Why I Don’t Send Nudes
It’s happened to a lot of us. We’re texting someone we actually like — our crush from Psychology class or the cute-co-worker we’ve been eyeing — and we’re starting to think the flirty conversation might actually go somewhere.
Then, out of nowhere, they pop the question.
No, not the marriage question, but another big, relationship-changing question:
“Will you send nudes?”
The nude question comes in a lot of forms — it can subtle, straightforward, provocative or downright insulting. Regardless, it all boils down to the same thing: are you willing to show off your naked body for someone else’s pleasure?
For me, the answer is and probably always will be no. I know that, in our current culture, my refusal to send someone else nudes might come across as prudish or old-fashioned. Feel free to think of me in a traditional Victorian gown, tightening my bonnet and clutching a crucifix.
Believe it or not, my purpose for writing this piece is not to persuade to stop sending nudes. I’m not your high school guidance counselor trying to convince you not to sext. Whether you spend the rest of your life never taking a naked picture or plastering your nudes all over Twitter isn’t really my business.
What I can tell you are my own personal reasons for swearing off nudes, and the surprising things you find out about other people when you refuse to send them pictures.
I don’t trust the other person on the side of the screen
It doesn’t matter whether or not I’m speaking to my crush or my significant other — the request for nudes will always be denied, and most of it boils down to agency and trust.
Once I send the picture to someone else, it’s out my hands. There’s now a naked photo of me out there, and I have no control over who sees it. Even if the other person promises to never show anyone else, that doesn’t mean they won’t. Ten other people could be seeing me naked and I’d have no idea.
A promise from the crush you’ve only known for a couple of months means nothing. Sure, they might never show another soul, but they might also be swapping glances with a few friends.
My body is mine, and I want to be the only one in control of who sees it. Sending a photo to someone else — whether that other person has honorable intentions or not — robs me off that control. It doesn’t matter whether or not my face is showing, or if it’s only one part of me — it’s still my body.
I know that some people might find it overly-paranoid that I’d refuse to send pictures to a significant other that I know and trust, but the answer is still no. People break up all the time, and a vengeful ex is might just decide distributing your nudes to the world is the perfect revenge.
The chance of these things happening might be relatively slim, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play it safe. Sending my naked pictures to another person is like handing someone I’ve only known a few months a duffle bag full of cash and telling them not to spend it. Plenty of people will keep the duffle bag and not take any of the money, but a select few will always end up pocketing a few bucks.
Call me paranoid, but I’d just rather keep the duffle bag myself.
You can learn a lot about someone by their response
After someone asks me to send nudes and I tell them no, I always feel like I’m holding my breath. When you refuse to send pictures, you can almost always find out what kind of person they are by their response.
In some cases, I’ve gotten responses like, “Oh, okay, that’s totally cool.” Hearing that makes me instantly understand that I’m dealing with someone who respects my boundaries. Even if we’re only flirting, this kind of response instills trust and respect between us.
Other times, I’ve gotten replies like, “Why not?” Even if this question stems from genuine curiosity, it automatically puts me on edge. It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the screen — I shouldn’t have to explain why I don’t want to send pictures of my naked body for your viewing pleasure. Ultimately, my reasons don’t matter. What’s important is that I’m saying no.
Even worse than being questioned about your refusal are the people who begin to manipulate you. You know who I’m talking about — the people who say things like, “Seriously? Not even for me?” or, “Don’t you trust me?” and, “Oh, come on, I’d never show anyone.”
Attempting to emotionally manipulate or push me into sending nudes is not respecting my boundaries, and it doesn’t matter if you’re someone I’ve known for five minutes or been dating for five years.
If you try and guilt-trip me into sending pictures, any trust I did have for you instantly shatters.
Ironically, even though I’ve been dealing with these manipulative responses since I was a teenager, they still manage to make me feel a little guilty — and that’s not okay. I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for exercising control over my body.
The other person’s response to my denial tells me a lot about them. It tells me whether they understand the concept of boundaries, or whether they feel entitled to something they aren’t. It also lets me know whether or not they’re willing to stoop to emotional manipulation in order to get their way.
If I’m trying to convince you of anything in this article, it’s not to refuse to send nudes — it’s to pay attention to who you’re sending them to. Nudes can be a surprising way to gain insight into someone else, and if someone is willing to emotionally manipulate you into sending nudes, they won’t have any qualms about doing it other places too.
We all have boundaries in relationships, and if you can’t respect mine, it’s a dealbreaker.