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Woman asks for help telling BF his hygiene is a deal breaker. UPDATED

Woman asks for help telling BF his hygiene is a deal breaker. UPDATED


"I (36f) am dating a new guy (38m) but his hygiene is lacking. How do I tell him without hurting his feelings?"

I just separated from my husband after years of a dead bedroom. I reconnected with an ex from my first year of college and he is sweet, kind, and VERY romantically attentive, which is refreshing. I should be happy, but he smells so badly.

We just took a week-long trip together (we live in different places for now). I noticed that his breath was bad enough that it made kissing him unpleasant unless it was in the tiny window after brushing his teeth but before breakfast, or right at bedtime, when unfortunately the other issue of his body odor was at its worst.

I tried offering him mints and gum as the days went, which he'd accept maybe 1/3rd of the time. I brush my teeth or at least use mouthwash after every meal and made a point of doing so around him but he occasionally would only brush his teeth once a day.

He also revealed that he hadn't been to a dentist in years despite having good dental coverage and I am sure something is wrong here. He wondered why I wasn't enjoying kissing him and apart from a moment when we had just eaten a garlic-heavy meal, I was too anxious to tell him that he just has awful breath.

Beyond the breath, he has awful body odor. On the first day I thought he just was sweaty from traveling, but I realized after watching him dress in the morning that he doesn't wear deodorant.

Additionally, we'd do sweaty activities all day together and he wouldn't shower at bedtime (I would, he would just shower once in the morning), and at this point I'd be holding my breath during private time.

I also made a point of trying to invite him into the shower with me (while he was trying to discourage me from showering more than once so we could just be intimate already) and told him that I'm much more comfortable being intimate when clean and that I really prefer to shower before getting into bed at all because it keeps the sheets clean and refreshing, but he didn't get the hint.

I'm supposed to see him again in two weeks. How can I tell him he needs to clean up without hurting his feelings?

Here were the top rated comments after this initial post:


You just have to tell him. If his breath is pretty much always bad, he really does need to go to the dentist. You’re also more than allowed to refuse to be intimate if he smells bad. That’s the opposite of fun intimacy. You don’t have to be harsh, just matter-of-fact. Honestly, he knows he stinks. You just have to let him know it matters to you.


If his breath is bad literally all the time then I can practically guarantee you he's got a couple of rotten teeth back there that he's just not doing anything about. Aside from being fucking nauseating it can turn into a pretty serious health problem.


Ew. Put the bar higher. Please.


Okay, I literally took a management course where one entire day was dedicated to hard conversations about personal body odor. I am, inexplicably, uniquely qualified to give you a script here.

I’m going to go ahead and take you at face value that he’s otherwise fine but please know this is a big marinara flag.

Anyway. Tell him you need to discuss something with him. You can do this over text if you think it would be easier for him to process but in person is generally better for tone reasons.

Then say something like, “I am really into you, so please know that everything I’m about to say comes from a place of wanting to preserve our relationship and move it forward. I’m concerned about your health. Your breath is frequently bad and I’ve read that can be a sign of gum disease or other serious issues.

I would really like for you to see a dentist and start brushing twice a day. Your body odor is also quite strong. It would be helpful if you were to start wearing deodorant daily.

Both of these things have become a real barrier to my being comfortable being intimate with you, and I otherwise love being with you, so I would really like to fix this and be able to keep doing that. I in no way want to hurt your feelings, I’m just worried about you and the effect this is having on our relationship.”

Then STOP TALKING. Let him process. Don’t let him interrupt you while you’re speaking, but don’t apologize, either.

Answer his questions honestly but kindly. He may open up to you about reasons he’s lax here, he may genuinely not realize this is going on because this is such an embarrassing conversation to have with someone, he may know and not care. His reaction is important to figure out if this is a dude you want to keep seeing. Best of luck.

Just under three weeks later, the OP returned with an update:

First, a shout out and so many thanks to pinkorangegold whose comment was basically the script I used when I called this guy to tell what I needed from him. If anyone else stumbles upon this post through google and is going through something similar, please use this script, it was perfect.

