I have often said that I should have been an accountant, because numbers always add up. One plus one always equals two, but when you start dealing with people, nothing seems to add up. Numbers are objective; people tend to be subjective. Everyone has different opinions – from art to politics – and their likes and dislikes may differ, as well, even among identical twins. They both may not love the taste of everything they eat or have the same opinion of everyone they meet. The phrase, “One man’s junk is another man’s garbage,” comes to mind and explains this perfectly.

I received an email from a young gentleman whose sense of smell very much differed from that of the woman he was dating. It may involve how pheromones work and how what smells nice to one person smells like rotten fish to another.


Dear Goldy:

I am dating someone for a few weeks and I really like her. The issue is, I can’t stand the smell of her perfume. I’ve never had this before with anyone I dated. I’m sure it smells nice to her. It may be a very expensive, exclusive type of perfume, but I literally don’t want to breathe when I’m in the car with her and we are sitting close together.

My sister told me I should casually make mention that I have a very sensitive nose and sometimes sneeze or have an allergic reaction to scents, so if she wouldn’t mind, not putting on perfume before the date. I know it sounded crazy, but I told her this. The girl agreed. She said she wouldn’t put on perfume or use hairspray... she was very understanding.

But on our next date, I smelled it again. I tried to hide my disgust, but I guess she saw my face. She asked what was wrong. I told her I smelled her perfume. She laughed and said she had put just a little on in the morning before she left the house for work, more than nine hours earlier. She didn’t realize the smell would be so potent hours later.

My sister said I should just ask her not to wear perfume or to change the perfume if this was the only real issue I am having with the girl. I think that is weird. The truth is, I have no issues with smells, so I don’t know what is turning me so off to this perfume. What do you think?



Thank you for your email, Moshe.

Okay. So your nose hairs aren’t tickled by this woman’s perfume. It isn’t so odd, but just a bit odd that this seems to be the only smell you have ever smelled that has evoked such a negative reaction.

I remember going to school with a girl who was very sensitive to smell; I think she was even allergic to types of smells. She would beg classmates not to wear perfume because she was being choked by the smell. Years later, when she was getting married, there was a card included in her wedding invitation asking guests not to wear perfumes or cologne due to the kallah’s allergies (true fact).

I also remember that every time my sister was pregnant she could not stand any type of smell. When my parents and I would come to visit, we wouldn’t put on any perfume or cologne when we started the drive from New York to Baltimore. But there was one time when we arrived and my sister was in bed with afternoon/evening sickness, and when my mother went to hug her, she screamed and pushed her away, accusing her of wearing perfume (it was actually a funny scene, not a harsh or mean one): “I told you no perfume or cologne!” My mother explained that she understood and didn’t put on any that day, specifically because she knew we were coming down later in the day for a visit. My sister said that there was a smell she couldn’t stand. It ended up being my mother’s deodorant (and later my deodorant). My brother-in-law sarcastically screamed, “I haven’t worn deodorant in two months! How dare you bring those fumes into my house!” So, yes, I can understand how certain smells can affect people.

Moshe, I don’t think there is anything wrong with you telling the woman, using the right words, that you are having this reaction to her perfume (and I really hope it is her perfume!). You wrote that she was understanding the first time around and didn’t put on any before your last date, but the smell lingered from the morning. I don’t know this woman – not her name, hair color, address. But what I do know is that if she is a regular, typical woman, she has more than one perfume on her shelf or in her drawer. Simply say, “I really can’t understand it, but for some reason your perfume and my sense of smell don’t seem to be friends or want to be friends. I hate to ask this, but would it be possible for you to switch perfumes or not to wear perfume altogether?”

Yes, it will sound odd. And, yes, even if she keeps a straight face, the chances are great that she will tell at least one person (friend or parent) of your request and think it’s strange. But if she likes you and things are going well, this is one little thing that she has to change for you; your sister’s advice was correct. Bigger changes, for the both of you, will come in the future, if you keep dating and things progress. But right now, switching perfumes isn’t such a big deal, when you think of it and look at the big picture. If this woman is mature and understanding, then she will understand your request.

If my brother-in-law was able to go two-plus months without deodorant, then this request shouldn’t be a “make it or break it” moment. There are things people do for love that they wouldn’t normally do.

Hatzlachah to you all.

Goldy Krantz  is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..