Bloody dilemma
February 19, 2011 2:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I (should I) talk to my roommate about leaving the toilet seat bloody during her period?

Boyfriend and I have been subletting a room from a really great woman for a few months. Mostly this is a really friendly, chill living situation, but we're definitely in the roommate zone on the friends-to-roommates scale.

Last month and now this month during her period, she's been leaving the toilet seat a little bloody each time she uses the bathroom. A few drops, a smear...a bloody toilet seat.

So far, I've just been cleaning the seat each time I find it bloody. Which is every time I've walked into the bathroom. (How can she not notice?) It's getting old fast, and I'm afraid that since it's happened for two months now, it's a pattern that won't change unless we do something about it.

How can I handle this in a way that will solve the problem but not embarrass her too much? I value the roommate relationship and I want to keep things as un-awkward as possible. Should I approach with humor? Something indirect? Something direct? Or is this a monthly annoyance I need to put up with for the sake of the apartment?
posted by pluot to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't want to mention this when my boyfriend was about but...
posted by dougrayrankin at 2:58 AM on February 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

It's not unreasonable to say something, so I would mention it in a fairly direct way. When it happens 'I don't know if you realised, but you left the toilet seat a bit messy'. If she's a reasonable person that should do it.
posted by Not Supplied at 2:58 AM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Mock discovery in her presence...

"La ti da... Say, what's that on thOH MY GOD THERE'S BLOOD ALL OVER THE TOILET!"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:03 AM on February 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think you should definitely bring it up. I mean I've lived with females including roommates all my life and never noticed blood on the toilet seat. Furthermore things on toilet seats are often quick to wipe off and I assume blood can be dealt with similarly.

"Sometimes I have to wipe off the toilet seat, there's some leftover blood there and I think I should just let you know in case you didn't realize, let's try to keep that area of the bathroom clean."
posted by the mad poster! at 3:04 AM on February 19, 2011

Oh sorry, I missed the "not embarrass her" part. Please disregard previous comment.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:04 AM on February 19, 2011

A pattern you say? Then you assume she is aware of it and just messy. You have nothing to gain by not trying to embarrass her.
Maybe re-think that bit and just have a box of appropriate tissues ready. Otherwise, use a reasonable and direct approach, like the mad poster! says. I mean, if your dude would leave the area messy you'd just say: "don't pee all over the place, willya," right? Its about keeping the area clean, very simply.

(Better than a bathroom full of kitten litter mixed with...I've seen things...)
posted by Namlit at 3:12 AM on February 19, 2011

Here's where a little creativity can come in handy. One day, laughingly relate to her a "funny story" about how your boyfriend went into the bathroom one day after you did, and was horrified because you left blood on the toilet seat. Laugh about his horrified reaction, mock his sensitivity to a little menstrual blood, har dee har har har. Hopefully, she'll laugh with you but also take the hint.

And start leaving a convenient container of disinfectant wipes in the bathroom.
posted by katyggls at 3:33 AM on February 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Awkward! "Hey, I'm putting some spray cleaner next to the loo so you can wipe down the seat when you need to - I'm a bit squeamish on the blood front"
posted by honey-barbara at 3:53 AM on February 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyeaahahhhhhh....not cool.

Forget all the problems with blood itself, just even thinking of it as another "bodily fluid" is gross. Would you like it any more if it was just urine on the toilet seat?

That's a clear unsanitary condition. Bring it up. "Hey, I don't want to make a big deal out of this but..."
posted by carlh at 4:42 AM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sometimes I find these kinds of conversations easier to have if I just take a deep breath and say honestly, up front, "This is hard to talk about and I am sorry if my bringing it up makes you uncomfortable... " or "I know this might be awkward but I feel like I should say something..."

Acknowledging the discomfort at the start makes it easier to work through for me.
posted by juliplease at 5:03 AM on February 19, 2011 [30 favorites]

Guh, I would not bring this up in person. Definitely note/email territory. The point is not to embarrass her to death, but to simply get her to clean the seat.
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:07 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

She probably doesn't notice she's doing it. Checking the toilet seat isn't in most people's bathroom routine.

I'd go for direct but discreet, and timely. Next time it happens: "This is awkward, but in the past few days I've noticed some small messes on the toilet seat. I noticed the same thing a couple times last month but figured it was a fluke and didn't want to embarrass you. Just to be on the safe side I've started checking the seat after I use the bathroom and I'd appreciate if you did too." Don't bring up the nature of the mess unless she asks or suggests it might have been your boyfriend. And imply that it's the kind of thing everyone does once in a while and you don't think she's some grossmonster.

