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Illustration: Marina Esmeraldo

Let Us Sex-plain: How do I tell my girlfriend she has bad breath?

Your personal wingwoman, Jillian Anthony, answers all your questions about dating and doing it in New York

Written by
Jillian Anthony

I get it—being single in the city can be tough, and the ways New Yorkers are having sex these days can be surprising. But whatever your dating conundrum might be, I'm here to help. Consider me (Jillian Anthony, Time Out New York's Editor) your personal wingwoman, guiding you through dating and doing it in New York in our weekly "Let Us Sex-plain" column. Check out my answers to all your questions online and in the magazine every Wednesday, and submit your own coitus queries below!

Everything is great with my girlfriend, except that when we’re having sex or making out, her breath can be overpowering. I like her a lot, but as someone who puts a high priority on making sure my breath smells good before such encounters, the smell of rotting tuna during sex can be a real turnoff. How do I bring this up while still being considerate?

—Robert, Upper West Side

Rotting tuna?!? Stop reading this and call the police. Just kidding, but that does sound pretty awful, and probably takes some of the spontaneity out of your sexual escapades. There is no easy way to have this conversation. Say, as gently as you can, “I like you so much and I am so turned on by you. But I hope you don’t mind me telling you that sometimes you have bad breath. I don’t want to make this a big deal, but would you mind just keeping that in mind a little more when we hook up?” You can also self-ridicule and say you’re a weirdo who’s extra sensitive about smells, to take some blame off her. She will likely be embarrassed, but hopefully she can move on (and brush a bit more often). On the flip side, do try to remember it’s pretty impossible to have spearmint-fresh breath at all times.

I always dated men until recently, and now I’ve dated three women. I miss sex with men, but I don’t think I will ever find a man to give me the relationship that my last girlfriend did. I broke up with her recently, and it’s sad because if she were a man I’d probably marry her. I’m so confused and hate all the secrecy because if I don’t understand my sexual fluidity, how do I explain it to others?

—Rocky, Jersey City

It sounds like you’re going through a challenging time. If no one has told you this, allow me: Whatever your sexuality is, you are good. You will be loved and accepted for who you are. You could marry a woman if you wanted to. It may not be easy, but you will find your way. You don’t have to fit your sexuality into a neat box, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation tied up in a bow. Explore who you are, give yourself time, and be kind to yourself and others while you’re at it.

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