Boyfriend wants to do a naked bike ride?
July 18, 2015 1:08 PM   Subscribe

So, I am 22 and my boyfriend is 25. We've been dating 9 months. the other day he asked if I wanted to do the world naked bike ride with him, and I said probably. Well it's tonight, and I told him I'd go by honestly I'm not sure if I want to. Idk, something about it makes me feel really uncomfortable. I dont know what to do?

Idk. Sometimes I think my boyfriend is a bad influence on me in some ways, just because he likes to drink a lot and party and has a lot of friends who are always into trouble. I guess I feel uncomfortable being around a ton of naked men and women, especially with my boyfriend. I'm not extremely comfortable with my body and wouldn't go naked, maybe just in a sports bra and shorts. He said he'd just wear boxers. Would anyone else feel uncomfortable with this? Or am I just being an insecure wuss and party pooper?
posted by anon1129 to Human Relations (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Trust your gut. If your gut is telling you not to do this, don't do it. And don't let peer pressure make you do something you're uncomfortable about doing.
posted by essexjan at 1:11 PM on July 18, 2015 [60 favorites]

If it makes you uncomfortable, then don't go. That's ok. It doesn't make you a wuss or a party pooper. It just makes you someone who doesn't feel like going on a naked bike ride today. And that's perfectly reasonable.
posted by colfax at 1:12 PM on July 18, 2015 [20 favorites]

"Hey, now it's come around, I actually don't think I'm up for this after all." No biggie.
posted by penguin pie at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2015 [15 favorites]

You're being you. Accept the sports bra and shorts as your limit and go ride a bike. Naked is something you adjust to in others a lot faster than you adjust to in yourself. Think of it as an entertainment. Change is always uncomfortable if you overthink it. Enjoy the ride.
posted by ptm at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

This kind of thing is supposed to be fun. If it's not fun for you, don't go.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2015 [38 favorites]

To answer your question, yes, I would be uncomfortable with this.

If you want a grown-up reason, if it's going to be a pack of drunks on bikes at night, that's dangerous.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Not wanting to go be publicly group naked on a vehicle going 15-20mph over asphalt lies well within the realm of Things It's OK to Not Want to Do for me.

You have my blessing to back out.

If your boyfriend still wants to go without you, tell him to have fun! The only way you'll go wrong by backing out of the ride is by making it a me vs. them thing and pouting if he goes without you.
posted by phunniemee at 1:17 PM on July 18, 2015 [26 favorites]

I've done it several times. The majority of people aren't naked - some in underwear, some in costumes, some in body paint. There was a guy in a suit. Way more men were naked than women. Wear what you're comfortable with. And look at the pictures - actual naked naked naked is not the majority.

I started out with a bra and panties but ditched them about five minutes in. And it was so much fun. I'm not sure who you're worried about offending. Many of the rides have thousands of riders now - it's pretty much a free for all.

You can always take off or put on as you go.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 1:21 PM on July 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

I wouldn't feel comfortable with this, just not my style, but who cares what I, or any of us, think?

If you don't want to do it, you must speak up and DO NOT do it. If he is a decent person he will respect your decision about this, whether it's a thing that a lot of people would be uncomfortable with or not. The only thing that matters is that you are "really uncomfortable."

Are you having trouble in general speaking up when he does stuff that you're not comfortable with? I worry because you say he is a "bad influence"and mention drinking-- you get a say, too. You don't have to let him run your social life, especially if he's into things that make you uncomfortable.
posted by kapers at 1:26 PM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

He wants to go, cool, off he goes!

You don't want to go, cool, off you don't!

Yet another internet stranger giving you 100% permission to draw healthy boundaries for yourself. It could be useful for you to investigate within yourself what exactly makes you uncomfortable. Not necessarily in terms of overcoming it (public nudity isn't for everyone, and that's okay!), just in terms of where and why you are happy drawing the lines around what is Okay and what is Not Okay for you.

If you need phrasing, "So $partner, I'm not comfortable with going to this. You go, have fun, and tell me all about your adventures when you get back."

Or "$partner, I'm comfortable going, within these limitations."

If he tries to pressure you into going, it would probably be worth thinking about whether you want to be with someone who won't respect simple clear boundaries.

