Article by Kate Hakala /
March 10, 2015 /
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There’s one behavior that comes up in every relationship you’ll ever have. It’s loud, smelly and a little embarrassing, but you’re absolutely going to have to get over it.
Like the book told us, everyone farts and poops. Yes, that means even couples. But we have good reason to stop stressing about it: The healthiest and happiest couples are the ones who push aside the silly norms governing our insecurities and embrace each other’s bodies.
Way too worried: A 2005 study from the journal Social Problems, recently dug up by the Society Pages, interviewed 172 college students about their farting and pooping habits and concerns. The results showed that your gender and sexual orientation can affect how you deal with gas and, um, going No. 2.
While heterosexual men were most likely to think farts were funny and even do it on purpose in front of others, heterosexual women and non-heterosexual men weren’t down with farting for fun.
In fact, more than 50% of both heterosexual women and homosexual men had discomfort with farting and pooping because they believed the behavior made them less attractive and didn’t live up to their gender standards. Heterosexual women in the study were most likely to think pooping and farting would affect their relationship if someone overheard it, prompting them to take measures such as flushing repeatedly or holding it in to avoid embarrassment.
“The worse it stinks, the nastier they think I am,” said one straight woman in the study, according to Society Pages.
Interestingly, non-heterosexual men thought farting was about as funny as straight men did, but an overwhelming 73.7% always waited to poop when they were alone. Non-heterosexual women, on the other hand, didn’t think farts were a laughing matter, but were second most likely to fart on command and poop in a public restroom.
Playing gender roles: As Society Pages notes, “This study is a great example of what social scientists call doing gender, modifying our behavior to conform to gendered expectations,” said the Society Pages.
Women who openly fart or poop are often anxious about being seen as unfeminine. It fits the broader gender standards, Lauren Rosewarne points out in American Taboo: Women are told to emphasize their physical beauty and politeness to attract partners, while men are given license to let themselves go. The stereotypes of gay men being feminized while gay women are masculinized also seem evident in the study’s results.
Which explains why Sex in the City’s Carrie described herself as “mortified” after she farted in front of Mr. Big: How we react to farting and pooping is ingrained in how we’re socialized, setting up unrealistic expectations for women and reinforcing the stigma of normal bodily functions, which in turn makes us uncomfortable around our significant others.
But just as it was so obvious Carrie overreacted, we know the comfortable couples are the ones who just embrace it. Take it from a more self-confident, less inhibited female TV character: the fart-happy, relationship-comfy Mindy Lahiri.
Or from Redditor putontheglasses, who slipped a thoughtful, comforting photo under the door when his girlfriend was using the bathroom, that said, “Hey girl, your natural bodily functions only make you more beautiful to me.” (Someone give this boy an trophy.)
“We got over farting pretty early on, like maybe a matter of months, because we’re both gross and think it’s kind of funny,” Shruti, who’s in a long-term relationship, told Mic. “I don’t think there was ever a ‘talk,’ per se — we just got more comfortable with each other.”
The same was true of Fiona and Steve, a couple of more than seven years, who say they have no squeamishness about bodies. “He doesn’t mind my farts. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Aw, come on,’ but it has zero effects on his image of me,” Fiona told Mic.
The sooner we let go of these silly yet powerful expectations of bodies, the sooner we can start seeing our partners as lovely, complex and completely real people, and let ourselves relax. While farting and pooping may once have been called “the end of romance,” they are arguably the beginning of it. Just take it from James Joyce, who once proudly claimed that he could pick his wife’s farts out in a room of farting women. Now that’s love.