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On a different thread, several people have responded to my comment that "getting undressed in a group of male and female friends is a bonding experience that's hard to explain."
Among them are NakedOne, Bluetrain, Duane, and maybe some others I've missed.
I wanted to pull this out and put it into a separate thread because some really good comments by others risk getting lost in the other thread on introducing reluctant wives or girlfriends to nudism.
NakedOne wrote this:
I don't really know how to describe this feeling I'm calling a "bonding experience."
It's not sexual, though those feelings aren't completely absent, at least initially. I actually feel social nudity helps break the linkage between sexuality and nudity. Women have a "sixth sense," sometimes called "women's intuition," and we're not unaware when a male friend is noticing our bodies. I can't think of many male friends who have seen me naked who haven't become less interested in my body when seeing me clothed after swimming nude with me than they were before the nude beach or nude pool visit. It's as if, once men see female friends naked, their curiosity gets satisfied and they're not quite as interested anymore.
As one male friend said, "Yeah, BeachBunny is wearing a cute blouse and that skirt shows off her nice legs, but after seeing her Saturday without any clothes on at all, why fantasize what she might look like without them? I've seen the same thing her husband sees every night and he's a lucky man."
No, I need to change that. My husband is reading this and reminds me that back when we were dating, when we undressed and showered together our first time on the morning before visiting the nude beach near our campus, it was like throwing gas on a fire when it came to his interest in my body. He says because we had committed ourselves to no sex before marriage, it was increasingly difficult for him to see me nude because he wanted to do much more than merely see me. But at the same time, he says nudity helped our relationship a lot because after seeing many other women nude, including me, he had a realistic idea of what women looked like without their clothes and felt free to be focused on my body, not other women's bodies.
For friends other than him, while there is certainly some awkwardness about going to class on Monday with someone who we were naked with on the beach during the weekend, I think social nudity is a bonding experience. Especially for women, getting the courage to untie their bikini top and pull down their bikini bottoms with male friends is REALLY difficult. Much more than for men to pull down their swim trunks.
I feel for men, seeing an attractive female friend naked "gets it out of their system" and once they both know what they look like without clothes, it eliminates the "mystery" and "hiddenness" that clothes, especially women's clothes, are often carefully designed to create. That's even more true about women's swimsuits. Male friends in college who visited textile beaches with me usually said they were much more attracted to my body at a textile beach than they were on the nude beach. I'd usually smile and ask, "Why do you think women's swimsuits cost more than men's swimsuits?"
It's contrary to logic, but most male nudists agree that the majority of women look sexier in a swimsuit than in tightly fitting jeans and T-shirts, but less sexy when their clothes are completely off. As for me, yeah, I like seeing a man with "ripped abs" take off his T-shirt, but that happens at textile beaches too. I don't particularly feel much when he pulls off his shorts, but it's different for men watching women take off their swimsuits. Male and female bodies are different and different things get men and women interested in each other. I'm more "turned on" when my husband does something nice for me at home than I am when he and I are showering together, and like many husbands, he figured out that doing stuff on the "honey do" list is a good way to get me interested in other things.
For both men and women, I feel being nude together helps take already existing friendships to a new level by sharing something very personal, and for women, by going through what is often a very difficult experience of undressing. Maybe it's impossible for men to fully understand how hard it is for a woman to unhook the clasp on her bra with a man watching. Whether or not we want to call it a "bonding experience," it's surely something a woman new to nudism will not quickly forget.
Again you have demonstrated that you understand how complicated all of this is. And that's good.
I don't think bonding is the right word but I can't think of any other word, either. It is what happens when you spend a lot of "ordinary" time together, not stressful or difficult or anything like that. That's not to say that ordinary, everyday living doesn't have it's stressful moments, because it does, all the time. Anyway, it doesn't just happen at home. It happens where you work, too. I can't really think of any other places where you might be spending a lot of your time besides at home and at work.
So what am I talking about? You simply become more familiar with each other and are relaxed in one another's presence. Typically, you even come to like being with others like that, here referring to a work situation, and they start to become like family. Whether or not there is any sexuality present depends of course on the people involved. Where I work, for example, there are a couple of women who dress to kill. But on the other hand, as usual, some contemporary fashions for women are very attractive to men. And that was true fifty years ago when I was in high school (53 to be exact). We're just kidding ourselves if we can't admit that much. Beyond that, however, you begin to see the other person as a whole person, not as an object. You know when they don't feel well, you learn their personalities and so on. But you usually don't have an after work relationship, even though you are always talking about after work activities; the weekend, the family, other friends, your hobbies and interests, and so on.
