The First Time I Peed On My Boyfriend's Floor, I Was Mortified. Then It Kept Happening.

<span class="copyright">Peter Dazeley via Getty Images</span>
Peter Dazeley via Getty Images

The first time I peed on my boyfriend’s living room floor, I was sure it spelled doom for our relationship. Why would he stay with someone who could do such a disgusting thing, especially when we’d only been together three months? I probably wouldn’t have.

I’d come downstairs wearing only a towel to ask him something. I don’t remember my question or his answer, but I laughed so hard my bladder couldn’t keep up.

I was mortified, even though it was an accident, like when I’d tried to make brownies and spilled cocoa powder all over his cloth storage containers. But the peeing felt like a personal failure.

At 36, I didn’t want to be a woman who peed anywhere other than a toilet. He reassured me, though, helping me clean up. I was touched by his understanding. Little did I know this would be one of numerous instances over the next decade where my bodily functions got the best of me because of him.

The year following the first peeing incident, after we’d started living together, while watching “Jeopardy!,” I called out “Einstein” with a trivia nerd’s satisfaction. When the answer was announced, he paused the TV, giving me a look previously reserved for my mixing up his beloved rock icons, Bowie and Springsteen.

“It was Stalin. Stalin! How could you mistake Einstein for Stalin?”

His absolute incredulity over having such an ignorant girlfriend sent me into hysterics. In seconds, I went from puffed up with nerdy joy to rushing across the living room carpet, hiking my dress along the way, trying to hold in my laughter and my urine.

“Did you make it?” he yelled.

My stream hitting the bowl was his answer. I’d saved the carpet, but not my panties, or my pride.

OK, I thought, trying to calm myself. I peed myself again, but at least it mostly landed where it was supposed to.

The next time, I wasn’t so lucky. Some corny joke of his landed me on our kitchen floor, scooting backward, as if physical distance could protect me. Once I reached the point of no control, I couldn’t stop. I knew my face was red and felt a puddle forming below me. He left the room so as not to keep egging me on.

He didn’t need to be there, though, to exert his power over me. Every time I thought of whatever ridiculous nonsense had gotten me going, I was right back in the same, helpless place. I sat with my hands behind me, head in the air, and surrendered, tears joining the other liquid exiting my body. After 15 minutes, when it was finally over, my stomach muscles were sore from laughing. I vowed to be more prepared, to fight to hold it in no matter what.

Over the next months and years, though, across four different homes, I learned this wasn’t a problem I could willpower my way through. He didn’t tell jokes like in the comedy clubs I used to frequent. Drew’s sense of humor felt as if it beamed directly from his brain into my bloodstream, where a chemical reaction took place that left me gasping for breath. I had no time to plan or prepare. No comedian had ever done that.

Most of the things that set me off were lines that would never get a laugh from anyone else. Objectively, they weren’t funny, but in the moment, to me, they were. Sometimes they didn’t require any words at all.

An example: I lost it when he dangled one of our mismatched knives over the garbage can. “Don’t throw it out!” I insisted, my hoarder’s hackles raised. He dropped the knife, grabbing it just as it hovered over the muck, then did it again. 

“Stop,” I demanded. But the more he repeated it, the more hilarious it became. The harder I laughed, the further he went. I unbuttoned my jeans, poised to head to the bathroom, to no avail. I rushed to take a shower.

Another time, in the seconds it took for him to dial his mom’s phone number, I was convulsing with contagious laughter. When she answered with an innocuous “Hello?” she was met by our attempts at muffling our mirth. He hung up, while I ran right to the front door, instead of left, to the bathroom. I clung to it with my nails, feeling like I’d made it to some safe pee-free zone, as long as I didn’t shift an inch from my precarious position.

“Why are you just standing there?” he asked, while all I could do was hover in place. I stayed until I could no longer hold it in, christening yet another area.

