Farting and pooping have a unique ability to make people feel Some Type Of Way.
This is especially true in the context of romantic relationships, when you probably want the other person to think — at least to some degree, and at least for some period of time — that you’re cool, sexy, and in control. Pooping and farting are loud, messy, smelly activities...so often they are the polar opposite of what you’re going for around someone you like and want to impress.
But in any intimate relationship, you have to decide which aspects of your messy, imperfect self you’ll share, and which ones you keep to yourself. And attitudes about pooping and farting are super personal and also very cultural — so much of what we consider “OK” with regard to farting and pooping has to do with what we were raised to believe is “OK.” Perhaps your parents are a “Together for 30 Years And Still Blamin’ It On The Dog” couple. Maybe you grew up in a “🙈 🙉 🙊 ” household. Or maybe you’ve always agreed with the famous Marilyn Monroe quote, “If you can’t handle me at my sharts, you don’t deserve me at my best.” Regardless, having to re-consider and re-negotiate these deeply-held beliefs with a romantic partner can be a huge source of anxiety for a lot of people.
With that in mind, we asked friends and coworkers for their biggest deuce dilemmas when it comes to relationships, and put together some basic guidelines.
The guidelines are informed by personal experience (from two people who, FWIW, abide by two extremely different Butthole Bills of Rights in our respective relationships) and the Golden Rule: You do you...but also, don’t be a dick.
1. I’m really afraid to fart in front of my significant other and so far I’ve been able to avoid it! Can’t I just continue to hide my farts indefinitely?
You can try if that makes you feel best! But farts aren’t meetings — you can’t just reschedule them when you have a conflict. And if it’s causing you a lot of stress, or literal pain, it’s probably worth just breaking the seal already. Luckily, your partner is probably just as terrified of farting in front of you, so it’s not like you are alone in this.
2. So how do I know when it’s OK to fart in front of my SO? HOW DOES ANYONE KNOW THIS?
Well, the first time it happens, it will probably be an accident. Which is actually perfect! When you accidentally fart, all you have to do is say “excuse me” — it doubles as a polite apology for your fart AND it lets your partner graciously acknowledge said fart and move on. Plus, the first fart is ALWAYS the hardest fart — you will probably still want to change your name and grow a mustache, but after that, you’ll know for sure exactly what happens when you fart in front of your SO.
3. So finally farting in front of my SO is… a good thing for the relationship?
It’s a really good litmus test. How someone treats a person they care about when that person feels embarrassed is a good gauge for what kind of partner they are. If you’re dating a good person, they will probably laugh, or brush it off, or kiss you, or do something that makes you feel like It’s All Gonna Be OK.
4. I really like my person and want them to know that It’s All Gonna Be OK! What’s the best way to “graciously acknowledge” that first fart after they’ve said “excuse me”?
Laugh and say, “It happens.”
5. My partner accidentally farted first, and didn’t say anything. Can I just ignore it?
If this happens before you two are super comfortable with each other, it’s OK to graciously pretend like nothing happened. By the time you ARE more comfortable with each other, acknowledging the humor will come naturally. Also, take cues from them as much as possible! For example, if your significant other never really laughs at fart jokes on TV or in movies, they probably aren’t going to be as likely to want to laugh at yours or their own.
6. I think farts are hilarious and I have a feeling my partner does too. At the very least, I’d rather say something funny after a fart instead of just your classic “excuse me.” Any ideas?
This Reddit thread has some pretty great options, and we expect all of you hilarious people will share your go-to lines in the comments!
7. When I'm on a first/early date, I get really nervous, which immediately affects my digestive system. How do I casually play off a long bathroom trip?
The good news is that in this day and age of smartphones, your date will probably be so busy checking Twitter they won’t even notice. Even if you think they did notice, it’s still OK to just pretend it didn’t happen and move on. Most people don't want to venture a guess, and you don't need to give an excuse. One exception to this is if your bathroom trip is over 15 minutes. Then you can blame it on a phone call from your boss or your mom.
8. OK, we’ve been dating for a little while now and are ~officially~ together… at this point, how much information about my poops should I be sharing with my person?
