Dating Advice

Fear of dating: The main topic in my inbox, from women and men in their 20s (and a little younger and a little older).

I dated like crazy in my 20s – until I got engaged. I loved it. I wore a diaper every night and it was wet almost every morning. So what? Of all the dozens of guys I dated, only three ever knew about it. None of them knew until after we had been dating for months. By then, it was an insignificant fact in a larger, caring romance.

Get out there

Why let it inhibit you from dating?

On your first date, you’re new to each other. Your date wants to know you, not what you wear to bed.

Relax. Have a good time. Show your personality. See if it’s worth a second date. If it’s worth a second date, get to know each other better. See if it’s worth a third date. Form a bond.

What you wear to bed is part of your wardrobe, not part of your personality. It doesn’t define you. It’s no more important than your shoe size. It’s not something anyone needs or wants to know on a first (or second or third or fourth) date.

Don’t jump into bed

Your date doesn’t need to know you what you wear to bed until (duh!) you’re about to get into bed. So (duh!) don’t get into bed until you’ve established that there are better things to like about you than what you wear to bed.


Here’s the best dating tip you’ll ever get:

Every woman is thrilled to meet a man who’s more interested in what’s in her head and heart than what’s in her undies.

Freud was an idiot: What a woman wants is respect, attention and affection. Somebody who will listen to her and talk to her. Somebody who won’t treat her as an object.

If you give her that, she won’t care what you wear to bed. And if she does care, her girlfriends will be lining up to call you for dates. They won’t care what you wear to bed.


Here’s the best dating tip you’ll ever get:

Every man is thrilled to meet a woman who’s more interested in what’s in his head and heart than what’s in his boxers.

What a man wants is respect, attention and affection. Somebody who will listen to him and talk to him. Somebody who won’t treat him as an object.

If you give him that, he won’t care what you wear to bed. (Trust me: I wore the unsexiest flannel nightgowns over my diaper.) And if he does care, his buddies will be lining up to call you for dates. They won’t care what you wear to bed.

PS: I’ll bet that goes for gays and lesbians, too. (mutatis mutandis)

Breaking the news

You’ve established a bond. You’re ready for the next step.

Go to a romantic restaurant. Hold hands. Tell your date that you want to take things to the next level. You want a snuggle. There’s just one thing …

If you’ve established a bond based on respect, affection and attention, your date will think it’s funny that you worried that it might be a problem. Trust me. I’ve been there.

If your date has a problem with it, dump him/her. He/she is not an adult. His buddies/her girlfriends will be lining up to call you for dates.

You’re adults

You’re not in grade school anymore. You’re not in junior high any more. You’re not in high school any more. You’re an adult and your date is an adult.

OK, maybe your date isn’t an adult. But you’ll know that long before you need to tell your date what you wear to bed.

I’ve told three guys (including my husband) that I wet the bed. None of them had any problem with it. None of them thought it was the least bit important.


Because, to an adult, it’s not important.

What’s important is who you are. Adults recognize that.

Suppose I’m wrong: Your date isn’t an adult. You break up and he or she tells your secret. It won’t make a difference.


Because to other adults, it’s not important.

What’s important is who you are. Adults recognize that.

A date that would reveal a confidence like that is a jerk. And every adult knows that anyone who would do that is a jerk. You will have the sympathy of every adult. Which is good for getting dates with adults.

You have to kiss a lot of frogs

Don’t look for perfection. Doesn’t exist. Doesn’t exist for the continent, either.

Not only do you have to kiss a lot of frogs, there is no Prince Charming. Somebody rich and gorgeous is not going to sweep you off your feet and carry you away to live happily ever after. Doesn’t happen.

That’s a good thing. It’s what makes life and people interesting.

Rejection happens

You’ll get dumped. It hurts. But it’s good. You don’t want to continue with someone if it’s just not going to work.

Get a pint of ice cream. Have a good cry while you eat it.

You didn’t get dumped because of what you wear to bed. He/she might say it’s why you got dumped. Breakups can be angry; people say stupid and cruel things.

But no adult ever dumped anyone for nightwear. Ever. Adults don’t give up a shot at a lifetime of happiness over something trivial. Your date dumped you either because your date isn’t an adult (in which case, good riddance) or because there are deeper problems than what you wear to bed.

Just do it

Dating is tough. Not because of what you wear to bed. It’s tough for everybody.

It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

Just get out there. Call her. Call him. Yes, you’ll get turned down. Do it some more. The more you do it, the easier it is. The more you do it, the better you are at it. The more you do it, the more fun it is just to date.

