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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 100
Registered: ‎03-17-2010

Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

Good evening!  I am posting this question here because I have always gotten good advice from this board over the years.....

 

Is it ever OK to tell someone that they smell bad?  The person I am talking about is my boyfriend.  A little background..... We have been dating for about a year and a half.  We work at the same place but do not live together (he lives about an hour away).  I am in my 40's, and he is in his 60's.  We get along wonderfully and have a loving relationship in addition to being very close friends.

 

But sometimes he just smells terrible!  It is only on occasion, and I cannot figure out the source.  I don't know if it's breath or body or butt or what -- but I do sense that it is "organic" in nature (as in, not musty clothes or moth balls or pet odor or anything like that).  Whenever he does smell, it is always the same odor, and I suspect that it is eminating from him (not from what he's wearing).  He is a director at work, by the way, so he has a desk job -- no dirty or sweaty work.

 

Unfortunately, I am very sensitive to odors, so that doesn't help matters.  The other day when he got in my car to go to lunch with me, I honestly thought I was going to gag.  Obviously, this has an impact on my attraction to him.  It doesn't make me love him less, of course, but it makes me not want to get too close to him in that moment.

 

I really want to say something to him about it since it causes me to keep some distance between us (literally!), but I absolutely do not want to hurt his feelings.  I don't see any way to mention it WITHOUT hurting his feelings, though.  And once said, it cannot be unsaid.  It is hard to know what is the right thing to do.  I feel like I would want someone to tell me such a thing.  Any advice???

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Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,217
Registered: ‎08-04-2013

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

@juncus  It is a tough situation.  How is his health? I ask this because more and more people are using medical marijuana to ease pain. It stinks to me.  He could only need it occasionally so he doesn't smell all the time.

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 7,610
Registered: ‎03-27-2010

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

@juncus  Your diet has an effect on your body odor.  You probably know his dietary habits and could do a little research to see if this is an issue.  Just a suggestion as to a cause of the offensive odor.  

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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎03-25-2010

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

Ooh, this is a tough one. Once dated someone who had really bad halitosis that would consume every last bit of fresh air around us. Fortunately, (although unfortunately for my sake) this person already knew of their hygiene problem. But however much they tried, could not seem to control the odor. Made it difficult to want to kiss this person, so can relate to you not wanting to get close with him.

 

Could he possibly might already know that he has a certain 'bad smell' about him but yet too lazy to do anything about it?

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,379
Registered: ‎07-11-2010

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

[ Edited ]

I shower daily, but my DH only chooses to shower once every two weeks. I find this disgusting, so straight out tell him he stinks, and he will shower. Some men are clueless and you have to be blunt. Smiley Sad 

I promise to remind myself every day that I am strong, courageous, and resilient.
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Honored Contributor
Posts: 8,588
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

Umm...maybe?   Have to admit, the only time I ever encountered this was with my teen son.  Not anything wrong with his hygiene...boys this age tend to be  rather stinky and just need to shower and change clothing often! 

 

I didn't ever tell him outright that he smelled...just encouraged him to keep as clean as possible 

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,907
Registered: ‎03-21-2010

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

This is a very difficult situation .... you said that he is a Director  at work which is a pretty important position .... what about the people who work with him? .... don’t they smell his odor? .... there are so many questions like .... does he smell all the time or just on occasion? ..... could it be something he eats that emits an odor through his skin? .... I say this because my Mom ate lots of garlic for her high blood pressure & she smelled like garlic all of the time! .... I would not be able to get close to someone if I felt like I was going to gag when I'm near him because I probably would throw up ..... how have you tolerated this for over a year? .... I would definitely have a talk with him about this to see if you can get an answer as to what is causing the odor .... you mentioned that you are in your 40’s & he is in his 60’s .... in my opinion a 20 year difference is too big  so, if I was you I would look for a younger man who doesn’t smell! ... I wish you the best of luck. 

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Posts: 2,735
Registered: ‎10-29-2016

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

What are his grooming habits?  Does he shower daily?  Does he launder his clothes regularly or does he wear them multiple times? 

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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 100
Registered: ‎03-17-2010

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

Thanks for the laugh, Pipsqueak -- that part about his bad breath sucking up all the fresh air really cracked me up!  That is exactly how I feel when this happens!  I feel like I might have it narrowed down to two things -- serious projectile dragon breath (exacerbated by coffee drinking) OR failure to "clean up" thoroughly after an at-work bowel movement (sorry for being gross!).  I am starting to think it might be the latter, and that would be VERY hard to mention delicately. 

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,771
Registered: ‎03-10-2013

Re: Advice: Is it ever OK to tell someone they smell?

Does he shower everyday or at least every other day? You mentioned something that leads me to think maybe he’s not cleaning himself thoroughly after going to the bathroom. That alone has an offensive odor. Medicines can also cause an odor. I remember a very nice gentlemen I worked with many many years ago smelled of garlic and so did his office. I think it was taken for medicinal purposes.

 

I guarantee if you can smell so can others and something should be said but not sure what or how.