While personal hygiene might be one of the most entertaining subjects to laugh about with your friends after a bad date, it becomes much more serious in the rare event that that date turns into a relationship. Sure, some people have no trouble at all telling their boyfriend or girlfriend that their breath smells or that they need a shower. But for most of us, these kinds of subjects are delicate indeed…and more than a little embarrassing.
However, if a personal hygiene issue is stinking up your relationship, you're going to have to get over your embarrassment and talk to your partner. Because (to use a bad pun) being with somebody stinky is just not a wash.
1. Try hints. No matter the problem, whether it be smelly armpits, flakey dandruff, or not-so-great cleaning habits in their, um, nether regions, the first thing couples rely on is hints. These range from not-so-subtle jibes, such as leaving your partner's toothbrush out before a date, to subtler encouragements, such as commenting that your partner tastes good just after having brushed his or her teeth. Little hints tend to work better for partners that live together, as you can do little things like switch your partner's shampoo to an anti-dandruff version.
2. Gently question and suggest. If somebody you're dating doesn't get the hint, it's time to move on to gentle, sweet suggestion. Sometimes, people have poor personal hygiene habits simply because they've never learned any better – or don't know they have a problem. In these cases, gentle suggestion may open their eyes to the idea that not everybody goes about personal hygiene the way that they do. "Why don't you try a dandruff shampoo? They work really well," can be really effective.
3. Straight-out say so. For some people, hints and suggestions work about as well as projecting your desires onto them psychically. For these people, you need to come right out and say what's bothering you. "I'm sorry, but your breath isn't very nice," is a huge wake up call for most. And you generally don't need to say much more.
4. Give an ultimatum. But for some, saying there's a problem simply isn't enough. This generally happens only in longer-term relationships, when a couple has become comfortable enough together not to worry about, say, going "number two" at their boyfriend or girlfriend's apartment. They simply don't have the motivation to change. And that's what you need to provide them with.
If, say, your girlfriend doesn't brush her teeth as much as she should, tell her you won't kiss her unless until she goes to brush them. Or if your boyfriend doesn't keep everything below his belt as clean as he should, tell you you'll avoid going down there, too – at least until he cleans up his act.
5. Come to terms. Now it's time to let out a big sigh. Because unfortunately, some people are fixed in their bad habits. And when that happens, you have a big decision to make: is this problem a deal-breaker, or can you live with it? If your answer is the latter, you need to learn to come to terms with what you don't like about your partner's hygiene, and you need to do it soon. Because harping away at something that you don't like – but that's not going to change – doesn't do anybody any favors. It simply makes you both unhappy.