The Toilet Seat – Up or Down?

The toilet seat – up or down?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, in response to controversial emails about the toilet seat, I would like to pose the question: “Do you want to be right or happy?”

First a quick update:

“What his bad habit says about him”
Read the highly controversial MSN article by Natasha Burton that outlines 10 bad habits men have and my response and insights into the motivation and meaning behind each habit.

Now, let’s talk about the principle of choosing to be right or choosing to be happy and how that relates to the toilet seat – up or down?

This week MSN,com came to me with a list of ten common male habits and asked me for my opinion on the meaning of each behavior. “What his bad habit says about him.” I did not create the list but only responded to it. Nonetheless, if you are in a relationship, then you can guess without even knowing the contents of the entire top ten list that the most controversial and the most discussed habit was about the toilet seat; why guys leave the seat up and what that might indicate about them.

You can read the MSN article here.

There was an extraordinarily high response of angry men to the piece about the toilet seat:

Leaving the Seat Up

When men do this, Wanis says, “they’re too interested in being right rather than being happy.” Wanis maintains that guys shouldn’t look at the act of putting the seat down as a loss of manhood because sometimes the toilet seat can be the sign of a power struggle. “Little things like this can reflect larger, deeper problems in the relationship,” he says.”

Of course, the highly emotional, heated and personal attacks came from men – one man called me a closet gay, while another called me a man-hater; one called me right-wing bigot while another called me a typical liberal; one accused me of losing my manhood while another said I was writing this simply to win women over.

Trev wrote:

“I recently read your article via MSN, on 10 habits of men, and what they mean.

To me, you’re seeking meaning in things that are just common to the animal.  There aren’t really any deep rooted issues with most of the things you mention.

A man not putting down a toilet seat is more of an overblown cliche, than anything else.  Men who don’t put the toilet seat down usually just forget b/c it is not part of the process of going no. 1.  Also, the idea that a woman will fall in, lacks logic.  Do women sit on filthy toilet seats without looking?  NO!

I’m not sure if you squat, hover, or sit when you urinate, or what brand name purse your wife carries your balls in, but you seem like nothing more than an LA weirdo who has too many degrees.”

All of these ten behaviors are referenced in the article as habits – not occasional behaviors.

My first key point is that in every moment we can choose to be right or choose to be happy. Sometimes you are right but it doesn’t result in being happy. You can win an argument and lose a friend; you can be vindicated but turn someone off. In other words, my point is to encourage people to simply ask “How much does this issue matter in the grand scheme of things? How much does putting the toilet seat up or down matter in the relationship?” And yes, that principle applies to both men and women.

When we are adamant that we must be right, we then create a power struggle – the struggle for who will be right and who makes the decisions.

Interestingly and ironically, as Trev proceeds to attack me personally, he doesn’t realize that he is actually supporting my contention (that sometimes the argument about the toilet seat being up or down can be motivated by a power struggle) when Trev concludes that he thinks that if I put the seat down, my “wife carries” my balls in a purse.” In other words, he is saying that if I choose to put the seat down, then the woman has all the power. Therefore, if Trev leaves the seat up, he is saying he has the power and feels that he is expressing his manhood.

When two people are fighting over the toilet seat or toothpaste or some other truly meaningless thing then these arguments are indications that there is a deeper problem in the relationship – that partners do not respect each other, are struggling to see who should have the last say, and who should be right or in control. Couples who have been happily married for 40 and 50 years will always tell you that one of the keys to their success is that they choose their battles wisely. (Also read my newsletter about people who have successful marriages and thus know what to say “The twelve most important words you will speak”.

I personally do not feel that my manhood is being sacrificed if I choose to be considerate of a woman by putting the seat down or opening a door for her – and doing so for every woman. I also believe that being thoughtful and considerate towards a woman does not make you less of man but rather more of a man. Manhood, to me, is determined by greater things such as accountability, responsibility, achievements, legacy, personal growth, contribution, integrity, self-respect, leadership, mentoring and so forth.

Brent wrote:

“If you consider some of the things you wrote about as actual ‘Bad Habits,’ perhaps you need to re-prioritize your views on what’s going wrong in this mess of a world we live in today.”

Of course, there are greater issues at hand – and thus I wonder why so many men chose to make the toilet seat so vastly significant by responding so emotionally and critically. And yet, most likely these same men will attack women accusing them of being emotional and irrational. Yes, the bigger issues in any relationship relate to your morals and values – what you will teach your children, the amount of love, respect and patience you will choose to demonstrate to your partner regardless of your gender.

Kelly wrote:

“Man bashing is far too prevalent in society, how about we work on fixing people instead of “men”!”

These are observations and are not intended to be “man bashing.” Generally speaking, men don’t like to be told what to do, they don’t like to be criticized and most of all, they don’t want to hear that they need to change or should change in any way.

