Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend’s Boyfriend Has Body Odor

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends told me about this guy that she has been dating for a while. She really likes his company and how much of a gentleman he is. The only downside is that he smells. I asked if he had any religious restrictions to washing, and she said he doesn’t. She says his odor is so bad, it fills up a room and people avoid them. It sounded a bit extreme, but now she’s saying that it’s hard to be near him, and she is starting to be self-conscious. She worries that she smells bad when she’s around him. This is a bit rough, but now that I think about it, how do you tell a person they smell bad in a nice way? Is there any way my friend can nicely tell her date about his body odor? -- What to Say

DEAR WHAT TO SAY: One of the steps of intimacy is figuring out how to address tough subjects with each other. Hygiene is one of those extremely touchy subjects. What I have seen over time -- and I hope this doesn’t sound sexist -- is that women can be positive influences on men in relationships in this way. Sometimes when men have been single for a long time, they have not paid close attention to things like body odor. Being in a relationship makes that a glaring concern. Your friend should tell her boyfriend that she has noticed that he sometimes has a strong scent. She can ask him what products he uses to bathe and potentially recommend or even give him products that may be helpful.

Your friend should know, too, that beyond religious concerns, sometimes people smell like the food that they eat. Depending on his diet, the smell may be exuding from his pores. That requires a completely different level of engagement to address. But basic hygiene is a good start. Chances are, he will be more mindful of bathing if she brings it up to him.

DEAR HARRIETTE: A former employee of mine is getting married. I have known about this for about a year. Naturally, I expected to be invited. Well, I just learned that most of the members of my staff who worked with her were indeed invited, but I was not. I have checked my mail every day for a couple of weeks, and I’ve received nothing. Should I check in with her to make sure it wasn’t an oversight? I don’t want to make waves, but I really can’t believe that she wouldn’t have invited me. -- Passed Over

DEAR PASSED OVER: Resist the urge to ask your former employee if you were invited to her wedding. As much as it stings right now, trust that you do not want to make her life any more challenging than it is. The chopping block for invitation lists is serious and mostly has to do with budget. Couples make tough decisions as they whittle down their lists. Perhaps this woman invited only former colleagues who were very close to her. Perhaps it was an oversight. Whatever the case may be, let her deal with it later rather than you bringing it up.

To the best of your ability, forgive her for her omission, too. If you truly care about her, send her a gift anyway, and do not hold a grudge. It’s likely that lots of folks she cares about weren’t invited.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)