There’s a big difference between “I think I ate something bad, I’m really not feeling well,” and announcing “I just gave birth to the world’s biggest raisin!” and then stringing it up on a flagpole. Information about how you are feeling should always be welcome. Information about any possible fecal world records you are working on breaking is wholly dependent on your SO’s past interest in other fecal things.
9. Is it OK to pee with the bathroom door open?
Well, yes and no!
10. That’s not a helpful answer at all!
It’s because there are degrees: There are couples who only pee with the door closed, but there are also couples who are OK with having the door slightly cracked, couples who are OK with one person using the toilet while their SO is in the shower, and couples who just pee with the door wide open to the world. And also there are tons of other couples with tons of other types of arrangements.
11. How do I know if I’m in a couple where leaving the bathroom door open is OK?
If you want to be able to hear your SO while they are talking to you, or if you have one bathroom and need to both be able use it at the same time, or if the bathroom gets incredibly hot and leaving the door closed is like locking yourself in a sauna, then it might make sense to leave it open. If one of you would prefer not to, even for the above reasons, you guys will find the workarounds. Bottom line: Under normal circumstances, your doors are only as open as the shyest person in your relationship wants them to be!
12. So leaving the door open just for the sake of leaving the door open isn’t a good idea?
Everyone’s relationship is different, and if yours means being open with each other about everything, then that’s great! But it’s definitely something to have a conversation about, not something you just do and assume the other person will be cool with, like: ‘Surprise, here where’s all the beer I just drank is going!’
13. You know what I’m going to ask next, yes?
Indeed. On the matter of pooping with the bathroom door open, the same rules apply, with the added caveat that you should DEFINITELY have a conversation with your S.O. first. It can be as simple as “Hey, if you’re in the shower and I really need to use the bathroom for more than just peeing, would that be alright?” or “This bathroom gets incredibly muggy, and I might be in here for a few minutes, would you mind if I cracked the door?” If the answer is no, you can work something else out that will solve the same problem.
14. I’m really shy about my SO hearing my bathroom activities. Can I just run the faucet to just drown out the noise?
A lot of people run to the water every once in a while when they’re in a strange person’s home and they find themselves needing to go No. 2., but it’s not good to make a habit of it — it IS kinda wasteful, you know? And if it’s in YOUR home, there are ways to create white noise that aren’t as wasteful, and won’t leave you feeling clenched and uncomfortable all the time.
15. My SO and I have been together for five years and have been super polite about farting and pooping up until this point — we’ve, uh, never actually acknowledged in word or in deed that it’s a thing that either of us do with our butts — and it seems like crossing that line now would feel even weirder. Maybe we can grow old together and just never —
Maybe, but part of being a ride-or-die partner is the willingness to run to the drugstore at 3 AM when your significant other really needs Pepto — and having someone who can do that for you makes life better and easier. So, the easiest way to poop that cherry is probably just to acknowledge whenever you aren’t ~feeling well~ and to stop going to extremes to hide what’s going on down there. Need to poo? You can use the nearest bathroom, not the one at Burger King down the street. Is holding in a fart literally causing you pain and there’s no bathroom in sight? Take some steps down wind, pass the gas, and excuse yourself. You aren’t being rude, you are being human, and the right person totally gets that.
16. I’m thinking about texting my partner a photo of my poop. It’s REALLY cool and we’ve been together for a long time and I think they’d be into it...
This seems like a great time to remind everyone that consent is a beautiful thing, and the best way to find out if someone is into something is to just ask.
You: OMG, I just took the most righteous dump!!! 💩 💯
Them: OMG lol 😍 😂
You: Do you want to see a pic?
If they say yes, send that shit. If they say no, write back “YOUR LOSS” and then never speak of this again.
17. Sooooo I am at my SO’s place and just clogged their toilet with a pretty monster turd and they don’t have a plunger and oh my god what do I do? WHAT DO I DO?!?!??!!
OK, first of all, every bathroom in a household should have a plunger so that this doesn’t happen. If this is not currently the case in your living quarters, please remedy that situation right now. We’ll wait.
