In Relationships, Gross Can Actually Be Great (Or Maybe We Are Just Tired Of Holding In Our Farts)

by Rita Templeton
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Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold, through pregnancy hemorrhoids and chin-hair plucking, and the time she’ll get a little too drunk at the holiday party and puke in the car on the way home?

And do you take this man to be your husband? For better or for worse, for farts that make your eyes water and socks so crusty they can stand alone and nail clippings and beard trimmings all over the sink?

Such vile abominations never cross your mind when you first fall for your significant other. They’re so sexy! So irresistible! So pleasant-smelling! During those early days, it’s hard for you to imagine anything less than desirable about them — or they, about you.

You’re sure he rolls out of bed with perfectly tousled hair and a natural freshness; he’s positive you’re a pore-less, poop-less paragon. You pee with all the stealthiness of a covert tactical operation, either making use of those strong pelvic floor muscles to thin your stream to a trickle, or running the faucet so your perfect partner doesn’t hear the telltale splash of urine hitting water. Your burps don’t make it out of your mouth, dispelling silently against your soft palate before you appear anything less than flawless. The first handful of times you sleep together (and actually sleep), you’re petrified that you might accidentally snore — or worse, fart — while you snooze, betraying your humanity. Bodily functions? Moi?

As the relationship progresses, you get more comfortable with one another — and you realize that your beloved has, say, a bit of an earwax problem or the worst morning breath ever or a booger that flaps subtly in and out with each inhale and exhale.

Once you’ve reached that point, it doesn’t take much longer before you reach the milestone of squeezing out a teeny bubble of gas here and there in one another’s presence (with a modest giggle and an “Excuse me,” of course). And then it’s all downhill from there. It seems unthinkable at the beginning of the relationship, but before you know it, you’re standing with one foot on the bathroom sink, clipping your toenails in your holey sweats, while your sweetheart freely discusses (from the toilet, natch) exactly how much of a toll that Mexican food had on the ol’ digestive system.

It’s almost impossible to be deeply, intimately involved with someone — especially someone you live with — and not bear witness to the messy, stinky, hair-in-weird-places parts. Overall, we don’t let it affect our levels of attraction — because by the time we realize that our partners are indeed human (and therefore, kinda gross by design), we’re too attached to their positive qualities to be deterred by, say, some occasional foot funk. (And lets face it: We’re tired of holding in our farts too.)

Isn’t it amazing how that works? We hide things from each other — these natural, normal, albeit slightly disgusting things — and even though we know realistically that the person we’re dating damn well gets plaque and diarrhea and foot calluses like everyone else, our attraction to them makes us straight-up deny it until we’ve reached a point of emotional security. Yeah science!

The funny thing is, even long after you’ve reached that point, no matter how open you become, every person has a “relationship grossness threshold.” For example, my husband has zero issue with me chatting him up while he’s on the toilet, but he shoos me from the room as soon as it’s time to wipe. For my part, he has literally seen me shit myself (thanks, childbirth) and peered into the depths of my vagina like a spelunker assessing a cave (thanks, fertility doctor), but I draw the line at him seeing me wax my ‘stache. I don’t know why certain things are worse than others, but I suppose you have to keep a few things private, right? I could grow out a ‘70s porn-star bush and walk around in front of my man like I’ve got Bob Ross’s head in a thigh-lock, no problem, but heaven forbid he believe that my upper lip is anything but naturally hairless.

Relationships are weird.

Fundamentally, though, the freedom to be gross in front of one another is a positive thing. It conveys an important message to your partner. You could just come right out and say, “Hey, we’ve reached a deep level of trust. I’m comfortable with you, and I know that showing you my flaws won’t send you packing.” But you don’t necessarily have to verbalize it. Because affirmations of love can come in many forms…including the sound of a fart.