How can you overcome pee shyness in public urinals?
October 29, 2004 9:03 AM   Subscribe

How can you overcome pee shyness in public urnials? As in, stepping to the plate, but being unable to pee until the bathroom is empty?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (28 answers total)
 
It seems to me that the only way to address the issue is to have a long soul-search and find out exactly why you're "pee shy". Until you understand the source of this irrational shyness, you can't deal with it.

Ex: If you're worried that other people will find out that you are human after all and actually do eliminate waste like the rest of us, then you'll have to deal with that differently than if your concern is that somebody might accidentally see your junk (as a particularly mature member of my social group calls it). Simple embarrasment by the noise of your own waste hitting the water/toilet/urinal will require a different approach.
posted by Irontom at 9:36 AM on October 29, 2004


No idea. It seems to be a real condition:

Welcome to the Paruresis Web Site!

I find if I'm ever pee shy...I start spelling the word on the top of the urinal backwards; in other words, I distract my mind.
posted by filmgeek at 9:36 AM on October 29, 2004


I've heard that thinking about simple math problems works.
posted by cmonkey at 9:43 AM on October 29, 2004


Think about flowing water. If there's flushing or taps running, concentrate on those sounds. Let your urine become one with the Flow. Fwooooosh!
posted by picea at 10:02 AM on October 29, 2004


Live in a dorm or barracks. You'll overcome it out of necessity.

Or, ya know, if you can't move for the sake of being able to pee in public, just tune out. Go for the blank stare, ignore everything (well, keep it pointed forward, at least), and try to let all of your muscles relax.

If it doesn't work after a few minutes, give up and try again later. You'll eventually need to go badly enough that you could stand in the middle of the room and spin around like a disturbing sprinkler.
posted by billybunny at 10:20 AM on October 29, 2004


i just frequent bars with lots of stalls vs. urinals. or drink mixed drinks all night. until I'm really drunk, then I don't care.

also, I witness the phenomenon of "pee-less retreat" often enough to figure out that it's a common problem and is something that guys learn to deal with. if it doesn't come, just try again later.
posted by Hackworth at 10:30 AM on October 29, 2004


This was a problem for me once.

I just learned to kinda "zone out" and everything works itself out. Unfortunately, the "zone out" method wasn't learned from anything related to using the washroom (It was the result of my unbelieveable boredom with the education system in my country. I would "zone out" during most of the classes, too. Just sorta turn my brain off. A lot like that guy in Office Space, really. Feels good, it's like sleeping, but nothing anyone says to you or does to you really "registers". :-)

Try staring at a crack in the brick in front of you and turn off your brain for a minute. There ya go.
posted by shepd at 10:53 AM on October 29, 2004


find out exactly why you're "pee shy"

I've wondered about the same thing and I came to one conclusion: why on earth do men use urinals in the first place?

Unless you're an NBA star on Cribs, chances are you only have toilets at home, and no urinal. I understand they're useful ways to save water in big flushes, but it's an interface we rarely see, less the public restroom interactions. I bet men would be less shy about them if they were used to them at home.
posted by mathowie at 10:54 AM on October 29, 2004


I used to have this. I'm not sure how I cured myself...I guess I quit thinking about it. I still get it every once in a while. I used to be worried about it all the time, but when I forgot about it, it wasn't a problem.
posted by MrAnonymous at 10:54 AM on October 29, 2004


Long division! Seriously. Try dividing 342,231,893 by 74 (for example) in your head. Everything will work itself out.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:08 AM on October 29, 2004


why on earth do men use urinals in the first place?

In addition to requiring less water to flush, you can cram more of them into less space than would be required for an equivalent number of stalls. That's important in public places in a way that it isn't important at home.

I can generally zone out if I have to go bad enough. Sometimes actually flushing in advance can help get things moving.

The real question is why do other guys want to talk to you at the urinal. Seriously, there should be rules in polite society for when you're allowed to hit somebody in the face, and that would have to be up there at the top of the list.
posted by willnot at 11:19 AM on October 29, 2004


On the topics of urinals does anyone know of local laws in areas that require builders to have in place urinal dividers (the wall that stands between urinals)?
posted by mhaw at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2004


I always froze up for years, until I got to college. The dorm situation, as billybunny said, forced me to get over it. It still happens from time to time in very public places (i.e. crowded bathrooms at trainstations, et cetera). I always fake like I went (flush, et cetera) and deal with it later.
posted by rafter at 12:03 PM on October 29, 2004


The real question is why do other guys want to talk to you at the urinal. Seriously, there should be rules in polite society for when you're allowed to hit somebody in the face, and that would have to be up there at the top of the list.
Hah, that's nothing. I was at the urinal this morning, a co-worker walks in, says "Hey, hi John" and pats me on the shoulder. That halted the proceedings very abruptly.
posted by substrate at 12:11 PM on October 29, 2004


I don't have a problem with one guy/one urinal. It's those continuous troughs you'll find in some stadiums and bars that will sometimes make my faucet slam shut. Maybe it's a fear of splashing?
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:20 PM on October 29, 2004


Long division! Seriously. Try dividing 342,231,893 by 74 (for example) in your head. Everything will work itself out.

