In the Sex and the City episode "Defining Moments," Miranda is dating an unfathomable man: a man who uses the bathroom with the door open. At first, it seems she might be able to get past it; the quirk is introduced with comic timing, with Miranda brushing her teeth and amiably chatting away until she is stunned by Doug waltzing up and beginning to pee right next to her. While this is initially shocking, Miranda decides to try it out for herself; the open-door policy makes Doug seem well-adjusted and at ease with himself, which are qualities Miranda is always seeking to develop. She doesn't like it when Doug startles her while she's on the toilet, but ultimately the jury is out.
Until, that is, Doug takes it too far. As Miranda is cheerfully explaining that she added cinnamon to their coffee to produce the great smell wafting through the apartment, a parody of pooping sounds—interspersed with Doug's blithe commentary about the coffee—interrupts her. Horrified, she stands in her kitchen, completely unsure of what to do.
What's perhaps most disturbing to me as I watch the scene is that I believe I can almost smell the combination of morning coffee and bowel movement, but overall this episode highlights one of the great and ongoing issues of relationships: At some point, you cannot hide the fact that you poop. During one long-term relationship, the majority of which was long-distance or involving frequent travel, I was simply physically unable, probably because I was constantly neurotic about it and the stress rendered me irregular. During another, my boyfriend's bathroom was located in the middle of his apartment and might as well have not had a door, the implications of which I noted the first time I slept there and heard, with pristine clarity, the tinkling of number one. Digestion can be very inhibiting to the blossoming of love, if you let it be; even if you are willing to poop with the door open—who are you?—your partner might find that very distasteful.
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There are, of course, strategies, though none is foolproof at creating a true illusion of shitlessness. You can plant a "landing pad" out of folded up toilet paper to muffle the plopping sound, but you risk clogging and environmental degradation. You can go before your date, if you don't live together, but if you can't, either because you don't have to or because the stress of trying to "go before" renders you incapable of doing so, you may spend the whole night thinking about your lower intestine. Running the faucet seems to be a popular compromise—but who are we kidding, really?
With all this in mind, I sought out wisdom and commiseration from some of the Broadly team. How do they deal with the smells and sounds of shitting while dating—if, indeed, they deal with it at all?
Callie, 25, Executive editor
When I started dating my boyfriend, we would go long periods of time without seeing each other because he travels for work (he is in a band). Every time he came back from tour, we would spend the entire weekend together, and then he would leave again. When I was with him, I would not poop because I was too nervous.
Anyway, about five months into our relationship, I went to Japan with his band for five days. I had a suspicion, leaving America, that I would not poop the entire time. That suspicion was correct. I did not poop for nearly a week, and it ruined my trip.
I don't remember the first time I pooped in his apartment, but now I have to be really open about it because I've become obsessed with ordering Taco Bell.
Mitchell, 24, Managing editor
I think one big thing is if you're having a one-night stand with someone or fucking someone you're not close with and you're bottoming. Sometimes if the dick is too big, it will cause you to bleed, hemorrhage, or shit blood. If you didn't prepare to bottom (by "prepare" I mean FAST, like a monk), it will make poop just come out on his dick as you're fucking. This may just be a sliver of poop, but it can also be a literal turd. (This has happened to all gay men.)
I think farting is frivolous and should be very private.
The BIGGEST issue, though, is if bottoming causes you to shit blood: You kinda just have to poop in his bathroom the morning after. It's embarrassing, but it's what you have to go through. The best solution is to grab his cologne and spray it in the bathroom and turn on the shower so he can't hear. This typically works and is doable since clichés are true and gay guys own expensive cologne—or at least Paris Hilton perfume as a novelty.
Mish, 30, Contributor
I already have major issues when it comes to public bathrooms. And by public, I mean anywhere I am not familiar with or where there are other people in close proximity. I do not think I took a shit once at school. Maybe in university, in a family bathroom that offered privacy. On tour, I have to take an assortment of medicated teas, shit pills, and other stuff to actually make it happen. It is 100% psychological. When I was high on mushrooms at a campfire with my first boyfriend, I held my piss for six hours because I didn't want to have to do it in the bushes.
I am married (and I work from home when not on tour), and if my husband does not go into work one day, my whole "schedule" is thrown off. For the most part, I won't shit at a boyfriend's house without a clear buffer zone (ideally he's outside having a smoke). Running a shower also helps. I religiously carry around matches and baby wipes in my purse. When I was traveling in Spain in the early 2000s, I didn't shit once for six days.
You can't just stomp around farting and shitting like an ogre.
Monica, 27, Editor-at-large
When we first started dating, my partner noticed that I always ran the tap while I was using the bathroom in his apartment. He asked me about it and I explained my genius plan: Since I could always hear him peeing super loudly, I ran the tap every time I went to the bathroom, so he'd never know if I was peeing or pooping. I had all kinds of strategies, ranging from the tap thing to offering to go out and buy coffee in the morning so I could poop at Starbucks or whatever. It was a bit sad, but I was 21 and really self-conscious about it and had never lived with a partner before, which in my opinion is when things really get serious, poops-wise. It turns out he'd been peeing with the door open because he'd noticed the tap thing and wanted me to feel comfortable using the bathroom at his place—sort of an Everyone Poops performance piece.
Another story: Once on a romantic vacation, I went to the bathroom and the smell situation was… very bad. When I emerged from the bathroom, I ran into my boyfriend at the time, waiting to use the bathroom directly after me. I ended up having sex with him just to stop him from going in there.
My boyfriend lies about when he poops even when there's clear evidence (smell) that he pooped. I always call him out on it. He lies about his farts, too. He makes this "Oh no, I'm BUSTED" face but, like, denies pooping.
Other times, when I attempt to use the bathroom after he poops, he physically blocks me from going in. He'll make me wait until it's "clear," but never explicitly says, "You have to wait because I just pooped." Usually he's just like, "NOOOOO."
I ended up having sex with him just to stop him from going in there.
I, on the other hand, have given up on trying to act like I don't poop. I'm very gregarious about it—like, "Oh, I'm gonna poop, brb." I think that's better than weirdly acting like you don't poop when you do? Pooping is so necessary.
BUT I NEVER fart in front of my boyfriend. I think that's rude. I think farting is frivolous and should be very private.
Jane-Claire, Weekend editor
The long and short of it is I just don't poop that often. It's probably not terribly healthy, but I poop maybe once or twice a week. So every time I poop, it's like a blessing, and it doesn't matter where I am—I'm gonna do it. (One time I pooped when I was walking over the Williamsburg Bridge super late at night. I'm a little proud of that.) All of this is to say, when my boyfriend didn't live with me, I probably never pooped at his place, but not out of any anxiety, just out of an evidently kind of whack digestive system.
Now he lives with me, and he knows all about my stupid guts. He is very nice about it and goes into the room and watches TV or plays Hearthstone or something, but I'm not that shy about it, honestly. He, however, turns on the bathtub faucet every time he poops—but only when he poops, so I always know when he's pooping.
Michael, 25, Male Feminist
I try to fart and stuff almost immediately in front of the person I'm dating, after we've established that we like each other. I feel like if you're farting and pooping, it makes people feel more at ease around you. And if they're not comfortable with your body and the weird smells it produces, then they're probably not right for you. You can't just stomp around farting and shitting like an ogre, but if you're funny and cute about it—I often blame it on "big dogs running in" or whatever—it's endearing and makes things less stressful. There's nothing worse than having to shit for long periods of time!