Science Reveals Single Men Stink

According to a recent study, unpartnered men smell differently from those in committed relationships, and women can tell the difference.

By Douglas Helm | Published

single men

Bad news for all the single men out there — you may be smellier than your coupled-up counterparts. According to a recent study reported on by IFLScience, men who don’t have a significant other may have worse body odor. However, the study also mentions that this stronger body odor could also help men to signal that they’re available to prospective partners.

The study gathered 91 men as the test pool and gave them a plain white shirt to wear for one day, encouraging them to get moderate exercise during their time wearing the shirt. The study was divided into 46 single men and 45 men with partners. Once the day was over, the shirts were collected to test the hypothesis.

In order to find results, 86 self-identified heterosexual women had the unglamorous task of smelling six different shirts and viewing a photograph of the man who wore the shirt. The study authors reported a consistent trend of single men’s shirts rated as stronger smelling than the shirts of the partnered men in the study. Despite the fact that the stronger odor may indicate availability, the odors were not rated more attractive than the odors of the partnered participants.

The study also found some other interesting differences between the single men and partnered men who participated in the study. Partnered women tended to rate the single pictures as more masculine than the partnered men while also rating the partnered men as more trustworthy or loyal. Single women didn’t tend to pick out these qualities in either sample group.

single men
“Sixty Percent of the time it works… every time.” -Paul Rudd’s Brian Fantana on his isemi-legal cologne Sex Panther, in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

The authors of the study went on to give some reasons as to why these single men might smell more pungent than the coupled men. One explanation is that it may be beneficial from an evolutionary perspective so that men can signal their availability and women can avoid courting men who are unavailable or have fewer resources to offer. Another explanation is that the single participants may have more testosterone since bachelors face more sexual competition than men with partners.

Another explanation states that single men may simply be less hygienic, with the authors citing research that single males sometimes have poorer physical and mental health. Regardless of the reason, it doesn’t appear that the results are conclusive enough to say whether the results can benefit single males in courting. Also, the study is only based on one, relatively small sample size.

In order for these theories to be more concrete, they would definitely need to do some more research and have a larger sample size of single men. Still, even a small-scale scientific study is interesting and can provide some ammo for theories about single males possibly smelling worse than partnered males. At this point, there are too many explanations at play to say decisively why a single man might smell worse.

It sounds like single men should still keep doing their thing and not worry too much about factors outside of their control. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to keep up with the showers and throw on some deodorant. That pretty much applies to anyone and everyone though.