So your date’s got poor hygiene – now what?

1 month ago 15

Nobody can have perfect hygiene all the time – sometimes BO just happens, or you forget to change the sheets for a little while, and that’s OK.

However, now that we’ve been suitably scarred by sex and relationship expert Oloni’s Twitter thread on the subject, it’s become clear that altogether far too many women have dated a man with serious hygiene issues.

It’s one thing for your date to skip deodorant for the day, it’s another thing entirely if they give you the distinct impression that they don’t know how to wipe themselves off properly after they’ve been to the loo.

So what do you do if your date or partner has serious hygiene issues that you can’t let slide?

Is it something that can be fixed, or is it a massive red flag?

It’s certainly no small issue, with Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn, telling Metro.co.uk: ‘Poor hygiene can have a negative knock-on effect in your relationships.

‘It can make it hard for you to feel relaxed staying at someone’s home if their sheets are unclean, and it can be really off-putting for physical intimacy if you feel like they’re not clean enough.’

She adds: ‘Poor personal hygiene may indicate that the other person isn’t used to having another person around.

‘However, this doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of being in a relationship.

‘The abilities to communicate, resolve disagreements and compromise are essential for a successful relationship.

‘If you’re not happy with your date’s hygiene, bring it up, and if you can both resolve this then it’s a good indicator of your compatibility too.’ 

So how does one address such a delicate topic with another person without hurting their feelings?

Counselling Directory member Kirsty Taylor, says: ‘Personal hygiene is a sensitive issue, and one that needs a sensitive touch when you address it.

‘There can be a number of reasons that someone may suffer from poor personal hygiene, and it’s dangerous to assume you know the cause of that.

‘It may be that the person is unaware of the issue or has an underlying medical condition, suffers from excessive sweating due to anxiety on a date, or is a sign of any number of personal issues.

‘Whatever the cause, it is essential that the issue is addressed with sensitivity and well-thought-out communication.’

She adds: ‘Make sure you have planned out what you might say, and ensure you have a private space where the person will not feel exposed or embarrassed. Consider using a tactful approach initially.

‘You might want to buy the person a small gift of some aftershave, perfume, shower gel or deodorant, and tell them you really like the smell of it.

‘This sometimes will be enough for the person to realise there is an issue, but also appreciate the gesture.’

Hayley says: ‘It’s worth remembering that people do have different standards for cleanliness, so put your views across in a way that’s diplomatic as opposed to judgemental.

‘You can use the word “we” to make the other person feel included in your suggestions.

‘”We really need to get you a good supply of loo roll and soap in this bathroom” is a good way of getting your point across in a subtle way that doesn’t embarrass your partner, but suggests action to be taken on the issue.’

However, you might find that a more direct approach is needed.

‘Again,’ Kirsty says, ‘it comes down to clear, honest and well-thought-out communication.

‘You could try gently explaining that you’ve sometimes noticed a bit of an odour or even stained clothes (depending on what the personal hygiene issue is) and you felt a bit concerned and wanted to check that everything was OK in the person’s home environment.

‘The key thing is to come from a place of concern, not a place of attack. This allows the person receiving this information to feel supported rather than ashamed.’

‘It might also be helpful to run through your own morning routine,’ she adds, ‘which might involve a shower, using your favourite shower gel or soap, washing your hair and brushing your teeth regularly.

‘You could gently enquire as to the other person’s routine, maybe then helping them realise what would help in terms of their own hygiene routine.’

However, if you’ve stuck with them and tried to kindly nudge them towards cleanliness only for it to not work, then it might be time to call it a day.

Kirsty says: ‘If things still don’t change, only then might it be appropriate to express that it’s becoming quite an issue for you and, whilst you really enjoy their company, you are finding that particular issue really hard to navigate and wonder if there is anything else you can do to help them.

‘Ultimately, people might not be able or willing to change their hygiene routine, but you’ll have done everything you can to help and support them even if you don’t go on to have a relationship with them in the longer term.’

When asked about the double-standards often found between beauty and hygiene standards for men vs women, Hayley explains: ‘Whilst there are plenty of products marketed for women’s hygiene (think intimate washes, and the expectation that our armpits are permanently shaved) the same doesn’t quite apply for men, who are usually cut more slack for their “bachelor” ways.

‘This is changing though, and for anyone looking to date successfully, it’s important to start with improving yourself rather than looking for someone to complete you.

‘So, tidy up that apartment, learn some domestic skills and have a nice long shower.’ 

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