If you love nothing more than cozying up in your boyfriend’s oversized hoodie or his button-down work shirt, you’re not alone. After all, what’s better than being surrounded in warm, soft fabric that smells just like the guy you love? Turns out, this has more than just sentimental appeal, as a new study revealed that wearing your boyfriend’s clothes is also good for your mental health.
The study was pretty involved. The study, conducted by the University of British Colombia, was based on data gathered from 96 heterosexual couples. They asked the men to wear new t-shirts for 24 hours without using deodorant, eating certain foods, or doing anything else that could alter their scent. The shirts were then frozen to preserve the scents and the women were given random shirts to smell, which meant it wasn’t always their partner.
It’s all about scent. Researchers found that getting up close and personal with your partner’s smell via wearing his clothes lowered the amount of stress hormone cortisol in the brain, making the wearers way more zen. Conversely, women who smelled a stranger’s shirt had a higher incidence of cortisol/were more stressed, which is pretty interesting.
Researchers were encouraged by the findings. “Many people wear their partner’s shirt or sleep on their partner’s side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realize why they engage in these behaviors,” said UBC department of psychology grad student and the study’s lead author, Marlise Hofer. “Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress.”
Evolution could play a big part in the result. Hofer believes that our innate fear of the unknown could help explain the study’s findings. “From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol. This could happen without us being fully aware of it,” she said.
This could help people who have to be away from loved ones. The findings indicate that the smell of someone we love can reduce stress levels and negative emotions, so it stands to reason that having something close by that smells like a partner or even a parent or child could help comfort us when we have to be away from them for any period of time. It’s worth a try!
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