Marriage/Fiance's strict views on visual nudity
Dear Doctor Becky,
Thanks for giving this one a try. I’m male 50 and my fiancé is 30. We’ve both been married before, and she has two kids 10 & 7. We’ve been together for about a year and living together for about 3 months – and except for this one (issue? argument? problem?) we get along and everything seems pretty fine.
The argument revolves around nudity, (or her interpretation of nudity – which I’ll describe in a minute) and my contrary views; be it live, in movies, or in print.
She’s dead set against porn; and feels it is a form of cheating. But here’s the strange thing – so do I… We both see no benefit in it, and to me – while I’m very sexual with my partner; I’m just not interested in porn.
She’s dead set that “any man she is with shouldn’t be going to ‘boobie-bars’…”; and guess what – so do I… While I did go when I was in my 20’s, interest in those places is long past.
She doesn’t even like movies that are “R” rated with prolonged sexual scenes…; and surprise, neither do I… It’s just not my thing; I’m more into westerns and comedy.
But here’s the deal (and where we are getting hung up); she feels seeing ANY type of sexuality or nudity, even in passing, is wrong and “creates thoughts in men’s minds to cheat and / or fantasize later when having sex with their partners”.
The reason I’m writing is; I really don’t get what she’s saying… (I mean, ‘yes’… I hear it, but I keep explaining that ‘that’s not the way I look at it…” – still, it does no good.
Before I go further, let me say – if I could understand it and it logically made sense, then I might lean her way on the issue; but I really don’t get her point. (I’m saying this so you know – I’m willing to hear “You’re wrong JT, and here’s why…”
I look at it this way. I was raised in an Italian household. We had wine on the table all the time, even as kids – and it I asked my parents for some they wouldn’t hesitate to put a splash in a glass. I would try it, usually say “YUCK!”, and go back to drinking lemonade. But adult beverages were never made a big issue of, so when I became an adult – I was never all that interested in going out and getting toasted… Wine, beer, etc., were just looked at as “something that’s in the world” and it’s “not to be made a big deal about”.
That’s kind of my view with nudity in movies; now-a-day’s you can’t see almost anything without a quick butt shot or something… but I can’t see making a big deal about it, because I don’t really care or go to the movie for the 30 seconds of ‘side boob’ by some actress.
This problem (since she moved in) has become invasive in everything. It’s Texas – and the weather’s been in the 100’s – but if I go to my pool, she feels I’m going “to look at the young hard bodies around the pool” and can’t fathom that “it’s freakin hot, and I want to just relax and cool off”.
We went out, and a female friend hugged me and kissed my cheek (in congratulations when I told her I was planning on getting married, and showed her a picture of the engagement ring). She became outraged that “I would allow another woman to hug and kiss (‘all over me’ – her wording).
We go to a local bar; and because the waitress wears some low-cut tops (probably to improve her tips); she feels that I’m “staring at her”, even though I am trying to get the check from her.
As for the “nudity in films”? She snapped off the TV last night as we were watching the movie “Monty python and the Holy Grail” because the scene in the castle with Michael Palin was too sexual. And was upset with all the nudity in “Quigley down under” with Tom Sellec.
So, is there such a thing as “Hypersensitivity to nudity”; or am I wrong? I just think she’s over board – but she keeps saying “If you loved me you wouldn’t watch that – and would ‘look away’ when ANY nudity is on the screen”.
Thank you for writing! I lived in San Antonio for many years so I know what you're talking about when you mention the blistering Texas heat ... oh my it is unbearable down there!
I have been thinking about your question for a few days. I don't really think the situation is a nudity issue – instead it sounds an awful lot like an insecurity issue, and I can see this type of thing becoming a huge potentially deal-breaking situation down the line if your fiance doesn't get herself together.
Look, you are 50 and she is 30. Do you remember YOU when you were 30? Most of us were wildly immature at that age, and I can see that your fiance is, too. She worries over ridiculous things that might possibly happen but more than likely never will. This is one of the biggest waste-of-time and energy issues known to man.
You sound immensely reasonable to me. It is she who is not. And get this – she is about to drive you crazy for the rest of your lives with her insecurity if you do indeed marry her as the issue stands now. Age differences such as yours are huge predictors of divorce, by the way. (Sorry, but I couldn't sleep tonight if I didn't tell you that.)
So, you probably need to know that the recipe that creates romantically insecure people is: low self esteem combined with an anxious attachment to whomever the person is romantically involved with. The anxious attached person feels nervous all the time about losing the other person, so they are hyper-aware of almost everything he does and any possible threat to the relationship. Anything that provokes their anxiety will be brought up as something he should not do anymore, when the problem is actually that she should relax and enjoy the relationship instead of spending her time worrying about losing it. This is far easier said than done, and only a concerted effort with a great therapist will help her to the recovery stage where she should be able to feel less anxiety, then learn to stop trying to control you because it is not OK that she wants you to stop doing the things you do as you go about your everyday life. Her requests and controlling ways are not reasonable. The only thing you can really do for now is to reassure her however much and often it takes that you are solidly with her, only her, and not about to leave.
If I were you I would take my words very seriously and would not make any permanent actions like marriage until you are convinced she is past her anxiousness. Many people never do get past it, so I wish you the best of luck.
Little Rock, Arkansas