Help! I’m Mortified After Passing Gas in Front of My Boyfriend.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 5 2012 7:21 AM

Love Is in the Air

Is breaking wind in front of your boyfriend worth breaking up over?

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photograph by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
Recently my boyfriend of more than a year and I went out for drinks then came back to his place. We made love and fell asleep naked next to each other. Then, in the middle of the night, I woke up to the sound of my own fart, two farts, actually. The next morning, we both acted normal. He didn't say anything, and neither did I. We even went to the movies  at his suggestion. I am so incredibly mortified about this. I’m sure he heard it, because he is a light sleeper. I don't know if I should talk about it, because he hasn't brought it up. Even if he wants to bring it up, it's probably awkward for him. What should I do?

—So Incredibly Humiliated

Dear Humiliated,
Talk about hitting bottom. It’s obvious that upon waking yourself up with your trumpet blast, what you should have done was gotten dressed, gathered your things, moved to another town, and changed your name. But you blew the opportunity to start over by hanging around with your boyfriend and acting as if nothing had happened. Let’s break down the fallout from your breaking wind. Despite your boyfriend being a light sleeper, it’s possible he was in the delta wave phase of sleep and your wave of gas passed unnoticed. If you did wake him up, it would have lightened the air if he’d nudged you and said, “Nice one!” But if he did hear it, he decided chivalry and common sense dictated that he just roll over and go back to sleep. Perhaps he was so untroubled by the ruffling of the sheets because as a child he read the book The Gas We Pass and became aware of the startling fact that everyone farts—even girls! I’m astounded that over the course of a year this is the first time either of you has let one rip. If you’d been the one awakened by your lover’s sphincter symphony, I’m assuming you wouldn’t have felt a need to have a serious talk the next day about how your romance was now deflated. You don’t need to mention this, not because it’s unmentionable, but because it’s not worth mentioning. So put it behind you. But if there’s one prediction about 2012 I can make with confidence, it’s that you need to be prepared for this episode to repeat itself.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence: Annoying Little Genius

Dear Prudence,
At our office holiday party, my friend and business partner got rather tipsy. She confided in me that the cancer she had been told was in remission had come back and that she had been given a prognosis of 18 months to live. She said she didn't want to talk about it and had decided to live in complete denial, hoping to eek out four years until her youngest child graduates from school. I was devastated by the news but mirrored her calm demeanor. She told me that I was the only one to know about her prognosis, including her children. When I tried to have a conversation about all this after the holidays, she told me to change the subject. Now I'm at a loss. I want to help my friend, but I also owe a fiduciary duty to my fellow business owners (there are several of us). Her illness and absence will greatly impact our business. I feel like I have been put in the middle of things and don't know where to turn. I also want to be there for my friend. What should I do?

—Not Sleeping at Night

Dear Sleeping,
It’s understandable that your friend, overwhelmed by the news of her impending death, would prefer to push that knowledge aside and carry on for as long as she can. But her confession has put you in a terrible position, and I don’t think you can keep her confidence. There’s a limit to how long she can deny what’s happening before her illness and the side effects of her treatment become apparent. As agonizing as the task may be, she needs to be honest with both her business partners and her children in order to get her work affairs in order and prepare the children for what's ahead. I think you should make another try at having a private conversation with her. If she brushes you aside, tell her as painful as all this is—and you are desolate at her news—you two must talk, and she must start making plans. If you have to, you can say, “Barbara, I’m afraid that I have an obligation to tell the rest of the partners. Everyone is going to be utterly heartbroken. But we got into business with you because you’re a hell of a businesswoman, and you know that if any of the rest of us were this ill, it would be material to the running of the company.” You can add that you know breaking this news to her children will be agony, but they deserve to be told the truth. Offer to assist her in this if she feels she needs some backup. Many people long outlive their prognosis—I hope your friend is one of them.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I am a woman in my early 20s who has been estranged from my biological father since I was 5 years old. When my mother passed away,  my grandmother and father had a bitter custody battle over me. My grandmother won, and I was not allowed to see him. I’m in a loving, healthy relationship of three years with another woman. Her family adores me, and I feel blessed. My father showed up on my doorstep about a month ago. We caught up during several conversations, but when he found out I’m a lesbian, he started screaming about what a sinner I am and how he rates me lower than African-Americans (that’s not exactly how he put it). He said that until I dump my girlfriend, I am dead to him. I want to get this ignorant bigot out of my life for good. But my girlfriend feels guilty and says if it wasn't for her, my dad would still want to be around me. Family is very important to her, and she wants me to keep the lines of communication open with him. What should I do?

—Not Dear Old Dad

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