On preview: do this in person. Notes come across as cowardly and standoffish.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:28 AM on February 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

It's going to be embarrasing whatever, but hopefully she won't hold it against the poster that she got embarrased. I mean most people would thing 'oh ok...have to fix that'. A person that thought 'damn them for embarrasing me, now I'm going to resent them forever' would be special.
posted by Not Supplied at 5:36 AM on February 19, 2011

Least said, soonest mended. "The toilet seat has been damp lately, can you wipe it down after you use it? Thanks."
posted by anaelith at 5:52 AM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is one of the few topics where the "I don't want to be....but" intro actually is better than a lot else. Depends on the knee-jerk defensiveness level of the other person, obviously. Nevertheless, before I'd demonstratively supply sprays or wipes or stuff like that, I guess (now I've woken up) that I'd try to talk first, if I were you.

[I just had a talk with my famous downstairs neighbor about unreasonable nighttime noise levels and let me tell you, it didn't go well in spite of that very approach. Some I.Q. consideration needs to be done to let these things go nicely, too; silly but true. Some people are better off with "just. stop."]
posted by Namlit at 5:55 AM on February 19, 2011

anaelith has so absolutely nailed this one. I'd preface that with "heya I just want to say...". Maybe make it slightly less terse by adding something like "sorry, you know, I'm a bit of a neat freak when it comes to the bathroom". Then change subject: "Hey I'm going down to the shops, do you want anything?"

Done and done. Any flagging, like "I know this is awkward but", just makes it more awkward.
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:10 AM on February 19, 2011

One way to go is NOT to clean it up so that she notices it.

She genuinely might not because you always clean it up.

Or, if you're female, pull her aside one day and say something conspiratorially like "yo, there was some blood on the seat, don't worry, I caught it before my boyfriend saw it" as though you're both on some sort of woman team so of course YOU weren't bothered but your boyfriend would have been. This is a big lie, I know.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:14 AM on February 19, 2011 [8 favorites]

FWIW, if it gets under the seat (and it can), the only one in the place who may have noticed it is your boyfriend. (Women be different from men.) So maybe that gives you an angle of some kind. At the very least, it should be mentioned.
posted by AugieAugustus at 6:19 AM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

but not embarrass her too much

Just keep it short, do it in person, then quickly change the subject with a question about something else.
posted by mediareport at 6:37 AM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Have your boyfriend write a note to both of you, telling what he found and asking to please clean up, blah, blah. Or he could mention it to both of you at a time when everyone's in the room. And you can feign embarrasment along with the roomie. Maybe even ham it up a bit, like "Oh wow, I'll make extra sure to check from now on". And hope she will do the same.

That way it doesn't zero in on just one person.
posted by sundrop at 7:06 AM on February 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

also, it may not embarrass her. she may be one of those clueless types and not care/notice she's leaving a little mess (which is hard for us "noticers" to understand. don't worry about it too much. she'll probably be glad you told her and move on. you can even say, i've been there. don't worry.
posted by anya32 at 7:07 AM on February 19, 2011

Are you 100% sure it's her, and that it's period blood? My SO has hemorrhoids, and when things are bad he'll accidentally leave blood on the seat - being in so much pain he can barely wipe makes him rather less aware of his surroundings.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:15 AM on February 19, 2011

As another messy person who periodically bleeds from the crotch, I'd go with a note. I am definitely a not-noticer... somehow when I first moved in to my new place, I was leaving menstrual blood on the *BOTTOM* of the seat. WTF, the BOTTOM!?! I use a cup so it can get a bit messy and I do check the top of the seat but it had not occurred to me to check the rest of the toilet. I guess the bathroom is sort of small and I wasn't used to having so little elbow room while taking it out. My BF let me know really calmly/nicely, so now I check more thoroughly, but I think if it was anyone else telling me I left blood on the toilet I would've died. @_@

With a note, you can write it and then proceed to pretend like it never happened; she can read it and then proceed to pretend it never happened (aside from checking the seat more carefully). If she ignores the note then maybe she's doing on purpose or just doesn't care, at which point you might have to talk to her in person.
posted by purplecrackers at 8:28 AM on February 19, 2011

This totally happened to me the first time I lived with a guy. He mentioned it to me off-hand, all "dude there was blood on the toilet seat, keep an eye out okay?" and I've checked the seat every time I've shared a bathroom since. It didn't mortify me or anything, it was just one of those life lessons. If I were in your situation I'd just find her and say "sometimes you leave blood on the toilet seat. Can you keep an eye out for that? I'd really appreciate it, thanks."