You’ll get a lot of rejection. We all do. It’s not because of what you wear to bed. It’s silly to let this inhibit you. For goodness sake, don’t let it define you!

Forget about what you wear to bed. The only difference between you and Brad Pitt or Emma Stone is that they get paid to act.

Everybody is imperfect. Everybody thinks that their imperfections loom large for a potential date. Forget it. Just do it.


Protection for better sleep

A very interesting article, suggesting that bedwetting children should wear protection to get a good night’s sleep.

The first finding is perhaps not surprising: undiapered bedwetting children have significantly worse sleep quality than non-bedwetters. Undiapered bedwetters have more activity during sleep and shorter periods of continuous sleep.

The second finding may be more surprising, and is certainly more interesting: Diapered bedwetters have significantly better sleep quality than undiapered bedwetters – indeed, the sleep quality for diapered bedwetters is substantially similar to that of non-bedwetters.


In comparison to [non-bedwetters], children with enuresis who did not wear night diapers had poorer sleep quality as reflected by both actigraphic measures (more activity during sleep and shorter periods of continuous sleep) and one reported measure (lower sleep quality). However, no differences were found on any of the sleep measures between children with enuresis wearing night diapers and [non-bedwetters]. The reported sleep quality of all children with enuresis with and without night diapers was lower than [non-bedwetters].

Given the importance of quality sleep, the authors conclude that doctors and nurses should recommend that a bedwetting child sleep in a diaper:


Our results suggest that sleep patterns of school-aged children with enuresis who do not wear night diapers are impaired, and the sleep quality of children using night diapers is similar to those of [non-bedwetters]. Thus, clinicians and healthcare providers should consider recommending sleeping with night diapers for untreated children with enuresis, based on its positive impact on sleep.

This confirms my advice that parents offer protection to a bedwetting child. Indeed, this indicates that my advice was not be strong enough:  For a good night’s sleep, protection may be essential. As I say in the update to that post,

A bedwetter should wear protection.

A parent of a young bedwetter should insist on protection.

A parent of a bedwetter old enough to make a mature decision should offer and very strongly recommend and encourage protection.

The authors close with an interesting comment: Diapering at older ages does not have a negative effect on a bedwetter, nor does it perpetuate bedwetting. Diapering will lower stress and shame and improve “the child’s well-being and psychologic functioning”.

Speaking from my own, my siblings’ and my children’s experience, I think that is certainly true. A wet diaper is less stressful and shameful than a wet bed, and no child wants to wake up in either a wet bed or a wet diaper.

Of course, as I have suggested, it is probably not good salesmanship to call it a diaper, even if the authors of the study do!

Kushner, Cohen-Zrubavel, Kushnir, “Night diapers use and sleep in children with enuresis”

[Thanks to commenter George for passing on this citation.]

Parental anxiety

An interesting paper reporting on a survey of doctors and parents:

“Although both [parents and doctors] thought that bed-wetting is a maturational problem, the parent group thought emotional causes were important and were less likely to accept small bladder size as an etiology.”

Medical research in the last generation has found genetic, hormonal and physiological causes for bedwetting. That would explain why doctors focus on those factors. Parents who don’t know about those studies probably still accept an earlier generation’s belief that bedwetting has emotional or behavioral causes. Or maybe it’s parents’ natural human tendency to believe that their children can control things to a greater degree than their children actually can; that a child could stop wetting if he tried hard enough.

An even more interesting result:

“Parents thought that children should be dry at a much younger age than did the physicians (2.75 vs 5.13 years, respectively)”

Wow. “Should be dry” before age 3.

Perhaps the parents interpret, “children should be dry”, as, “when would I like my kids to be dry”. Three might be a defensible answer to that. Most parents would like their kids to be dry by 3. I would have overjoyed, although given their genes, I didn’t expect it. (I’m sure Mom would really have loved for all her kids to have been dry at 3!)

On the other hand, that’s a high expectation. Surveys say that most kids still wet the bed at 3. I’m generally skeptical about the accuracy of these sorts of estimates, but these surveys seem well constructed.

Part of it may be that parents don’t remember when they stopped wetting the bed themselves. Most – almost all – of us stopped wetting the bed when we were too young to form a memory of it. An excessively rosy belief in one’s toddling maturity probably colors it back a year or two. I don’t remember when I stopped (although I certainly remember when I started again!), and I would be skeptical of anyone’s memory of being dry before 3. The only memories I would trust would be of people who wet the bed until well into school age, and even they would probably tend to nudge that memory.

