I’ve just hit it off with an old friend. I’ve been on my own for several years, so this very important to me.
However, there’s one thing that’s turning me off - a not nice odour about him. I guess it's his breath, but I’m unsure. He’s clean and brushes his teeth.
I don't know how to handle this without it being embarrassing or hurtful.
Stinky breath can sour a romance. But it may indicate a health problem, which allows an easy entry point for discussion.
Since you haven’t seen him for awhile, gently ask how his health has been.
Don’t jump to conclusions, but here are some medical causes for bad breath:
If it’s a fruity smell or more like acetone (common in nail polish remover), it can indicate a serious complication in diabetes patients. “Fishy” breath may stem from severe kidney problems.
Also, brushing his teeth doesn’t preclude the possibility of a dental problem, like gum disease. If he doesn’t visit his dentist regularly, something could be brewing in that area.
Also, smoking raises the temperature in the mouth, making it a breeding ground for bacteria.
Or, sleeping with the mouth open, or snoring, decrease saliva and allow bacteria to grow. Dry mouth from drinking alcohol can also have this effect.
If you don’t get any clues, at some point you’ll have to say directly that you’re concerned that his breath indicates something worrisome health-wise and you hope he’ll check it out.
My stepfather sexually interfered with me from the ages of eight to 15. He also bullied me physically and emotionally during the 13 years I lived with him.
He sexually assaulted his youngest daughter and my sister. He left his eldest daughter alone.
Though he was charged with sexual interference, they were stayed due to a technicality. He divorced from my mother when I was 18.
We never discussed this as a family. My mother still shuts down any discussion after 30 years.
Only his eldest daughter continued to see him. When she had daughters, she let her father stay in her house, but not alone with him.
I fought with her over this, knowing how he groomed me even in public. She and I didn’t speak for many years.
Last year, I tried to explain to her how devastating his behaviour was to my physical and mental health, but she didn’t want to listen.
She’s again letting him stay in her house. Her girls are 10 and 12. I believe they’re at risk of abuse.
I’m avoiding her and family gatherings as they cause me great distress. My sisters and mother blame me for our family "being screwed up.”
At 53, I want to live in peace. Am I the family’s “problem?”
You’re the family conscience that they won’t acknowledge. Denial is their way of coping with the past.
But denial is not your way and shouldn’t be, since you’re correct that those young girls are at risk.
You can continue to live “at peace” and avoid this half-sister and family gatherings.
Or, you can have the courage of your convictions, and ask your local police their experience with older, past sexual abusers who previously got off charges through legal loopholes.
If the police consider the chances high that he’ll abuse again, you should relay the information to the girls’ mother. Since you’re already not in contact, it won’t change your relationship with her.
It’s a bold, brave move but it might save those girls.
My husband and I have many friends but we’ve always put family first.
My brother-in-law’s attached to a very childish woman, 56.
When we get together, they insist on playing cards during which she’s rude and inappropriately attacks my husband.
We don’t want to ruin the brothers’ relationship but we need to say something, diplomatically.
Her own family members avoid her so I assume this is her nature.
I’ve always taken the high road for the sake of family.
However, I'm afraid that if I were to start a discussion it’d devolve quickly.
Try subtle directness, as in, “Since card-playing always gets so competitive, let’s watch this great movie we rented.”
Try something different other times, using that same introduction… a dinner to which you’ve invited other family, going out to a concert, etc.
Eventually you may have to say, “We do want to get together, but we just don’t enjoy card battles.”
Tip of the day:
Stinky breath can sour a romance, so it’s worth the awkward discussion.