriend and I get along fine, I guess, but our pheromones don’t. I like his body, I just don’t like his smell. I especially don’t like the way it kind of sticks to me after we’ve spent the night together.

What’s the deal with pheromones anyway? Do they change when you start sleeping with someone? I mean for obvious reasons, it seems like you are sort of absorbing someones else’s um, fluids. So horomones and pheromones are just part of that, right? Is it possible that I’ll just adapt to his smell eventually?


Dear Curious,

Maybe one day the science of pheronomes will catch up with the science of hygiene.  Then you can turn to friends and family over the thanksgiving table and say   “the pheromones just weren’t there,” and no one will think any less of you. In the mean time let’s cut to the chase girlfriend.

Your amigas are clucking their tongues, rolling their eyes and saying “enough already.” They’ve heard everything that was wrong with all the others. “What’s not to like about this guy?”  Well turn down the volume on their chatter, and listen to your nose.  If the way he smells creeps you out as much as it creeps me out to read about it, there’s plenty not to like.  Once upon a time, dear reader I tried hard to love a man I wasn’t really attracted to. I admit it, I lived with him for several years.  Don’t get me wrong he was attractive. He was kind and good and generous and handsome and loving. So it had to be me that was wrong.  Right?  You hear where I’m coming from.   But like I said, I just wasn’t exactly attracted to him, and it took those years to  let myself off the hook!  Reader, do yourself and your lover a favor, don’t be nice: obey those dark voices. You know you will in the end, so why drag it out? We aren’t in our twenties anymore.

Because what I hear you are saying is you feel one thing but you ought to feel another.  Girlfriend, consider this a  permission slip to feel the way you do.  Because ultimately “ought” aint gonna carry you over any rivers and there will be rivers to cross,  as you may remember from, ahem, being married.

“Icky smell” does not have to be the official reason you give him. I wouldn’t use cooties either. Come up with something that sounds less bestial so everyone can preserve their dignity and then, when you’re ready, go sniff some other flowers.

Because dear curious untied, dear unfettered and unencumbered, do casually date whoever you like, but when it comes to really bunking down and getting dewy -eyed  know that thou art an animal underneath it all and don’t you ever deny it. Don’t choose a person to be passionate about the way you might pick a blouse or a cushion, or  a vacation spot. Instead pick that certain someone the way you might choose a piece of chocolate—because of the dark forbidden smell.  (Then I do agree with your friends and your mother, he or she should also have good manners, and ideally a steady job).  But first things first girlfriend! Start by following your nose.