Mr. Wonderful has Breath to Kill
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Dear Christine,

After 4 months of dating a fantastic guy, I donít think I can go on. Iím crazy about him: handsome, witty, intelligent, heís an all-round nice man, exceptÖ this may seem shallow of me, but I canít stand his breath. Itís the most horrendous breath Iíve ever smelled, like something died in his mouth or stomach.

Being on his arm in public makes me proud, until he gets within smelling distance of other people. When weíre around my friends, Iím embarrassed and always make excuses to escape.

I canít imagine how I can tell him without him being offended and ending things. But I can barely stand to kiss him. I feel so guilty for thinking this way. What can I do? Should I end it, spare him the embarrassment, and just break it off? -- HOLDING MY BREATH Ė CHATHAM, ON

Dear Holding,

Bad breath can come from poor dietary habits or a penchant for onions, garlic, or alcohol. A variety of medical problems, such as stomach maladies, kidney problems, or diabetes could be the culprit. Then there are sinus ailments or dental issues like gingivitis. I agree -- it can be a nightmare for anyone downwind of the poor sap whoís unaware of his own offensive breath.

Take a moment to ask yourself one important question: do you truly care about this man, or are you just looking for faults?

If youíre just looking for a way out, then stop making excuses and get out. However, if you do think enough of him to try to get past this, I recommend a straight-out approach. Just come out with it! Since a skunk canít smell its own spray, youíll have to tell him, and see if heís willing to take steps to remedy the problem. If he is receptive suggest:
  • Breath Assure. Available at any drug store, this can help if itís taken regularly.
  • A trip to the doctor.
  • Increased dental hygiene from brushing all parts of the mouth, including the tongue, to flossing and a visit to the dentist.
  • A revised diet, including as much water as possible.

If the situation is as bad as you see it -- or should I say
smell it -- then you owe it to him to give him the heads up.

Lastly, I canít help thinking that if this is diet-related, and the two of you dine together often, your exhales may be just as menacing to the rest of the world.

Dear Christine,

How do you suggest dealing with a long-distance romance (850 miles)? If weíre lucky, we see each other three times a year but talk all the time. Although weíre committed to each other, I am a young woman, and itís getting harder and harder to say no to simple coffee dates with male co-workers.

I donít know where the relationship is going. Every time I try to ask what he wants or has planned for us, I get shut out. He is a master at changing the subject, and I donít want to nag. -- COMMITTED BUT CRUMBLING Ė LONDON, ON

Dear Crumbling,

Changes the subject, does he? The fact that he is silent with regard to your coupled future speaks volumes.

It sounds like this long distance relationship has been going on for some time. I canít help wondering: if youíre both as committed as you think, then why havenít you taken steps to bring the two of you together on a more permanent basis?

Given the fact that youíre considering dating other men, perhaps youíre not any more committed than he is.

If you are, itís time to demand answers to your questions. Sharing your feelings and plans is not nagging. If he still refuses to discuss the future of your relationship, perhaps your time would be better spent sipping coffee, dating, and having a life -- rather than waiting for him.

Have a question, a thought, or a story to share (anonymity guaranteed)? E-mail Christine at:

Originally printed in The London Free Press on February 27, 2003.

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