There I was, minding my own business, trying to be productive at work on a Monday morning. I see a Snapchat notification on my phone from Jessica, and I’m excited. She sent me a flirty selfie with the word “streak” in front of it, a reference to the impressive snap streak we’ve got going. I send her a flirty snap back (it may have included an arched eyebrow) and we exchanged maybe one more each. Then she sent me another one with the words, “Your comment on Insta made me laugh.” Only this time, she was in the shower and her bare breasts were staring me in the face.
What do I say? Honestly, I had never wanted that photo, and I didn't want another. But I also didn't want to make this the most awkward message ever—for both of us. When I finally crafted my text to Jessica, it came out like this: "Can you please not send me any more nudes? I really try to treat women with respect and not just as objects, but when I see them/you naked, it’s hard to do that. I know that might sound weird." Jessica responded kindly and with a simple explanation: “I wanted to make sure I had your attention.”
Her response hit me right between the eyes.
On the one hand, yeah, it definitely worked. On the other hand, I wanted her to know that she didn’t need to bare it all to get my attention (and I did). Which brings me to the point of writing this rather embarrassing confession in the first place. Women shouldn’t feel the need to send me nudes to get my attention, and I shouldn’t need women to send me nudes to get me to care about them.
I know many women feel pressure to send nudes; maybe you have. Or maybe you've been conflicted by it, wondering if guys will only like you if you do. So let me tell you clearly right now: Guys do not need that from you. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why men don't need or even want to receive nude selfies from you.
Here are my top three reasons for not wanting nudes. Hopefully they will also be reason enough for why you don’t want to be sending them, too.
01. I want something real.
Reason number one for asking Jessica to stop sending me nudes: I’m looking for something real. Of course Jessica is a living, breathing, human being—that’s not what I mean by real.
There’s something about a picture of someone that seems more intimate, more connective, if you will, than just thinking about them. Just ask the soldiers who have gone off to war with a photo of their beloved. Or, more immediately, think about the popularity of FaceTime and live videos and, yeah, Snapchat.
That being said, there’s something false about sharing nude photos specifically. Seeing someone’s nakedness encourages intimacy when it is shared. But of course, if you’re not physically together, you're not really building mutual intimacy. Nakedness without togetherness is a bit of a cheap imitation of physical intimacy if you ask me. A tempting one, to be sure, but one my clear-headed self would rather pass on.
02. I want to love her.
Speaking of the real thing, I’m looking for love—that is love as a verb, as in I want to love somebody and I want to be loved in return—not just the physical stuff. Like it or not, nude photos do a good job of stirring up the physical stuff, but love doesn’t necessarily follow. In fact, I would argue that it makes real love even harder to develop.
Lust is a different sort of verb: it seeks to gain and then to use. There is actually pretty good scientific evidence out there to suggest that, for men, when we lust over an image of someone it’s consequently harder to love them—because the image is detached from the person. Lust without love leads to objectification. That is, I no longer see someone as a person, but rather as an object for my own gratification. That’s not love and it’s not how I wish to treat a person. Even many married men avoid looking at naked pics of their wives for this reason.
03. I want her to feel valued.
I mentioned this earlier. But, by far, the most important reason I asked Jessica to stop sending me nudes was that I wanted her to know that she was more to me than just a hot body.
I do worry if it was something that I was doing to give her that impression or if it was something she picked up from somewhere else. After all, she had sent me a naked image of herself before, and in a bout of weakness I hadn’t said anything to deter her. This experience with Jessica definitely made me think twice about not only how much attention I give to a woman I care about, but also the quality of it. Why? Because if I value her—all of her, and not just her body—then I should show her that so that she’s not left wondering. Women should expect that from men.
Showing a woman how much you value her, and not just her Snapchats? That does take a bit of vulnerability. You might even call it “good naked.” (Seinfeld, anyone?)
Photo Credit: Maliha Mannan