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Ask Lisi: What to do when a love interest has terrible breath

Problem could be something she ate. Next time, offer gum after dinner and before kissing
Advice columnist Lisi Tesher

Dear Lisi: I met a woman the other day who is remarkable. She is bright, funny, beautiful and so much fun to be around. We hit it off at a friend’s birthday get-together. I’ve known my friend since childhood; this woman is a work colleague of his new girlfriend.

We were laughing, drinking and dancing the whole night. I offered to Uber her home, but she declined and went with some girlfriends instead. I called her the next day to say how nice it was to meet her and that I hoped to see her again.

She called me back and we went on a movie date. We held hands in the theatre and afterward. We went for drinks and then I walked her home.

At the door, I leaned in to give her a nice, soft kiss – nothing more. She responded, but then she wanted to intensify the kissing…. and I couldn’t.

She has the worst breath I have ever smelled! It’s literally repugnant. I muttered some sudden heartburn excuse and left.

Now I don’t know what to do! I like her but I CANNOT kiss her!


Killed with a Kiss

Oh boy! This is so personal. I can feel the feedback pouring in. Look, you can skirt the issue, go on a second date, and see if it happens again … or you can just be honest. (I would say brutally honest, but a reader called me out for using that term. But it is brutal to know you are going to hurt someone’s feelings by speaking your truth.)

I think since it’s so early on in your dating, you should try a second date. On your walk home, you could offer her gum (I recognize this commercial …), and then go in for the smooch.

It could just have been something she ate that day, maybe she was just coming off a cold, or it could be something deeper. If you enjoyed her company that much, she’s worth another try.

FEEDBACK Regarding online friendships that don’t transfer to real-life in-person friendships (Jan. 2):

Reader #1 – “I can definitely relate. Over the past few years, I have tried a few dating sites. I find it amazing how many people hide behind false profiles. I know recommendations are to be cautious, but I am finding that asking to meet has become a good test for ‘reality.’ Of course, safety and security are very much a MUST. So, suggestions for coffee or a walk in an open park are my go-to invitations. It has become a good test to see who is ‘real.’

“But I’ve also discovered that very often, friendships on paper (or online) do not translate into friendships in person. In my opinion, someone’s true personality just cannot effectively be placed into words. And when it comes to online dating, there is often an element of salesmanship happening, which I also find myself doing.”

Lisi – I disagree about true personalities not coming through in writing. Sometimes people who are shy can really express themselves through the written word. As well, sometimes writing is the only means of communication.

I met a woman online during COVID-19. We found ourselves in several Zoom meetings and started chatting. This led to long emails about our lives, our past, our parents, our partners, etc. Once the pandemic ended and we weren’t stuck at home as much, our emails dwindled. We kept saying we should meet for coffee. We never have, and now we don’t even email anymore.

I don’t like her any less; our lives just move in different circles and at different speeds. I don’t regret getting to know her, but I’m also not concerned that our friendship didn’t transfer into real life. Our pen-pal friendship didn’t transfer into our daily lives, and that’s OK.

Reader #2 – “That Instagram friend who dumped her new friend could be my sister-in-law. She is friends with absolutely everyone on Facebook and Instagram. She is very social on these sites, but very rarely leaves her house.

“This woman could have some kind of social anxiety, please don’t judge her too quickly.”

Reader #3 – “I feel sorry for the woman whose friends won’t accept her new friend. What’s the difference where and how you meet someone? Would they accept her if the two had met at Starbucks?

“She should rethink the relationships she has with her ‘old’ friends. They sound close-minded, petty and jealous, where she seems open, fun and adventuresome.”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: or