I usually feel it's a great idea for people to push at the edges of their comfort zone--that's how you discover new things that you may enjoy. It sounds to me like this isn't pushing at the edges for you, it's taking a great big leap, and you're not okay with that. So don't do this if it makes you uncomfortable.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:27 PM on July 18, 2015 [12 favorites]

There is not a snowball's chance in hell that I would ever do this. Riding a bike in my underwear just doesn't sound like any fun at all. I think it's great that other people enjoy it, but I would sit it out and participate in the next fully-clothed bike ride.

But yeah, I'm wondering what else is going on here with you and your boyfriend and his friends.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:29 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, I've ridden in this ride before (not in your city), and I've had a lot of fun. Any level of nudity you're comfortable with is fine. The first time I did it, I wore a dress. A year or two later, I knew what I was getting into and wore a lot less. Maybe wear layers and go with what you're comfortable with?

The world naked rides are about 1) promoting less dependence on oil and 2) body positivity. I really don't see inviting you to participate as being a "bad influence." But it sounds to me like your feelings about/dynamic with your boyfriend might be making you more uncomfortable than the ride itself.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:30 PM on July 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

Women are always getting pressured into doing things they don't really want to do because they're afraid the man in their life will be upset/disappointed/unhappy/contemptuous if they don't. Break this pattern starting now, and penguin pie's script is perfect: "Hey, now it's come around, I actually don't think I'm up for this after all." It'll be fine.

> I'm not sure who you're worried about offending.

I'm not sure why you think the poster is worried about offending anyone. She doesn't feel comfortable, and that's good enough.
posted by languagehat at 1:31 PM on July 18, 2015 [67 favorites]

Note to other respondents: this question is not about whether the naked bike ride is a Good Thing, and there's no need to spend time defending it from supposed attack. It's about a woman being pressured to do something she doesn't want to do.
posted by languagehat at 1:33 PM on July 18, 2015 [67 favorites]

Few things are more reasonable than not wanting to go on a naked bike ride.
posted by HotToddy at 1:33 PM on July 18, 2015 [12 favorites]

winna just posted a comment over on the blue that sums up the question: Life is too short to be a bonsai human for someone else's toleration and convenience.

Be you. Do what you are comfortable with.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2015 [20 favorites]

A good way to find out about a man's true character is how he reacts when you say "no" to him.

If he makes you feel like a "party pooper" for not being into this, and if he makes you feel like you're spoiling the fun on those occasions when he and his friends get "into trouble," then he might be a bit of a jerk, or, more charitably, maybe it's just not a great match.
posted by kapers at 1:44 PM on July 18, 2015 [18 favorites]

You said probably. Now you aren't comfortable. Just tell him you don't want to go. If he makes a big deal of it, then you have a real problem. But, so far, you don't. Just opt out. This stuff is not everyone's cup of tea and that's only a problem if the BF gives you a lot of pressure, in which case he is the one in the wrong.

A lot of times, people (especially women) assume they can't say no when, really, it would be okay. Say no and find out if it is a problem or not and go from there.
posted by Michele in California at 2:06 PM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you just saw a flyer for this, would you want to go? Would you want to go naked?

If the answer to the first question is no, then don't go at all. If you'd want to go, but don't want to go naked, then do that. It's one thing to go to something a partner wants to go to - but this isn't a concert or something. People have varying levels of comfort with nudity.

Also, I'm totes cool with nudity in general but I wouldn't EVER pressure anyone to go who wasn't comfortable for something like this.

It sounds like you aren't comfortable with it, though. Which is fine.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:20 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wear however much you want or don't go if you don't want to. No problem! You're not being a party pooper. If he calls you one or pressures you, that's a red flag.
posted by quince at 2:30 PM on July 18, 2015

I'm reading this as actually three questions packed into one:

1. You are uncomfortable with going to the bike ride and are asking for a way to back out without causing a scene;

2. If you do go, you don't want to be naked and you want to confirm that your clothes won't be a faux pas;

3. There appear to be issues with your relationship in general that are causing you great concern, and this bike ride is bringing those to the fore.

