Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Is Always Naked In His Mom’s House”

My boyfriend is 22 and ever since I have known him, he has been very comfortable being naked or semi-naked in front of his family, which consists of his older sister and his mother. We have been dating for two years and I live with my parents. A while back I pointed out how odd it was that he was comfortable being buck nude in front of his family, since I had grown up wearing clothes in the house. My family is not prudish; we just don’t parade around in underwear all the time. Since the quarantine started, my boyfriend has barely put on boxers and will laze around in a towel for a whole day. He doesn’t even get dressed for college classes and will Zoom in the buff with the camera off, even for one-on-one meetings with professors, which is super unprofessional to me.

Since I pointed out to him that his nudeness was out of the ordinary, he has quizzed his friends about whether they wore clothes at home and was astounded to find that all of them did. He finally asked his family whether they felt uncomfortable seeing him nude and they admitted that “they wished he would wear more clothes.” I told him that I agreed with them. I’m not prudish. I love seeing my boyfriend naked, but it’s really unsexy knowing that he’s naked in front of his family all the time. It makes him seem like a little boy who doesn’t recognize his sexual maturity. I know I would never prance around nude or even in my underwear in front of my dad. But more than that, I feel bad for his elderly mom and his adult sister who have to deal with seeing him in his see-through boxers all the time. I told him that I would respect my family’s wishes if I were making them uncomfortable. He got mad at me for expressing all of this and told me that I made him seem like a pervert who was forcing himself on his family.

Am I in the wrong? Am I body policing him? — Not a Prude, But

You’re not in the wrong for having an opinion, no. You’re not even in the wrong for expressing your opinion. Where you *are* wrong, though, is in not taking ownership of your opinion and not assertively expressing your feelings as your own. Instead of saying that YOU are uncomfortable with your boyfriend parading around naked or semi-naked in his family home, in front of his parents and his sister, you are projecting your discomfort onto them. You are telling him that his behavior is “odd” and not what other people do. That may very well be the truth, but that’s not the real issue here, is it? The real issue here is not what his friends or what other people may or may not do; after all, I imagine if he polled his friends and they all said that they, too, walk around their family homes naked, you’d still be uncomfortable with your boyfriend doing it. And THAT is the real issue here – YOUR discomfort and the reasons for your discomfort.

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a 22-year-old young woman is learn how to assertively express yourself, to take ownership of your feelings and to express them confidently not just when you know other people share your thoughts and feelings but even when they don’t. YOU don’t like your boyfriend parading around his family home naked because it makes you see him as sexually immature and childish. That’s valid, and you need to tell him this. It is a sexual turn-off. Knowing he is conducting his Zoom classes in the buff, with the camera turned off, turns YOU off. It makes you think of your boyfriend as immature. And you should tell him this.

It isn’t “body policing” if you are sharing your feelings as opposed to forcing your feelings on him. You wouldn’t be telling him he HAS to wear clothes at home or for his Zoom classes; you would be sharing how it makes you feel when he doesn’t. The choice is his to change his behavior or not, based on knowing how you feel about said behavior. And the choice is yours as to whether to continue dating someone who strikes you as immature if he disregards your feelings and the feelings of the people he lives with and continues running around his family home in the nude.

I’m 18 years old and my boyfriend of a year and a half is 19. We have been going through some struggles lately because the talk of our future came up and we have different ideas about it. We have always talked about moving in together, maybe after the two-year mark. When I first brought it up, he thought it was a good idea, but now a week or so later, he’s told me that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He said that he’s not ready for us to move in together right now. I told him that that’s completely fine. I’m in no rush, but when I asked if he eventually wants to move in together, he said he doesn’t know. He says he doesn’t know if we have a future together. That broke my heart. He says he wants to move in with his friends first.

I know we are young, so should I not be worrying about these questions yet? I’m not rushing anything between us — I just wanted to know if we had a future. He tells me not to worry about the future and just live in the present. We have always had an amazing relationship and we were so happy together until all this all came up. And now I’ve been skeptical. He has always put his friends before me, and it’s hurting our relationship. I’m contemplating breaking up with him. Should I? — Not Trying to Rush Anything

 
It sounds like you’re lacking a lot of clarity about your relationship. You say you’ve “always talked about moving in together,” and then say that when you first brought it up,he thought it was a good idea but then a week later said that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. So… you discussed it for about a week? That’s not “always talking about moving in together.” You also say you’ve always had “an amazing relationship” and were “so happy together” until all this came up, but then immediately say he always puts his friends before you. Is it really an amazing relationship if your boyfriend always puts his friends before you? And why would you want to move in with someone who never prioritizes you?

It really sounds to me like you ARE rushing the moving in together and talks about the future, however much you protest that you aren’t, because you want some clarity about where you stand with your boyfriend. You hope that if he agrees to move in with you, then that means you ARE important to him. His actions are telling you that his friends are more important. His words are telling you that his friends are more important. If this isn’t satisfactory for you, break up with him and move on. But don’t keep pushing talks about a future together in hopes of fixing or getting clarity on the present. Things are already pretty clear: he’s perfectly happy with how things are between you right now and has zero interest in taking steps toward more commitment. If you’re not happy with where things are between you, move on already. It really is that simple.

