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.

Guys:

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.

Gals:

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.

Why?

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.

Why?

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.

Results

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:

Conclusions

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.]

“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.

J

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”.

College

I no longer wet the bed regularly when I started college. I wet once or twice every few months, but it was rare enough that I didn’t mention it on the college health and housing questionnaire.

My family doctor warned me before I left for college that stress and change might trigger a relapse, so at first I wore a disposable at night. I was dry for the first semester, so I stopped wearing after Christmas.

I wet my bed a few times over the next two years. I wasn’t concerned. It wasn’t very heavy, and I was able to deal with it — change sheets and nightgown and get the wet things into the dorm washer — without waking my roommate, and before the room smelled.

In my third year, I wet the bed twice in a week. The next week, I wet three times. The repeated laundry (and disrupted sleep) were getting on my nerves, and I was afraid that I was eventually going to wake my roommate. I was frustrated that the problem had returned after so many years.

I went to the student health service. The doctor was useless, but the nurses were terrific. They were sympathetic, provided me with disposables and arranged for me to see a urologist and a neurologist.

Once again, the doctors were unable to find a cause. My bedwetting became more frequent, until it was virtually every night. It also became heavier. Eventually, the frustration gave way to resignation, but I knew that I could cope with it.

And so it has continued, to the present day.