In any relationship, there’s always a defining moment to solidify that you’ve reached peak comfort with each other. For some, it’s letting your SO see you in your threadbare, unapologetically unflattering “period underwear” (because there’s no shame in being comfy, y’all). For others, it’s passing gas without resorting to total denial or humiliation. But for many, it’s leaving the bathroom door open. Is it normal to pee with the door open in front of your partner? It’s a slightly controversial topic, as some value privacy and boundaries more than others. So, there’s no short answer — except that it varies from couple to couple.
According to etiquette and relationship expert April Masini, it’s mainly a cultural thing.
“Some families have a culture of communal bathroom behaviors, and some don’t,” she explains. “This starts in childhood. Kids see their parents peeing with the doors open in general, or they see their parents peeing with the doors open around their partner, or children, and they absorb that experience. It stays with them.”
Masini notes that those bathroom habits continue forming when someone goes to school and begins socializing.
“And then when people start to date, they each bring their own set of learned bathroom behaviors to the relationship,” she adds.
In my dating experience, it’s more common for guys to initiate this open-door policy. It makes sense when you think about it, too. Most men are used to peeing right next to total strangers in public bathrooms, while most women tend to have the privacy of their own separate stalls — although some men may prefer to pee in a stall, and female urinals are on the rise.
Personally, it took me a lot of time to get to the point where I was comfortable peeing in front of my boyfriend. The first time I tried, I was so pee shy that he ended up having to leave the bathroom while brushing his teeth so that I could finish. But one morning, he was taking a shower, and I simply couldn’t wait any longer — so I faced my fear and popped a squat. And you know what? It was really fine. After that, it got easier and easier every time.
There’s definitely a positive aspect to this habit, too — it suggests intimacy.
“Peeing with the door open can mean that the two of you are comfortable with each other,” explains Masini.
But on the other hand, there is such a thing as getting a little too comfortable.
“The most negative things that can occur when you pee with the door open is that you may offend a partner, or they may feel that you’re getting too comfortable with them, too soon — before they’ve decided you’re someone they want to continue dating or be monogamous with,” adds Masini.
That’s why it’s obviously super important to consider what stage your relationship is in. And no matter how close you and bae are or how long you’ve been dating, there are some lines you may want to avoid crossing. There’s hardly a better example of this than Miranda Hobbes’ debacle in Season 4, Episode 3 of Sex and the City. Miranda is caught off guard when Doug, the New Yorker cartoonist she just started dating, casually strolls into the bathroom and urinates right in front of her while she’s brushing her teeth. But when Carrie encourages “Ms. Boundaries” to loosen up, she wills herself to pee in front of Doug, and although visibly uncomfortable, manages to survive the experience. One fateful morning soon after that, Miranda is mortified when Doug proceeds to go not number one — but number two — with the door wide open. In this case, a discussion about boundaries was clearly needed.
So, how do you know when it’s the right time to leave the door open? If your partner already pees in front of you, that’s a solid indicator that you’re free to do the same — but only if you want to, of course. If you live together, then it’s probably NBD to leave the door open now and then. For me, the open-door policy is really a matter of practicality and convenience (and perhaps a touch of laziness). My BF and I both only have one bathroom at our respective homes, and sometimes, one of us needs to pee while the other is washing their face or bathing.
But as a general rule, Masini advises playing it safe and waiting until you’re really sure that it won’t be a turnoff, or make your SO uncomfortable.
“Early in the relationship, err on the side of conservatism,” she says. “It’s a lot easier to regroup from that stance than it is to come back from going too far and freaking out a partner. Not everybody is okay with the same type of bathroom behaviors.”
Perhaps the biggest mistake that Sex and the City’s Doug made is that he went ahead and left the door open on the assumption that Miranda would be OK with it. So, if you’re not sure whether you and your boo are on the same page on the subject, just ask. The last thing you want to do, after all, is make your partner feel awkward or accidentally piss them off (see what I did there?). But if you’re already peeing freely in each other’s presence — fret not, that’s totally fine, too.
The bottom line? Some couples may be comfortable peeing in front of each other after a month of dating, and others may not get to that level of comfort until they’re roomies — or never get to that point at all. It’s all about finding what works for you and your boo. So, there’s really no “normal” when it comes to bathroom policies — what ultimately matters is that you’re on the same page.
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