The doctors may interpret the survey question as, “At what age can one expect most children to be dry?” Plausible surveys indicate that is about 5.

The right question is, “when should I become concerned”. Current medical wisdom seems to be age 7 or 8, unless the child starts wetting again after being dry (secondary enuresis), or bedwetting is affecting the child’s emotional state, or the child has other symptoms of diabetes, urinary tract infection or other medical problems.

Beyond age 7 or 8, one should test and keep an eye out for more serious causes. But the best approach to bedwetting itself is to keep calm, manage the consequences and wait to outgrow it.


Having an occasional accident must be more stressful than chronic bedwetting.

I wear protection every night. I don’t worry about the risk of an accident. I don’t wake up in a puddle thinking, “Damn. Not again.” I don’t worry about J waking up in my puddle thinking, “Damn. Not again.”

In my late teens, I only had occasional accidents. I didn’t wear protection at home or (after my first semester) at college. An occasional accident didn’t bother me, probably because (after years of chronic bedwetting) it was a relief that it was so rare. I could get up, change the sheets, get the wet things going in the washer, shower and be back in bed in a few minutes. I barely even noticed I was wet.

But I could see that, for someone who’s been dry since early childhood, an occasional wet bed could be unnerving. Do I really want to wear something every night? If not, do I really want to wake up in a wet bed?

Stress incontinence is common after childbirth. Moms know where the nearest bathroom is, potty-stop every hour when driving and worry about sneezing or laughing with a full bladder.

I assume that happens to some of us while asleep. One of my closest friends stays with us when she’s in town. She has been bringing a bed pad and a Depend since her second was born.

For my kids, too, an isolated accident seems more stressful. A wet bed after a dry month or two is more disheartening than a nightly parade of wet pullups. “I thought I was through with this!” Reset the days-without-an-accident clock to zero. Keep packing pullups for sleepovers and trips to Gran’s.

“My spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed”

The most common search terms that lead people to this blog are, “bedwetting spouse”, “bedwetting boyfriend” and the like. I ran them through Google, just to see where this appeared in the list.

What I found were cris de couer to medical sites and advice forums:

“My husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed, what can I do?”

“My boyfriend/girlfriend is trying to hide his/her bedwetting, but I found out.”

On the other side, I see equally desperate cries:

“I wet the bed – How can I ever have a boyfriend/girlfriend? How can I ever get married?”

“How can I tell my girlfriend/boyfriend?”

If you’re asking one of those questions and wind up here, my advice is the same as my advice to anyone who wets the bed:

Relax. Live your life. Protect your bed and yourself. Date. Fall in love. Get married. Have kids.

If your spouse/lover/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed, reassure him/her. Get him/her to a doctor.

Bedwetting is not a big deal. No one who loves you will care that you wet the bed.

If you love someone who wets the bed, don’t let it bother you. It won’t affect you at all. Properly managed, you shouldn’t even notice. Bedwetting is not a big deal.

College: Advice

Bedwetting didn’t inhibit me from going to college. It shouldn’t inhibit anyone.

I lived in a dorm, with roommates and a shared bathroom, all four years. None of my roommates knew that I wet the bed.

Some advice:

Occasional accidents

I wet the bed only occasionally during my first two years of college.

I wore briefs as a precaution for the first semester of freshman year. I didn’t wet in that time. I had only wet a couple of times in the preceding year, so I decided to stop wearing protection. I did have a plastic cover on the mattress, and kept a disposable underpad (chux)  under the sheet in the strategic spot.

I only had a couple of accidents in my first two years. I got up immediately, put on a terry robe to cover my wet nightgown, stripped the bed, dumped sheets and nightgown in the washer, got a quick shower, put on fresh sheets and nightgown and went back to bed. Fortunately, my roommate never woke up, the chux caught everything before it got to the mattress pad and I was able to get the wet things out of the room before they started to smell.

If I were to do it over as an occasional bedwetter, I would probably wear a washable lined pant, which would have been easier to deal with than a wet sheet and nightgown.

Regular bedwetting

I wet almost nightly my last two years of college.

In the evening, I went in a shower stall, closed the door, put on a disposable brief, pulled a stretch panty over it to compress it and keep it quiet and put a big, baggy Lanz nightgown over it all.

In the morning, I went to the shower stall, took off the brief, put it in a Ziploc bag and took a shower. The Ziploc is a great invention; it seals in all the odor. I could dispose of the Ziploc’d brief at my leisure.

I had a big bag to carry everything back and forth to the shower. (See below.)

Check in with the student health service

SHS was a godsend.

