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June 20, 2011

My Boyfriend Was a "Never-Nude"

There's mounting evidence that men are just as susceptible as women to developing severe body anxiety.

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woman taking off bra before sex

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When I first met Luke, he wore big, bulky T-shirts, baggy jeans, and baseball caps. He was an ambitious lawyer, and I was so turned on by his job that I didn't care about his juvenile wardrobe — until we had sex for the first time.

Afterward, as we basked in the afterglow, I noticed that I was fully naked and he was fully clothed from the waist up, wearing an oversize Met's T-shirt.

I brushed it off, but when we hooked up the next night and I tugged at his shirt, he slapped my hand away. "What?" I asked, confused.

"I just don't like to take it off," he said.

One might ask why I didn't insist that he get naked, but I was rebounding from a three-year relationship and, hey, I liked him. So I ignored it. But the T-shirt was a turnoff. He emerged from the shower wearing the shirt with a towel wrapped around his waist. If I yanked it off during foreplay, he would pull it back on. During sex, lights had to be off. And he even wore the T-shirt to the beach. I became obsessed with the shirt — it was all I could think about — and complained incessantly to my girlfriends.

Women report feeling bad about their bodies after viewing images of scantily clad models. But there's mounting evidence to suggest that guys are just as susceptible to developing severe body anxiety. Roughly 15 percent of men suffer from what psychologists have dubbed "The Adonis Complex," debilitating insecurity about their bodies. Clearly, Luke had major issues, but I didn't want to embarrass him by bringing them up, so I didn't.

But after a few months of this, a strange thing happened. His insecurity made me hyper-focus on my own flaws, and I became shy about my body. Men get frustrated with women who cover up in bed, and now I know why. Without that raw and wild abandon that sex requires in order to be satisfying, I found it impossible to relax so I could focus on what really counts during sex.

After a year, I ended it. And I won't lie: The T-shirt was a catalyst, though I never told him that. I learned that women aren't the only ones with body issues, and that insecurity is contagious and ultimately damaging to your sex life. A few years later, I married a guy who has no qualms about stripping down, and now, neither do I.


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