Sometimes in a relationship, you have to tell your partner something they don’t want to hear.
And even though you may be looking out for them, the chances are high they won’t receive the news well.
One woman discovered this the hard way recently on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Pernietero made the decision to give her boyfriend some harsh feedback, which he didn’t take well at all.
So much so, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she should have said anything at all.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my boyfriend he stinks?”
The OP’s boyfriend has a habit she doesn’t like.
“So me (22[Female]) and my boyfriend (23[Male]). He has the tendency that when he wears his clothes for 2-3 days, he’ll put the clothes back in the wardrobe even though they smell bad.”
“His excuse is that he can’t tell that they smell, so he doesn’t know.”
“So I usually sort out his clothes. It got to a point where they smell so bad, the smell catches on to other clothes and I have to do laundry too often.”
“I tried to tell him that even if you can’t tell, it’s common sense to put your clothes in the wash after a day or two.”
“At the beginning, I told him nicely with him sulking and getting upset and saying, ‘OK babe, I’ll do it,’ meaning he’ll never do it, I know him, and it’s been going on for years at this point.”
They recently argued about this.
“Somehow this turned into an argument and apparently I don’t know how to tell things nicely, even though if I say it nicely, it’s not good enough. If I kinda try to make a joke of it, he doesn’t get it but when I’m firm, I’m too cruel for him.”
“So I gave him an example. If I am to wear the same clothes over and over again, the clothes will start smelling and hence, I will stink because of if.”
“I told him the exact thing. ‘You stink’ because of his clothes.”
The OP’s boyfriend reacted unexpectedly.
“He burst out into tears, saying ‘you don’t know how much that impacts me’ and just left the house to take our dog out.”
“I’m actually dumbfounded right now. I’m just sitting on the sofa and I don’t know if I should cry or laugh.”
“I have tried every approach I can think of over the years. He always says, ‘yeah OK,’ but then the cycle repeats.’
“I told him I’m not his mother and I shouldn’t teach him this kind of thing and even a young kid would know when the clothes smell.”
“So, AITA for telling my boyfriend he stinks?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP’s boyfriend seemed manipulative.
“NTA. He’s a grown man who should know what basic hygiene is. You’ve approached it multiple times and obviously, you’re at your wit’s end.”
“It sounds like he might be being a liiiiittle bit manipulative by saying ‘you don’t know much that impacts me’ because it’s not as though he is making active changes to his hygiene to begin with.. you’re just calling him out.”
“You telling him that he stinks after multiple instances of having the same conversation can’t be of news to him.” – madforcatz
“I think it’s more than a little manipulative!”
“Op should know, this ‘say it nicely, ignore nicely said thing, say it firmly, gets called out for being too mean’ thing happens to women a lot. It’s meant to shut you up entirely and it’s a game you can’t win.”
“This is a problem. Also you’re doing his laundry? Maybe stop that.” – Creative-Training175
“The tone argument is a classic go-to of manipulators. Your tone is a very subjective thing that’s hard to describe. Therefore, they can ALWAYS say your tone is wrong or mean, NO MATTER WHAT.”
“It’s not like a ‘yes/no’ issue like claiming you leave your dishes in the sink, and everyone can see if there’s a dish there or not.”
“And if you NEVER manage to have the right tone, then they NEVER have to listen to you or do anything you are asking them to do. Or STOP doing the thing you are asking them NOT to do.”
“See how it works, OP? When you’re in a situation where this person claims that you somehow NEVER have “just the right tone…” then you know the tone argument is bullshit that’s just a technique to manipulate and control.” – Okay-Temporary-4209
Others recommended leaving the relationship.
“I mean maybe she should also do the adult thing and leave. You can’t start dating a frog then be mad he doesn’t magically turn into a prince. She saw how he was, it’s been years and he hasn’t changed she should have left like Hester but refused to do so so ig she can live with it.” – Carlitana
“I don’t get it either. This isn’t some recent change and if it’s been YEARS he’s made it abundantly clear he has no intention of changing. She should stop beating her head against the wall, let stinkboy go and find somebody who at minimal – showers and does laundry.” – commonsense2021
“Why does he WANT, to the point of INSISTING, to wear stinky clothes? Even if he can’t smell them?”
“This has gotta be obvious to other people around him and GF is the only one who’s close enough to tell him and he’s like nah, I’d rather smell bad?”
“Like, on nose-blindness, she is also likely a little desensitised to his smell by living with him, so if SHE can tell his clothes stink, to the point that they’re making other clothes smell, he likely smells a lot worse to other people around him.”
“And he’s like ‘nope absolutely not, not only will I not do anything, even dumping my clothes in the laundry basket, to avoid smelling to high heaven, I will ALSO get angry at my girlfriend for trying to help me not smell terrible in public’.”
“OP if there is some amazing thing about him that makes you want to stay with him against all the evidence presented here, then at least separate your clothes storage. And stop sorting his clothes, let him deal with the consequences.”
“If you really need a response to give him, tell him to put it to a third party and ask some friend that he trusts whether he smells. Hopefully they will be honest with him.” – elsehwere
A few tried to give the boyfriend the benefit of the doubt but preached improved hygiene.
“Sense of smell aside, most of us know that shirts, underwear, and socks should be worn for one day maximum, and then tossed in the hamper. Two days is maybe okay, but definitely not more than that.”
“Most of us also know we’re nose-blind to our own BO (body odor), which is WHY there are guidelines on how often you should wash something, how long you can wear something before it starts to stink to others, and how often you’re supposed to bathe. It’s because you can’t rely on your own nose to gauge how bad you smell, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.” – VisualCelery
“A friend of mine just can’t smell things very well after many years of aggressive smoking. She -knows- this and her clothes are -immaculate- because if they smelled, she wouldn’t be able to tell.”
“He needs to follow that example.”
“Op, NTA” – matchy_blacks
“Even if he has an actual valid excuse (if he can’t smell properly due to some sort of dysfunction, for example), it’s common sense to put them away to do laundry later.”
“I highly doubt that a regular person doesn’t notice that his/her clothes (or body) stink. I’m even considering that maybe he does have some issue! But it’s manageable with strategies (for example, check for stains every day and put the clothes away after two days).”
“Maybe he has some smell dysfunction, but his family coddled him so much that never taught him basic skills and now that he has to be independent, he doesn’t know how to function.” – SmilingIsNotEnough
The subReddit seems to agree, though this might be difficult to hear from his girlfriend, the OP’s boyfriend needs to be an adult and take control of his hygiene.