Personally, I think it's always ok to back out of a casual social thing like this with a simple "Hey guys, I'm just not feeling it tonight but maybe I'll join you next time, sorry." If other people make it a big deal, then they are rude jerks. From photos I've seen (linked previously here on Metafilter), people indeed wear anything from bare skin to costumes to t-shirts -- but when you are thinking about your comfort factor, make sure to remember that people will be posting photos and videos of the ride online.

I don't think there is enough information here to speculate about the broader relationship issues, but I will say that you should trust your gut and if it is telling you that your boyfriend isn't right for you, it is probably right and you should honor those feelings.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:39 PM on July 18, 2015 [9 favorites]

Don't do anything you aren't comfortable with and if you're remotely on the fence ask yourself whether you're comfortable with the images which will survive forever. Sounds like it's a flexible thing. If you're cool with it wear a tank top and shorts. If you are not comfortable with that, don't do it. As someone said above, a good metric about whether or not a partner is okay is how all right they are with it when you put the brakes on.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:41 PM on July 18, 2015

The thought of chafing alone is reason enough to back out!
posted by cecic at 2:56 PM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've been on and led a bunch of naked bike rides/runs/whatever. The decent people who participate in that kind of thing don't pressure people with different comfort levels around social nudity into suddenly changing their feelings, and don't care if some people show up in clothes or costume. You aren't being insecure, a wuss, or a party pooper; anyone who tries to make you feel that way is being a huge coercive asshole. The people who do go on naked runs/rides tend to see nudity as a neutral thing (and are more likely to hang around their house naked because it feels comfortable), and these kinds of runs are generally not sexual at all, if that's something you are concerned about. But if that isn't how you feel about nakedness, that doesn't make you uptight, and it definitely doesn't mean you need to address any body insecurities or hangups around nudity you have by attending a blunt force mass nude event. I don't think you need to pathologize this ride like some other commenters are suggesting by saying it's going to be a bunch of drunks on bikes and chafing is horrible and etc etc, but you absolutely can back out, and your feelings of discomfort are absolutely reason enough to do it. You totally have mefi and this naked person's permission to set your own boundaries around social nudity and to not participate in events that make you uncomfortable, or participate in a way that doesn't mess with your comfort levels.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:03 PM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Not my thing, but quite a few people do it in various stages of dress, and it's the sort of thing most people around here (Pacific Northwest) shrug and/or roll their eyes at.

If you want to go, in some mode of dress or undress, go. If you don't, don't. No biggie. If he's an ass about it, well, that should tell you something... that he's an ass!
posted by stormyteal at 3:10 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

So what I'm hearing is that your boyfriend is often causing you to override your inner warning voice ("bad influence...drinking").
I think it might be worth asserting yourself this time and saying no, just to see what happens: how you feel and how he behaves. Even if you are allowed to wear clothes and even if your discomfort "should" therefore be minimal.
It doesn't have to mean that you're wussing out. Reframe it: It could mean that you're doing something strong by saying no.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:11 PM on July 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

People should not have to explain why they are not comfortable doing something.
On the other hand, how will you know unless you give it a shot?
Trusting your gut is fine, but using your knee-jerk reaction as your sole criterion does tend to limit your trying new things.
Personally, I'd go in clothing that was easy to take off, should the mood take me.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:19 PM on July 18, 2015

If he makes you feel like a "party pooper" for not being into this, and if he makes you feel like you're spoiling the fun on those occasions when he and his friends get "into trouble," then he might be a bit of a jerk, or, more charitably, maybe it's just not a great match.

This is the real one.

How do you think he'll react if you say you'd rather not go? Are you ok with him going if you don't?(the question didn't really make that clear).

Any response more negative than like, "Aww, i wanted to share this fun thing with you, but i understand if you're uncomfortable" where it's like.. mild disappointment but acceptance without arguing, is drifting in to butthead territory.

I'm nthing, as someone who has done this(and a lot of similar silly and stupid large group drinking-activity-on-bikes things) that it's normal to not be completely or even all that naked. It's even normal to be that and not super fancy or painted up or wearing a wacky outfit. Plenty of people will be, but you're unlikely to get any comment at all and it would be quite likely that anyone who said anything would just get told to piss off.

