Life sometimes gives us more that we seem to be able to handle. When that happens, we typically retreat into quietness and depression It’s that old “fight or flight” response that is hard-wired into our bodies, not something that we consciously think about. Yet, there are times when we have time to think when faced with something that is stressing us out. When we have the space and time and place to make conscious decisions about how we will respond, we have to consider that this space/time/place is a gift.
I am a naturist or nudist or whatever, that much I know as do a good number of people in my life. It isn’t exactly that I have chosen to be a naturist; it is more like I have opened up enough to the fact of the inner naked person that has lurked inside my head and body. My ego had denied this inner nude self for many years, too many years. But, rather than regret, I am simply relieved to have been able to emerge – come out of the closet? – into life as a more authentic me. I began to think that others were in the same place, that perhaps even most people would be unconsciously hiding their naked self behind a wide variety of belief systems, that if given the opportunity of experiencing the liberation from being clothed all the time, that they would naturally shed their clothing at the appropriate times and places that would present themselves.
However, this isn’t reality. Some people get to experience that liberation and find themselves stressed. Even after several deliberate attempts, they remain uncomfortable when unclothed. Their inner self is as clothed as their outer self. It just is what it is. Something we have to accept and not waste time trying to convert and change others. The last thing the world needs is another two sets of missionaries: missionaries preaching the ethic of being clothed, and missionaries preaching the ethic of being clothes-free with promises of heaven for all who convert. What we need to do is focus on being as authentically ourselves as is humanly possible.
So what about the situation where both sides are committed to being together in a relationship. The person needing boundaries that are marked by clothing finds him or herself stressed when the other is naked in what is perceived as their space. That invasion of personal space within which a person thrives best creates all sorts of anxiety and stress. Unconsciously, there is then a need to do something to protect that personal space – fight or flight. Strangely, the person who is comfortable, even thriving with being clothing-free has no sense of a personal space being challenged by his or her unclothed partner. That is, unless there is a phobia about wearing clothing, a different issue entirely. So how does this problem get solved?
Does one create nude zones for the partner who finds a need for being clothes free? Such nude zones are only limiting one person in the relationship, the nudist. The give and take could include the creation of a time for nudity as well, a time when the non-nudist feels the least uncomfortable with their partner’s nudity. What emerges through these negotiations is a compromise in which the non-nudist accepts that he or she can’t deny the right of the nudist to clothing-free time; and the nudist accepts the fact that the non-nudist has acknowledged a right to nudity. So far so good. The relationship has made room for differences. Both feel a sense of accomplishment.
But time does strange things to a relationship. The nudist begins to feel more and more comfortable with nudity in the relationship to the point where the boundaries that were set begin to be compromised. Occasions of nudity begin to creep outside of designated times and places. There is an ache to have more time and space where the spirit, mind and body are able to be fully open. With this transgression, there is eventually a push-back by the clothed person who feels betrayed and disrespected. And so tolerance to the other’s nudity lessens. The differences become even more highlighted in the process. Yet, neither wants to have the relationship end, so there is a retreat back to the original position, or perhaps a renegotiation that allows the nudist a bit more time and space. This dynamic continues to reappear until either one or both are tired of the constant tension.
What then? It is hard for a couple, it is perhaps even harder for collectives sharing communities. I would like to have your ideas and experiences added here.