Habits form the basis of our lives.
They can be detrimental, helpful, or even both.
What happens when one person’s particular habit starts hurting someone else?
This was the issue that brought Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Wednesdaynevermore to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for outside opinions.
“AITA for telling my friend she can’t visit me if she refuses to shower?”
She began with introductions.
“I (26 female), have been friends with Kate (30f) for a few years.”
“We’ve always lived 7+ hours from each other and would regularly schedule vacations together.”
“She’s always been lax about showering, but I never got on her case because she never smelled bad.”
“She’d usually shower every other day pre-covid.”
“We didn’t see each other for over a year for obvious reasons.”
OP was soon faced with a problem.
“Last month she came to visit for about 4 days and didn’t shower at all.”
“We had been outside and active most of the days.”
“When she left and I washed the sheets in my guest room, they smelled so bad I had to wash the comforter twice.”
“I politely mentioned her lack of showering to her and she laughed it off saying she showers once or twice a week and that’s all she needs.”
“She then went on a mini-rant about society’s standards being too high, BO is normal and we should all accept it.”
“She stopped wearing deodorant as well.”
She had to make a decision.
“She had an emergency come up and needs to spend time in a city not far from me.”
“She asked if she can stay with me for a week and a half.”
“Of course I want to help.”
“We talked about it on the phone last night and I tried to bring up her lack of hygiene and make sure everything was okay.”
“She got really defensive and told me her hygiene is none of my business.”
“While I don’t disagree, I also think it’s fair to point out to one of my closest friends that this is a huge red flag that her mental health is declining.”
“I also think it’s fair to point out there may be a correlation to her complaints that her friends don’t want to be seen in public with her for seemingly unknown reasons in her eyes.”
“I also think I have a say in sharing my living space with someone who smells terrible out of sheer stubbornness if she’s claiming she’s okay.”
“Here’s where I think I’m the a**hole.”
A decision was made.
“The conversation got heated and I told her if she can’t manage to shower at least every other day while she’s here or come up with a solution to not have offensive BO, she’s not staying with me.”
“She cried and told me I’m being a body-shaming a**hole and that she can’t help how she smells.”
“I’ve known people with health conditions that caused bad breath or body odor no matter how much they showered or brushed their teeth.”
“I can understand and empathize.”
“In this case she’s not even trying.”
OP was left wondering:
She did close her case with one clarification:
“Edit: I’d like to add the exact approach I used.”
“Last time she was here I asked her on day 3 if she needed to take a shower after we got back from a hike.”
“That’s when she told me that she doesn’t need one, thinks BO is normal, and talked about deodorant.”
“Last night when we spoke I brought up the showering situation by telling her I was cleaning my bathroom while talking to her and mentioned that I just bought some new fluffy towels and mentioned a few amenities she’s welcome to use while here.”
“I was going to leave it at that, until she said ‘Oh don’t worry about tidying up for me, I’m only going to be there for a week. I might use it once’.”
“I asked her if she’s okay, depressed, etc to which she insisted she was fine.”
“It escalated from there.”
Having been as open as she could be, OP turned her problem over to Reddit for clarity.
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
Some responses got right to the point:
“NTA – she says she can’t help how she smells, but she really can.”
“This isn’t the same as not washing your hair as often or as changing to a deodorant that’s better for your body, she just lacks hygiene.”
“I wouldn’t want to invite someone over to stay who makes my furniture smell bad either”~Lost_Tomato_1635
“NTA- Your house your rules.”
“You would be the asshole if you were complaining about her daily life”~arachnobravia
Others suggested alternatives.
“Health conditions have a limit and work arounds exist”
“If this was about her using an aluminum-free deodorant, which simply don’t work as well, but are healthier she could shower to make up for it, apply it more often perhaps she would still smell a little sometimes but that’s acceptable.”
“If she has a condition that simply makes her smelly she should disclose it.”
“If her skin/hair is sensitive such that showering too often messes it up then she could wear more deodorant, use lotion etc.“~Wandering_Scholar6
“If she’s a plus-size lady, she might also be concerned about the size of the shower-for which there are also plenty of workarounds.”
“The dudes in my family have a nasty habit of falling down the no-need-to-shower rabbit hole.”
“Older Brother has ruined not just bedding, but the mattress itself with his gag-worthy stank.”
“OP, sometimes you really do need to just toss subtlety and ‘kindness’ out the window and tell em they stink and that’s why no one wants to be around them.”
“Edit-deleted the extra for.”~littlepinkllama
Comments were concerned about Kate’s mental health.
“That’s a really awkward position to be put in.”
“Your friend sounds irrational.”
“Pointing out that she needs to wash her body is not body shaming.”
“If she truly believes she ‘can’t help how she smells,’ then she has entirely forgotten what hygiene is.”
“Is she showing other signs of mental illness?“~EntirelyOutOfOptions
Habits form the basis of our lives.
What we do, and how we do it, inform not just our self-perception, but the perception of others on us.
Be sure to present yourself in a way that you enjoy, be patient with the presentations of others – but never sacrifice your comfort for someone else’s negative habit.