Love Is A Gas

As the victim of many relationships, I know a thing or two about the joys of love. I also know more than two things about the unfortunate side of love: the ugly, shameful and even disgusting side of a relationship. To outsiders, the gross things that begin to happen between a man and a woman are a sign that maybe it's time to find some new friends. To you though – the one actually in the relationship – they are signs that things are getting serious and a bond is forming between the two of you.

It's strange how we behave in this way: you do your best to impress someone and once you have them, you turn gross. Normally it's the man that goes downhill first. The charming guy that wore J-Crew and took you out to nice dinners three months ago is now scratching himself in a bathrobe and eating Lucky Charms on the couch. But the women aren't far behind. Your sweet little girlfriend – the one who bought expensive lingerie to impress you four months ago – now sports dirty, torn boxers to bed every night and can't be bothered to close the door when she pees.

The day will inevitably come when you can no longer pretend to be something you are not. The ruse is exhausting: shaving daily, washing yourself, holding your gas, it's impossible to maintain over time. Eventually, you will let yourself become the dirty, nose-picking, mayonnaise-eating, scratching, burping, farting, and generally unclean person you are. When one half of the relationship deteriorates into this state it is a sign that it is acceptable for the other half to deteriorate as well. Come with me now as I take you back through your relationship as it goes from divine to dirty, sweet to smelly and nice to noxious.

The transformation from dream couple to double-trouble gas machine is not made in one quick move; it is an evolution. It is a series of small transgressions that you and your significant other perpetrate on each other. It is sticking your toe into the water before jumping in. It may begin with any number of small infractions to the initial relationship code. "Will she notice if I don't shower today?" "Will he care if I kiss him with morning breath?" You ask yourself these questions and, inevitably, you will answer "no" one day. Thus the decline begins.

From your initial display of grossness, you gain confidence. "She didn't care that I peed with the door open, why would she care if I wipe my nose on my sleeve?" She will care, but she will overlook it because, Mr. Snot-Sleeve, that means she can now do the same. As I said before, men move quicker than women do in this area, so there is always a period – perhaps a month or two – when Carrie Clean is dating Freddy Farts-a-lot. Men tend to glorify toilet-related activities more vocally than women and are, therefore, much more comfortable with them. But that does not mean that she will not catch up to your amazing "Fart Symphony in F" someday.

As you build more trust in your partner, you get bolder. Soon, skid-marked boxers are strewn about your room and soiled tampons are regularly placed on the top of your garbage instead of their usual wrapped-in-toilet-paper-and-placed-at-the-bottom-of-the-can state. You say things like, "Can you take care of this zit for me?", and "is there lint in my belly button?" You test each other's limits daily, knowing that if you ever cross the line, you can always scale it back once the dry heaves are over.

Within three months of the initial transgression, the two of you are regularly burping and scratching yourselves in front of one another. But in four months your man will summon the courage – nay, the bravado – to quit taking steps and start making leaps. Your man – your sweet guy, your good-natured bundle of caring – will let one rip. Everything is different now.

A burp may be an expulsion of gas, but a fart is something personal. It has your signature on it and, unlike a burp which has a small amount of odor, your farts have been known to clear rooms and kill insects. This momentous display of trust normally occurs on the couch while watching a movie and believe me, he will be nervous. He will laugh to hide his dread that your opinion about this new and slightly nauseating twist to your relationship will be negative. Too many good boyfriends have been shamed or worse for committing this show of gastrointestinal talent, but there is a way to avoid a bad reaction. The key to making this awkward yet rewarding moment bearable is timing. Let one out too soon in the relationship and she will think you're a nasty pig. Hold it in too long and you'll regularly be excusing yourself to the bathroom for you seventy-eighth piss of the night. If you time it just right – right at that point when you're positive she will continue to like you after you suffocate her cat with your gas – she should react as a friend would. She'll smile a little, say, "Damn, that was bad," laugh for a second, and forget about the whole situation.

Or will she?

Now that you have crossed that gaseous threshold, she will begin to plot your introduction to her bowel wind. Secretly, she's been letting them out in the car when the windows were down for months, but now is the day of reckoning. Now is the day that she must show you her least pleasant side as you have done for her. When she finally lets rip, you must remember the good treatment you received when you introduced her to your signature scent, Eau d'Mike. Through your actions, let her know that while you don't necessarily love it, you can live with it. With the female fart out of the way, only one very troubling and dangerous threshold remains to be crossed: the over-their-house dump.

We all shit, it's a fact of nature. Sometimes it smells, sometimes it hurts and sometimes it's just so amazing that your roommate feels that he needs to show it to you. But most of the time, it is done privately within the confines of your own home. But when you date someone for long enough the need to empty out while at their home will eventually arise. You might think, "If I already fart in front of her, why's taking a crap at her house such a big deal?" My friend, listen to this cautionary tale.

There once lived a man named Brian. He was dating a girl named Kim for some time and he really liked her. One day, he was at her house when the urge to use the bathroom became unbearable. He excused himself and slipped off to the toilet where he quietly did his business. When it was all done, he flushed. But what's this? The water is rising! As the water approached its critical mass and the meniscus, so kindly keeping the dirty water confined to the bowl, bulged, Brian searched for a plunger in vain. Not finding the tool her needed, Brian was faced with the ultimate new-boyfriend dilemma: ask her for a plunger or take the dive. Rolling up his sleeve, Brian did what only a desperate man in his situation would; he used his hand.

You see, when you're talking about number two, there are risks that aren't associated with farting. Clogs are only one of the seriously embarrassing fates that can befall you: you have tiger-striping, missing air fresheners, wet farts and the dreaded knock on the door-slash- "are you OK in there?" question. But you two are solid. You two are a great couple. And you two can get by even this. And, trust me; once you scale this mountain, it all gets much easier. You'll both finally accept each other for the flawed, smelly, pooping humans that you both are. You have made it, congratulations.

The odd – and slightly disturbing – thing about this whole process is that you don't really mind it. Sure, it would be nice if your boyfriend stopped stinking up your bathroom and it wouldn't kill you to see your girlfriend in something other than your t-shirts and stained underwear, but you don't like them any less because of it. In some strange way it's charming to see someone so comfortable around you. It's odd to think about, but she may find your "Dutch ovens" kind of cute and he may sort of enjoy that burp-in-the-mouth kiss you are so fond of pulling on him. I would go so far as to say that when a relationship ends, it's not the sexy things you miss the most; it's the sweetly disgusting things you look back on with a smile.

There you are: two people so trusting and comfortable with each other that you will share all of you, and some stuff that used to be a part of you but is now somewhere in the sewers, with each other. There will be no more "excuse me-s", no more holding it in, no more worrying about the pee-drip on your underwear; just two people who care about each other enough to be honest about who they really are.

Just don't ask them to wipe you" you have to save some things for marriage.