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15 comments… add one
  • avatar

    brise April 20, 2020, 7:24 am

    LW1: I guess his family doesn’t give a dam wether he is in underwear or dressed up. Tell him to get at least a T-shirt when he zooms with you. The rest is none of your business. The irony of the situation : you will be the only one to see him dressed…
    LW2: your boyfriend is right. It is much better for both of you if both of you start living with roommates before living as a couple. It is formative and an important step to manage individually or with roommates a flat before experiencing the couple’s life. It gives you maturity and autonomy. Right now, your focus shouldn’t be your future with your boyfriend, but your own future. College, job, languages, international experience (if possible), sport or music, or whatever, and friends.
    The more you focus on yourself, the more your will progress in your life. The more your boyfriend will find an interest in your couple. Your relationship will adapt to these formative years, or not, but you will have taken the best benefit of your very youth.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark April 20, 2020, 12:42 pm

      Brise: The last line of your first paragraph WINS clever quip of the week.

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  • avatar

    ktfran April 20, 2020, 7:36 am

    Where LW1 lost me is assigning feelings to his mom and his sister. If they found it truly bothersome, why did they put up it for 20+ years? Surely, they have agency? Surely, his mother knows how to be a parent and can speak up? I find it rather odd that they said nothing until the LW prodded.

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  • avatar

    Helen April 20, 2020, 8:04 am

    Some families are more comfortable with nudity than others. My husband’s family kisses on the lips while I barely hug mine. I have a Brazilian friend who is constantly naked around her simi adult son. Different strokes for different folks. But yeah, finding it immature for a 22yo to lounge in a towel all day is certainly valid
    Lw2 you’re only teenagers. The likelyhood of you two spending the rest of your lives together is very low. The likelihood of you two signing a lease then breaking up a month later is very high. It’s hard to live with a partner, and takes a lot of maturity. Both of you should move out with friends first. Please don’t deny yourself the freedom of living with friends. Coming and going as you please and figuring out who you are and what you want in life.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark April 20, 2020, 11:39 am

    LW1). Huh. I am confused by the mixed reaction to LW1. As much as I am all for twenty somethings parading around in nothing but see-through boxers… the boyfriend’s cluelessness about nudity strikes me as both off-putting and strange. I would be weirded out, too, LW.

    LW2). Your boyfriend is 100% RIGHT. Living together before you are even 20 is a pretty horrible idea. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. NEWSFLASH; the most sure path to a bleak future involves settling down with somebody at 18.

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  • avatar

    AlicePalace April 20, 2020, 12:35 pm

    LW1 said: “He finally asked his family whether they felt uncomfortable seeing him nude and they admitted that ‘they wished he would wear more clothes.’ I told him that I agreed with them.” So she is not actually assigning her discomfort to his family. He asked them what they thought and they said they wished he would wear more clothes. So they are uncomfortable, too. And she agreed with them. (He needs to grow up and get a friggin’ clue, BTW. How can he not have realized this isn’t really how grown men live around their mothers/sisters??)

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  • avatar

    FYI April 20, 2020, 12:56 pm

    Well, officially LW needs to own her feelings and all that, but let’s just face it — her boyfriend is weird.

    Also I don’t think she is “projecting” her feelings onto his family. His mom and sister flat-out said, after HE asked, that they wish he would put clothes on. What does he do with all of this feedback (again, which HE, not LW, sought out)? He gets mad. Ah, super mature reaction. He doesn’t seem immature, he IS immature.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark April 20, 2020, 1:00 pm

      Yeah. I didn’t see that projection either…

      Do people on the spectrum ever have nudity issues? I dunno. It’s bizarre to me he’s so, well, surprised to discover most people actually, you know, wear clothes.

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    • avatar

      ktfran April 20, 2020, 1:04 pm

      I don’t get it though. He’s 20+. Why hasn’t his mom or dad (if dad is in the picture) or sister said anything until he asked? That’s even weirder, IMO. Especially if they had a problem with it. Maybe that explains his immaturity. His parents don’t know how to parent. Or maybe he’s a dick and doesn’t listen.

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      • avatar

        mellanthe April 20, 2020, 1:21 pm

        I wonder if it’s a bit of both. Like, maybe when he was small and it was less weird he just wouldn’t listen, and so they stopped telling him to wear clothes. And eventually it just became the norm. Perhaps his parents just got bored of having that fight with him, but were still bothered.

        It’s unusual that he’d be completely clueless about it, though. Like, in all the media people wear clothes at home. Nobody popularises the idea of being naked at home (unless you live alone), so I’m not sure how he would have gotten that impression.

        And it’s implied that his family don’t do the same thing, at least when LW is around.

