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The Scent of a Breakup: A Simple Tip to Ease the Pain

Updated on February 5, 2012

Our Most Primal Sense

Our nose is the gateway of humanity's most primal sense: Our ability to smell. Infants recognize their mothers by their scent, we can "sniff out" danger in the form of spoiled food, gas leaks, or smoke, aromatherapists use essential oils to alternately calm and invigorate us, and we can tell when cooking food is "ready" by its scent.

We also "remember" scents powerfully. As Rachel Hertz, a psychologist, notes:

"For example, a person may have no emotional reaction to seeing a photo of a loved one who died. But that person may unexpectedly encounter the same smell particular to the loved one's study - a combination of cigarettes and books, for instance - and feel like weeping."

So What Does All this Mean For a Break-Up?

Break-ups, even friendly break-ups, are tough. Even tougher is the process of grieving and, eventually, resolving one's pain and moving on. While it is important for everyone to cope with grief on their own time, it is equally important to create for oneself an environment where one can detach from the now-dead relationship and begin to heal.

If you have, or are going to, end a relationship there is one very simple thing that you can do to help along your healing process: Remove the scent of your former partner from your abode and/or belongings.

How to De-scent Your Living Space

Probably the easiest way to de-scent your living space is to hire a professional cleaning service to come in and do what is called a "deep clean" ( extremely thorough cleaning). You may also want to rent a carpet shampooer/steamer from your local hardware or grocery store in order to thoroughly clean your carpets and upholstery.

Don't forget to wash all of your linens and clean your mattress. If you have out-of-season comforters, afghans, blankets, quilts, etc, get them washed/cleaned as well. You don't want to drag out an old quilt for your bed in the dead of winterand realize too late that it smells like your ex.

If You Are The One to Move Out

If you were living with your now-ex and are planning to move, you will likely be taking some household linens (towels, blankets, pillows, etc) with you. Be sure to get these items cleaned before bringing them into your new home and/or using them. The last thing you want to do is to hop into bed after a long day of moving and developing your "own space", only to find that your sheets smell of your ex.

Don't neglect your clothing, either, particularly if they were in a shared closet. Dry clean them, if you must, to remove the scent of your former abode.


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