You know how people talk about love/hate relationships with their bodies (usually due to weight insecurity), try being mad at your body because of pooping – yes, wanting to poo. Literally, one of the most normal and natural requirements. I’ll be at a public place or round a partner’s house when I suddenly start arguing with myself:
Body: Hello, it’s time to go.
Brain: Huh?? I haven’t eaten for quite a few hours?!
Body: Well, it’s time. If you don’t go now, you’re going to sit in discomfort for hours.
With strong will, I have chosen to sit in pain and wait. You should have seen how relieved I looked when an ex of mine went to the shops to get more milk on a Sunday afternoon. Only then, with bricks and trees separating us, did I feel comfortable to use his toilet. And I’m not alone.
In 2017, Healthline published American research showing more than 28% of men and 22% of women ‘would wait between one and three months before relieving themselves in a date’s home.’ Overall, the survey results reveal women feel the least comfortable pooping anywhere other than their own loo/s. When it comes to relationships, a piece in Metro suggests women like to avoid pooping at a partner’s house because they want to ‘preserve’ a ‘feminine mystique’.
It’s true, women have this ‘ladylike’ rule book hanging over them. Even when I was in school, there was a silent acceptance that boys fart and laugh about it, girls don’t. In the first series of Sex and the City, Carrie farts in front of her boyfriend, ‘Mr. Big’. Throughout the episode, she can’t get the fart out of her mind. During a yoga session, Carrie asks for Samantha’s opinion. Samantha says, ‘you’re a woman, and men don’t like women to be human. We aren’t supposed to fart, douche, use tampons or have hair in places we shouldn’t.’
Years ago, when working in retail, grown women would ask me for extra carrier bags to cover their tampon boxes. Periods alone are another relationship step. But pooping at a partner’s house – that’s a whole new level!
When is it not embarrassing?
I’ll hold my hands up and say it took a lot for me to write this post. I have typed away laughing and cringing in equal measure. After noticing the number of forums (Reddit, Quora, Mumsnet) with people asking for help, plus the various articles and comments from friends, I realised this funny and awkward bathroom issue is a real relationship problem.
We typically grow up acknowledging that public bathrooms are designed for relieving yourself from too much liquid. We assume that’s what most people use them for – that’s probably why we’re so comfortable letting others know when we need to use the bathroom. No one secretly tiptoes to do a pee. Pooping on the other hand, can smell, be loud and generally pretty gross. It’s something society tells us to hide in the same way we try not to fart or burp at a dinner table.
Is being relaxed about it a relationship milestone?
Articles online describe number twos as some sort of couple ‘I love you’ milestone. If you can feel comfortable doing them around your partner, rest-assured you’re in a healthy partnership. Publication Thrillist, for instance, argue that someone not wanting to poop around their girlfriend or boyfriend shows they don’t have ‘faith’ in them. Apparently, pooping it’s the ‘ultimate testament of trust’.
I’m more inclined to agree with Greatist. The publication featured psychotherapist, Katherine Schafler, who says it’s okay to not want a ‘significant other to see (or smell) you engaging in these activities.’ We’re allowed some privacy and exclusivity around our bodily functions. I know couples living together who still attempt to hold separate bathroom space. They go upstairs and pick specific times (like when their partner is on the phone) to do their business.
Although that can work, what do you do when you need to go in a middle of a date, or when you’re staying over and feeling embarrassed?
How do we face it?
1. If in the early stages of dating, try masking techniques
It’s date four and you’re not prepared yet to tell your date you actually poop. But you can’t help needing to go. If you can, try taking a shower (use a shower as noise distraction), declare you’re going to freshen up (turn the sink on), or have music playing in the house before you dash off. You can even pick a time where your date is busy. For instance, they might be putting cocktails together or nibbles to share.
If you’re out on a date, excuse yourself to the bathroom and if you take too long, simply blame it on a phone call.
2. Try to maintain your diet and good gut health
Often when dating, our regular diets go out the window and we end up consuming more takeaways and processed food. This in turn can cause less pleasant loo experiences. To hopefully have less bloat, bowel issues and if we’re being honest (less smell and noise in the bathroom), consider cutting back on certain foods when you’re close to meeting your date. MSN published advice from a gastroenterologist who said minimising sulphur-rich foods like dairy, eggs, garlic and legumes can help.
Importantly, consider your fibre and water intake. It may help to keep a food diary to track what foods don’t work well with your gut.
3. Work on calming any anxiety
Well and Good spoke to a gastroenterologist who described the link between our emotions and our gut. Our nervous systems can spread signals which can make us want to frequent the bathroom. You might want to skip overnight visits until you feel more relaxed around a date. Try focusing on your breathing and consider dates involving calming activities. Going for a hike for example, may decrease your stress levels.
4. Have a conversation
If you’re having frequent sex, talking about the bathroom shouldn’t be such a big deal. I know, it’s not the sexiest conversation, nor the most fun. Just telling your partner you feel uncomfortable or awkward can make a difference. You don’t have talk in detail – you can chat about this matter politely. Perhaps you laugh about it. The reality is, if your partner has had other relationships, they’re certainly aware that people (including women) poop.
5. Confront your fears
My Instagram poll shows around 60% of people feel comforting pooping at a partner’s place. However, I believe most are in long-term relationships. Whether you’ve been dating for months or weeks, really ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen?
Someone realises you’ve gone and now they don’t find you attractive? If that’s the case, your boyfriend/girlfriend is going to struggle to form a deep attraction with any human on the planet, including Beyoncé. Let’s say you’re worried it makes you less sexual – sex itself isn’t exactly a clean act. Your significant other spends a few minutes watching you pull weird faces and moans – not to mention the potential bad smell afterwards.
In reality, if you’re feeling like you need to go, chances are the person you’re with feels the same. You can always use the bathroom and re-enter the room without making a fuss. Because we all know, sh*t happens. To put it bluntly.