As someone who has been both the partner who displayed royal etiquette and also champion-level burp embellishments in different relationships, I have seen both the pros and cons of being your truest self in front of your partner. For many, the ability to show all sides of yourself to your partner is freeing, and while it's not traditionally romantic to heat the bed up dutch oven style, there is something intimate about being so close to someone that you literally have no boundaries. And for many others, bathroom practices are kept private because such matters are not actually liberating to share. Bustle wanted to talk to an expert about whether or not you need to keep the bathroom door closed in order to keep intimacy alive, long-term, because most of us are still waiting to see those results unfold. And while so much of what is and isn't OK or sexy in a relationship is subjective, neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez was able to provide a perspective on how these behaviors might affect relationships over time, and how to mitigate the potential gaps between your level of comfort, and your partner's.
According to Hafeez, the reality is that over time, regardless of what you actively choose to share with your partner, your relationship will change as you and your partner get to know each other better. The dazzling intrigue of a new relationship goes away, but can make room for different versions of exciting intimacy. Aka, getting to know your partner better shouldn't mean intimacy fades. That said, if we're being honest, for some, it does. Even if you don't open the door to discussing your bowels, you will naturally reveal other parts of yourself to your partner over time, which may have an effect on how often or how intensely you feel hot for each other.
"Think about how you look and behave when you are in the dating (courtship phase) of a relationship. Typically, you want to look your best, be polite, charming and show your best side," Hafeez says, reminding us that in the early days of relationships, there's still a level of mystery — you're not thinking about how your partner has been wearing the same socks all week, or how they left a pile of hair in the shower while you're trying to get in the mood. "While there is certainly a great deal to be said for settling into a comfortable relationship where you can be yourself and not have to be 'on' all the time, you don’t want to set the bar so low that there is no glamour, mystery, or allure left in the relationship at all."
That said, Hafeez notes that the ability to show your humanity to your partner, and know that it doesn't affect your fundamental love you have, is totally necessary. "Of course your significant other is going to see you sick (or indisposed) at some point. That’s life, and how your partner deals with that and shows up for you is the test of a true relationship." So while your partner should love you and be attracted to you when you're being comfortable in your skin, Hafeez admits that as far as intimacy goes over time, there is value in keeping some distance between your bathroom habits and your bedroom habits — especially if you both see it that way.
"There is some value in keeping the door closed when you are using the bathroom to do your business. It’s pretty effortless and there is no advantage to your partner seeing or hearing it," Hafeez says. Essentially, being a human in front of your partner is a non-negotiable if you want to have a healthy long-term relationship, as you can't live in fear of accidentally passing gas. But that said, psychologically, there isn't typically value in over-sharing. I say "typically" because; to each their own. If your partner gets hot when you toot, toot away.
But if you're not comfortable ~expressing~ yourself in this way, or don't like it when your partner does, have a chat about it. What damages intimacy long-term is not being a burp queen, but it's not being on the same page. "There really is no 'normal' when it comes to couple’s bathroom policies. Each couple has to decide what feels comfortable to them and if it is important that some mystique is still left in the relationship no matter how comfortable they are with each other [then that's OK]," Hafeez concludes.
As someone who has had it both ways, I understand the virtues in each behavioral practice. But inline with Hafeez's feelings on the matter, I can see that it is really all about bridging a gap between your comfort levels so that you're both having your needs catered to and both feeling respected. So ask your partner about it, because even if you're not comfortable using bathroom language, you should be comfortable enough to have a meta talk about talking about it.