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Will the real owner of the tummy please stand up?
January 21, 2009 10:31 AM   Subscribe

This is a dumb question about long-term relationships and stomach gurgling. Yes, you read that right! When I'm in bed with my wife and her or my tummy rumbles, we can't agree on whose tummy it is. Anyone else experience this? What's the cause?

I keep thinking about posting this and putting it off, because it seems so stupid. But it comes up over and over, and I'm baffled by it. It's not a problem. It's just a nagging curiosity.

I'll be lying in bed next to my wife and I'll feel and hear my tummy gurgle. Note that I don't just hear a sound, I FEEL that bubbly, fluttery feeling. Sometimes, after it happens, we look at each other and I say, "Sorry, that was my tummy."

At which point my wife surprises me by looking surprised and saying, "No it's wasn't! It was MY tummy!"

"But I FELT it," I say.

"I felt it, TOO," she says.

This happens again and again. We both experience it as coming from our own stomachs. It seems to only happen when we're really close to each other. It never happens when we're sitting on opposite sides of the sofa.

(When it happens, we're not lying stomach to stomach. In that case, it would be understandably difficult to tell the perpetrator. We're usually both lying on our backs.)

Does anyone else experience this? What cause it? Is it really just happening to one of us and the other person is imagining things? Or do long-term couples start to have synchronized digestive issues?
posted by grumblebee to Science & Nature (38 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Anyone else experience this?

No.
posted by desjardins at 10:35 AM on January 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


Awwwww.

I was just thinking about this last week in yoga. We were all relaxing at the end of class, and it was hungry-time (around 5:45-6-ish). The lady next to me's tummy was rumbling and so was someone else's, and then mine was. I thought it might be "contagious" like yawning, but toward the end there, I couldn't tell if it was mine or hers.

So I wonder if y'all's eating patterns are synchronized so that you get hungry around the same time. Hearing someone's stomach growling might remind you that you're hungry.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:38 AM on January 21, 2009


Yes, this has happened to me with my exes. Many times.
posted by Maisie Jay at 10:42 AM on January 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's funny, I have the opposite quirk with my girlfriend. I look at her and blame her simultaneously as she's blaming me, not sure if that's useful info.
posted by onalark at 10:44 AM on January 21, 2009


Yup, I've had that happen, I just figured that your stomach can't actually feel anything so your body is relying solely on your ears to figure out what is going on and being muffled under the bedclothes the old brain gets a bit mixed up.
posted by zeoslap at 10:49 AM on January 21, 2009


Might also be related to the whole out of body thing too whereby you can trick the brain into thinking that something else is part of you.
posted by zeoslap at 10:50 AM on January 21, 2009


I just figured that your stomach can't actually feel anything

Is this true? If I plug up my ears, will I never experience my stomach rumbling?
posted by grumblebee at 10:51 AM on January 21, 2009


Well think about it, either:
A. Your stomachs both rumble at some unconcsious stimuli in the air, some smell or sound that connotes food and makes y'all physically react with hunger (Probability= 99.9%)
B. You are becoming unified more and more every day into one blissful body of Agape in a magic reversal of the Origin Of Love story. (P= .01%)

Despite the math, wouldn't you prefer B?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:52 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


C. It's really happening to one of us, and the other one is imagining it.
posted by grumblebee at 10:54 AM on January 21, 2009


Barring an answer, can anyone think of a relatively easy experiment I could try to get to the bottom of this? Maybe something that involves microphones strapped to our stomachs or something...? This could be my chance to expand human knowledge.
posted by grumblebee at 10:58 AM on January 21, 2009


D. When I say it's happening to me, it IS happening to me. You're loco.

The Wife
posted by Evangeline at 10:59 AM on January 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anyone else experience this?

Yes.

What's the cause?

No idea.
posted by jessamyn at 11:03 AM on January 21, 2009


My stomach communicates with my wife's; one with gurgle, and the other will reply. Completely autonomous, no control over it. Very odd and funny - perhaps this is what's happening to you?
posted by Chunder at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2009


I have experienced this. Although with us, we'll both hear it, one will say "Was that me?" and the other will say, "I don't know, was it me?" Usually one of us is slightly more convinced that it was him/her, but the ambiguity is almost always there.

My baseless theory: the tummy rumble sound is so closely associated in the mind with the tummy rumble feeling that it's hard to experience one without perceiving the other. Especially if one is in close proximity to the source of the rumble and may actually be able to feel it slightly. It's notoriously difficult to identify the source of a sound (which is why ventriloquism works), and I just figure this is kind of a similar principle.
posted by doift at 11:14 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone else experience this?