Another thing that happens where I work, to some degree, is department activities that are actually intended to bond people. I have no idea if they work or not but they are officially described as team building activities. Some are fun but others are more of an excuse to get out of the office or visit the other location and have a free lunch. They're usually fun, at least.
That make sense?
Wow. I've gone back and re-read all of what I wrote this morning before work, and what I wrote this afternoon after coming back. Never intended to say so much.
I was going to write something else but I think I've said way too much already. I planned to copy and paste something I've written to a young couple we know who are now attending the college from which we graduated, answering their questions about how we handled friends who asked to go with us to the nude beach.
I'll probably post that later but for now I think I should wait. No need to overwhelm everyone. Better to let people read and respond, and then write more after people have had the chance to read what's already out there.
Since we've said all sorts of things about why certain people came here and whether they're real or not, I'll say a few things about my real world experiences discussing social nudity, not online, with those who are interested.
Let's take "Amy," not her real name. She'd been in class with me in a previous semester but it was a large class and we didn't know each other well. She was interested in visiting the nearby nude beach near our college but was a little concerned about going by herself since she wasn't dating anyone, and a female friend she planned to go with backed out when her boyfriend objected.
I got a phone call one day in my dorm saying, "Hey, BeachBunny, do you remember me from _____ class? I'm told by _____ (name of a mutual friend deleted) that you might be able to tell me more about _____ Beach."
We talked for a little while and I decided it would be better to meet in person. I heard some laughing in the background and wondered if I was being set up for a prank. I later learned her roommate was laughing about something totally unrelated. No problem. But I was still glad we talked face-to-face.
Amy agreed to meet later at a local off-campus coffee shop. I got there before the scheduled time and sat near the back but in a place where I could see the door. I recognized Amy as she came in, and as her eyes adjusted to the lower light inside, I waved her over to my table in the mostly empty coffee shop. Amy got her coffee and walked over.
I made some mental notes. Amy is fairly tall, slim but not especially athletic, and was wearing shorts, tennis shoes, and a halter top, with hair pulled up in a ponytail. As she got closer I noticed she had a deep tan, lots of freckles, and her halter top showed the outlines of bikini straps. Clearly she spent a lot of time in the sun, but from the tan lines it was just as clear she had little if any experience even suntanning topless.
After some pleasantries, I moved into why were talking.
"So tell me, Amy, what got you interested in _____ Beach?"
Surely Amy must have been expecting the question, so I was surprised when she got a bit nervous. She gave reasons which might identify her if I repeated the details, but the basics are she was dumped by an ex-boyfriend who thought another girl was more attractive and the other girl was willing to do things that Amy didn't want to do. Amy had drawn her line at keeping her clothes on while making out, her ex-boyfriend wanted more, Amy said no, and the boyfriend, who was already interested in another girl, left Amy for that other girl.
I told Amy she was better off without her ex, and that any man who doesn't respect her boundaries, whatever they are, isn't worth dating. Amy agreed, but said she shared her ex-boyfriend's curiosity about what people look like without clothes, and wanted to visit a place where she could see what real people look like apart from romantic issues.
"So Amy, you say you'd like to see what other people look like on a nude beach," I said. "It goes both ways, you know. How do you feel about people looking at you?"
Amy blushed and admitted it would be difficult. We had a good talk about my own initial nervousness, and Amy explained that part of why she now told boys "no" on taking off her clothes was that she had gone farther than she intended with several boyfriends in high school, and in her senior year had been terrified for about a month when she missed a period until her pregnancy tests had come back negative. Since then she'd been much more careful, including a "clothes stay on always" rule.
I asked Amy if she understood that unlike a dating couple who undress together, who are clearly interested in each other's bodies for sexual reasons, most people at a nude beach wouldn't be looking at her that way.
"Yes, Amy, people will look at you, and many of the people on the beach will be men," I said. "But any beach regular has seen hundreds of women, and you will just be one more woman on the beach, not someone the guy is looking at the way your former boyfriends looked at you when you took off your clothes. You will get noticed because you're new, and because of your tan lines, not mainly because you're nude, because everyone else is nude too."
Amy said she thought that would help.
We had a good talk and I asked if I could call my boyfriend, now husband, to join us. (I'd planned for him to be ready, just in case.) So I called him, he came down to the coffee shop, and he answered some of Amy's questions from a male perspective. Most of what Amy asked had to do with how men react to nude women, and since most nudists know the answers already, I won't repeat them.
(CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST)
After she and he had talked for a while, I asked Amy directly: "Amy, if you go to the beach with us, how do you think you will feel when my boyfriend watches you pull off that top, unhook your bra, and pull down your shorts? And after you're naked, how do you think you'll feel if you see another student you know on the beach?"
Amy lowered her eyes, looked at her hands, and paused before looking up at us.
"Yeah, I know that will happen. I guess I'm okay with it," she said.
I picked up on her body language, which was clearly saying "no" even though her words were saying "okay."
"Amy, I won't lie to you. It will be difficult, it may be scary, and you need to be sure you're ready, not just 'guess you're okay with it.'"
Amy, my boyfriend, and I had a good talk. We discussed lots of things. I asked her to imagine laying on a beach towel, completely nude, and to see a particularly good-looking guy we all know came walking over to us just as nude as we were. I asked her to imagine walking onto the beach and seeing that man already there and turning around to watch her undress, or seeing him take off his pants while we watch.
"You know, I'd be more than okay with that," she said.
I then asked her to change the guy. What if it was somebody she didn't like very much? What if she saw her ex walking on the beach with his current girlfriend? What she saw her ex and his current girlfriend walking around gawking at bodies, and she was far away from her beach blanket and couldn't cover up? How about someone she REALLY didn't like? How did she feel about maybe having someone get a surreptitious photo?
Amy hadn't considered the problem of photos and that stopped her for a few weeks, but finally she decided even that was okay.
Our beach visit went well with none of those problems. Amy asked that my boyfriend and me undress first, which we did, but she was able to go topless almost right away and she did what some other first-time women do, walking down to the water, swimming for a while, taking her bottoms off underwater, tying them to her arm, continuing to swim for a while, and then walking back to her beach towel fully nude.
We cautioned Amy about the need to use lots of suntan lotion on her bottom and her breasts, which worked fine.
"BeachBunny, I thought I'd be scared but this isn't bad. It's actually fun! And it's nice that we could meet _____ and his girlfriend ____ here, and also _____ and _____ and _____. It felt a little strange when _____ looked up and down my body, but I just felt, 'Hey, he's just as naked as me and I like seeing him, too.'"
Amy was an obvious newbie due to her tan lines but she became a regular and those quickly disappeared, helped by her decision to start using a tanning bed to get rid of them as fast as possible. Not what we'd usually recommend, and for a couple of weeks her "whitetail" was more pink than either white or brown, but it worked. She decided she especially liked swimming nude and started making beach visits part of her regular routine, using it more than the university's pool.
Amy is not especially athletic. She's a recreational swimmer, not competitive in any way. But slow lap swimming is quite different from free open water swimming, and between that and the fairly rigorous walk from campus to the beach, Amy said she liked the way swimming, walking, and steep hill climbing was firming up some of her muscles which didn't normally get used. After some time on the beach, her muscles must have developed enough for one of her male friends to notice them when she wore shorts on a particularly hot day, and he asked what exercise she was doing to develop them. The male friend was taken completely by surprise that Amy, who he knew was a swimmer, was also now climbing up and down a steep route to the nude beach.
The male friend had visited the nude beach a few times but wasn't a regular. He agreed to come with her the next Saturday, and after the normal nervousness of friends bashfully undressing, they both walked down to the water, went swimming together, came back to where we had set up our beach blankets, and spent the next few hours talking about the nude beach.
It wasn't too long before he asked Amy out and they quickly became a dating couple.
Clearly a success story. I wish all went as well as hers.
Well said and done BB; I love reading stories like that and you told it well.
Well, I'm hoping I get to contribute to this thread in the near future with Mrs... ;-) We're going back home in January and meeting up with some good friends... who have also finally fessed up that they too are semi-nudies! Number of nude beach visits, etc. She was reluctant at first apparently, but now loves it... and both hubby and wife are aware of our situation, so some good conversation is likely to ensue. And it gets better... cause we're spending an afternoon at the spa. Will let you know if any CO opportunities arise... LOL
That being said... I did have a kinda cool bonding experience recently. My wife and I have recently started attending a new church closer to home, and we've connected to a large group of folks our age and slightly younger. I've been stressed lately, so I decided to take a mini-vacation out at this tiny resort we often go to in the mountains. (more of a hostel, so SUPER cheap) They have a wood fired sauna, nice view of the mountains, so I go there to unwind every now and again. When I mentioned where I was going to a new friend at church, his eyes went wide and he basically begged me to come! LOL! I was reluctant initially, because quite frankly... I WANTED MY NAKED TIME!!!
