Sharing Your Naturism

Recognizing the difficulty in sharing the nudist experience with non-nudists, AANR and TNS (The Naturist Society) have assembled a team of human behavior experts who pooled their knowledge into a comprehensive reference on how to successfully share nudist experiences with others entitled "Sharing Your Naturism."

The resulting articles appear in the print versions of AANR's The Bulletin and TNS' N Magazine and will be published below each month.

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How Long Should You Wait To Tell The World You're A Nudist? (Part 3)

Third in a series

Parts I and II hopefully convinced you that being open about your nudism is something to strive for and helped you prepare valid and spontaneous responses to challenging comments. Part III addresses understanding the barriers to acknowledging your nudism and some strategies for successful disclosure.

Sharing your information

Why do so many nudists and naturists cringe at the thought of coming out? Most likely the reasons stem from the negative myths and stereotypes they assume the outside world believes about this mode of living. They believe that nudity is sinful; nudism is illegal; nudists are swingers; or, children in nudist camps are at risk for abuse. Even without the extremely pejorative stereotypes, nudists and naturists may be considered strange, members of a cult and on the fringe of society. These damaging opinions exist because non-nudists are often uninformed about the positive benefits of nudism, the wide variety of society who enjoys clothes-free living and the stringent behavioral expectations and philosophy posed by AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) and TNS (The Naturist Society). Moreover, until the general public learns the truth about nudism, those who practice it may continue to suffer undeserved repercussions such as fear of discovery, discrimination, criticism and job loss.
If you master the techniques presented in this series, your listeners are more likely to accept your information with approval and in a positive fashion. However, there still remains the possibility of disapproval, anger, rejection or other negative reactions. Since there is often some uncertainty about the factors that could affect the outcome, the key to success is identifying the most beneficial techniques for each situation and having an alternative approach in case things don't go as expected.

A natural instinct when telling someone for the first time that you are a nudist is to find a private place and nervously say, "You're my best friend and there's something you really should know. You're the only person I'm telling so please don't tell anyone else."

You then "confess" to being a nudist and when the listener reacts with shock or horror, you spend the rest of the conversation trying to convince him or her that nudism is really OK. This approach is likely to be ineffective because your body language suggests shame or guilt about an activity some believe to be immodest, immoral or illegal. For this reason, other approaches are recommended in most situations.

Before sharing your information, analyze the psychology of the situation and try to anticipate the person's possible responses to different approaches. If you are telling parents or elders, they may feel an obligation to "correct" or "protect" you if they think you are doing something you may later regret. People having stature in the community (professor, doctor, pastor, community leader, business executive) may also feel you should respect their opinion. Either case can be challenging if their way of thinking differs from yours as they may try to convince you to accept their "superior judgment." However, with people who hold you in esteem, telling them may be less difficult because they are more likely to accept your judgment even if they do not agree with it.

Personality should also be taken into account. If your listeners are open-minded, thoughtful, tolerant, adventurous, willing to take risks or try new things, successfully telling them may be relatively easy. If they tend to be closed-minded, quick to jump to conclusions, intolerant, opinionated or resistant to change, successfully telling them may be more challenging.

When considering whom to tell, make the risk-to-reward ratio one of the factors in your decision. If you feel the risks are high and the rewards low, you can choose to delay sharing your information until you have gained competence. Or, you may also choose to withhold the information. However, with situations where you have decided the risks are low and the rewards high, telling this population should not be an issue.

Whom to tell first depends on several variables. If you live far away from family and relatives, your circle of friends may not have contact with them and may be a good place to start. If these friends are likely to be receptive and easy to tell, you can begin practicing some casual approaches and gaining experience and confidence before telling more challenging people. If, however, your casual friends interact with close friends who may be less receptive to the information, consider telling the latter first. This requires more preparation, but avoids having someone else mention it before you do, insinuating that you weren't trustful enough to tell them yourself.

Sharing personal information for the first time is stressful because of uncertainty in how listeners will respond. You may feel less vulnerable by beginning with casual friends and those who seem likely to accept the information positively. With experience, confidence and success, you can gradually include the most challenging folks.

Part IV provides some strategies for telling friends who are likely to receive your revelation

Editors Note: This article and the articles that follow in the series are based on the work of the Joint AANR/TNS Ad Hoc Committee on Sharing Your Naturism.