This can really backfire on you in math class. Wouldn't it be better to think about rushing streams, fountains, bursting oil wells...
posted by Krrrlson at 12:37 PM on October 29, 2004


I sometimes suffer from this urinating shyness, and I am a female who uses stalls exclusively.

Mine most usually comes from being in a stall while another womain is in a different stall: I cannot begin peeing until the other woman starts peeing. I think it has something to do with knowing that she is listening to me.
posted by rhapsodie at 12:52 PM on October 29, 2004


Just use the stalls.
posted by gyc at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2004


I remember hearing a professional psychologist talking about how he treats this problem in his patients. The way to overcome this (or any other phobia) is in small steps that are easy by themselves.

Have someone you are comfortable sharing this with stand outside the bathroom when you pee. The next time have them stand in the doorway. Then by the sink. Eventually they can be standing next you and you won't have a problem. Like anything it takes practise.
posted by euphorb at 1:00 PM on October 29, 2004


I'm almost ashamed to say the East West method has worked for me.
posted by alan at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2004


Either Michel Michel Houellebecq or Nicholson Baker wrote once about the solution to this being:

Imagine that you're peeing all over the head of the guy next to you.

The character in the book then fantasizes with great gusto.

I'm thinking it's probably Nicholson -- it's his sort of thing.
posted by codger at 1:12 PM on October 29, 2004


I totally relate to this. My technique is so bizarre that I hesitate to even share it. It involves a disgusting meditation, but it works every time. You ready?
Simply stand over the urinal, look down at your Mr. Friendly and visualize the water in the bowl shooting up into a stream towards your penis. Then picture the entire world flooding with urine. Picture sticking your finger in the urinal water. It really really helps. Or, at least, it helps me.

Although, if there's a friend behidn me---or anyone I know--waiting for me to finish, I can never EVER even start. It's horrible.

I wish we could answer anonymously.
posted by adrober at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2004 [1 favorite]


That was Nicholson Baker, codger. I like to imagine my old physics teacher, who was such a horrible asshole.

I'm not too sure exactly why this is, but I swear that lightly stroking the side of one's leg will help the pee flow mightily.
posted by LimePi at 2:08 PM on October 29, 2004


don't go to the bathroom til you really need to.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:54 PM on October 29, 2004


Remember that bathrooms are weird places where everybody goes, but nobody talks about. People in a bathroom generally want to to invisible and anonymous, and they want to pretend they are alone. Nobody is going to say anything about you, or probably even make eye contact with you for that matter. They will forget your existence shortly after leaving the bathroom, and never, ever think of you again. You could spray piss all over the walls, and while they would remember that some jackass sprayed piss all over the walls, they would forget it was YOU.

This is not a license to spray piss all over the walls (in fact, please practice proper bathroom etiquette at all times), but it does mean there's no cause for anxiety.
posted by Hildago at 5:27 PM on October 29, 2004


I agree with Hackworth. A two-four should help you out.

Speaking of urinals, what's with the snot invariably found above them? Does everyone but me feel the pressing need to pick their nose and wipe it on the wall while pissing?
posted by ODiV at 8:45 AM on October 30, 2004


I cannot begin peeing until the other woman starts peeing. I think it has something to do with knowing that she is listening to me.

Must be a bugger when two of you end up beside each other. Who's gonna be able to hold back longest, waiting for the other to start?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:30 PM on October 30, 2004


I visualise Niagra Falls - see the water falling in torrents downward - hear the rush of the icy cold liquid - and kind of zone out like shepd, whilst zoning into the whole Niagra scene - relaxing - relaxing - leaving the toilet - becoming one with the fast flowing water - superimpose it onto what's really infront of me, Niagra - penis - Niagra - penis - a tap running - a hose-pipe pouring ... pouring ... throwing the whole bag of flowing-water-related imagery at the problem ... back and forth ... keeping at it ... until I'm taken away from the fact my penis might be on display to complete strangers and at some point - relaxing ... and ... ahhhhh.

This usually works.

If not, I go back out again, (fearing that anyone who's entered the toilets while I've been standing there with my dick out - {{{{not pissing}}}} - might think I was trying to entice them with my 'bait' - a cottaging cock teaser - a furnisher of flaccid fawcet - hoping desperately that they don't loudly mention this *wrongly-percieved* cock-waving come-on to their friends, pointing and gesturing in an obvious manner and, laughing loudly, alerting everyone within earshot to the presence of a purveyor of prick-based pick-ups in the vicinity) and then come back after a few more drinks to try again (desperately hoping not to meet the same person who I 'hung out with' the last time).

Since you ask.

Jeezus. Why can't they make urinals more private?
posted by Blue Stone at 7:20 AM on October 31, 2004


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