When you first start dating someone, you spend a significant portion of time trying to hide the fact that you're a real human person. You go to great lengths to present the most coifed, bathed, depilated and deodorized version of yourself. You even pretend to do your laundry.
It's a special period in a relationship, a time when things like bodily fluids and your significant other's parents don't exist yet. There's also an unspoken moratorium on farts.
It's what Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon once called "total fart denial," what the 2006 movie Love and Other Disasters deemed "the conspiracy of silence" and what one poster on Reddit named the "fart barrier." But anyone who has ever housed a carnitas burrito will know that if you're in anyone's presence long enough, at some point air is going to have to escape your butthole.
But if farts are inevitable in any relationship, when is it acceptable to let one rip in front of the person you're dating without looking completely unsexy, or worse, like you're a shamelessly flatulating slob? While inquiring minds on Quora, Yelp and even Dear Prudence have debated this question, there's never quite been a general consensus — until now.
Using Google Forms, Mic collected answers from more than 125 people in their 20s and 30s to find out when we really lay down the farts in a new relationship. Here's what people think about breaking the fart barrier.
It takes about two to six months for most people to feel comfortable farting in front of their significant other.
The most popular time to end the fart-free fantasy is before your six-month anniversary, according to Mic's survey. Results showed that just a little more than half of people (51%) have farted in front of their significant other in six months or less of dating (22.4% did it after a few weeks, while 29% cut it between two to six months).
Meanwhile, 25.2% of respondents waited between six to 12 months to cut the cheese, when they really felt comfortable in their relationship.
The delicate balance of introducing bae to your toots means that couples break the fart barrier around the same time as (or, perhaps surprisingly, after) they hit other key relationship benchmarks. For instance, people wait between two to five dates to have sex, according to a Business Insider poll, while a Match survey found that saying "I love you" comes about five months into a relationship.
"No man is worth gastrointestinal discomfort."
For this reason, farting tends to play its own crucial role in establishing true relationship intimacy. "Farts are just funny," Mike*, 25, said. "Once you understand each other's sense of humor and you can relate on a more personal level, it becomes easier to deal with these funny natural occurrences [...] Bringing it to light in a relationship is just a small hurdle."
It can take a while for some people to jump that hurdle, though. As much as 9.3% of respondents waited a whole year to fart (ouch). On the other hand, some farting mavericks out there embraced their humanity — about 10% of respondents said they fart in front of their significant other as soon as they needed to fart. In the words of Anya*, 28: "No man is worth gastrointestinal discomfort."
If you're having regular sleepovers, you've probably broken the fart barrier.
Let's face it: Most people play the butt tuba in their sleep. It's the one time of day when you have no earthly control over your intestines. That's why 33.3% of people said it's acceptable to fart once you're having regular sleepovers.
"Sometimes it just hurts and the only way to get comfortable and enjoy the moment is to let it go," Ellie*, 24, said. "If they mind, then screw them."
Interestingly, others were more conservative in letting out their farts. 7% of respondents said they waited until they locked down an "I love you" to fart, because "love is gross and wonderful," as one 24-year-old respondent said.
And 5.4% of people fart only once they've had sex — or during sex, in the instance of Marie*, 29. "I sometimes let a little one slip when I'm about to cum," she said. "I can't help it! Thankfully, men tend to find this hilarious and adorable."
Women might be waiting for their partners to set the fart precedent.
While some respondents wait for a significant milestone to start tooting, a significant portion (19%) admitted they would only fart in a relationship once they've heard their partner fart. Basically, they're looking for their partner to set a fart precedent.
"I often ask the guy how they feel about farts before letting them rip," Angela*, 25, said.
Of those who wait for their partner to cut the cheese, a whopping 73% are women. Which reveals something about farting and dating that might not be that surprising: expectations about who can fart are still highly gendered. It seems that "grossness inequality," as Jezebel's Tracy Moore coined it, is incredibly real.
"My boyfriend hates that I fart around him, but I'm slowly breaking him in," one 29-year-old woman from the survey said.
That's in line with previous research, apparently: A 2005 study from the journal Social Problems polled 172 college students and found that more than 55% of straight women and non-straight men were uncomfortable farting in front of people, feeling it made them less attractive and didn't conform to their gender ideals. Straight men, on the other hand, were most likely to think their own farts were funny.
Which explains why Carrie from Sex and the City was famously "mortified" when she farted in front of Mr. Big — women learn to stigmatize their bodily functions, while men tend to learn to celebrate them. How we're socialized greatly determines how we cut the cheese and, by proxy, who farts first in a relationship.
"I've been living with my boyfriend five years, and I'm very progressive but I will NEVER fart in front of him if I can avoid it," Kara*, 26, admitted. "I just go to the bathroom and pretend to pee."
Farting is an inevitability when you're becoming intimate with someone — and it's going to make your relationship better.
The 7% of respondents who claimed that they will never, ever fart in front of their significant other might be better off if they just politely cut one. Most happy couples agree that the moment you get gross with someone is when your relationship can truly begin.
Robert Huizenga, who has spent three decades as a clinical therapist, is a huge proponent of openly accepted relationship farting.
"Farting in front of your significant other means you feel free to move beyond your roles," Huizenga writes on his marriage blog. "You may even find yourselves discussing family roles and expectations that you bring to each other. You need not carry the burden of continually being prim and proper."
Others credit farts with taking their relationship to the next level. Jessica Gentile wrote in Cosmopolitan that her relationship became a keeper when, on a third date, she clogged a toilet and her boyfriend handled it graciously.
"Acknowledging a natural human function is an essential part of life. Crap literally happens," Gentile wrote. "[...] While some might find it offensive, I see it as an affectionate acceptance of the less attractive, but all-too-real part of me, and part of life."
The key to accepting the stink and breaking down the fart barrier is realizing that a lasting relationship isn't about performance or politeness. As one 30-year-old woman said: "I generally feel if you can't fart with someone you can't be real with them."
*First names have been changed to allow subjects to speak freely on private