Super non-confrontational: Do you share expenses on cleaning supplies? If you do, go out & buy some disinfectant wipes or some other specific-use sort of thing for right next to the toilet along with some other normal supplies (soap? whatever needs a refill), & while getting her share of the bill, explain what you bought. Say "oh I got these wipes for the bathroom so we can clean the seat really quick after we use it; my boyfriend says I can be a little obsessive about keeping the bathroom clean but this way it's easy for all of us, right?" Nobody really has ground to stand on about wanting a messy bathroom, and if having to pay for cleaning supplies isn't motivation enough for getting her to use them, then you mention directly about why you think the bathroom always needs cleaning.
posted by Mizu at 8:45 AM on February 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh for god's sake don't write a note or email. She'll be horribly embarrassed (notes raise the bar on THINGS WE DON'T TALK ABOUT), and then she'll wonder if she has to say something in reply, etc. etc. etc. Don't get into note-writing if you can help it, just generally. It's so passive-aggressive. Ugh.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:32 AM on February 19, 2011 [9 favorites]

Do NOT write a note. This isn't really the kind of conversation you want on record, you know?

And are you certain that it isn't the toilet kicking up some drops when flushed? If that's the case, she wouldn't notice since one rarely examines the toilet once finished.

Other than that, I think anaelith's phrasing is PERFECT.
posted by maryr at 10:15 AM on February 19, 2011

To me the mock discovery approach* would be more embarrassing than a direct "hey, Sara, I've noticed that sometimes the toilet seat is a little bloody sometimes."

If you wanted to really save face, I suppose you could do it as an email to both her and your boyfriend, use the "messy" euphemism, and act as if it could be either of them, and then close with something noncommittal about how you're sure that, whoever it is, it's probably not really their fault/not a big deal/no harm no foul.

But really, it's periods. We all have them. The direct approach is probably the best.

*Especially if it entails calling her into the bathroom to look at the evidence. This is so shaming.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2011

Hmm. I'm non-confrontational and hate potentially embarrassing people. If it were me, next time I saw it I'd just leave it. Of course, this probably requires going out, since you presumably walked into the bathroom because you had to use it. I'd just go out and run some errands or something, whatever, but I would avoid the bathroom long enough for her to have to be the next one to go back in there and notice what she left. Hopefully she will be horrified that it happened, glad because she probably thinks you didn't see it (because you were out, right?) and will make a mental note to be much more careful in the future.

If that doesn't work, THEN i'd resort to talking to her about it.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 11:01 AM on February 19, 2011

I'm pretty squeamish and non-confrontational, so I was pretty surprised how well the direct approach works with something like this. A totally matter of fact 'Oh, hey - can you wipe down the toilet seat?' as soon as you find the mess is surprisingly effective, and less embarrassing than I feared.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:50 AM on February 19, 2011

Another vote for, Dude, there's been some blood on toilet seat, could you watch it, thanks. Short, to the point. If you don't say "blood," or "period," you're going to have an awkward, "Wait, what?" situation with you having to repeat and eventually say "blood" or "period."
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2011

"Hey, Tiglathpileser," (or use her actual name here), "Just a heads-up, (cheap double entendre) several times at 'that 'time of the month' there have been a few spots after you've used the toilet--you're so great to have as a roommate...tidy, and really fun as at risk of embarrassment, I wanted to let you know."
posted by mumstheword at 1:18 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding ClaudiaCenter, who said pretty much word for word what I would recommend.

I don't think you have to pretend that you're some kind of obsessive cleaning weirdo for not wanting to wipe her blood off of the toilet seat, or provide special cleaning supplies and instructions. Sharing living quarters comes with a few basic considerations for your housemates, like keeping bodily functions a little more private than is necessary when living alone.
posted by desuetude at 2:22 PM on February 19, 2011

"Could you please clean the toilet seat? I have to go"

True story, exact words (with blank expression and neutral tone). The person was apologetic and didn't look really embarassed or anything.

It becomes a big deal if you make it.
posted by xm at 10:19 PM on February 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would try to find a way to act like you've only noticed it this once, thus not making her feel like she has been unwittingly been embarrassing herself for two months now. And I would think bringing it up to her this once would be awkward enough that she would be careful from now on. If possible, make it seem like its more your guys' problem than her inconsiderate grossness: "By the way, I/my boyfriend got a little queasy when I/he noticed a drop of blood on the toilet seat... I/he just get really faint at the sight of blood, I guess I'm/he's really sensitive to it!"
posted by wansac at 10:49 PM on February 19, 2011

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