I called the guy up a couple days after my original post with my concerns. He was very receptive and listened well, pointing out that I was so nervous that he thought I was going to ask him to help me hide a body or something.

He didn't offer any other commentary beyond saying that he'd do all of this and that I shouldn't hesitate to ask him to use mouthwash or put on deodorant in the future if I notice he's 'off'(and he immediately ordered mouthwash and antiperspirant and texted me the screenshot when we got off the phone).

He did tell me later that his ten-year relationship was with a woman who essentially showered and brushed her teeth every other day or so and would only do either with water and didn't use any soap/toothpaste/deodorant (just essential oils, and she asked him to stop using deodorant).

So he felt his morning shower and 1.5 tooth-brushings a day with the appropriate products was comparatively fine. He admitted he may have gone noseblind during that relationship.

He claims she didn't smell badly, but she also wasn't very physically active beyond slow yoga, worked from their air-conditioned home, and ate a raw vegan diet so maybe that influenced things or maybe she had great non-smelly genes or maybe he truly just couldn't smell her, who knows.

He was involved with another woman with normal hygienic habits for nine months between her and myself who never said anything about his breath or odor.

The visit itself went well. He keeps a clean apartment. One of the first things I noticed was that above his desk he keeps charts for each month's professional, fitness, and personal goals, and among them were getting his teeth looked at, using mouthwash at least twice a day, and getting into the habit of taking a second shower.

He told me he hadn't been to the dentist in six years out of anxiety after a bad experience, so he asked a buddy to go with him. He had two cavities filled and a deep-cleaning and said it was far less stressful than he thought it would be.

He made a point to use mouthwash if we were going to be intimate at any point, took mints from me whenever I offered them when we were out (I need one after any meal if I'm not able to brush my teeth).

The body odor issue was pretty much totally solved just by his wearing deodorant. He did shower twice a day most days. On the two nights where we came home very late and exhausted from a social event, he asked I'd be ok with it if he just went straight to sleep since he was too tired for intimacy. Of course I said yes. He didn't smell noticeably at all.

I didn't consider this as a factor, but it's also nearly 20 degrees cooler where he lives vs. where we took a trip together, and our previous trip involved daily active and outdoorsy things like hiking that we only did once this time. He will be visiting me in a month in the hot place where I live, so we'll see how that goes.

Here were the top rated comments after this latest update:


HOLY S$*T. After scrolling thru this sub for a minute, this sounds like a gd miracle. 'Local man gives a f%$k about partner, takes her desires and needs seriously, and changes his habits to be more considerate' Idk, sounds fake /s seriously tho, this is really good news. I'm happy for you both.

OP responded here:

Thanks! I am genuinely blown away by how easily this was solved by communication even though the solutions (apart from going to the dentist) were not super labor-intensive just because my expectations are that people don't like to change.

When I said this to him, he looked at me like I'd grown a second head and was like 'putting on deodorant takes no time at all and it's obviously important to you' and I hope it's a green flag that other things that may arise will be this easy.


I can appreciate why the commenter is concerned about him not really changing, but it does seem like this guy is taking positive initiative and some or most of it may stick. It’s amazing what a long term relationship will instill in you, and his story of dental anxiety is a pretty damn common one.

Hopefully he does keep up the hygiene habits, because it is a legit health concern.


I was SO HAPPY to read this update. Every other time I've read a post where a man reeks its always just ended with 'he said he'd change. He didn't. How do I make him wash his s&*t encrusted booty?'

Thank God this seems to be a normal guy who just had different habits that he's working on changing. I hope things work out for OOP (also I hope she relaxed the 2 shower rule if they don't get sweaty or stinky. 2 showers daily will f*ck up your skin.)


Poor dude. Legit has a 10+yr habit to break now, and Redditors being their usual idiot selves, don't understand that this isn't something that his brain can flick the switch on and immediately jump to doing.

Good on him for being receptive and good on her for finding a good way to approach this. Cos I bet he's got some work mates/family/friends who are about to be very fucking pleased with the new scents that follow her partner around.

Regardless on opinions, it sounds like this might work out for them. Have you ever had to have the awkward conversation about your partner's hygiene? How did you handle it?

Sources: Reddit,Reddit
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