Rodney Lacroix and his wife, Kerri, who’ve been married four years, have a policy of at least trying not pass gas in front of each other ― most of the time, anyway.
“Farting is reserved for bathrooms unless we think we can squeak out a silent one without the other one hearing,” Lacroix told HuffPost. “Sometimes the silent ones don’t work out as planned and either the other person walks through an invisible fart field or it makes the sound of a dying balloon. It is then that we blame the dog.”
When it comes to breaking wind in front of a romantic partner, there are couples who think a toot here and there is no big deal. Some may even look at it as a positive thing; it just means two people are in love and totally at ease around each other. And then there are couples who aren’t comfortable even talking about the idea of passing gas in front of each other. They find it repulsive, humiliating and perhaps consider it proof that romance is officially dead.
Shannon Chavez, a psychologist and sex therapist who works with couples, says this belief has to do with social stigma around passing gas and other normal bodily functions.
“Passing gas is viewed as gross, dirty, stinky and not attractive,” she told HuffPost. “Kids get ridiculed about it in school and are even embarrassed by peers if they pass gas in front of the opposite sex or anyone, for that matter.”
That shame we felt as kids can carry over into our adult lives and relationships.
“This early programming can come up in our romantic relationships where someone feels inhibited or embarrassed by just the thought of it,” Chavez added. “I think it’s something most people avoid in any sort of intimate relationship out of shame.”
We asked Chavez and other marriage experts to share their thoughts on this polarizing subject.
When It’s A Good Sign
Passing gas is nothing to be ashamed of, despite what we’ve been conditioned to think. People in secure relationships are normal, living, breathing, occasionally farting human beings; if a toot slips out, they know it’s not going to change their partner’s feelings about them.
“It’s a healthy sign that you are comfortable enough with each other to [pass gas],” Gary Brown, a marriage and family therapist, told HuffPost.
In fact, Chavez said that couples who are comfortable doing so may even have more adventurous sex lives.
“This couple is probably having great sex because they are comfortable with their bodies and what they do and are more likely to enjoy different types of stimulation and play with less inhibition, fears and insecurities,” she said.
It’s worth mentioning that flatulence can sometimes be part of a larger health problem, making it difficult to control, especially for those struggling with digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or food sensitivities. Also, many women deal with gas and bloating during their period.
“The more we can normalize it and not shame it, the better,” Chavez said. “It allows people to feel more open in dealing with changes in their bodies and less secrecy and shame which can be isolating and embarrassing.”
When It’s A Bad Sign
Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling men, said that while couples passing gas in front of each other can be sign of acceptance and maturity in the relationship, it can also be a selfish or inconsiderate act in some cases. Let’s say your partner is constantly letting it rip and you tell him or her that it’s making you uncomfortable, or even sick to your stomach. If your partner doesn’t at least try to respect your wishes, that may be a bad sign.
“If your partner is not making an effort to control it, move away from you, or say ‘excuse me,’ then it’s an example of disrespect that could be evident in other areas of the relationship,” Smith told HuffPost.
How Do You Clear The Air On This Stinky Subject?
If your partner’s gas habits are not the result of a health condition and are making you uncomfortable, you should absolutely tell him or her. Just try to broach the subject in a nonjudgmental way to minimize your partner’s feelings of embarrassment.
“I would simply suggest that you bring up the subject without any judgment but maybe just share that either hearing, passing gas or smelling it has an impact on your senses,” Brown told HuffPost. “You can ask them to please get relief in another room and use an air freshener. That would seem like a reasonable request. If they agree, great. If they know it bothers you and persist in doing it, then you likely have other problems if they’re that insensitive.”
You can also open a dialogue about passing gas just to gauge your partner’s general feelings on the subject or to ask how it was handled in their family growing up. It may feel awkward to bring up at first, but remember: It shouldn’t be shrouded in secrecy.
“This can also open up the dialogue to other important bodily functions that are often shamed and cause embarrassment including excretion of fluids during sex, menstruation, post-coital vaginal flatulence and bowel movements,” Chavez told HuffPost. “It is all human and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. A couple tackling this topic is setting a healthy foundation for open and honest communication.”