Urinal etiquette, it turns out, is a bit of a minefield.
A recent conversation with friends revealed that there’s a whole lot of rules – and men just instinctively know to follow them.
As a woman, I’m more used to the female experience of going with a friend, even when I don’t really need to, and deep conversations through cubicle walls.
Men pee in silence, even if they happen to run into their closest friends.
So for those not so accustomed with this unspoken code, we asked some men to explain.
Rule number one when using the urinals: you do NOT talk when using the urinals – no matter the location.
This includes the busiest clubs: while the girls’ toilets may be full of gossiping and giggles, men step off the dancefloor into a soulless and silent den, a quiet only occasionally broken by the sound of the hand dryer.
This rule even applies if you step into the toilets with somebody you know.
You could be talking to a close friend for an hour straight beforehand, but the conversation MUST halt if you’re both in the bogs.
And by no means should you start a conversation if you see somebody you know in there, either.
Urinal etiquette dictates that if you cross paths even with a long lost relative you can only acknowledge each other with an eyebrow raise and upward nod until outside the facilities. Also: given the option is available, never choose to pee in the urinal right next to another person.
At best, you’ll give them the signal you’re a weirdo with no personal boundaries.
At worst, a serial killer. Things can get really tricky if you walk into a busy loo and are forced to pee next to somebody else.
Sometimes I just can’t go if two men are either side of me.
And sometimes they can’t go either. On several occasions I’ve been in the situation where myself and whoever is using the urinal next to me have both pretended to pee – both knowing the other is pretending.
We stand for up to 20 seconds silently, internally screaming for something to come out, giving up, shaking it to keep up the pretense and finally packing our tools away and retreating to the sinks. Our secret kept.
Our bladders still set to burst.
Leave a gap if possible, prefer a cubicle to filling in a gap, if it’s empty then don’t go right for the middle because that’s weird.
Obviously don’t go and stand right next to someone if you’re the only two people in there and there’s lots of space.
Personally I think it’s icky that people stand and use their phones with one hand but a lot of people do that.
Some people will bring their pints in, if it’s in the pub, but in that case you must be careful where you put them.
A windowsill or ledge above the urinals is ideal You generally don’t speak, even if you’re with someone you know.
If you enter while speaking to someone you will often stop speaking and then resume once you leave.
If you’re with someone it’s also weird to wait for them inside the toilets – generally I would go wait in the corridor outside.
There is probably some etiquette around cubicles if you’re standing.
You sort of want to leave the door ajar so that it’s obvious it’s occupied, otherwise people will try to open the door into your back.
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Generally I’ll always use a stall if one is free as I don’t really like using urinals, being the awkward anxious person I am.
If I do, it’s just eyes front, never make eye contact and never look at another guys business.
Shake three times and be as clumsy and awkward as possible.
If it’s a big long trough, then go to the furthest corner, face the corner, focus intently on the corner and pretend not to notice anyone who comes along.
Never use a cubicle adjacent to someone if there is another cubicle free – it’s never nice to see someone’s feet nextdoor.
Flush the toilet upon entering to give others a chance to go about their business without silence making anyone feel uncomfortable.
Always blame the person before you if there is something wrong with your toilet after your visit.
Always turn on hand dryers after washing hands to avoid that awkward toilet noise which heightens ‘other’ noises in the toilet.
If working in a building with several floors, never go to the toilet on your own floor, nothing worse than running into casual co-workers in the toilet and the awkward silence that ensues.
Never get caught coming out of the ladies toilets which are much cleaner and better kept than the gents.
If there are three urinals and the ones on either end are occupied, never use the one in the middle, head for a stall.
Always respect the splash zone. It is acceptable to make the standard joke on arrival “So this is where you all hang out?” Joel Leave a gap – never take a central position in a vacant trough – edges first.
Never speak, never make eye contact, never hum. Do your business and wash your hands. Names have been changed and contributions have been edited for clarity.