Some individuals have more trouble than others getting people to accept them. While that is true in our society as a whole, it can become even more pronounced in a naturist environment. This is likely because traditional barriers are dropped and the individual is foremost. Additionally, people who are new to naturism can feel self-conscious and clumsy as they battle emotions of awkwardness for breaching traditional societal taboos.
For single men in particular, intentions can easily be misinterpreted. It is normal for a single man to want to find a partner. But it is a fine line between showing interest and being creepy. Not all single women come to Bare Oaks looking to meet someone. Women appreciate naturism because it allows them to escape society’s pressure to reach an impossible ideal of physical beauty. In naturism, they feel accepted for who they are. But too much attention from a single man, as friendly as it might be, can remind them of mainstream society’s oppressive focus on their body. It can feel like harassment.
In general, making friends in naturism is not that different from the rest of the world. Introducing yourself, being friendly without being overbearing, finding people with common interests, participating in activities, listening to people, and being trustworthy & reliable are always good ways to make friends anywhere.
Naturism is founded on respect for self and others. Being respectful (not just acting respectful) is the fundamental basis of good interpersonal relationships. So here are a few pointers to help people make friends.
Look but don’t stareIt is okay and normal to look. Out of curiosity you may initially look longer at others' genitals and breasts when you are new to naturism. Just don't stare. In time, you'll be less curious about these areas and concentrate again on the face and eyes.
Look at people in the eyesYes, bodies are interesting to look at. And there’s nothing wrong with looking briefly. But when speaking to someone, it is important to look at them in the eyes. People can tell when you don’t. When you are indoors, take off your sunglasses. Keeping them on suggests that you are hiding behind them.
Be aware of your intentIt is hard to hide your intentions. People can sense them in a variety of ways. It is in your eyes, your body language, your tone, your facial expressions, and some research even suggests that you communicate with scent. So if you are feeling particularly lustful, it is probably best not to initiate any conversations until your feelings have settled down.
Don’t be too attentiveIt’s good to be friendly but too much attention can be irritating or, worse, intimidating. Well-intentioned encouragement towards a new member or visitor can actually make them uncomfortable. A solitary member or visitor may be looking for seclusion. Please be mindful of this possibility when approaching them.
Speak respectfullyAvoid using pet names like ‘honey’, ‘sweetie’ or ‘dear’. You may just be trying to be friendly. But if the other person doesn’t know you well, it might be interpreted as patronizing. Similarly, using a ‘cute’ voice or tone can seem condescending.
Respect people’s spaceThe amount of space that makes a person feel comfortable depends on cultural background, gender and how well they know the other individual. If you don’t know the person, give them more space. Watch for their body language and reaction. If they move back, give them more space.
Be careful commenting on people’s appearanceWhile some compliments are appreciated, they can also be seen as harassment. When you compliment somebody on their body, you are really pointing out that you are taking particular notice of their body. You might then be seen as judging people’s bodies and that is totally inconsistent with naturist principles. Be particularly careful if you don’t know the person very well because there’s a fine line between compliments and sexual harassment.
Avoid physical contactHugging and kissing are very cultural. They can make people feel very uncomfortable. If the person is not sure of your motives, they might interpret your actions as a way to get a “cheap thrill”. That could lead to a sexual harassment complaint. So unless you know the person very well, don’t do it! If you know them well and you are not sure, ask first.
Don’t make sexual comment or sexual jokesJust because everyone is nude in naturism doesn’t mean they want to hear about your sex life. Remember that naturism is always fighting to prove that nudity is not directly connected to sexuality. So when you talk a lot about sex, people might think you don’t get it. If you make many comments/jokes about sexuality or like to boast about your sexual exploits, people might think you are obsessed or, worse, deviant.
Watch your personal hygieneBeing free of clothes and accepting of our bodies doesn’t mean we give up caring for ourselves. Body odors or dirty hair can cause people to react repulsively. Wearing clothing can actually make that worse. When you sweat while wearing clothes, it doesn’t evaporate naturally. The moist environment under your clothing causes bacteria to grow, which can lead to body odors.
The telling of information about another person that hurts their reputation will only lead others to wonder what you say about them behind their back. Be careful that you do not spread rumours as if they are facts. Make sure you don’t change conjecture into reality. If your tales turn out to be false, it will hurt your reputation.
Want to learn more? Click here to listen to the episode of the Naturist Living Show titled "How not to be creepy"