Posts Tagged ‘intimacy



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 /

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.


STFU during the movie. but in a nice way…

I was going to respond to a question a friend asked me over IM a few weeks ago as my first post under advice, but as I’ve already received a question from a reader via the comments in this blog, I think I’ll address it now.

Reader L.B. asks:

“How do I tell my husband that while I enjoy watching historical documentaries with him, sometimes I really wish he would just stfu so I can watch the show and we can talk about it later? In a nice way, of course.”

Dear L.B.,

He's judging you.

Shepherd Book is always right.

I’d like to start by quoting from a very important religious figure in my life:

Shepherd Book: [to Mal] If you take sexual advantage of her, you’re going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater. (Firefly, episode 1.3 “Our Mrs. Reynolds” 2002)

We’ve all sat through a movie with someone who just wouldn’t. shut. up. It sucks. You spend the whole time grinding your teeth, wincing whenever they speak, wanting to punch them in the arm.  It’s worse when they think they’re witty, but really they’re just sucking all the enjoyment out of the film/show/poetry reading for you by interrupting. It’s especially hard when the person is your date or significant other or new friend. How do you politely ask them to keep their effing mouths shut while you try to enjoy this film?  Book’s right: these people will probably go to hell. I like to expand his meaning from “people who talk at the [live] theater” to “people who talk [incessantly, during movies] at the theater” and even “people who come into the room in the middle of the TV show and ask you what’s going on or what something means during important plot moments”. Divine retribution will be mine. Someday.

Of course, I talk during movies. Sometimes. I try to keep it to a dull roar, and only with people I really know well. But sometimes I can’t help it. Sometimes I just have to say my witty retort to whatever the character just said. Or share an inside joke with my movie partner. So why is that okay in my head?

It ends up that talking during movies can be a bonding activity. Sharing your inner thoughts is a very intimate thing to do no matter where you are, and watching TV shows or movies or historical documentaries is a rare moment when you tend to be sharing a moment of entertainment with someone at exactly the same time. This doesn’t happen in other entertainment moments – reading a book or a blog article, say. There’s no way you’re reading the article at the exact same speed as the person looking over your shoulder, unless you’re reading out loud. I think it’s perfectly natural for people to want to share their inner thoughts when watching movies or TV shows, especially with someone they like, and if you think about it, the fact that he’s talking to you during this time means that he’s telling you he likes you, in a way.

So treasure that for a moment.

Then, after you’ve considered his feelings and that this may be a way he feels he’s sharing intimacy with you, plan how you’re going to ask him to knock it the fuck off.

I’d suggest a conversation that goes like this:

“Honey, I love you. I love that we can watch historical documentaries together. I love that you have things to say about them. However, I personally prefer to keep my comments to myself during the shows and then talk about them afterward. Can we try that? It would make it much more enjoyable for me.”

If you really want to do something awesome, get him a little notebook and pen so he can jot down his funny thoughts when he gets them while you’re watching the shows together. That way, he gets an outlet for those thoughts when they come up, and he has a way to show them to you later so he doesn’t forget. Plus, giving people gifts is always a cute way to show you’re thinking of them (bonus!).

Just remember: he probably sees his chit chat as intimacy, so don’t just flat-out tell him he’s wrong and you hate it. It’s going to be hard for him to stop, too. Try to look at the funny, cute, witty things he says and enjoy those, rather than just seething for the time you can tell him to shut up. Remember: you can probably watch the documentary again later. Live moments with loved ones are not TiVo-able.

And if all else fails, you can claim Shepherd Book as your religious mentor in this case:

“Shepherd Book says not to talk during movies. And I believe him. Shhhhhh.”

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