For the people who believe that my intention is to bash men, please read “Cheating – are women innocent?” where I  reveal that women cheat on men as much as men do  or my newsletter “Women are taking over” where I point out that in the media “men are being portrayed as buffoons, simpletons and weak, helpless idiots who cannot survive without the wife who now is smarter, more grounded and the boss.”

It’s interesting that some insecure men will become so riled up about bad habits and toilet seats but are happy to watch and support the TV shows that portray them as idiots and bozos, not realizing the impact of such a message to women who, in turn, treat men like idiots or less than. I did not hear much of an outcry from the men about movies such as Sex and The City 2 which encourages women to become obsessed with materialism and narcissistic pleasures while also concluding that the man simply does not know how or is not good enough to satisfy the woman. These to me are the real issues at hand.

Finally, Guy wrote:

“I have to completely disagree with this Mr. Wanis. In short he’s retarded. I’d say most guys have no underlying motive to not doing dishes, procrastinating or not opening doors (which i do by the way) I think a person is a person and this is just another one of those stupid company paid “Doctors” who tell the whole world their “amazing and deep” findings. My findings indicate this guy is full of himself…”

Many readers confused procrastination and prioritizing tasks. I believe that procrastination can often stem from either laziness or a fear of failure. But when you leave the dishes in the sink because you have other priorities, this is not procrastination, unless you always avoid doing them.

Are truly successful people (male or female) procrastinators with no underlying motives for what they do? Was Mark Zuckerberg, who cofounded Facebook at age 20, a procrastinator? Do Steve Jobs, Donald Trump or Michael Jordan or Mohammad Ali fall into the category of “a person is a person” and thus had no underlying motives to their behavior or drive?

Finally, yes, many of the bad habits listed in the article are not purely the domain of men; women can equally engage in those same bad habits. And yes, of course, women have bad habits of their own, but there are times to stand up for what you believe in and for what is right; I humbly suggest that what you are standing up for is something truly valuable, a principle that is worth fighting for. Do you believe that the toilet set fits into that category? Do you choose being right or do you choose happiness?

You can read the angry comments about the MSN article here on my website.

You can post your comment on this newsletter below.

If you have received this newsletter as a forward and would like to receive all of my newsletters please enter your email address on the home page at

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

Facebook Comments
19 replies
  1. Avatar
    Danielle says:

    You need to take the fact that there are a multitude of cultures here in the US and thus a multitude of etiquettes that entail. At 21, I have grown up in the most culturally accepting society in the history of the US which is still ever so changing. In many Asian countries not slurping your food is rude to the host. Up north when a man opens a door for a woman that poor guy gets yelled out by the woman. I have friend who has been up north and he was telling me how the women of there think it is insulting when a guy does that. I told him they don’t understand the charm of southern hospitality. I could go on about the flaws to your story. So before you go “analyzing” the behaviors of the male species take into account the fact that you are writing to millions of culturally diverse people.


  2. Avatar
    rmj says:

    Yeah!!!! My guy friend told me ;if he puts the toilet seat down for me, I have put it up for him. To funny…

  3. Avatar
    DmLucifer says:

    There is one easy solution. Guys, leave the toilet seat down. EVERYTIME. Learn to aim, pee through the thing, the bowl is large enough. If you splash the seat, just use some toilet paper to clean it or better yet have some cloth ready. Urine is sterile so there is really no danger of diseases.

  4. Avatar
    Sailor says:

    I have been in my current realtionship for nearly ten months now and there have been many ups and downs and major rows, definitely surrounding the power struggle. The main conclusion from her side is that it shouldn’t be like this so early on and that maybe we’re just incompatible (is this immaturity on her part???). But I have also changed a few times when she’s suggested: 1, definitely because my work was killing me and I was being stubborn to myself for carrying it on so long (but at the same time, my goals changed and I was no longer leading a single mans life, so it wasn’t necessarily changing for her too). 2, cutting my hair/changing my appearance because she’s said she prefers it (again i did fancy a change and was too lazy when single or justified it because of hideous acne or was to look tidy for a job interview) 3, the relationship has become too serious (i’ve been highly stressed through no work or money and also through a possible mourning period of leaving that career behind, which i’d been pursuing for so long but i purposely then injected fun into it and surprised her with gifts or by trying out paying equally, even though i’ve been out of work for a while – which is difficult in NY!! – this also stemmed from an earlier argument which blew up because i “took advantage” of her good nature by making her pay for things, when she didn’t have the courage to say to me, she didn’t actually have a lot of money at the time. i’m not an evil person and would never have taken advantage had something more solid been said by her earlier on, but this definitely broke the honeymoon period for us, even though she can’t admit that she didn’t have the courage to say i was taking advantage then as she was so into me).

