Should I Tell Him He Stinks?


Would you tell a friend that he has bad body odor?  I met a friend in grad school this semester, and he’s real cool.  On occasion we go out happy hour and chill.  Well last Friday was the first time we went clubbing together, and let’s just say it was a foul experience.  About an hour after we got to the club, I kept smelling something.  At first, I thought it was one of the many other people at the place.  However, my nose led me to him.  It was so bad.  Not only was the smell nauseating, but I was embarrassed to be there with him. Heck, when we left the club to go home, I rode home with my windows down.  It may be spring time, but it was nobody’s warm.  I’m not sure how I proceed with him.  Do I tell my friend he has an odor problem, or do I just never go to the club with him ever again?

Thanks in Advance,

Clean Air Only

Dear Clean Air Only,

Thanks for writing to me.   For those that know me, that are quite aware that I’m not a fan of body odor.  As crazy as it sounds, I won’t even eat certain things just because the smell reminds me of particularly foul body odors.  So I can just imagine what that night was like for you.  The fact that you had to ride home with the windows down on a cold night, speaks volumes about the aroma coming from your friend.

Listen, whether it’s bad body odor, bad breath, or a bad attitude, pointing out a flaw to a friend can be tricky.  Especially in your situation, given you haven’t been friends with this guy for too long.  However, the silver lining here is that it seems he doesn’t usually stink.  The sweating and tight space of a club, could have gotten the best of him.  So it’s possible it was just an off night for him.

I have two options for you to choose from in handling this situation.  Option one, is all about the art of dodging.  Instead of confronting your friend with his flaw, you just don’t make a habit of going out with him to a club scene ever again.  It sounds like last Friday was the first time you ever knew him to stink.  I’m guessing he smells just fine when you two are in class or at happy hour.  So limit your interactions with him to that only.  When he asks you if you want to go to the club, come up with an excuse as to why you can’t.  Now if you choose to do this, beware of getting caught up on Instagram or other social media platforms.  It may make your friend feel some type of way to see you dipping, popping, and twerking somewhere with other folks, after you keep declining his invitations.

Option two requires you to be a bit more direct.  You just have to buck up, and tell him that last Friday was interesting.  Explain to your buddy that you aren’t sure what happened, but the stench he had at the club wasn’t cool.   You may even want to suggest to him products that you use and the routine you perform to freshen up when you know you’re going out for the night.  Place it in the context, that if the roles were reversed, you’d want someone to tell you.

Suggestions going forward.

  1. If you go with option two and decide to confront your friend head on, be as gentle as possible. How you tell him about his problem, will shape how your friendship proceeds.  Make it clear that it’s possible that night was just a one-time fluke, because you’ve hung out with him in other instances with no problem.


  1. Should an incident like this happen again, end the night prematurely instead of suffering in silence for hours. Save yourself the nauseated stomach, and the person you are with the embarrassment.

As always nothing but love,


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