Reader F. G. asks:

This is an odd question, but what do you think about farting in relationships? I mean, is there a cut-off date where you can just start farting in front of each other? Is it something you should talk about with your partner? I feel like it’s an important aspect of any relationship and I want to know what you think.

Dear F.G.:

Wow. This may be the weirdest question I’ve ever been asked. But it’s very poignant, I think.

I was once upon a time in a play called “Arcadia” by Tom Stoppard. One of my favorite lines was by the strong female character named Hannah Jarvis, who says of relationships and love: “I don’t know a worse bargain. Available sex against not being allowed to fart in bed.”

but lean a little bit closer see

Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Farting is (or should be) a very personal bodily function, something we eschew doing in public or in front of other people, especially people we don’t know. Your farting rules come from your familial upbringing, I assume, but for the most part, we have an unspoken law in our society that you do not fart in public, especially in front of people you want to impress.

But you can probably fart in front of your family without dire consequences (depending on the family, of course). I once read a women’s magazine article that said if a guy farts in front of you within three months or three dates or something, he’s in touch with his feminine side. (The reasoning behind that statement is something I will never, ever comprehend.) And the ability to fart in bed without consequences is definitely one of the under-celebrated joys of being single.

Farting carries a huge social weight with it, of course, should you choose to fart in public, or even in private in front of someone else. (And I do understand that sometimes it isn’t really a choice so much as an accident.) I had a friend at Georgetown who once walked into an elevator where someone had farted. Obviously anyone who farts on an elevator has absolutely no social tact whatsoever. At the next floor, an important diplomat/visiting professor/Washington big hitter got on the elevator (let’s say George Tenet, for the sake of the story). My friend was mortified that George Tenet would think my friend was the sort of person who farted on an elevator.

I have several friends who have been dating or married to the same person for quite a while and have told me that they never fart in front of each other. “I actually prefer it that way,” one friend told me, “because it’s kind of a sign of respect.” Many of my other friends are shocked that anyone would endure that kind of physical torture in a relationship where things are supposed to be comfortable.

I have a friend who thought her boyfriend held her too high on a pedestal, and was worried he was going to be sorely disappointed when he realized she was human. She decided to talk to him about it, and when she brought it up, he revealed that she’d farted in her sleep earlier that week; therefore, he had absolutely no problem viewing her as a fallible human being. She was humbled and delighted and somewhat mystified by the ability of the fart to do something so profound. “You fart on a guy once in your sleep and he falls in love with you, but you say the wrong thing one time and the whole thing comes down in flames,” she said.

Personally, I’ve had several different attitudes towards farting, and these attitudes changed from relationship to relationship. There was a time where I was horrified because a fellow farted in his sleep, and I wasn’t ready for that kind of intimacy. It ended the relationship, and he never really knew why. (You really can’t blame someone for letting it out when they’re sleeping, so of course I didn’t bring it up.) But there have been other times where the fart was an accident and I found it (for lack of a better word) endearing: he felt comfortable enough in front of me to let it out. In some of my relationships it’s been an unspoken rule that of course you fart when you have to, and neither of us held the other accountable for what slipped out from time to time.

So, farting in front of your significant other could be taken one of two ways:

1. As a sign of intimacy. You wouldn’t fart in front of just anyone, and you’re comfortable in front of this person.

2. As a sign of disrespect. You would never fart in front of someone you really cared about.

While I don’t think it’s necessarily a question that you have to set up a time to discuss or be formal about, I do think every couple works out their rules about farting at some point, whether explicitly or implicitly. I also don’t think there are any hard or fast rules to hold to, especially in terms of a “when is it ok to fart in front of my s.o.” aspect. If you’re not sure, ask.

It’s also a matter of how comfortable you feel farting in front of someone else. I have definitely had people fart in front of me when I wasn’t ready to fart back. It can be a pretty good indicator of your own comfort with the level of intimacy vs. respect in the relationship. Is mystery more important than comfort? Is honesty more important than passion? Depends on where you’re at in your own skin, and where your partner is in his.

If you’re ready to fart in front of your partner and are feeling particularly brave, let one rip. See what happens. Or you could ask him about it first. Or you could just pretend to be asleep one night and fart then, and see if he brings it up. Truly there are no rules when it comes to farting within couples — the sky’s the limit.


5 Responses to “farting.”

  1. 1 Consuelo
    September 13, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I probably wouldn’t date a girl that got truly angry over dutch ovening her.

  2. 4 Matt Fire
    September 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    There is NO cutoff date.

  3. 5 damfino
    September 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    There’s nothing funnier than a loud ripsnorter of a fart from the S.O. What’s the big deal? It’s a normal body function and I can’t imagine the torture of holding it in or excusing yourself and running to another room (or outside for the real stinkers!) to spare S.O.’s sensitive nostrils.

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