For the past several weeks, I've been dating a great new guy. We have a lot of chemistry, and I think there's potential for a long-term relationship. There's just one problem: I've realized that he doesn't wash his hands after using the restroom! My apartment is small, and you can hear everything that's happening in the bathroom from outside; I've never once heard the water running after hearing the toilet flush. I've held his hand after he comes out of the bathroom to check them out, and not once have they felt cold or wet. I'm not a germophobe, but to me this just seems like a basic practice of good hygiene. The rest of his hygiene is fine: He's a great-looking, well-dressed, good-smelling guy. Should I say something? If so, what? It seems like a small thing to end a relationship over, but it's bizarre and distasteful.
—Starting To Get Grossed Out
Your boyfriend's not German, is he? If so, maybe he's the source of the E. coli outbreak raging through that country! Let's assume he's neither washing nor sanitizing his hands. You've been with him for several weeks and your health remains sound. So while it should be standard to wash after using the facilities, letting this go until you get to know each other much better is not jeopardizing your health. For the time being, pretend your apartment has thick walls and you just don't know about his hand-washing habits. I think you two need to be much better acquainted before you start improving him. (Let's stipulate we're talking about "number one." Washing after "number two" is absolutely mandatory.) When you're really a comfortable couple, take his hand in yours and tell him he's wonderful, then add, "You know that sign in the bathroom that says, 'Employees must wash hands before returning to work'? That sign also means you."
More Dear Prudence Columns
"Financial Affairs: I want to bequeath money to my mistress in my will. Is that wrong?" Posted March 24, 2011.
"A Fool for Love: My wife is super hot but dumb. How can I make the best of our union?" Posted March 17, 2011.
"I Can't Relate: My estranged half-sister wants to get to know me, but I'm afraid my parents won't approve." Posted March 10, 2011.
"Diamonds Aren't a Girl's Best Friend: My ex is blackmailing me for sex. How can I get out of it?" Posted March 3, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
"This Baby Shower Is a Wash: Dear Prudence advises a reader who thinks her brother impregnated his girlfriend to steal her own baby's thunder—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted March 21, 2011.
"Teacher Gone Wild: Dear Prudence advises a schoolteacher caught on tape acting a drunken fool—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com." Posted March 14, 2011.
"Dead Letters at the Office: Prudie counsels an office worker who found love letters while cleaning out the desk of a recently deceased colleague that are not from her widower—and other advice-seekers." Posted March 7, 2011.
"Nightmare Vacation: Prudie counsels a reader who regrets her promise to take an ailing family member to Disneyland—in this week's live chat." Posted Feb. 28, 2011.