When I started wetting again in college, my main concern was that disposables would be as inadequate as they had been when I was a teenager. It was one thing to wear a cloth diaper at home, where I could include them in the daily laundry of a large family. But daily laundry (or a diaper pail) would not have been practical in a dorm.

The SHS nurse studied the medical supply catalogs, and found Molicare briefs. They handled my worst bedwetting. She had the briefs for delivered to SHS. I picked them up a few at a time as needed, rather than having cases delivered and stored in my dorm.

Protect yourself from your bed

Put a plastic cover on the mattress. Even if you don’t wet the bed, it’s a good idea. College mattresses are vile.

Dark flannel sheets don’t show wetness (much) or stains. A drop of bathroom freshener will hide the smell of a small leak (if you can stand the smell of bathroom freshener).

Get a bathroom bag

Get a big canvas bag to carry stuff back and forth to the bathroom. If you have your towel, washcloth and toilet/makeup kit on top, nobody is going to look any deeper. Stacked from the bottom:

  • gallon Ziploc bags
  • barrier cream (Desitin)
  • disposables
  • wipes
  • nightgown or pajamas and stretch pants
  • towel
  • washcloth
  • toilet and makeup kits

Wear a robe or baggy pajamas and a stretch short

When I went to college, we girls all wore baggy flannel Lanz nighties. There’s no way to tell you’re wearing protection. Not sexy, but who are you trying to entice in a dorm bathroom?

A stretch short compresses a brief (or pad or washable pant), so that it makes less noise and is less noticeable.

A robe covers the wet spots on a nightgown or pajamas for the dash to the bathroom.

Put wet things in a Ziploc

Gallon Ziplocs are one of the great inventions of the 20th century. They lock in all the odor and make  a handy package for disposal.

Enjoy college

Really. There’s absolutely no reason why wetting the bed should inhibit anyone from doing anything, especially going to and enjoying college.

Be confident.


Really. I had a date pretty much every Friday and Saturday night. More here.

Say something on the freshman questionnaire?

I didn’t say anything about bedwetting on the freshman questionnaire. The SHS nurse told me that if I had, I could have been had a single room or shared a room with another self-identified bedwetter. I didn’t want that. I liked having roommates and didn’t want to restrict my pool of potential roommates.


I dated J for several months before I told him that I wet the bed. Telling him was prelude to spending the night together (not intercourse — that was much later).

Over the next few days, J asked a hundred questions — some intelligent, some silly, some touchingly sweet — as they popped into his head. A college girl who wet the bed was … different. He was kind and sympathetic, without being patronizing. If he had pitied me, I would have dumped him.

After I assured him that I wasn’t hurt or embarrassed by his curiosity, he wanted a “fashion show”. (I wore briefs back then; it was before I discovered pads.) For the next few weeks, he was sneaking looks as I went from bathroom to bed, although he (comically) tried to be discreet. There wasn’t much to see — I wore a big, baggy, flannel Lanz nightgown, just so nobody could tell what I was wearing underneath. Super sexy.

The sense of its peculiarity passed for him as quickly as it had for me as a teenager. It became conventional, as interesting as me brushing my teeth. My fascination with his shaving lasted longer than his interest in my nightwear.

J was just like Mom: practical, compassionate and matter-of-fact. He was relaxed. He was reassuring. It didn’t mean anything to him. It just wasn’t important. And why should it be? It didn’t interfere with my life; there was no reason it should interfere with his (or ours together).

Then we got married. And really intimate.

Incontinence wear isn’t sexy. (I have Simone Perele and Eres for that.) I’m not ashamed of it, but there’s nothing to be gained by flaunting it. Last thing before going to bed, I go to the bathroom, close the door and put on a pad. First thing in the morning, I go to the bathroom, close the door, take off the pad and throw it out. The only thing J ever sees is the pad lines under my pjs. With the modern disposables and my baggy pjs, I don’t think he even sees that.

It doesn’t interfere with intimacy, any more than pajama bottoms do. If I’m in the mood, I don’t put on a pad before getting in bed. (Pretty good signal, no?) If we get in the mood, it comes off PDQ.

I’ve never slept unprotected with J. He’s never woken up in a wet bed. I would never want him to subject him to that misery, especially not to the misery of my wet bed.

I doubt my bedwetting crosses J’s mind more than once a month. Once in a while he’ll ask if there’s anything new, or joke about it.

Maybe I should ask him to make a guest post.

UPDATE: J has reviewed and approved this message, after making me take out some PG-13 material. He also pointed out that “protection” has a different connotation in the intimate context, so I changed it to “incontinence wear”.