The Things We Hide

by Alissa Fleck

What do we do to make ourselves more romantically appealing to the people we date? It’s hard — but not impossible — to hide things from someone with whom you live. But what happens when cohabitation is not a factor?

I asked an array of individuals what they would do if they found out their boyfriend, girlfriend, hookup buddy, or casual encounter was due to arrive at their place within a half an hour. Everyone interviewed had something to say on the subject. Their responses follow.


Twenty-five-year-old Claire from Texas has been in a relationship with a man-identified, male-bodied person for nearly three years.

“First off, I would likely make sure my personal downstairs is in order,” she notes.

Claire would then hide her Diva Cup, not because her boyfriend’s not familiar with its existence, but out of a sense of propriety. “I would also hide personal wipes,” she adds. “Even after three years, I want to maintain some semblance of a ‘feminine mystique.’”

“I also try to stash evidence of my gluttonous, single-living lifestyle,” she explains. This evidence includes: “Frappucino cups, Takis Fuego flavor chips, red wine bottles and Chipotle napkins.”

Claire also clears parts of her Internet history, including evidence she has been stalking her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s Facebook. She concedes she often forgets and he discovers the Internet hunting anyway.

“I do try to burn incense if the room is getting a little too fart-y,” she adds.


Geoffrey, 34, from New York is no longer in a relationship, but recently dated a woman for six months. She believed them to be monogamous, but for Geoffrey it was a different story.

“The only thing I might have hidden from her were used condoms,” he explains. “If I had sex with someone else the day before she came over, or maybe even earlier that same day, maybe they got pushed down to the bottom of the garbage can a little bit further.”

Geoffrey adds, “One can’t let their cheating condoms sit at the very top of the pile!”


Jennifer, 42, from Idaho, has been dating her boyfriend for just over two years. They have chosen not to live together just yet because Jennifer has four young children.

“There is a big difference between kid time and boyfriend time at my house,” she explains. “All the toys, backpacks, sippy cups and video games are gone. You would hardly know I have children when he comes over.”

Jennifer also avoids showering until their date nights. “Everything gets shaved,” she says. “I put all the crappy sweats and worn out undies away and move the nice, lacy stuff to the top.”

“Oh,” she adds, “I also bust out my vibrator which is well-hidden when the kids are about.”


JP, who is 35 and lives in New York, has been dating a woman for just over a year.

“I used to try and clean up a bit but then realized she didn’t care what my place looked like,” he says. “What she does care about is getting some, and then getting food. Usually in that order.”

What JP quickly realized, however, was that sometimes certain things between them didn’t always quite align.

He explains: “Just like swimmers are at higher risk for drowning on a full stomach, if my slow metabolism had not finished with the last meal I was in peril of cramping and dying in the midst of an otherwise romantic moment.”

If he got the 30-minute warning call, he would “do whatever [he] could to try and poop before she got there.”

This routine involves anything from yoga (specifically the happy baby pose) to chugging coffee to keeping cigarettes handy.

Then, of course, acting natural when she shows up and all his cares are “flushed away.”


Twenty-five-year-old Nora, from Illinois, has been dating a man for five months and has reached the point of frankly not giving a damn.

“In the past when I’ve dated people I definitely made changes when I knew they were coming,” she explains. “It was less about putting stuff away than making sure strategic cool things — such as the latest Murikami novel — were casually lying out.”

Despite her best efforts, these moves often went unnoticed, or the individual in question “failed to take the bait.”

“I don’t do that for my current boyfriend,” explains Nora. “I even leave my dirty dishes in the bed as a trademark of my charmingly blase attitude toward filth.”


Matthew, 26, from Colorado, met a guy, “J”, on Scruff, the “hookup phone app geared toward gay men with body hair and their admirers.”

For about two weeks they followed a pattern of late night “What are you up to?” texts followed by Matthew walking to J’s apartment for, presumably, “no strings attached humping.”

Soon, however, strings began to attach. They found themselves meeting out on the town or spending Saturday afternoons cuddling on the couch, eating homemade soup and watching “Girls.”

According to Matthew, J had quite the massive member, which was the primary source of preparation anxiety throughout the short-lived relationship.

“I would spend half an hour at times spread eagle in my bathtub douching and re-douching myself to ensure the runway was clear for takeoff,” explains Matthew. “Each time I shoved that crudely shaped anal enema up my backdoor, I had the same thought run through my head: “Why am I doing this?”

Matthew adds that J never seemed to appreciate all this necessary prep work. Things have since fizzled between the two due to a lack of clarity about their situation.


*Some names have been changed to protect the sneaky.

Photo via sanzibar/flickr.

Alissa Fleck is a freelance journalist based in New York City whose work has appeared in Bitch Media, the Huffington Post, Narratively, Truthout and more. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaFleck.