Relationships often live or die based on the communication between those involved.
The difficulty can be finding the balance between sharing too much and sharing not enough.
Sometimes, it isn’t so much what you say, just how you say it.
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) California098 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my best friend he is lonely because his hygiene is disgusting?”
OP began with compliments.
“My (24f) best friend (26m) of 12 years is a great person with many desirable traits.”
“He is educated and has a good career, and I’m really proud of him for his accomplishments.”
“Since we were kids I’ve always noticed he had really bad hygiene habits but chalked it up to him being a teenage boy.”
Then she got the issue at hand.
“Now that we’re older I’ve seen that his hygiene has not improved with age.”
“He goes to the gym at least 3 times per week but never showers more than once per week, never brushes his teeth, and only does laundry when the clothes are completely stiff.”
“I’ve dropped little hints like if we stay the night somewhere together I’ll ask if he packed shower supplies, and in the mornings I’ll offer to leave my toothpaste out if he wants to use it.”
“I’ve found myself no longer inviting him places because it’s embarrassing when he shows up greasy, smelly, and with an inch thick of plaque on his teeth.”
“Last month he told me he had a crush on one of my newer friends and asked if she was single.”
“I told him that she was, but only recently single and isn’t looking for anything right now.”
“He wouldn’t take no for an answer and decided to contact her himself to ask her out.”
“When she declined, she lied and said she was seeing someone.”
“He knew that one of us was lying to him.”
She explained her reasoning to him.
“When he confronted me I told him that everyone I know thinks he is disgusting because of his hygiene, they don’t want to be near him much less date him.”
“He denied having bad hygiene, and said he does shower and brush his teeth.”
“He left, and hasn’t talked to me in over a month insisting I need to apologize and set the record straight to everyone we know.”
“I think I’m doing him a favor in the long run and he should appreciate my honesty because he is the one who confronted me about why I lied to him about my friend.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Sometimes the truth is painful.
“‘He left, and hasn’t talked to me in over a month insisting I need to apologize and set the record straight to everyone we know.'”
“How TF are you supposed to ‘set the record straight”‘?
‘”That smell isn’t him, it’s just a coincidence that you’re able to smell it every time he has been near you.'”
‘”Those crusty pants that are able to stand up without anyone in them is just the latest clothing technology, learn about it”‘
“Obviously, nobody likes it when you tell them they stink, BUT sometimes, the truth hurts.”
“He is able to do 2 things”
“1, do something about it.”
“2, stick his head in the sand and pretend it’s not true.”
“If you lose a friend because you told him the truth… so be it.”
“NTA” ~ QYB1990
“You‘re trying to help him, and you‘re only telling him the truth.”
“He needs to get a reality check and improve his hygiene.”
“Otherwise he can‘t expect people to be willingly around him, even less to want to get intimate with him.” ~ realstareyes
There were personal stories, of course.
“I once ran a half marathon and got passed by a guy who absolutely reeked of ball sweat.”
“From at least four feet away.”
“I wanted to vomit it was so bad like he hadn’t washed his crotch or clothes in weeks.”
“Fit, attractive guy, but his hygiene was horrific.”
“If it was just BO I could understand because that can really cling to your athletic clothes, especially in the heat, but this was straight-up nuclear man genitals” ~ Suspicious-Treat-364
“I’m just so confused by this.”
“After I work out, a shower is my refuge! I love it in there!”
“I can almost understand hygiene issues for the stereotypical person who plays video games 18 hours a day, and tries to never leave the house so their in-person contact to near zero.”
“Plus, they’re likely suffering from extreme depression.”
“How does someone who works out 3x+/week not realize they need to shower AT LEAST after every workout (I know, even that would be short of good hygiene) and still have themselves convinced they don’t have bad hygiene?”
“That’s straight-up delusional.” ~ stumblios
“I used to have this friend that was constantly getting UTIs and BV infections.”
“She was always complaining, and one of the UTIs spread into her kidneys, and she had to go to the hospital.”
“A couple of weeks later we were hanging out at her house, and she had just gotten home from the gym.”
“She hadn’t showered yet, and we were headed out. She reeked of BO.”
“I figured bc I pulled up at the same time she got back after we had a snack and small talk she would hop in the shower before we left, but that wasn’t her plan, so I asked if she was planning on taking a shower.”
“She said she normally doesn’t shower after a workout and I’m like you don’t?”
“But you’re all sweaty.”
“And she’s like no I go on about my day. So then I said you know it’s really bad to sit in sweaty underwear all day.”
“It can cause UTIs, BV, and yeast.”
“Maybe that’s why u keep getting infections. Maybe try showering and changing after a workout and see if they improve.”
“I never even mentioned her stench, and she went off on me about how I’m judging her and calling her gross, etc. All I said was a fact.” ~ imyourlobster98
Some had thoughts on communication.
“OP, text him,”
“‘I’m sorry that me being honest with you hurt your feelings. I’ve watched you struggling for years to find someone and tried to tell you more gently it’s because you smell, your clothes smell and look dirty, and your teeth look like you haven’t brushed them in days.”‘
“‘I want you to find someone and be happy, so I finally went the more direct route.”‘
“‘I can apologize for my words hurting your feelings, but they were honest. You can decide if you want to pretend I’m just making them up to make you feel better, or if you want to take the honest feedback of a friend and make some changes in your life.'”
‘”It’s up to you.”‘ ~ crystallz2000
“OP it might be a good idea to send a couple of articles on what good hygiene should look like.”
“I and plenty of guys I grew up with were never taught anything about skin/hair care, and it could be daunting if he doesn’t even know where a good resource is to start applying.”
“He might have an ‘a ha’ moment when he can see how far below the bar he is” ~ Thundrous_prophet
Others pointed out that this is also about Health.
“He needs to improve for his own health too. Doesn’t brush his teeth? Ugh.” ~ Frame-Economy
“Seriously, poor dental health is a risk factor for strokes and heart attacks. (Infections travel). Not brushing your teeth isn’t just gross, it’s a health hazard.” ~ CoffeeSpoons123
“My neighbor just spent 3 weeks in the hospital because of some dental bacteria that traveled to his chest and became septic.”
“He has a couple of bad teeth he has been putting off getting removed, and it nearly suffocated him from the infection filling his chest cavity and impeding his lungs inflating enough to get sufficient oxygen.”
“Now he has daily physical therapy to rebuild atrophied muscle and function.” ~ FeistyIrishWench
Not everyone was on OP’s side though.
“YTA he could just be depressed. Has he ever had a girlfriend?” ~ MyIsland304
“I get you were trying to be helpful but did you really say this to your best friend of 12 years: ‘When he confronted me I told him that everyone I know thinks he is disgusting because of his hygiene'”
“He still probably would have been pissed, but maybe you could have said it in a direct way with more tact and compassion??”
“He sucks for not taking care of the basics of hygiene, but if my best friend came at me that way, I’d be pissed and go NC/LC too.” ~ Anxious-Plain-Hungry
Talking about a difficult subject with someone you care about can be a nerve-wracking experience.
Particularly when that other person does not want to hear what we have to say.