    But ironically the toilet seat thing HAS come up!! Now I always leave it shut as I’m a bit of a clean freak/feng sui obsessive, so to me it’s just tidier!! I’ve left it up on a few ocassions where i’ve simply “forgot” or got a bit agitated by holding it up as it doesn’t stay up without force (which is a skill and i really look manly like in urinals!!) but she’s brought it up in front of friends (with a slight smile) and i’ve reacted defensively saying all of the above about forgetting, i’m a man and that i usually do put it down. Now I probably should’ve joked about it and feel I failed this test by her, but because of my underlying negativity I guess I took it too seriously, especially with all of the above teething issues with us and my general anxieties floating around at the moment. Thing is we’re still together now and I know arguments will always happen, but to blow them up like this makes me feel bad and I feel I have to be the apologetic one (especially when incompatibility pops into the equation). By the way, she’s a little older than me too but am I being immature by flooding my personal failings in at the moment and blurring my rational/humorous thinking?? Surely letting her in is intimacy?? Regardless of leaving the seat up occasionally. But as a man, I’m NEVER going to sit down to number 1!! That’s just plain ridicule!! (It actually overflows through the seat due to the angle of dangle anyway, girls).

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Sailor,

      Thanks for being so open and relating your story and for being open and honest about what you feel and what has been happening.
      As a man, we both understand that too often we attach our value to our jobs and money – we want to be able to provide. So, yes, the challenges you have faced with work, career and money would have left you feeling down.

      It also seems to me that you are very hard on yourself and you feel as if you are not good enough which is not true.

      Here are some suggestions and observations:

      1. there is resentment and frustration in the relationship – you resenting the fact that she had to pay for you and she resenting it also.
      2. You must talk about the above (point no.1) so that you can both let go of the resentment otherwise that alone will kill your relationship and the love you have for each other.
      3. Speak openly with her about how you feel – don’t blame anyone – just say how you feel i.e. “I feel stupid and weak that I had to ask you for money or depend on your for money.”
      4. It’s natural that when we feel stressed out or down, we cannot or at least, find it hard to be humorous – so forgive yourself for that
      5. Speak to her about the incident where she spoke about the toilet seat “in front of friends (with a slight smile) “; tell her how you feel – don’t blame. Instead say “when you spoke about such and such, I felt such and such.” Also, ask questions, “I was confused, I wasn’t sure whether your were being humorous or if there was another intention. What was your intention with that comment?”
      If you feel that it is not something you would want her to do again in public, then say so – but do so gently yet firmly.

      Finally, one key question, do you feel that she is trying to be your mother and trying to control you – telling you how to act, dress and behave and paying for you?

      All the best,

  5. Avatar
    PJ says:

    Of course leaving the seat up is a habit. It is a learned behavior. It can be unlearned. while there is no right or wrong of the habit, may I suggest that it is not a God given right to stand up to pee just becaue you can? A friend of mine taught her guys to sit becaue of cleanliness issues and i mentioned this to my boyfriend (who has his own home) because when you stand up, it splashes the floors and wall with urine, he agreed wholeheartedly after starting the practice at home and finding out how much cleaner his walls were.! How disgusting! If you are the one who cleans the bathroom by all means, spray away. If you are NOT be considerate and sit down. If standing up to urinate is what makes you a man you have more problems than Dr. Wanis can solve. and to answer the comment does a woman sit on a ‘dirty’ seat without looking, no of course not, but in her own home (that she likely cleans) she should not have to turn on the lights in the middle or the night to avoid a cold sitz bath. Grow up guys.

  6. Avatar
    Kathy says:

    Well, I am rolling around laughing!! Where are the real men here in this blog? All I see is little boys whining because their fragile egos have been bruised!!I guess their egos are bigger than their brains and much bigger than their p…..s. Wow!! Talk about wimpy men. We all know bad habits are bad habits no matter guy or gal but seriously boys, grow some balls! Now maybe you men get it why there are so many lesbians and why we turn to women. You’re not men! Where are the real men who don’t whine, complain or cry like little 2 yr olds? I am guessing that these cry babies run to mommy for every little thing…i’d never depend or turn to any of the men on this blog for protection. i’d get better from a butch lesbian!!!…jus sayin…

  7. Avatar
    Josh says:

    Also, your “5 components of being a human” or whatever are strangely similar to Donnie Darko. I had to laugh.

  8. Avatar
    In regard to your reply to PhDmA francopolo says:

    Yes, the same argument applies to them. You know why? They have fame and notoriety. PhDmA francopolo was saying that a person without that fame and notoriety with “such a portfolio of critics” would probably not be so “busy, printed or supported.” You have completely missed the point of that statement of his.

