OPEN THREAD: I Love You, But You Stink

What do you do when your partner hates your perfume?
Publish date:
May 13, 2016
mac, perfume, boyfriends, signature scents, tocca, derek lam, demeter, Juliette Has A Gun

In late March, when I was preparing to move into a new apartment with my boyfriend, I made the very difficult decision of giving away some of the beauty products I've accumulated in order to make the transfer of stuff easier and also secure the eternal love of the product recipients. But I also decided to throw out all but a few of the products I'd already been using, knowing full well I had new, unopened products to dive into once we were in the new apartment.

One of the products I tossed about three-quarters empty was the fragrance I'd been wearing almost exclusively for most of 2015, Gentlewoman by Juliette Has a Gun. It's a very simple, clean eau de cologne with notes of neroli, musk and almond essence — I think it's that almond essence that really helped me commit. I loved it, even though it has none of the usual lush floral notes I look for in a scent, and my boyfriend loved it, too — it was what I was wearing when we met — so it became the closest thing I'd probably ever had to a signature scent.

But with it being mostly used and wanting to transport one less breakable thing, I let it go, assuming another awesome scent would come my way soon.

And it did! I received a rollerball of MAC's Air of Style fragrance, and it hit all of my note nails on the head. It has top notes of date, peony and white pepper, middle notes of tuberose (*heart-eyes emoji*), orange blossom, jasmine, ylang ylang and orris, and base notes of leather, woods, vetiver, tonka beans and amber. It's not the least bit shy, but because it has the white florals I love, it was instantly comfortable to me.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, hated it when I waved the bottle under his nose.

"It smells like a funeral home."

Crazy, right? Everyone knows Demeter's Funeral Home smells like a funeral home. Duh.

"OK, well, I'll wear it today and you can let me know if you like it better on my skin later."

He didn't.

And for the first time since I worried if my CoverGirl LipSlicks would make seventh-grade boys want to kiss me more or less — to clarify, that was 1991, not recently — I took a guy's opinion into a beauty decision.

I don't care what my boyfriend thinks of my hair color. I know he likes dark-brown hair best — and that just happens to be my natural color — but I've been a range of not-dark-brown colors since meeting him, including green. I might ask him, "Does my lipstick look OK?" but that's more of an "Is there any on my teeth/nose/chin?" question than a "Do you like the color I picked?" question. And I don't care if I don't look as cute to him without mascara on (unconfirmed assumption); my makeup is coming off long before we go to bed.

But I absolutely, totally, 100% care what he thinks of my perfume. Smell is such a visceral experience, and to lump it in with beauty choices like lipstick or a haircut underestimates how much it can really affect a partner.

Por ejemplo, y'all:

"I obsessively track my migraines because I’m still trying to figure out what triggers them, so when I noticed the frequency of mine was spiking, I tried to see what had changed recently," Caitlin told me. "I was using the same laundry detergent, burning the same candles, eating the same food, getting the same amount of sleep, having roughly the same amount of stress, and taking the same multivitamin. I realized my boyfriend had switched colognes right at the same time my headaches were picking up. Sorry, dude! You have to toss that one."

My new MAC scent wasn't causing my boyfriend physical harm, but being near a scent that just doesn't agree with you — and being around it a lot — is a special sort of hell. So as I continue to not give a damn about what he thinks about my middle part versus my side part, I don't want him to have an unpleasant experience just being next to me, even if I love the perfume.

So, it's time to try out a few more! I gave Tocca Florence a whirl — it's the only fragrance I've found that combines my two favorite floral notes, tuberose and violet — and while he said it was more agreeable than Air of Style, it was still not entirely likable to him. (I love it, though, so I'm saving it and Air of Style to wear when either of us is out of town.)

Tonight, I'm bringing home the Derek Lam 10 Crosby Fragrance Collection, because there has to be something among the 10 quarter-ounce vials that we can agree on. I'm leaning toward Blackout, which features "notes of complex accord, osmanthus chai, oriental accord and chai tea." I'm surprised as anyone — I don't even drink chai.

Hopefully, he'll be into it, too. Otherwise, I may just have to shell out for a big new bottle of Gentlewoman.

So, for today's Open Thread, tell me:

  • Have you ever worn — or not worn — a fragrance because of a significant other?
  • Have you ever done anything different to your look because of an SO's preferences?
  • Did you know MAC makes perfume? I somehow didn't!