If you’re choosing your dates based on silly things like appearance or how much you have in common, science says you might want to try something else: sniffing a potential partner’s dirty T-shirt.

Yeah, it sounds pretty disgusting, but experiments have shown that study participants are drawn by smell to people by a set of genes that influence their immune response. Researchers say such preferences are nature’s way of preventing inbreeding and preserving genetic adaptations developed over time.

“Humans can pick up this incredibly small chemical difference with their noses,” said Martha McClintock, founder of the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago. “It is like an initial screen.”

Now matchmaking events called “pheromone parties” are popping up in Los Angeles and New York. Attendees are asked to submit a slept-in t-shirt that will be smelled by other participants — but what kind of success rate do the parties have?

Judith Prays, who hosts the parties, says that after an event in New York, about a half-dozen couples hooked up and one pair formed a relationship. But, she adds, “The most successful thing about it is it opens up conversation.”

As long as that conversation doesn’t involve the line “dude, deodorant is your friend,” we’re thinking it’s worth a shot.

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