Help me pee in public
December 9, 2010 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Why can't I pee in a crowd? (Male stage fright)

I've had issues urinating in public restrooms for about the last 10 years (I'm 30). I can't identify when it started but I've been unable to overcome it. Any sort of lack of "pee-privacy" leads to my inability to perform, despite how badly I need to go. Troughs, wall-less urinals, stalls with missing doors at stadiums or concert venues, along a wall, in a bush . . etc you get the idea.

It's really inconvenient as there have been many times wandering around stadiums or venues. . . looking for the most private place to pee. . knowing I won't be able to until I find it.

Consciously I don't think I care if anyone sees my penis. I think it's more about pressure to perform. Like others may think "why can't this guy pee" ? That pressure builds, I can't, and then I just walk away.

I've tried consciously building myself up. . giving myself mental pep talks . . "who cares what they think" . . "other people are dumb, you're way better, just pee" with limited success. (I'm not normally a egotistic person, rather quite humble)

Anyone overcome this or have any suggestions?

PS Curiously I also sometimes also have problems peeing when: floating in water (lake or ocean), on a boat (in head or off edge), on a train, on a crowded charter bus, airplane with people in line. .
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by hermitosis at 3:12 PM on December 9, 2010

It's called paruresis, something in the anxiety disorder spectrum. That term may help your googling. Here's a brief article about it. There's a guy in the article who does seminars to help you get over it. Sounds like a form of exposure therapy that you could replicate yourself for free with the help of a buddy or significant other. Might be interesting to see if you manifested any other emotional/mental difficulties around the same time in life and whether this could be part of a general package that could be addressed, or at least which might provide more clues.
posted by Askr at 3:31 PM on December 9, 2010

I used to have this problem. Like you, it wasn't out of any conscious worry about people looking at my penis, and like you I used to sabotage myself by worrying about whether I was going to be able to do it or not. I think it had more to do with the fact that one is quite vulnerable when urinating, as well what you said about worrying that the people at the urinals next to me were thinking "what is this dude doing just standing there with his dick out and not peeing?"

The key was to find something to distract myself with. Graffiti, the text printed and stamped into the urinal, the pattern of the wood or tiles on the wall in front of me, anything to occupy my mind with for those few critical seconds until I could relax and get a stream started. It didn't go away all at once (I still have a little difficulty on occasion, especially if I'm in an empty bathroom and someone walks in just as I'm getting ready to release) but it's pretty much not a problem anymore.

Trying to remember things helps too, like where I have to be afterward, what I was talking about before I went to the bathroom, etc. If all else fails my personal mantra is "Zurn, Crane, American Standard... Zurn, Crane, American Standard..." (These are the three most common brands of public urinal in the States. Guess how I came across that little bit of esoterica?)

Also I had to allow myself to feel good about my "accomplishment" when I did manage to do it, so as to reinforce to myself that it was something that I was capable of. Additionally I had to forgive myself and get on with my life if I got pee-shy, and either hold it until a better time or just zip up and go to a stall where I could do my business in peace.

I suspect that this little mini-neurosis is pretty common, though it's not something that people really like to talk about. In any case you're not alone, and it's something that you can deal with.

Oh, and give yourself as much time as you need. Don't stand there berating yourself or anything, but don't feel bad if you have to stand there for a while until you can get things going.
posted by Scientist at 3:31 PM on December 9, 2010

It's not just you. Or just men.
I hate public bathrooms, and I hate them more knowing that it seems that everyone else is just A-OK with them. There are similar goings-on in the ladies''re all the way in an end stall in an empty bathroom and lo and behold some lady comes in RIGHT NEXT TO YOU...or a friend insists on coming in with you and chatting with you. Or, worst of all, your professor from your last class comes in and sees you.

I just don't get it.

(PS I haven't overcome this. Secretly, I don't think I want to. It's just too awkward. This has been going on since second grade.)
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 3:52 PM on December 9, 2010

"Zurn, Crane, American Standard... Zurn, Crane, American Standard..."

Don't forget Toto!
posted by priested at 3:59 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've found mental long division pretty effective. One time it DIDN'T work was when Max Roach stepped up to the next urinal and I had to pretend I was peeing. I felt like Marcel Marceau.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:11 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is faintly pervy, but rubbing your finger lightly along the underside of the glans a few timescan stimulate the wazz.

Of course it may lead to problems of a different sort but that can be the topic of another ask mefi post, I guess.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:34 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Pee-shy, what's up? I've tried working on myself, using relaxation techniques oriented around the patterns on the tile, the song in my head, math problems. With limited success, I've just always pretended like I need to poop. Nobody can tell, they're not listening for plops.
posted by rhizome at 5:20 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm with rhizome: the "pretend poo" is your friend. Its been my best friend since kindergarten. Ask yourself too why it even matters... I'm so old, I've forgotten all about it and head for a stall even if the bathroom's empty. What difference does it make? You must have stuff in your life that's more deserving of your energy than aworrying about n inability to pee in a crowded room...?
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 5:57 PM on December 9, 2010
posted by JayRwv at 6:33 PM on December 9, 2010

Take a deep breath before hand, hold it and let it out when you are ready to go. Seems to help relax.

Also, Sloan Valve Co., Chicago Il.
posted by Fortnight Bender at 8:20 PM on December 9, 2010

OK this is going to sound weird. One of my friends had this problem really badly, another friend suggested (as a joke) that he imagine he was peeing all over the face of the person next to him. Completely solved the problem.
I very occasionally have this and it has worked for me too. My theory is that the shy-peeing is something about feeling inferior to those around you in a very exposed situation. By mentally peeing on your neighbour you get to the top of the pecking order (so to speak) and feel more relaxed.
(From looking at the previous thread linked above it seems like other people use this strategy).
posted by chrispy at 2:02 AM on December 10, 2010

My "go to" is to imagine I'm on the top of the Eiffel Tower pissing on Paris. Not sure why this works. I've nothing against Parisians or the French. But whatever, usually works for me.
posted by thatguyjeff at 7:16 AM on December 10, 2010

Like OneMonkeysUncle said, just use the toilet. Sometimes it happens to me, sometimes it doesn't. But if i walk into a crowded bathroom, i'll just wait for a stall. Problem solved.
posted by fso at 5:45 PM on December 10, 2010

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