The Sweet Smell of Sex

Over at Pretty Dumb Things, Chelsea Girl wondered about her committed relationship and why they were having less than stellar sex:

And I have tried, I have tried and I have tried to get Donny to hear my complaints. I have mentioned how he used to tie me up and wasn’t that fun, wouldn’t he like a go at the old ropes again? I have said, wow, I really liked it when you dripped me with candle wax, whaddaya think, got a match? I have said, you know, I really enjoy being spanked. How about spanking me? I have insinuated, intimated, directly addressed, queried, said outright and asked point blank. I have done so for almost a year, and for almost a year, I have seen our sex life get more and more firmly entrenched in what I can only term in absolute honesty as a rut.

Saturday, I lost patience, and I kinda sorta, no really, let Donny have it. I told him that I was dissatisfied. I reminded him of the sex we used to have–long, languorous and perverse loops of time and experience where we held each other suspended in passion and occasional pain. I told him that I realized that this kind of sex wasn’t an everyday option, but given how rarely we do fuck, that I needed it to happen more frequently than it had.

I told him, in short, that we were in a rut. I told him that I wanted out. Whether I meant the rut or the relationship was intentionally ambiguous.

“Well,” he said, a stricken look on his face, “when I met you and we did all that stuff, I wasn’t in love with you. But now I love you, and…” his voice trailed off.

Which leaves me to wonder. What has love got to do with it? Why now that my boyfriend is in love with me and I with him, now that he takes care of me, now that he’s committed to me, why with all of that, does the nasty need to go away? Why can’t he fuck me like the little whore I used to be (and still am in my mind)? Why must I sacrifice the wild ecstatic pleasures to the domestic delights? Why do I have to lose my lover to gain a partner?

Why can’t I have it all?

…I hope fervently that we can relearn how to be beasty in the bedroom and keep the commitment. It’s a lot less easy than I thought it would be.

Yes, Chelsea, it is. It will be. Relationships take work and sometimes that work along with the daily grind make sex between committed partners seem more like sex with a friend or a sibling even. (Yeesh!)

That spark, that je ne sais quoi, that makes folks tumble into bed together is dampened if not completely put out by the wet blanked of security, familiarity and comfort which we all prize in our relationships — well, at least until it smothers the sex, then we wonder if it’s all it’s cracked-up to be.

Without trying to play counselor to Chelsea and Donny — the former I’ve ‘conversed with’ a few times, the later I don’t know from Adam — I do have general advice for this general situation of a general sexual rut. And it’s really simple: Hit him in the nose.

No, not literally. Use his sense of smell to get him in the mood.

Memories, complete with all associated emotions such as arousal and lust, can be prompted by smell. I’m serious — it works for both men and women. And I’m not talking about pheromones or other odors you either aren’t aware of or cannot control; I’m talking about recreating the fragrances you both fell in lust with. Your perfume, his cologne, candles, incense — even the smell of a smoky bar can literally be that magic “something in the air” which you’ve been missing.

Smells are strongly linked to memory, so simply spritzing on that signature perfume you always used to wear when you were dating or lighting candles in the same scents you first made-out to can take your partner back to those emotional feelings. I personally know a couple whose sex life soared to re-newed heights when she took a part-time job back in waitressing. Every night that she returned home smelling of fried foods it took him back to when he used to pick her up after work late at night… They were young then, and their night was just beginning…

Who knew fried foods could be so sexy?

Well, in truth, it’s not the fried foods but the smell connected to emotion. One whiff and he was transported back in time… A time when he couldn’t wait to get a chance to feel her up under her polyester uniform and prayed for more. His drive returned with the memories (and she made a bit of extra spending cash to buy herself new trinkets which made her feel sexy too). Win-win!

So dig out that bottle of perfume or cologne you once put on for every date night — I don’t care if those fragrances are so last year (or even so 1980’s), just put them on again. (Unless these bottles themselves have turned bad, then head to the store and buy a new bottle. If they stopped making that fragrance, ask the lady at the perfume counter to help you find the latest scent which is the closest match.) Ditto on the candles — burn Christmas candles all year long if you were getting hot and sweaty during holiday time.

If you don’t believe me, then believe Dr. Alan Hirsch founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Dr. Hirsch has studied olfactory-evoked nostalgia (sometimes called the Proust Effect) and he says, “The quickest way to affect somebody’s moods or behavior, quicker than with any other sensory modality, is with smell.”

This is because of how smell and memory are linked — in fact, we must first remember a smell before identifying it. This means that not only is odor linked to experiences, that smell evokes memories, but that smell is better at this memory cue effect than the other senses. So if you want him to remember a special time, a special feeling — that feeling — think less about how you look or what you are wearing, but about what you both are smelling.

This is entirely unconscious, so you need not get your partner to agree — or even tell them about your sweet-smelling seduction plans!

Of course, some scent memories may have changed over time. For example, some women can no longer wear their old favorite fragrance because that smell is linked to the memory, and nausea, of morning sickness. But this too is good news — it’s proof that your smell-memory connection can be relearned. If your partner isn’t keen on smelling like fried foods every night just to get it on, start spritzing on a new perfume, lighting candles, or even get a new car fragrance tree on the rear-view if you can’t wait to get home to do it — whatever new scent you add to the hot steamy sex will quickly become the new sexy smell memory.

If all else fails, serve him pumpkin pie while burning a lavender candle. Or burn a pumpkin candle and a lavender candle at the same time. Because Dr. Hirsch found the smell of pumpkin pie, when mixed with the smell of lavender, stimulated male sexual arousal more than any other aroma tested. It increased penile blood flow in test subjects by 40 per cent, 13 times more than designer perfume.

And keep those candles burning until you are done and both (I hope!) blissfully basking in the afterglow, because after sex there’s an increase in the production of the hormone makes the brain to form new neurons in the olfactory center. Which not only improves sense of smell, but, again, helps link the smell to the sense of satisfaction.

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