“It’s really awesome for me that you’re not obsessed with showering every day,” my new boyfriend remarked recently. I looked at him somewhat surprised. “Well, then I don’t have to either,” he explained.
See, I’m a “shower every other day” kind of girl, with the occasional whore’s bath thrown in when necessary. It’s not something I’ve typically advertised to the men I’ve dated over the last few years and I doubt they’ve noticed since I’ve taken care to groom before dates and whatnot. But with M. living out of town and coming to visit for days at a time, our mutual grooming habits have been obvious and, it seems, in sync.
It’s not like M. and I sit around in our own filth when we’re together, but we sure as hell don’t waste time showering and blowdrying our hair. Instead, we do more fun and worthwhile things with our shared time, like have sex and watch old episodes of “The Munsters” and make up in depth story lines about the people sitting next to us at the local bar.
I feel confident saying that I don’t smell badly on non-shower days. In fact, i would venture to say I smell delightful, perhaps more so to my boyfriend on days when I haven’t showered, as I don’t have any chemical odors masking my pheromone-laden natural musk. Likewise, sometimes there is nothing better to me in the world than the way M. smells when there’s just a hint of Old Spice “Swagger” deodorant intermingling with the scent of his skin. This body wasn’t supposed to smell like a rose garden; my philosophy is, if you want to f**k something that smells like vanilla, ask Martha Stewart to bake you a cake.
M. always indicates that he finds me really pretty, whether I’m freshly showered or not, though he does seem to notice when I’ve put in that extra little bit of effort and am wearing perfume. Likewise, I view his mustache trimming — so that it doesn’t tickle my lips when we kiss — as a simple but sweet romantic gesture.
It’s become clear to me in recent weeks, and not just from my own experience, that a similar point of view on hygiene is on the short list of things that couples really need to have in common. Last week’s Dear Wendy column, featured a letter from a woman who was grossed out that her boyfriend didn’t consider it necessary to wash his hands after peeing and that he blew bloody snot rockets in the shower. Wendy agreed that the letter writer was absolutely justified in being grossed out by her boyfriend’s “rude” behavior and even suggested that if he didn’t change his icky ways, she should consider breaking up with him. It may come as a surprise that even though I don’t shower every day, I completely agree.
Meanwhile, Nerve.com’s “Sex Advice From” series recently featured interviews with women with underarm hair. A guy asked how he should tell his girlfriend that he’s not attracted to her anymore because she’s not “properly groomed,” and does not shower, shave her legs, or wear makeup as often as he would like. Nikki, 26, had this to say:
I think couples should be compatible with their levels of grooming. Maybe you two aren’t meant to be together. You might need someone much more uptight, and she might need someone much more cool.
Harsh, yes, and the judgmental tone probably stems from Nikki’s own lack of interest in showering, shaving, and makeup-wearing, but I think she’s right for the same reason Wendy is (though I suspect Wendy showers more). It’s really tough for a relationship to work if you don’t see eye to eye on how often to bathe or shave, and to what degree. If your partner’s hygiene (or lack thereof) grosses you out, or, on the flipside, you find their grooming expectations to be high-maintenance and unnatural, are you really compatible on the most basic of levels? Can you ever really be turned on by someone if you don’t like the way they smell? Maybe your senses are on to something — that you’re not right for each other.