Sex + Dating

Why Dating Naked Is Actually a Fantastic Idea

Dating Naked
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

In an era of uber-connectivity and endless apps, it's getting increasingly difficult to cut through the conveyor belt of dating BS in order to discover who a person really is. It's the great irony of our times: we can access one another instantly from across the globe; but carefully contrived bios and curated assemblages of profile pics mean we get little more than self-censored glimpses into a person's personality.

But maybe real connection is actually much simpler; requiring only that we bare our truest selves... literally.

With the growing number of nudist cruises and resorts -- even remarkably watched reality show Dating Naked (so popular it's now in its third season on VH1) -- you have to wonder: can baring it all bring us closer to finding true love?

Nudity is the great equalizer

"Folks often bring lots to the table when they start dating," says Shaun Galanos, sex educator, host of The Love Drive, and ambassador for Hedonism II, the granddaddy of nudist resorts. Insecurities, fear, and doubt are a few things that can inhibit connection when dating. "Dropping your drawers on a date can be a great way to drop your defenses, show your true self, and experience intimacy and vulnerability that you normally wouldn't access too quickly. Plus, getting a peek at the goods never hurt anyone!"

Parading around your blemishes, stretch marks, errant hairs, flab, and folds for the world to see feels understandably terrifying in a world where we still idealize a mighty narrow margin of appearances. But as a woman who's attended her fair share of naked resorts and events, I can attest to the fact that after a little time (and much acceptance from your fellow nudists), you leave your insecurities behind. You realize we all look different enough that it's impossible to say what we ought to look like -- and the same, in that we all have marks, scars, moles, thighs, and nipples. There's freedom in that. And it opens things up for honest communication, real conversation, and legitimate sexual attraction.

Dating naked allows for immediate sexual assessment, says Dr. Chris Donaghue, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist. "Many people delay sex, thereby not exploring what is a required level of compatibility and interest," he says. "After investing time and energy into talking and socializing, they finally have sex and realize they are not a sexual match. If there is no physical-sexual attraction, it's not sustainable."

Going au naturel applies to more than being in the buff

Ignoring the sexual aspect of baring it all for a moment, nudism is a means for people to interact in a less pressured, more natural way. "Particularly for older people dating, body acceptance and personal freedom become more important to relationships," says Dan Whicker, executive director for the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR).

That perspective is echoed by Steve Vickers, who grew up and now works in the activities department at Cypress Cove Resort, a member resort of the AANR in Kissimmee, Florida. "Growing up as a nudist," he says, "what I have found… is [that] nudity helps break down barriers we unknowingly put up with our clothes.

"If I'm out and about in a nerd shirt with some sci-fi graphic and I come across a girl in a football jersey," he says, "it's unlikely we'll strike up a conversation with each other mainly because of what we are wearing. I might have missed out on a chance because the clothing made me pre-judge, when for all we know she might love a bunch of things that I do but because of that initial hurdle I didn't take a chance and say hi."

"Encounters in a nudist environment force you to focus on the person to find out who they really are and what they're all about," adds Whicker. "Dating in the clothes-free world helps you skip past those awkward, initial moments when you discover who your partner really is and not who they are trying to portray by using clothing as props."

You don't have to be a nudist to act like one for the weekend

Before you pack your things and move into a nudist colony permanently -- or shrug off all these insights since, let's face it, it's not like you can just meet your next date at the restaurant sans clothes -- consider the benefits of hitting a nudist resort or cruise for your next vacay.

Most of these locations offer amenities and activities to suit all comfort levels, and the crowd reflects that. So no worries if you're not up for naked skydiving just yet. You can ease in with naked pool parties, clothing-optional restaurants, and -- the best -- laying around on a beach sans suit.

If you want to test-drive the concept without committing to a multi-day stay, you can always book a flight and rezzy at this new nudist restaurant in London, which completely eliminates the age-old dating dilemma of "What do I wear?"

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Charyn Pfeuffer is most comfortable when baring it all. Follow her clothing-optional escapades on Twitter: @charynpfeuffer.