  9. Avatar
    Michael says:

    Dear Patrick,

    As I read your article I slowly developed an image of a bitter, never satisfied, single, forty something year old woman. My imaginary woman was all of the above because every guy displayed from time to time, one of these habits, and she was never going to find her “dream man”. Anyways, I found it ammusing where my mind took me. As a Jared already mentioned I think that you are reading a little too deep into some of these habits. But, with that being said, I can not stand the fact that my room mate leaves HIS dishes in the sink until I end up taking care of them. I consider that pretty inconsiderate!

  10. Avatar
    Patrick Wanis says:

    Dear PhDmA francopolo,

    You wrote:
    “If a normal person would have such a portfolio of critics ,i doubt they would be busy, printed or supported !!”

    Does that same argument apply to Sarah Palin or controversial doctors, scientists or philosophers such as Stephen Hawking “Science makes God unnecessary” or Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion”?

    All the best,

  11. Avatar
    John says:

    I really don’t get the whole idea of lifting the toilet seat. If I’m going to sit on the seat, I put it down. Why is it expected that a man perform this action? Why is there no shared responsibility on this?

    I’m of the opinion that I should leave it up. The whole reason for lifting the seat is to urinate without getting any on the seat. If it where up all the time then this would be a non-issue.

    The fact that you can say this action “can reflect larger, deeper problems in the relationship,” is totally unfounded. Simply the act of lifting the seat in the first place shows consideration.

    Furthermore, when did it become decided that it is worse to leave the seat up than to leave it down? Is it not inconsiderate of women to not leave the seat up? This is typical of the politically correct mentality. Rather than increase equality, lets give preferential treatment to one group and punish the other…really people?

    This entire article attempts to interpret actions that all people, both male and female, have been guilty of at one time or another. Using these examples as some sort of crude rubric to evaluate what a person really does or thinks is just silly. If this is how you plan to judge or choose your partner, you will look forward to a long and lonely life. It’s called partnership people, and with partnership comes compromise.

    Maybe Mr. Wanis’s next article should be about why women insist on there always being an underlying reason or motive for all of our actions. The things that come to mind are selfishness, the need for control, and most importantly insecurity.

  12. Avatar
    Jared says:

    First, I’d just like to say thank you for the best laugh I’ve had in months to the sad little people calling themselves men writing such hatred over a trivial subject. I had no idea the insecurities of so many of you.

    Second, nice article. Personally, I believe you are reading a bit too much into some of your examples than needed. Depending on my mood, I’ve been guilty of several, but do not consider them to be habits as much as some do. At times, I have left the dishes, left the seat up, and not opened the door, but not habitually. It happens when I’m busy, angry, and stressed. Instead of turning it into the typical debate ladies, read those signs we leave to know when to try talking to us or to just leave us alone. While there are certainly those men who do it just because they call themselves men, the rest of us may do these, or other, so-called habits as a sign that something is bothering us.

    For example, if the bills are all overdue and I’m waiting for our paychecks to clear so we can keep the lights on, I may forget to put the seat down. If my lady says something that pisses me off, she can open her own doors for a while. If I just cooked dinner and a certain someone mocked my work, then that certain someone can do the dishes themselves.

    The bottom line is simply this, it should be made clear to both sides why these events occur without blaming only a single cause.

  13. Avatar
    PhDmA francopolo says:

    Patrick,you reached a point in your life where you absolutely missed the train!!You work with People who have too much of everything and have to come up with things like- you, to keep them entertained!!
    You still study westerners right??? Maybe you are just not ready to make such statements yet,i mean the critics here are quiet overwhelming!!
    Good thing for you that your clients are eroded enough to not care and probably continue listen to your way! If a normal person would have such a portfolio of critics ,i doubt they would be busy, printed or supported !!

  14. Avatar
    tim says:

    I personally find that so many “men” will complain about this. i found myself and my wife going back and forth about the toilet seat when we first got together. seeing how silly of an arguement this was, I just simply figured if we put lid and all down, problem solved, not to mention, when company walks in, it makes the bathroom appear cleaner.

    fortunately, me and my wofe really dont aurgue much, we usually find ways to fix the issue and go on our merry way and really dont discuss such small issues anymore. life is much easier, perhaps with the small things, we set the direction early on how to handle the small issues. I dont know. I do know, that in our house, my wife doesnt want to be the “man” or the “leader” and i dont want to to be “mom”. I feel we both have rolls as parents, so why worry about the small stuff, when everything is small.

  15. Avatar
    Eric says:

    I TOTALLY disagree with the concept that a man leaving the seat up is a “bad habit”. The fact you are starting at this point says alot. While I agree that leaving the seat down can be considered courteous, the reverse is NOT TRUE. The female argument on this issue has been they dont want to look, just sit without falling in. I think most people will agree that a guy should not go without looking first, but for women to DEMAND that men MUST leave the seat down, and men like you that agree that it is a bad habit is ABSOLUTELY REDICULOUS.

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