Dear Miss A,
My boyfriend and I have been living together for almost a year. He thinks that when he showers in the morning and works all day, he does not need to shower before going to bed. He perspires more than any man I know, and has a problem with body odor. To make matters worse, he only brushes his teeth for like 5 seconds, literally. I have talked to him about it and explained that some people need to shower more than once a day. Occasionally he will shower at night when he is in the mood for sex. The rest of the times he expects me to just put up with it. He tells me his ex-girlfriend never complained about how he smells. I have bought wonderful soaps and expensive aftershave. I have put big, soft towels out for him to no avail. He is a sweet man and treats me very well otherwise. What can I do? Help!
Dear Sensitive Schnoz,
According to a study in the journal, Nature, “when it comes to a man’s body odor, the fragrance or stench is in the nose of the beholder.” This study explains why one sweaty man might smell like vanilla, or urine, or have no smell at all to others. Apparently, how we perceive smell depends on one odor receptor gene called OR7D4. I hate to be the bearer of bad genetic news, but you and your boyfriend might not be a good match genetically. The unfortunate thing is that he might smell amazing or not at all to another woman.
It takes two to have a relationship. If he doesn’t respect you, or want to work on your relationship enough to make changes in his showering and other grooming habits, then there isn’t much you can do. You either have to accept what he’s offering you, or walk away. I applaud you for communicating to him about this, as I’m sure that was really awkward, and some women would have just suffered in misery, or would have broken up with him. So you’ve done all that you can do.
Sometimes you have to use your heart. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut. And sometimes you’ve got to follow your nose, and take a walk in the opposite direction, Honey!
Let me know how it goes.
– Miss A