Don’t Kiss Me! You Have Cooties

Sofia Panuelos/New University

They say that relationships are all about compromise. You’re supposed to embrace the things you have in common with one another and accept the differences. But when you’re dating a germaphobe, you have to throw a couple of those things out the window. Welcome to my world. My name is Kristen, and I am dating a germaphobe.

I thought Josh was just like any other unkempt college boy I was going to meet. He had a pile of dirty laundry in his room up to my knees and empty cereal bowls with dried up milk littering his desk. Typical. It wasn’t until after we started dating that I began to notice his strange habits. He would take me grocery shopping because I didn’t have a car. I bought Top Ramen and TV dinners. He bought enough paper towels, hand sanitizer, baby wipes and hand soap for his entire apartment, but used all of it himself in a week. We would go to the gym together and he’d take me home so I could shower, drive back to his place to shower and pick me up again so we could eat dinner. Being a germaphobe is expensive.

When I started staying over, that’s when things got interesting. There were rules and I thought they would be the typical “don’t leave out embarrassing things for my roommates to see” or “only use my dishes.” Being the cute new girlfriend, I thought he’d let me slide and my mind wandered during the latter half of his list. I smiled politely as Josh went on, and intended to use the same smile if I ever messed up. Well, I messed up a lot, and the smile never worked. He scolded me for leaving the toilet lid up, and letting all the poo particles into the bathroom where my toothbrush rested on the sink. He criticized my poor hygiene for having left my toothbrush out in the open, and vulnerable to bacteria. Josh keeps his in his closet, in a plastic bag, and shakes it dry after each use so the germs can’t build up. I have to wash my hands after I eat fast food because, according to him, the containers are dirty. I can’t collapse into his bed for a nap after a long day of class until I‘ve changed out of my street clothes and into a clean pair of pajamas.

Once, I couldn’t stay over for a week because of some mysterious ailment he refused to tell me about – that is, until he ran out of food at his apartment.  Bags of groceries in hand, I fumbled with the front door of his apartment until his roommate got off the couch to open it for me. Apparently Josh hadn’t come out of his room for days, and I was his first and only visitor. Josh opened the door to his bedroom, his lips covered in his own special mix of salt and toothpaste to dry out the cold sore that had caused him to go into hiding. I felt like I was visiting my grandmother in the hospital. Visiting hours were only during the day, and I had to call ahead to make sure he was awake.

Once at a party, I leaned in to sneak a kiss while nobody was looking. I thought he’d jump at the opportunity, considering his drunken state and the fact that PDA is usually a big no-no in my book. Instead, Josh grabbed my face mid-pucker and said, “Didn’t you just share a drink with someone?” I nodded my head, as he squished my face in his hands. He let go and smiled the smile he always gave me when I messed up, the same smile he gave me the one time I was too lazy to wash my hands with soap, and he caught me. I was hurt and self-conscious of my fellow partygoers who had just witnessed my own boyfriend deny me a simple kiss.

While I found it annoying, my parents found it entertaining. We go to theme parks and, on the car ride over to pick him up, my family places their bets as to how long he can last before he caves and uses a public restroom. Little do they know that Josh can stand strong for a whole day, thanks to years of practice.

There are benefits to having a germaphobe for a boyfriend. For him, washing the dishes doesn’t just mean throwing them in the dishwasher. He does them by hand, and also cleans the places where the dirty dishes touched, so Josh doesn’t just do the dishes, he does the whole kitchen. A man who likes to clean is a good man in my book.