relationships

We Asked People How They Feel About Casual Nudity with Sexual Partners

"It’s a way to be free and not sexualized," says one person. Another just doesn't have air conditioning.

by Leila Ettachfini
23 July 2018, 9:00pm

There’s something to be said for lounging around alone and naked—for the joys of fresh sheets on your bare skin, noticing a “new” mole near your nipple, digging into some mozzarella sticks and marinara with no shirt to stain, and enjoying the fact that there is absolutely no reason to look sexy doing any of it.

What happens when we bring someone else into the mix—like a romantic partner? Is it double the freedom, or does it harsh your (nude) toke? When I started asking around about this, people brought up a few concerns—some wondered if lots of casual nudity made their bodies less desirable when they were hooking up, or if being comfortable naked together outside of sexual contexts said something about the closeness of a relationship. (Some people just didn’t have air conditioning.) I asked eight people how they approach hanging out with their partners in the buff, and, unsurprisingly, got quite varied results.

Leah, 23

[I’m naked around my partner] pretty often. I think there is something special [about it], because you are so comfortable and relaxed with each other's bodies that you aren't overthinking the nudity—but I'm very comfortable being nude in lots of contexts.

It definitely doesn't detract from being sexually naked for me. It's kind of cool how you can shift from being non-sexually naked to sexual easily and without much thought.

Brandon*, 28

There is nothing better than smoking a joint in the nude with your loved one. Also, changing in front of homies—no big deal. Naked pranks among friends are funny as long as y’all on that level—you know, don’t be a creep.

Sara, 28

I used to be afraid of being non-sexually naked in front of a partner, even though I’m an absolute nudist when I'm on my own or with platonic friends. The fear used to be that my partner would see something unattractive or "too real" about my body, which would make them not want to fuck me anymore.

I’ve gotten over that, I think largely because my recent partners have been overwhelmingly vocal in their support for my (fairly unconventional, aka fat) body. Now, I'm very comfortable being non-sexually naked in front of my partners. Sometimes it catches them off guard, but more often, it gives them license to do the same.

When I was first non-sexually naked in front of one of my casual partners—just doing casual stuff like watering my plants and washing dishes—he remarked and asked if I was an exhibitionist. After I said no, and that I’m just more comfortable that way, he started hanging out in my apartment naked more often (I live alone). The other week, I woke up to him doing morning stretches naked in my living room before work. My influence!!

"The fear used to be that my partner would see something unattractive or 'too real' about my body, which would make them not want to fuck me anymore."

Lisa*, 22

I’m literally always [non-sexually naked around my partner] because I don’t have AC. I think it might be exciting to a partner when they first see it, but I like that it’s just a normal thing—sometimes I open the door naked, but that’s just because I was sitting naked already!

Sydney, 24

When [I’m] sexually naked, [I] feel attractive and don’t have much time to feel insecure about what [I] look like. It’s just different when I’m changing or getting in the shower after a long day. Even though it’s probably not true, I feel like I’m being scrutinized in a way that’s impossible during sex. It’s nice to feel completely comfortable around him, but after a long day, if I feel bloated and gross, I feel like it kills the sexiness a bit.

Sasha*, 23

[I’m not casually naked in front of partners] very often, but I've also never been in a serious or long-term relationship, so I'd imagine it's different for me in that sense. For the most part I'd only be naked if we had already been hooking up beforehand.

Oftentimes my last partner would want me to sleep naked with him after sex, and I'd get uncomfortable and insist on putting a T-shirt on. Not because I didn't trust him or anything—it's just not really something I'm used to in general. I guess I do feel a bit exposed if I know someone is with me and I'm doing a casual activity like reading while naked—it's not even something I'd do if I were alone in my room.

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I think it's nice to be totally comfortable with your body with someone else in that way, and I hope I can work up to that someday. Since sex is a scenario where it's expected you'll both be naked, being naked in any other situation can feel even more intimate.

Amy, 27

My boyfriend and I are basically always in the buff at home—we live together officially now, but more or less shacked up at his old place right away after we met last year. The other week, I wondered if being so comfortable around each other naked impacted our sex life at all—like, did it make it less special for him to see me naked when I am so often anyway? I asked him, and he said it was the opposite—that he thinks it makes us MORE comfortable around each other sexually.

I asked him how he mentally differentiates between when we're just hanging out naked and when we're leading up to boning, and he said, "Look, if a person can't tell the difference between when their partner's being sexual and when they're not, they've got bigger issues to think about than whether or not it's cool to casually be naked together."

Jeremiah, 24

I’m naked in front of Anthony all the time. I feel safe and comfortable. It’s a way to be free and not sexualized. It’s different in a relationship because I know that my body is loved for what it is.

*name has been changed to protect the privacy of the source.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.