In opposition to the Open Door Policy

I’m easy to get along with when it comes to relationships. No games. No drama. I have my faults, but I learn. I’m far from high-maintenance. To put it in the parlance of women, “I’m not your ‘skinny jeans,’ the expensive ones that are a pain in the ass to put on and restrict your ability to eat and breathe. I’m your ‘comfy jeans’ – good old, reliable, always-there-when-you-need-them, don’t-care-how-big-your-ass-is comfy jeans. That’s me, the kind of jeans a girl could settle down with and maybe raise a pair of shorts.”

I don’t have a lot of rules. In fact, I really only have one special rule. As low-maintenance as I am, you’d think this rule would be something universally reasonable, but it has proved to be surprisingly controversial.

Rule 1 (of 1): Please close the bathroom door.

That’s it. Simple, right?


I have talked to married couples about the Open Door Policy and it is fair to say – through my unscientific polling – that three out of every four married couples leaves the door open when nature – in both of its glorious forms – calls. I can hardly begin to explain how much this bothers me. It’s huge – a complete deal-breaker.

There are very practical reasons to close the door. The main reason is that I don’t want to smell or hear anything you’ve got going on in there. If I did, I would occasionally open the door while you’re in there and say, “Hey babe, I just want to get a big waft of what you’ve got cooking. Let’s turn off the fan. I want to savor this.”

That will never happen.

On a more personal level, I want the door closed because it preserves my positive mental image of you. When I think of my girlfriend, I don’t want to think of a half-dressed woman grunting on the pot while thumbing through a gnarled, old Us Weekly. We cannot choose the images that are seared into our brains forever. There is one girl I went out with who will always be Orange Girl. We went out, went to a bar, she had a tan and the funky bar lighting hit her and she looked orange. Now she’s Orange Girl forever. It’s burned in my brain. I can’t marry someone who, when she calls my cell phone, my mental image is of her nodding her “no” with her face scrunched up while spraying a can of Glade.

This couple is fucked.

(Above: This couple is fucked.)

I have this theory. When you’re in a relationship with a woman, you’re actually in a relationship with three women. You are dating the woman as she is, full of virtues and faults, and that is the Real Woman. You also are dating the woman as you want to see her, an idealized vision of the woman that encompasses all of her virtues. She is the Wonder Woman. The third woman you are dating is the woman who scares you to death, filled with faults and problems than can’t be ignored – the Psycho Woman.

(You can replace Man with Woman in each case. This cuts both ways.)

When you start dating, the woman you meet is the Wonder Woman. After six months, or when you move in together, the Real Woman emerges and eats – sometimes literally – the Wonder Woman. Most of the time, Real Woman is just as lovable as Wonder Woman because you understand that her virtues outweigh her faults.

This is how you can tell where Wonder Woman starts and Real Woman stops. The first time you tell your mom about your new love, the words you use to describe her are actually describing the Wonder Woman.

A man would never say, “Julie is an account executive who lacks confidence because her parents were pieces of crap, which is why she never pursued her dream of dancing and instead embarked on a career path she does not enjoy. She drinks too much wine.”

A man would say, “Julie is smart and professional and she loves to dance and have a good time.” That’s his Wonder Woman.

When a guy complains, he complains about the Psycho Woman. He is only seeing the parts of her that emerge when 1.) She does not want to be in the relationship anymore 2.) She feels she is not being treated with the respect she deserves 3.) The relationship has outpaced her maturity.

There you have it – my Three Woman Hypothesis. Every relationship is Big Love. This is why men drink.

All of which, unbelievably, brings me to my point.

I object to an Open Door Policy because – besides being gross – it destroys my mental image of both the Real Woman and the Wonder Woman. The Real Woman is always in flux. She is a battle between the best things about her versus the worst things, and the last thing I need is a “worst things” visual of my girlfriend on the can. Worse, the Wonder Woman image gets completely annihilated. The woman you respect so much, the wind beneath your wings, the soul mate who comprises best parts of yourself reflected for the whole world to see – she’s gone. She’s taking a dump in a Port-O-Let.

Not to get all Carrie Bradshaw on you – why not? the movie is a hit – the first time the bathroom door is left open, it signals a change in the relationship – a point of no return. If you take the open door without comment, expect other degradations to follow. Most couples can handle it, but not all and certainly not me. If you fight to close the door, remember that you are not only fighting for a sanitary living environment, you also are fighting for the essence of your relationship. You are saying, “A heart can only be open when a bathroom door is closed.”

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles
  • Holly

    “The relationship has outpaced her maturity.” More often than not, it’s that her maturity has outpaced the relationship. Just wanted to clarify this point.

    Having said this, I agree: There is no place for open doors when it comes to making stinky. I’m married and have been with my husband more than 5 years. Although he sees fit to whip it out in front of me and take a tinkle, usually while I’m in front of the mirror trying to get ready for work, I refuse to go in front of him and freak out completely if he tries to walk in or talk to me while I’m “busy.” I know that at this point in the game, he sees me as Psycho Woman, but he’s nice to me and doesn’t say these things, so I like to think he still sees me as Wonder Woman–a woman who is just too pretty to poop.

    Thanks for pointing out this travesty.

  • steve

    Huh. I don’t mind the door all that much, it’s a preference, sure, but it’s not the end of the world. But I absolutely demand that if ANYONE replaces the toilet paper, it must be oriented so that it unrolls towards the outside (a.k.a. “frontwards,” a.k.a. “correctly”).

  • Sarah B

    Viva la closed door!!!

  • Dan

    Something I forgot to bring up in the podcast: Is this something that most women long for? Do they look forward with anticipation to the day when they can do their business with a witness? (Pardon my slight foray into Don King-speak there.)


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