We have a friend who clearly doesn't bathe as often as he should; my wife and I are very uncomfortable in his company. For example, it isn't unusual for him to greet us at the door covered in saw dust, or such, then disappear long enough to put on a clean shirt when clearly he should've taken time to clean himself properly before his guests arrive.
Unfortunately, he can do no wrong in his wife's eyes so we're at a loss as to how to resolve this difficulty. Any suggestions how we handle this with delicacy?
- Concerned Friends
"Delicacy" doesn't mean keeping quiet and accepting being grossed out. The next time he answers the door in mid-labour grime, tell him you'll leave for awhile while he showers. Be polite but firm: "We have errands we can do nearby, and, you'll not be fresh for company unless you have some time to yourself to clean up, so see you soon." If he arrives at your house smelly, inject humour into your firm comments, as in "Phew, guess you rushed here in a sweat! Look, here's a clean shirt of mine, go on and shower, and we'll have a cool drink waiting for you." Being forthright is better than choking
on your discomfort.
I'm 59, divorced and started a relationship with a co-worker. He lost his wife of 33 years, two years ago. He and his wife discussed before she died that he'd go on with his life. In the past four years he also lost his mother and two brothers. We've been intimate for four months; I've told him I have very strong feelings for him. Although he says he has feelings for me, whenever we're together, he later feels guilty, like he's cheating on his wife. He reported that his psychologist said that if he continues our intimacy, he'll be scarred against women for life. He apologized for having "led me on" and now wants to be honest that he doesn't want a commitment but just friendship. No intimacy. I do love him and want to help him. I call him once weekly and we talk about anything. Should I continue, or leave him alone and let him call me when he's ready? He's yet to call me on his own.
Stop phoning. He's still grieving his many losses and isn't ready to move forward. He's made that clear. I'm sure that his psychologist's explanation was more comprehensive than he reported: likely, he meant that your friend would continue to be riddled with guilt with every woman he became involved with, unless he worked out his grief process over a longer period. This is crucial, so he can gradually re-build his energies, desires and embrace of the future. He knows you're there and that you're a caring friend. Hopefully, he'll eventually reach out to you. Meanwhile, consider yourself single and open to meeting other men who are available.
I'm 26, in a five-year relationship with my first boyfriend, 29, living together for three years. I can't bring myself to leave him but I don't want to marry him. I'm no longer physically attracted to him. Also, I've been having problems sexually, a physical problem which has been treated, but returned. I cannot have sex without extreme pain.
Understandably, he still wants me to please him, but I don't want anything to do with him in bed. Yet leaving him would destroy the life I've made with him. He's still my best friend. I tried to end it six months ago but hated hurting him. I feel there must be something more fulfilling than this for me, even a single life - neither our values nor our aspirations mesh. I need to make a decision. But when I plan leaving, I start to panic and have several days of anxiety.
- Living in Limbo
You've already left him emotionally and sexually. Your indecisive "limbo" is about your fears for yourself, not about him. So, start by resuming medical treatment for your physical problem, so that you don't have to shut yourself off from having sex, forever. Also, get individual counselling for the several anxieties in your life: 1 ) how to plan the next phase of living on your own; 2) how to retain some lifestyle aspects you now enjoy; and 3) how to find new paths to your own goals and interests.
Tip of the day:
Letting friends know of their body odour is a favour to them as well as yourself.