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  • avatar

    mellanthe April 20, 2020, 1:03 pm

    LW1: You’re right, it is unusual. And like you say, it’s certainly unusual for him not to recognise that nakedness has different contexts – with a lover it means one thing, with the doctor it means something else, and with other people it is different. It may be immature of him not to recognise that his mother won’t find it uncomfortable for her grown adult son to walk around naked or feel weird doing it around his sister. The zoom meetings matter less -who cares what he’s wearing as long as he’s not accidentally seen – but the general fact that he spends most days with nothing apart from a towel or boxers on, here is what really matters. This seems to be a big part of how he lives his life. Yes, I think it’s a little immature, and it’s surprising if his mum disliked it that she didn’t say more sooner. His family gave him the impression it was normal, and only now say they’d prefer he didn’t?

    That said, some people just don’t mind being naked together – around friends, family, whatever. And as long as everyone being exposed is OK with it, that’s fine too. It’s perfectly reasonable for you to tell him that it makes you uncomfortable because it’s not how you were brought up. And to point out that it’s not the norm. He may change things, but he may not – if he genuinely isn’t weirded out because his family are all a bit nudist and he genuinely doesn’t mind being naked, he may not feel that it’s worth changing. And you’ll have to decide if that’s something you’re OK with or not. Because he may well remain that way his whole life. It may be fine when you’re living together alone, but would you want your kids raised that way? If it’s a big issue for you it may just be an area in which you guys are incompatible.

    LW2:
    You guys are young. If you enjoy the way things are now, then take things one step at a time. Trust me, also, as a woman, you want him to be living out and learning how to adult before you move in with him – because you need him to be able to hold his own and contribute to life together equally. Every person needs to move out and learn how to take care of themselves before they can be a good partner to others – and guys are particularly likely to be coddled by their parents. You also would benefit from the experience of living out with friends, looking after yourself and not taking on that wifey role in a hurry. Living with friends is so fun and freeing!

    When you say he always put his friends before you – how? It’s hard to say if it’s a normal level of prioritisation (because friends are important, too) or if he really doesn’t treat you as much of a priority as he really should. But it sounds like he doesn’t feel ready to settle down and play grownups with you, and that’s OK. You’re both really young. All the couples I know who are still together after getting together at school (I’m in my 30s), took a long time to move in and get married, because they knew how much we all change in our teens and 20s. They took their time to enjoy things – and if you stay together, then you should too. Focus on building your life.

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  • avatar

    Robin April 20, 2020, 2:45 pm

    My husband and I were just discussing LW1 and the response. LOL! We both think that perhaps the BF was gas-lighting her or has a history of doing so and that’s why she polled others or had him poll others. But we are only getting a snapshot into their discussion with this one issue. Just seemed odd with how defensive he was when she brought it up.

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  • avatar

    Natalie B April 21, 2020, 12:23 pm

    I’m a child of the ’70s, and while my parents were not hard core hippies, they were definitely “hippy adjacent.” To whit, my parents heartily embraced the nudist movement of the time. There were family campgrounds and beaches back in those days. It was a whole thing. Growing up, I had to explain to my friends, you need to CALL ME before you come over to play, so I can make sure my parents are dressed. One friend did not believe me, and was shocked when he came over and found my mom sitting naked in the living room (We lived in a rural area, had No A/C in the house, it was a hot summer day, and the front door was open with only the screen door in place). Needless to say, he was careful about calling from then on. I felt SUPER uncomfortable being naked around others. So in my family I was the weird one for insisting on being covered up at all times. I felt like Alex P Keaton from Family Ties.

    All that is to say, what is normal to some might be odd to others. If being a nudist is who he is as a person and its really important to him, maybe you are just not compatible? Having said that, he should definitely be more sensitive to the feelings of those around him and adjust his behavior accordingly. When my husband (then boyfriend) started hanging around our house a lot, my parents at least had the decency to put on a bathrobe or long t-shirt to make him more comfortable when he was around.

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    • avatar

      mellanthe April 22, 2020, 1:53 pm

      This. Your parents sound fun, hope your friends didn’t get too many shocks!

      Some of my family members don’t mind being less than fully clothed with family – it’s not unusual where I’m from. (I mean relatively normal things like teenaged bro in a vest and boxers, mum sometimes braless with a vest on a really hot day not like… everyone naked), however they obviously respect that visitors probably don’t want to see them in states of undress and that it’s important for everyone to be comfortable.

      I can’t imagine finding them all in undress if I brought my BF round.

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  • avatar

    Sea Witch April 21, 2020, 7:58 pm

    LW2: what’s the rush? If you’re still in your parent’s home and your objective is to move out, just find someone looking for roommates and move out. Or find a cheap one bedroom apartment, if you can afford it.
    Don’t tie yourself down to a boyfriend at your age. This is a time to explore, have adventures, and enjoy being single.
    You seem far more attached to him than he is to you. Break up and date casually – he’s not the only man on earth and you may someday meet someone who whole heartedly wants to be with you.

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