When we are naked, we all look alike. – Right. This, however, doesn’t mean everyone is comfortable with being naked in front of others. Some of us have absolutely no problem with taking off their clothes and walking around naked, while others struggle with it. Who is to say what is right or wrong?
As you are interested in this topic and reading this blog right now, you are probably one of the people falling into the second category and that’s okay.
Nothing wrong either with your partner finding you attractive and wanting to see your naked body. Should this cause you discomfort and your partner is not making an effort to understand, the relationship is facing an issue. Different people have different comfort levels for different reasons. Here are some factors that can play a role for your discomfort in being naked in front of your partner:
Self-image and self-esteem
Are you comfortable in your own skin? This is an important part of being comfortable and intimate with your partner. We all see images of beautiful models in magazines and on TV all the time which can make some of us suffer from negative body image issues.
Discomfort in being nude when other people are around can also be caused by experiences of bullying or body shaming in childhood and teenage years. As adults, we might feel very vulnerable and exposed based on such past experiences.
It is important to remember that our partners often do not see the imperfections and flaws we are seeing when looking into a mirror.
Individuals raised within a rather conservative environment might perceive being naked in front of others as inappropriate or sinful. Some cultures and religions frown on nudity and sexual expression.
Based on their upbringing, some people consider being naked a natural state of a human being, while others perceive it as vulgar. In some countries it is normal to walk around naked in changing and shower rooms in the gym for example, in others this is absolutely taboo.
Being physically naked in front of your partner often becomes more comfortable when there is no issue being emotionally naked, meaning: When you can allow yourself to be open with your partner about your emotions and feelings, the discomfort might decrease.
Keeping in mind that getting naked with a partner does not necessarily mean having sexual intercourse, discomfort in being naked interferes with relaxed sexual interactions. Your partner cannot read your mind or feel your feelings – the only way to make them understand is by opening up to them.
What can help?
Many of us get nervous even thinking about showing our whole body. Getting naked step by step in front of your partner might help. Make sure you feel comfortable with the lighting in the room. You can explore together what works best.
In extreme cases of discomfort in being naked in front of others, professionals speak of ‘gymnophobia’, the fear of nudity. In couples counselling/therapy you may explore the issue together, learn to associate nudity with something other than genital sex and find a way forward so being around each other naked becomes as natural and free of shame as it was for Adam and Eve.
Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.