I Like Him but His Breath…

Dear T,

How would you tell a guy that you’re dating and like, that he has bad breath?  I’ve been talking to this man for about two weeks, and every time we are really close face to face I smell something really faint. And when I reluctantly kissed him after he leaned in once, I was a grossed out.  It took everything in me that time not to yell out yuck.  All in all the guy is pretty great, it’s just his breath.  I want to continue to date him and see where this goes, but how do I fix this problem?


Carson Nightly

Dear Carson Nightly,

Thanks for writing to me.  Great name by the way.  No one wants to be in the company of someone with habitually bad breath.  I know I for one am not a fan of someone talking in my face when his or her mouth smells like a sofa cushion from 1978, or 2 day old hot dog water.  So I can’t imagine being in a situation where I’m trying to date a person with consistently poor breath.

Let’s try to think here for a moment on why his mouth is giving off a rank odor.  It’s possible that he has a rotten tooth that he hasn’t been able to make it to the dentist to get fixed.  Or maybe he has something in his diet that is causing his issues.  Then there is always the chance he needs a stronger tooth paste or mouth wash.  Heck he could have a cold.  Sometimes when people have a cold, the congested mucous can stink.  I know the why is not as important as the what to do going forward, so let’s get down to it.

If you are afraid to even kiss this guy, that is not a great sign of a lasting relationship.  New situationships and/or relationships usually require a great deal of romance.  And you dread a simple kiss.  It doesn’t matter how great this man is, if the passion isn’t there, you will eventually place him in the infamous Friend Zone.

And listen, two weeks is not a long time to have known someone, so I understand if you would be uncomfortable discussing with your associate directly about his problem.  If you decide to continue seeing him, you could subtly drop hints that he has a serious problem.  For example, each time you meet with him you can offer him a mint or stick of gum.  (I suggest you offer him the good strong stuff like Ice Breakers or 5 Gum).   Or you could talk with him about your most recent visit to the dentist in conversation, and recap any teeth cleaning tips the dentist may have offered (think about recommended toothpaste and mouthwash, and brushing motions).  But make the story light and add an element of humor if possible to help ensure the conversation doesn’t become offensively indirect.

Suggestions going forward.

  1. If it were me in your shoes, I would have to place this guy in the friend zone. I can’t imagine a grown man not knowing he has bad breath.  Someone must have told him or he must have picked up on others’ social cues when he is around.  To me his issue would scream a hygiene problem, which is a complete TURN OFF.


  1. If bad breath is a deal breaker for you, then don’t try to force yourself to date this man.


As always noting but love,


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