But we chatted and I figured what the heck, I could use a friend, so I invited him to destress too. We chatted over the next couple of days as we prepped, and the inevitable question came up over the phone, "So, about the sauna... I assume I should bring a bathing suit?" I had hesitated mentioning anything prior to this because, well... most Christians aren't very comfortable with social nudity. So I very carefully replied with, "Well... put it this way... the question of the bathing suit is entirely up to you." So he responded with, "Okay... well, in that case... I'm assuming then that you're going to be... less dressed?" LOL So I replied candidly, "Yes, that is my preference... but it is entirely up to you what you do."
So he said that he'd bring his along, but then we'd play it by ear. And when Sunday came along (we were each taking a long weekend, staying over until Monday) he was ITCHING to get out on the road! Turns out he's been stressed too, and was really looking forward to unwinding a bit. So we finally got there, and I got the best news possible... it was a cold weekend, so EVERYONE else had cancelled, and we had the entire resort to ourselves! We'd been placed in our own private cabin too, as that meant they had to heat less of the place, so we had our own private kitchen and everything! (more on that in a moment!)
So we got the fire going to cook our steaks (this was an unwinding weekend... so we were gonna eat well!) and I fired up the sauna for when dinner was done. So after we cooked and ate (and if I may say, they were the best steaks I've EVER made!) the sauna was ready to go... so I got all my stuff ready, and he was over there checking it out, so I went over to the hooks outside... and started to undress. He said, "Oh, I guess I'll go get myself ready then" and headed back to the cabin to get his water bottle and such, so I finished getting undressed and hopped in to the sauna, wondering what he was going to do next. Well he arrived outside, started getting undressed... and then next thing I knew, he was stepping into the sauna... NUDE.
We actually spent the next four hours in and out of the sauna, getting to know each other and having some real male bonding time... which was great, because it's been a long time since I've had good male friends, since I moved from out east. And we got into some real good conversation, including... his seeming comfort with being nude. I could tell this wasn't his first rodeo, so I asked him a number of careful questions, which ended up revealing... that yes, he's pretty much a home nudist, though he said he'd never use the term "nudist" to describe himself. Though he did repeat a funny line his wife said to him just the other week, while he was getting dressed as they were getting ready to go out... "Oh... so THAT'S what you look like WITH CLOTHES ON!" LOOOOOOL!!!
So now that we'd covered that subject, I piped up with, "Well, that's good to know... I guess that means we don't have to bother getting dressed to head off to bed then!" And with that having been said... we didn't! We stayed nude for the rest of the evening, and the next morning, since we knew there was no one else on site... I got out of bed, and didn't bother putting any clothes on. It was WONDERFUL to finally have a friend who genuinely didn't care, and I spent my morning in the nude, we shared some breakfast, more great conversation, and I actually got far more relaxing naked time than I'd anticipated that weekend. I came hope way less stressed, and have a new good friend to boot!
So yes indeed, nudity can be a real bonding experience. AND... we're already talking about doing some back country camping in the summer, where yes indeed... CLOTHING WILL BE OPTIONAL. HOORAY!!!
I suspect that what you have just described is much more of a problem for women than for men. Even so, that is why nudist clubs in this country were so secretive and probably still are. You know, the first names only sort of thing.
The basic problem is in doing something that might under any circumstances embarrass you, including both someone actually seeing you, in this case, at a nude beach or merely hearing about it. You described both situations.
The obvious solution is to only visit nude beaches when you are on vacation. I actually think many people do that and to the detriment of organized nudist clubs. There are other factors that have hurt nudist clubs in this country but they're another subject.
Otherwise, one should never do things that would embarrass you like that. But that also means you could be up front with your nudist activities. That's easy for a 40-year old man but not so much for a 25-year woman. If I were to tell people at work (there's hardly anyone else to tell) that I visited a nudist club over the weekend, assuming that it was July and not December, it might cause a few raised eyebrows but little else. Some might consider that to be "too much information" and would rather not hear any more about it. Others might be more interested. Who knows? Most would be bored about what I did yesterday, though. We all have friends and acquaintances that we share our personal stories with but we just have to be discreet about what we share with whom. I'd say that most people have some surprising and interesting thing to share, only most people won't do that.
Essentially all I'm saying is never do anything that someone can hold over your head. At the same time, though, never tell anyone everything; just try to make it sound like you are.