I’ve always been intrigued by the depth and importance that women attribute to a man’s putting the toilet seat back down after finishing in the bathroom.
When I first encountered this mandate, it was explained to me that when a woman goes in the middle of the night, she doesn’t want to suddenly find herself trapped in an icky basin instead of perched on a comfortable seat.
But even when I’m not in a woman’s bathroom in the middle of the night, I still find that the imperative to maintain this discipline is no less powerful.
Being preoccupied with more weighty matters I have left a woman’s bathroom at various times recently in the middle of the day or evening, only to be reminded once again of this sacred obligation.
So what’s it all about?
Obviously it’s not solely about a woman finding herself with a wet and gross tush.
Most women I know will make the first request with a touch of humor and fairly low key, but I am well aware that if I continue to lapse the reminders will become more forceful and less humorous.
So the real issue here is about respect and being heard. Women want access to your brain in terms of paying attention, and nowhere is the potential for lapsing into daydreaming as great as on the toilet. Often the process is enhanced by needing a newspaper or magazine to take one’s mind off the task at hand.
So there is a two step process for leaving the toilet that lets a woman know that you are not completely self-absorbed and that her needs are equal to your own in your mind.
First she needs to hear water in the faucet so that she knows that you’re washing your hands.
Then she needs to know that between the time that you’ve washed your hands and left the bathroom, she has returned to your consciousness sufficiently to prompt you to remember to lower the toilet seat.
Think of this as an exercise in mindfulness. You need to retain a portion of your attention on something other than yourself, the Lakers, or what you’re having for dinner/breakfast, and if you want to stay connected to a female, part of that attention will need to be on her.
It’s amazing how infrequently, during the course of the day, we consciously control our thoughts and become present. So let the toilet seat be your new mantra, remind yourself by washing your hands, and your social life will be easier and much less stressful.