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'AITA for calling my overly-sniffing coworker "creepy" after she complimented my cologne?' UPDATED 2X

'AITA for calling my overly-sniffing coworker "creepy" after she complimented my cologne?' UPDATED 2X


Calling out an awkward experience can create a whole new awkward dynamic.

"TIFU by calling my overly-sniffing coworker "creepy."

Alright internet, here's how I messed up today. This coworker, A (20s F), is always super friendly and talks to me a lot. But there's one thing that throws me off - she constantly comments on how I smell different from our other colleagues of the same ethnicity.

It's a compliment, I guess, but weirdly specific.

So, today, I walk into the office, and A isn't there yet. But the second I enter, she calls out, "Is that you, OP?" I say yes, and she replies, "Oh yeah, I thought I smelled you."

Now, this wasn't my brightest moment, but I blurted out, "Yeah, that's not creepy at all." There were some laughs, but the atmosphere got weird. I apologized right away for calling her creepy, but she's been giving me the cold shoulder ever since. TIFU by overreacting, or is this a valid discomfort level?

TL;DR: Coworker (A) keeps complimenting my distinct scent and seems to track me by smell. It weirds me out. Today, she confirmed it again. I panicked and called it creepy (probably not the best choice). Now A's mad. Did I overstep, or is this a valid concern?

Not long after posting, OP shared a small update.

Edit: To clarify a few details:

I'm a man in my late 20s. The coworker (A) is a woman in her 20s. When she commented on my scent, we weren't looking at each other, and there was some distance between us (around 1.5 meters). I do wear cologne, and she has complimented it in the past.

This comment about smelling me was the first thing she said to me, and it initiated our conversation. As far as I know, she isn't romantically interested in me. In fact, I believe I overheard her mention being a lesbian to other colleagues. I typically receive compliments on my cologne from both men and women.

The comments came rushing in.

20milliondollarapi wrote:

I had one pregnant coworker constantly comment on how good I smelled. It was very odd. Especially on a biological level.

AgencyandFreeWill wrote:

I think the assumptions in some of the comments here that you have poor hygiene are out of line. I'm sorry you have to deal with that garbage. I don't think your actions were a FU.

Her behavior has been completely out of line and she could use some harassment training. Would it have been better to say something to her earlier in private, sure. But it's normal to not know how to combat this sort of harassment. You reacted normally to an abnormal situation.

Hopefully, calling her out will help her change her behavior in the future. If she continues to comment on your smell, you may want to have a more direct conversation with her and raise concerns with HR and/or supervisors if she continues after that. Good job standing up for yourself.

Arcturion wrote:

Commenting on someone else's body odor is straight up rude, regardless of their gender. Her comments were making you feel uncomfortable and uneasy, so you do have valid concerns. Whether you overstepped falls into a grey area; it depends on your relationship with her, your office environment, etc.

What's acceptable in an office where everyone pranks and casually makes fun of each other may not be acceptable in an office that is strictly professional. It could have been handled better; for example, if you spoke to her privately explaining how her comments were insulting to you. It's easier to calibrate a response in private compared to confronting her in the open.

Hanyabull wrote:

I’m not sure where you are located but that would be harassment where I work. It’s also r*cist if she’s throwing around ethnicity.

TheRiddler1976 wrote:

Imagine a male coworker constantly tells a female coworker how good they smell. Yeah...that's creepy. Women shouldn't get a free pass.

theforceisfemale wrote:

Saying you smell different than other people OF YOUR ETHNICITY is a wild and insane thing to say. I don’t think you f-ked up at all.

A week later, OP shared an update.

For those who missed it, I had this coworker, A (20s F), who kept complimenting my cologne in a way that I found a bit unsettling. One day, she called out that she could smell me the moment I walked in, and I blurted out, "Yeah, that's not creepy at all." She didn't take it well, and things got awkward between us. Since then, I've had some interesting developments.

I asked A again if my cologne bothered her or if I wore too much, and she reassured me that she loves the smell and encouraged me to keep wearing it.

In another conversation while we were working together, she mentioned that she's not a lesbian but bis*xual and actively looking for a relationship.

She even started flirting with me after that. Two weeks later, during a small party at my place, she asked me some pretty probing questions like what kind of woman I want to marry and when I last had s*x and k-ssed (it was part of a game we were playing). Guess who’s asking her out on a date now? Wish me luck!

TL;DR: Previously, I called my coworker A "creepy" for frequently commenting on my cologne. Things got awkward, but after more conversations and some party fun, it turns out she's into me, and now I'm asking her out on a date.

Edit: I want to clarify that I do not work there anymore. My departure was due to different reasons, and the separation was really amicable and bittersweet, as the party was my separation party.

The comments kept coming.

Accomplished_Sky_857 wrote:

No need to be nervous. You smell good. Period. The end. That's all that matters. The rest is icing on the cake. 😁

bostwickenator wrote:

So in summary she was creeping on you but now you are into it.

MundaneTension869 wrote:

There are certain coworkers I can smell when they walk in - don’t even have to look to see who walked in. It’s a good thing, every time.

HezzeroftheWezzer wrote:

Well that was unexpected.

Just my thought . . .

You didn't call HER creepy, per se, but the action and subsequent comment of identifying you through smell. Frankly, whether or not someone can identify another by their smell is something they should keep to themselves. Hearing said aloud about me or even others would make me uncomfortable.

Sources: Reddit
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