If you don't want to go though, don't go. This is a thing to be excited about and look forward to, not something to stress over. If it's stressful just pass and maybe try and think up some other fun activity to do together that involves less drunk naked people?

Go, but not be naked(or even super undressed) is a completely valid option though. I'd also be rightfully pissed if someone tried to tell me that wasn't reasonable and wonder how many of these events(if any) they had attended.
posted by emptythought at 3:35 PM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's okay to change your mind. You may be thinking that you're obligated to go, since you already said yes. Just say that you thought about it some more, and you feel uncomfortable about being naked. Say what you would feel comfortable with, whether it's wearing clothes in the ride or not going at all. He'll be disappointed and it may come out as anger. Let him say his objections, and then validate his feelings by saying, "I know you're really into the idea, and of course you're disappointed. I'm sorry I gave you my answer before I was sure about it." Don't apologize for anything else -- only about speaking too soon and saying yes when you weren't sure. And you can repeat that you're very uncomfortable with the idea of participating in the nude. Don't argue.

By the way, if you don't want to go because of the people and/or the drinking, that's just as valid.

If you need to wait a bit, it's fine. But at some point you can say, "I need to pay more attention to my gut feelings. I'm going to start really paying attention to my instincts before making decisions." Thne do it. Force yourself to recognize when you're feeling pressured (by him or by your own thoughts). It's hard because there are strong habits to break.
posted by wryly at 4:00 PM on July 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

It's OK for you to decide not to go even though you previously said yes. It seems like you said yes initially because you felt like you would be a party pooper for not going. But it's a perfectly fine thing for you to decline, if it makes you feel uncomfortable!

And really, it's not as though now your bf has to do this alone if you aren't there. It's a large group event. Don't anticipate that he'll be disappointed or angry at you for your decision not to go. (I mean, he might be, in which case that's his problem, but it's possible he will just be like, "Oh, OK.")

I know I have a dread of disappointing people by saying no to things, but often I overestimate the level of their disappointment. I'm much harder on myself than anyone else is on me.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:00 PM on July 18, 2015

I'd recommend looking back at your past few AskMe questions. I'd suspect that this is about a lot more than the bike ride.
posted by radioamy at 5:33 PM on July 18, 2015 [15 favorites]

Were you the only person who was going on this naked bike ride with him? If yes, then it is kind of crappy to cancel the day of and leave him to go on his own, or have him not go because naked bike rides are probably less fun when you are there alone.

But, with that said, any considerate boyfriend would understand and would either (a) go with a friend instead, (b) stay home and hang out with you and decide that going to a bike ride alone is not much fun anyway or (c) go anyway to check it out but not make you feel bad about it.

Does it sound like your boyfriend is capable of doing any of the above or will he (d) make you feel bad about it?

The other thing, as others pointed out, is if you were his only bike rider pal for tonight, you could go in shorts and a tank-top. Or even a regular t-shirt. No one will judge you for not being naked. It could be a fun experience.

However, I just looked back at your history of questions, and honestly, this relationship sounds like a mess. Why are you with this guy who refused to help you change your tire?? WHYYY?? Have more self respect, PLEASE! It just really sounds to me like you are trying to please him and not bother him too much with your existence and like you value being with him a lot more than he values being with you. The whole tire situation, man, reading about that pissed me off. Any decent boyfriend/friend would (1) come help you and (2) take the time later next weekend to show you how to change a tire. Or at least apologize profusely for not doing (1) and then try to make up for it by doing (2).
posted by at 6:01 PM on July 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

This is the tire guy? Oh dear lord. Yeah, why still giving him chances?

I had my response prepared, which was just to say "I no longer want to ride, but I'll go cheer you on and have snacks ready at the finish." But it's the tire guy. At this point, you have brought gut-level concerns to us about this guy before and have heard a resounding response that he doesn't sound like a person you're happy with and it doesn't sound like you feel well treated. Here's more of this. What would be a last straw for you?