OK, moving on! If the water is currently rising and you’re starting to panic, here’s what to do. First, know that this is such a universally-dreaded situation that the person’s first reaction is likely going to be sympathy. (TBH, if they react with anything but sympathy, you may want to reconsider your interest in them.) So the best course of action is just honesty. Shut the toilet lid. Shut the bathroom door. Then go directly to them and tell them what happened: “Hey this is SUPER embarrassing but I’ve clogged your toilet. Do you have a plunger somewhere?” Offering to handle this yourself without making the other person deal with the actual evidence is the kindest thing you can do for all parties involved. And as a general rule, a humble and honest approach is ideal for communicating any gastrointestinal problem in life.
18. I have an illness that affects when/how I use the bathroom — when would be an appropriate time to talk to someone I've just started dating about this?
You probably don’t need to bring it up on the first date, but if you put off talking about it too long, you run the risk of ending up in a situation where you're forced to address it. We suggest treating it like you would any other possibly embarrassing health- or body-related thing (like “I have really heavy periods and get awful cramps” or “I sweat through my shirt in five minutes as soon as the temperature hits 60 degrees”). Also, it might help to frame sharing this information in the context of something good — as in, “I like you and I’d like to spend a LOT of time with you…” — and then just be honest and straightforward. Start with the simplest explanation (“So, I have X condition which means Y might happen from time to time…”) and then keep an eye on their reaction to decide how much detail to go into or how much humor to use.
19. I'm going to be having surgery/am ill and will need help taking care of business. How do I discuss this with my SO, and what do I do if they freak out about it?"
Be honest and be sensitive to the fact that people can be weird about bathroom stuff. It also might be helpful to offer examples of past related experiences (like: “ex-partner used to do this for me and it actually turned out to be NBD even though we were both pretty anxious about it at first” or “ex-partner was really uncomfortable with doing this, so this was the workaround I found which was/was not a great solution”) if they are relevant.
20. I’m actually on the other side of this. My SO has a health problem and sometimes needs help in the bathroom, but it makes me super uncomfortable. I'm not sure if that makes me a monster… is it OK to opt out?
You shouldn't force yourself to do something that makes you really uncomfortable — but also be aware that this is part of your partner’s life, and they're equally allowed to be upset/hurt and feel unsupported by you for that decision. If you do want to opt out, it might be helpful to approach it from a constructive place of “This doesn’t work for me but you are important to me; what are some other solutions we can try?” Even better: research the specific issue in advance of this conversation and come with a few potential solutions that might work. If there isn’t a workable solution, that may be a sign of incompatibility. But if you care about this person, it’s probably worth both of you putting in effort and finding a compromise.
21. The other day I was doing laundry for our household and I noticed some skid marks in my partner’s underwear and I feel weird about it. Do I say something? Do something? Am I a jerk for being kind of grossed out? HELP.
You’re not a jerk for being grossed out. A lot of people wouldn’t want to come across their own dirty underwear sunny-side-up, let alone someone else’s.
22. So is it OK to refuse to wash my significant other’s streaky underpants?
At many points in every long-term relationship you will do gross shit for each other. That’s basically the definition of love. BUT: If there’s a semi-regular issue bothering you, it’s OK to be like, “Hi, when streaks are happening, would you mind taking care of it? Thanks!” That way, you preserve your peace of mind, and your SO doesn’t feel pressure to be perfect. If you’d rather not get into the specifics, you could also go with a casual, “Yo, I love you a lot, but I don’t love having to wash your underwear and I assume you feel the same about mine. Let’s start separating some of our laundry / dividing the chores differently / some other solution I’ve already figured out.”
23. What are some ways to make my bathroom friendlier to a new (or old) love interest?
Besides keeping it clean and stocked with basic necessities (obvs), the best thing you can do is give your SO the tools to help themselves in the event of a bathroom emergency: a plunger, candles, Poo-pouri, and/or an air freshening spray, plus extra toilet paper. Basically, anything that keeps your SO (or any other guests!) from having to crack open the bathroom door and ask you something makes you an A+ partner. If you want extra credit, you could have a white noise machine of some kind (if your bathroom fan is very quiet), a Squatty Potty, or some feminine hygiene products (if you know your SO’s preferences).
24. What if my live-in significant other and I don’t agree on which way the toilet paper should be mounted on the roll?
Regardless of whether you are on Team Over, Team Under, or Team Why Does This Even Matter Please Shut Up, the most important thing is that the toilet paper roll gets changed when the old one is used up. If you do this, you have fulfilled your toilet paper roll changing responsibilities, and may peace be with you.