No.

But this question is utterly adorable.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:15 AM on January 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, we got that. no idea why.
posted by jrishel at 11:21 AM on January 21, 2009


This happens to us all the time. I definitely think the auditory cues are a big part of. Try lying in bed with sufficiently loud music on. Neither of you will hear anything, thus only one of you should feel it.

Alternatively (or additionally), have one of you fast all day, which should reliably increase tummy-grumblings in that person. Next time, reverse roles. What happens?
posted by miagaille at 11:22 AM on January 21, 2009


My wife and I have this all the time. In bed, with the covers, the directional-hearing aspect is muffled. Otherwise, my loud-and-often-disgusting guts would be easily discernible from hers.
posted by notsnot at 11:23 AM on January 21, 2009


Or wear earplugs, in which case you will be able to hear and feel only your own tummy-grumblings. You should not be able to hear the other's. You could, maybe, in theory still feel the other person's - I doubt it - but in any case this would speak to the locus of the phenomenon.
posted by miagaille at 11:25 AM on January 21, 2009


I'm notsnot's wife, and I was just going to say "no, but my husband farts a lot".
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:31 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


This happens to me and my gal too.
posted by ssg at 11:33 AM on January 21, 2009


Yup, us too. Since we generally eat together, I'd always assumed it was a simple synch issue: one rumbles, while the other is feeling a bit rumbly.

Also, as with all bass notes, it's hard to tell where they come from. Something I like to call the Superwoofer Effect.
posted by scruss at 11:46 AM on January 21, 2009


I say, "Sorry, that was my tummy."

At which point my wife surprises me by looking surprised and saying, "No it's wasn't! It was MY tummy!"

This happens again and again.


Alphonse and Gastro!

Seriously, theory E: an unnatural mutual impulse towards deference, fueled by similar diets and a deep-seated sense of shame about bodily functions. Or maybe pride about same.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:46 AM on January 21, 2009


This happens to me and my SO all the time.
posted by desuetude at 11:58 AM on January 21, 2009


Or maybe pride about same.

Yep, pride. There's no shame at our house. We're utterly shameless.
posted by Evangeline at 12:12 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, this not only happens occasionally to my husband and I, but also between us and our dog. If he's up on the bed, sometimes we look at each other and go "Was that yours? Mine? or the Dog's?", it's hilarious.

No clue why it happens, but it probably is a combination of auditory cuing leading to perceptions of belly movements and everyone being hungry at the same time.
posted by katers890 at 12:12 PM on January 21, 2009


Totally happens here. We were just discussing this the other day. Well, by "discussing" I mean placing the blame on each other.
posted by penchant at 12:22 PM on January 21, 2009


Another hash mark in the "this happens to us, too" column.
posted by amarynth at 12:58 PM on January 21, 2009


Happens all the time! I think it's because our heads are on pillows, or otherwise close to the bed, or we're just close to each other, so we don't have the whole environment for noise to reflect off of. I suggest that on a bed covered with noise-absorbing sheets or blankets, it's hard to perceive where the sound comes from.
posted by kconner at 1:04 PM on January 21, 2009


Yep, this has happened to me too.
posted by number9dream at 1:09 PM on January 21, 2009


Yep, here too. We both just blame it on the cat.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:25 PM on January 21, 2009


Heh, this not only happens occasionally to my husband and I, but also between us and our dog.

Was coming in to say the same for us, but with our cat.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:36 PM on January 21, 2009


Not seriously, theory F: your intestinal flora, which by now you've communicated with one another, are trying to phone home. Eventually it will progress to a Close Encounters of the Third Kind musical exchange of rumbling tums.
posted by XMLicious at 2:11 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Happens to the mister and me fairly frequently. No idea of what causes it.
posted by deborah at 3:31 PM on January 21, 2009


It happens here, too, but I can tell you one thing: it's always the man's stomach that's making the noise.
posted by fish tick at 5:26 PM on January 21, 2009


We always just joke that our stomachs are having conversations with each other. I think it's cute that ALL of our body parts appear interested in one another, not just our brains and . . . you know. other parts :-)
posted by lblair at 6:47 PM on January 21, 2009


This happens with my girlfriend and I all the time. I must tell her that this happens to other people, too.
posted by azarbayejani at 12:23 AM on January 22, 2009


Happens to me and mine, too. Bodies are fun things.
posted by Goofyy at 12:23 AM on January 22, 2009


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