The only reason you need not to do the ride, clothed or not, is that you don't want to. Doesn't matter what you said before, you changed your mind, and that is completely fine. But i hope you do give thought to the larger issues.
posted by Miko at 6:09 PM on July 18, 2015 [19 favorites]

Someone here once said that if you have more than X questions on AskMe for Y months you're in a relationship, it's probably not a good fit. I can't remember that exact formula, but you're at eight questions for a nine-month relationship. If something big and unsettling enough to ask about is coming up every five weeks, you might want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture with this guy. Like a few posters said, this seems to be about more than just a naked bike ride.
posted by whitewall at 6:24 PM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hold the friggin phone, this is the guy who wouldn't come help you change your tire and was a complete ASS about it, to boot?

I just knew there was a subtext to this question that had nothing to do with bike rides. You keep asking these questions, asking us if his behavior is okay and if your reactions are normal. You don't seem happy with him, and in a few instances he has been straight-up disrespectful; you really don't need our validation or a concrete reason to leave him. If you're not happy, you can just go! Really.
posted by kapers at 6:57 PM on July 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

you might want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture with this guy

It may not even be the guy - it seems like you have a fundamental insecurity or inability to listen to yourself and make decisions. A little bit of that is totally normal as you mature and get used to dating, but you seem really anxious about it all and like there aren't many other checkpoints you have aside from AskMe. I hate to do the stereotypical AskMe thing, but how about some personal growth therapy? Learning to trust your own reactions, assert yourself, not let yourself be defined by the way others see you?
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh. I hadn't looked at your previous questions before.

From your first question about him, things seem pretty clear from over here--I may well be missing things of course. This sounds like he is a dude who wasn't really into a relationship in the first place who kinda just drifted into one, and is now passive-aggressively kinda trying to get out. A lot of guys do this thing where they're like "I don't really want a serious relationship, but this person is fun, so may as well stick around." And then it's six or twelve months later and they're kind of baffled about being in a Relationship that isn't bad exactly, the companionship is nice on some level, and they won't ever dump you, but they just have absolutely nothing invested in its continued success.

He's checked out of whatever degree he was ever checked in. It sucks to be on the other side of that. Because it's such an imbalance: you make him your priority, and so does he.

You deserve better. You deserve someone who is as daffy about you as you are about them. Someone who makes you a priority. You deserve someone who, in nine months of dating, makes you post eight questions about how awesome your partner is to you and asking for ideas on how to be awesome right back.

It might also be worth reading this incredible thread about emotional labour if you haven't already.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:58 PM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

If yes, then it is kind of crappy to cancel the day of and leave him to go on his own, or have him not go because naked bike rides are probably less fun when you are there alone.

Nope! Not crappy at all of you, OP, to decide that you are uncomfortable with doing something that you previously agreed you were okay with. It is always 100% completely and absolutely okay for you to establish boundaries for yourself and firmly express them without being guilted or pressured into doing something that you don't actually want to do, by a boyfriend, a friend, a coworker, a rando on the internets, ANYONE.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:18 PM on July 18, 2015 [13 favorites]

It is always 100% completely and absolutely okay for you to establish boundaries for yourself and firmly express them without being guilted or pressured into doing something that you don't actually want to do, by a boyfriend, a friend, a coworker, a rando on the internets, ANYONE.

Yes! Including Past-You. You are allowed to change your mind. Multiple times, even. You could be ok with something yesterday and not ok with it today and ok with parts of it in two days. That's completely allowed.
posted by jaguar at 8:22 PM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'd recommend looking back at your past few AskMe questions. I'd suspect that this is about a lot more than the bike ride.

Oh my god, i make a point of not reading peoples past questions before i answer... but this is flat tire guy?

I feel like, in that context, you asked this question because you wanted armor for when he acts poorly about you backing out..

Please don't put up with that, life is too short.
posted by emptythought at 10:24 PM on July 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Given that you had some insecurities about his ability to be aroused by you, also, I might think that the ride is kind of a reason to see a lot of other people naked and maybe sexualize that experience. I can't say for sure, but it would definitely be on my mind given that history. If he's super avid to go, this might be something else for you to chew on when you ask yourself those questions about whether he really is as crazy about you as a partner should be.
posted by Miko at 5:14 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with wryly up there, it's okay to change your mind about something, particularly when it's do with your own feelings of personal safety. It's totally okay.
posted by h00py at 5:28 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

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