I'm back on the dating scene after a while, and I'm horrified at the problem I've been encountering: stinky breath. More than a few of the guys I've met just seem to be foul-mouthed, if you know what I mean. I just find it to be such a turnoff that I end up not even wanting to pursue the conversation any longer, and I'm afraid I may be turning away a potential Mr. Right. Am I being too shallow? Shouldn't all single people have breath mints handy at all times? Seriously, is there an inoffensive way to let someone you've just met know that their breath needs cleaning?
-- From C.
Dr. Susan: It's not shallow to prefer a sweet-smelling environment. Nobody purposely chooses to breathe in toxic fumes, and if your dates had any idea how vile they smelled, they'd be very embarrassed, I'm sure. But you're right - what if you're turning away Mr. Right-except-for-his-breath? The easiest solution is to carry breath mints yourself and when the need arises, take one yourself and say sweetly, "Want one?" If he says, "No, thanks," be a tad bolder and add, "Uh, think again? Please?" If he doesn't get the hint, he's probably too oblivious to make a good long-term partner anyway. Once you know him better (say when you've reached the real intimacy stage), if the problem persists, you can feel more confident about passing him an internet article you've printed out that discusses the causes of bad breath.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.