Once, he merely dangled a baggie with a tiny sliver of pita bread, teeth marks visible along the edges. His face, a mix of shock and frustration, said it all: You left one bite? My bladder didn’t stand a chance.

“Can’t you be less funny?” I asked when I returned, half-serious.

“How can I? You find everything funny,” he insisted.

After it had happened half a dozen times, Drew raised concerns. “You should talk to your doctor,” he said, setting off alarm bells in my head. What if I started peeing in public? I regularly flew cross-country and never used the bathroom on those flights, but my luck might not last.

I dutifully called my GP. She diagnosed me online, not even requiring an in-person appointment. My incontinence was situational, meaning I wasn’t ready for Depends just yet. She prescribed Kegel exercises.

I did them regularly, clenching and unclenching first thing in the morning and throughout the day. I hoped that when put to the test, those inner muscles would do their job and prevent me from another embarrassing episode.

They didn’t. I took to preemptively peeing every hour or two, pressing down against my bladder to ensure there’d be nothing left if he caught me off guard. But even with that precaution, with him, my laughter won out. I’ve learned that urine incontinence is actually very common, affecting 50% of adult women, according to the Mayo Clinic Health System. But my problem was very specific to my relationship. When I laughed around other people, I was fine. But he continued to set me off.

I had to accept the fact that dating Drew meant I had to risk being the woman knocking over her glass of water at a local pizzeria in a mad dash to the bathroom and keeping a towel on my seat on the couch.

I’ve come to believe there are actually some upsides to my messy predicament. When he makes me laugh so hard I pee, he snaps me out of my constant looping fears. My laughter physically shakes me, from my bobbing head to jiggling belly on down. It feels like it’s rising up from somewhere deep in my soul; I’m one with the laughter, a gift he’s given me that I have no choice but to accept.

When I tip over into being a laugh factory, there’s no room for stressful, obsessive thoughts — or any thoughts at all. My body has no guardrails up. Maybe it knew, that very first time, that he was someone it was OK to let go with, in every sense of the phrase.

One recent afternoon, after an epic laugh-fest that had me changing my entire outfit, including my socks, I stood in front of the rumbling laundry machine and closed my eyes. I wasn’t proud of being no closer to solving my problem, of now being a woman in my late 40s who couldn’t contain her urine, but I was no longer embarrassed. That feeling had melted into not just resigned acceptance, but profound gratitude.

Rather than Drew sharing his every thought with me like I do with him, making me laugh is his love language. When he pulls his T-shirt over his head and waddles like a penguin or sneaks “bag of dicks” onto our grocery list, I can’t help but crack up. He forces me to remember that I’m a body as well as a brain, and that sometimes, the latter needs to surrender to the former.

When I laugh hard, it’s infectious; he often does too, even when he doesn’t know why. The times I don’t have to pee, I’ll nuzzle my face into his quivering neck, in a feedback loop that speaks volumes wordlessly. Losing ourselves in laughter fortifies us for times when there’s nothing to laugh about.

Drew managed to pass a test I didn’t even know I’d needed him to: the pee test. Not once has he ever shamed me for peeing; he’s amused by it, and finally, so am I.

Though I always hope it’s the last time, our history together tells me I’ll probably be pee-laughing for the rest of my life. I’d rather love someone who can make me lose control than someone who never tries to get that close. That he can tap so deeply into a side of me I don’t even fully understand means more to me than his sweetest endearments.

It’s one thing to hear “I love you” each morning, and another to see it in action when your partner hands you a Clorox wipe to clean up a puddle of your own urine. I’ve stocked up and am ready for a lifetime of happy accidents.

Rachel Kramer Bussel writes about sex, dating, books, culture and herself. She is the editor of over 70 anthologies, including the “Best Women’s Erotica of the Year” series, and edits the Substack publication Open Secrets. She’s currently editing an anthology of essays about our personal attachments to our belongings. Visit her website,, and follow her on Twitter @raquelita and Instagram @rachelkramerbussel.

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