“My Friend Has Major Hygiene Issues”

My friend “Jane” has some major hygiene issues. She has excruciatingly bad breath and incredibly distracting chin hair that she might shave once every few months. I don’t know if I should ever broach the subject with her or how to tactfully do it if it’s something I should bring up. I see her every day at work and we occasionally get together outside of work. We bonded because we are both in our 30s and part of the very small population of female professionals amongst about 100 people. I don’t want to hurt her feelings or ruin our friendship. Any thoughts on what to do in this situation? — Her Breath Stinks!

If you don’t want to ruin your friendship or hurt Jane’s feelings, I wouldn’t say a thing about the chin hairs, especially considering that you’re co-workers and have to see each other every day. If you notice that the hairs are removed every couple months, it’s not as if she isn’t aware. She’s simply not prioritizing their removal, and since it’s her body, it’s certainly her choice whether she removes body hair or not. I’m sorry it’s distracting to you, but you’re just going to have to suck it up.

She may not be aware of her bad breath, but if her attitude about the chin hairs is an indication, she might not address the bad breath to your satisfaction either even if she knew how bad it was (and she might already know!). If it’s really that big a distraction for you, you could casually offer her some breath mints or gum, but do it like you’re being courteous as you take some for yourself.

I have been with my boyfriend for one year. He lives with me. None of his family know who I am – he just brands me as a nameless “friend;” he just says he’s “staying at a friend’s.” Knowing I am being kept a secret has been a problem for me, but I don’t bring up too often as bringing it up to have nothing done about it hurts.

His ex does know about me, because I made myself known, but otherwise she too would have no clue of our relationship. She has a child, my boyfriend’s step-child, whom I encourage him to see as there’s no need for children being punished for two people splitting up. There have been a few occasions where he has seen the girl and not told me, as I don’t demand to know his whereabouts, but I don’t like to be lied to when there is no need.

Anyway, last night I went on his phone (I have NEVER done this). On Friday evening he texted his ex a link to a restaurant saying, “What happened to us going here?” She didn’t reply. I scrolled up, and he had also sent her a bouquet of flowers and Prossecco when she completed a marathon. A “well done” text, I get, but gifts, too? When I went to grab his phone off him again and run upstairs, he pulled both my legs so I fell. Am I absolutely wasting my time? Or being impatient? — Time-Wasting?

Girl, the red flags are waving so fiercely they’re likely slapping you in the face here. This is not a relationship with a happy future.

I’ve been dating my girlfriend for over three years. I’ve only met her kids on two occasions. Should I be concerned? I know she might not want to upset her ex-husband, but I’m not sure. — Concerned

If you’re not sure what her reasons are for keeping you and her kids separated, ASK HER. If she can’t give you an answer that satisfies you, then it’s time to be concerned. But the first step is always to communicate. You are allowed to have needs just as much as the ex-husband, and your girlfriend should be more concerned with upsetting you than upsetting him, to be honest (although her kids’ feelings should take top priority).

If you want to be included in her life more than you are, then tell her. If it’s important to you to have more interaction with her kids, let her know that. And, again, if after you actually communicate your views, you still don’t feel satisfied with the status of things, then your concern would be justified and you may want to consider whether this relationship is a good fit for you or whether it might be time to move on.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. LW2: “I went to grab his phone off him again and run upstairs he pulled both my legs so I fell.”
    Sweet jesus. Honey, what are you doing? Break. Up. I bet he doesn’t even help with rent. Crikey. Also, learn some communication skills. You have many other options besides just sitting still while someone hurts you. You could say, “If you don’t introduce me to your family, we are breaking up.” And then do that.

    But that’s for next time. THIS one warrants zero conversation. He tripped you on the stairs! Kick. Him. Out. Now.

    1. Brian Fairbanks says:

      Yeah, I’m no lawyer, but couldn’t that be considered domestic battery/assault?

  2. I…have a lot of questions for LW2. None of which though change the verdict from break up.

    -How long were you dating before you let him move in with you?
    -How long was he with his ex? To be clear, that’s not his step-child and depending on how long they were together it would be better to just end the communication now.
    -How old are you? How old is he?
    -Why are you ok with him hiding you and introducing you as his friend?
    -Does he do his fair share in the home? rent? cleaning? cooking? etc.

    Get thee to therapy for why you would put up with this kind of behavior and to build your self esteem back up. This relationship has no future, and is in fact very unhealthy for you to be in. Kick him out.

  3. LW#1 – if Jane has never been good with hygiene in all the time you’ve known her, say nothing. If her breath has gotten more rancid, then it could be something like an infection or other health issue. It’s ok to say “I hate bringing this up, but your breath is really noticeable, are you having any health issues?”

    LW#2 – break up for your own safety and health (emotional and physical). This is only going to get worse.

    LW#3 – Three years is a long time to be hidden. Please talk to your gf. If her answers don’t make you feel any better, then you have decide if that’s good enough for you.

  4. LW#3 —
    Sounds like your gf is not sold on your relationship or you as her bf and is protecting her kids from what she see’s as an inevitable break-up or protecting herself from looking foolish in front of them. Or possibly, she sees ex as a violent guy who would harm you.

    1. allathian says:

      Yeah, and the only way to find out would be to talk to her…

  5. Karebear1813 says:

    LW 2 : Yeah, red flag dating someone that lives with you and refers to as a “friend”.

    But I, too, would trip you if you grabbed my phone out of my hands for the SECOND time!

    So YES you are wasting your time!

    1. Grabbing someone’s legs as they run up stairs is domestic violence. The correct thing for him to have done was end the relationship.

      1. agree grabbing someone’s legs to make them fall is violence. I don’t care that she snooped (though don’t do that) it does not justify this. She could have smacked her head off the stairs and died.

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