25. But wait a second, we have a kids/pets/an RV, and if the toilet paper isn’t rolled under, it’s going to get it all over the place!
Then, in these cases, it’s OK for the expectation to be that you both hang the paper in a way that minimizes the chances of some sort of adorable-if-it-wasn’t-happening-to-you explosion happening in your bathroom.
26. OK, none of that applies to me, but...it makes soooo much more sense when the paper is dispensed OVER the roll, that way you don’t have to reach behind the roll and get germs all over the —
Look, it’s toilet paper, in a toilet room, where toilet things happen. Trying to micromanage the process to minimize the inherent toilet nature of it all is not going to keep bad things from happening to you in life. So, barring any extenuating circumstances (see above), the person for whom the orientation of the toilet paper is a life-or-death scenario is responsible for mounting it the way they want it. Making sure the toilet paper is on the roll the way your SO likes it is a nice thing to do — it’s a way to show someone you love them — but it’s not an expected thing to do. Meaning, you can’t yell at someone for not putting the toilet paper roll on the way you like it when the only reason is that it’s your personal preference — that’s veering into abusive, controlling behavior. And if one of you is Team Over and the other is Team Under, and you are both willing to torpedo your entire relationship over it, you may need to step back and consider if there are larger issues at play besides just poop paper.
27. I really like using butt wipes but my partner insists they are destroying our plumbing / the world and wants to ban them from our household. Isn’t that rude?!
Well...your partner is correct. If you insist on using butt wipes, a Diaper Genie could be the compromise you’re looking for. (It’s also good for tampons, which are also not a friend to the plumbing.) If you can afford expensive butt wipes, you can afford a Diaper Genie. You can also throw said butt wipes in the trash, with the expectation will be that the trash will be taken out IMMEDIATELY afterwards. Like: Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not stop to watch a DVR’d episode of UnREAL — and that could lead to a lot of trips to the Dumpster. But whatever solution you choose, you do need to stop flushing those things.
28. I’m doing my best to be courteous, but my SO is making me feel embarrassed and bad about my farts and/or my poop.
Unless these things have dramatically changed in such a way that a doctor might need to become involved, no one automatically has the right to comment on their partner’s every bodily function, unless you both agree that it’s your established dynamic. For some people, turds and toots are not debutantes; they don’t need to be publicly introduced into proper society. (And really, you shouldn’t be making someone feel bad about their gastrointestinal tract; it’s a feature, not a bug.)
29. I know I sound like a prude, but I’m not a fan of farts/fart jokes/talking about poop — my own or anyone else’s. Is that OK?
Totally! Yes, everyone poops...just like everyone bleeds and vomits and blows their noses and secretes various things from their front-holes. It’s perfectly acceptable to have varying degrees of comfort with these things. So just like it’s OK to say “I don’t like blood, so I’m going to look away when you have blood drawn,” it’s OK to not love fart and poop stuff. Love is patient, love is kind, but love does’t have to love all bodily fluids and functions equally.
30. Ugh, you’re so right! But whenever I tell my SO this, they just laugh it off and tell me everyone poops and make me feel like I should just get over it. How can I let them know it actually bugs me?
This sounds like a case of Mismatched Pooping Attitudes. Unless your SO is actually just a self-centered, uncaring person, it’s likely that what they are trying to do is low-key bond with you over bathroom stuff. Think about it: Who else can you really talk poop with besides your #1 main trusted human? Weird as this is, when they hear “I don’t want to talk about bathroom stuff” what they might ACTUALLY be hearing from you is “I am rejecting your attempts to bond with me/I find you gross.” Which isn’t at all what you mean! Regardless, it’s totally OK to tell them something like, “Hey, I’m totally OK with your human bathroom habits, and your enjoyment of them, but let’s talk about something else — how was your horrible boss today?”
31. Hey! My SO doesn’t like when I fart in front of them or talk about pooping in front of them. But everyone does it! I think they just need to LIGHTEN UP!
Hi. Listen. Farting and pooping are weird things that our bodies do, and our feelings about these things can be ingrained pretty early on and be tied to a bunch of psychological stuff. But regardless, if someone has said they don’t like talking about or participating in something, take them seriously.
32. So what you’re saying is, I should just be cool?
Exactly! Be cool, guys.