I have been with my partner for more than three years. We have a wonderful relationship and go out of our way to make each other feel held, loved, listened to. We moved in together last year and have a great partnership in the home. We also have regular date nights and the sex remains good. But, I don’t like his smell. He doesn’t smell bad, it’s just that his natural odour is not a smell I enjoy. It isn’t his body odour from when he has been running or lifting weights. It’s not conscious, I just have a bodily response that says “that’s not my thing”. Sometimes, I wonder if this is telling of something deeper. Do you need to be drawn to the odour of the person you love?

People have different priorities in terms of what draws them close to a partner. Many are very visually oriented and need attractive presentations. Some are kinaesthetics and so they react best to the feel of a person when they touch. You seem to have a sensibility that is more olfactory, so smell is extremely important to you. In addition, a person’s natural scent carries chemicals such as pheromones that are important elements in the biology of attraction. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have some regrets about setting up home with someone to whom you do not feel physically bonded, but I wonder why you chose to do that? Perhaps it would be advisable to ask yourself some questions, such as: do you like the idea of being with someone like your partner more than you actually like being intimate with him? Have you ever felt a strong attraction to anyone … and liked their smell? Did your partner’s smell appeal to you earlier on in the relationship? If yes, when did it change? Are there fragrances, such as aftershave, that he could use that you would enjoy more? There is also the possibility that your partner’s smell may be linked to a medical condition that requires treatment. Investigate.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to [email protected] (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.

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