First up: a confession. I'm a sucker for reality TV shows and often find myself glued to series that most men wouldn't be caught dead watching. The Bachelor/Bachelorette…Millionaire Matchmaker…The Real Housewives…and so on. I'll be the first to admit that most of the shows I view have few redeeming qualities. But as a Certified Relationship and Communication Coach, I'm captivated by these real-life characters and how their stories—from hook-ups to break-ups—unfold.
Recently I've noticed an interesting trend in reality television: an explosion of birthday-suited shows. First there was Discovery's Naked and Afraid, then TLC's Buying Naked. Now, debuting this week on VH1, is Dating Naked.
In Naked Dating, couples are paired up and given the opportunity to see how compatible they are and if they can create a love connection—all sans a stitch of clothing. The premise here is that by baring everything else before baring their souls, it's easier for potential couples to see each other for who they really are. So, in essence, by getting naked from the get-go, there's not much either of them can hide.
But is baring all really the key to finding true love? As a Coach, I think not and have two words to describe what I think of this social experiment: Spoiler Alert!
The true foundation of any successful relationship begins with good old-fashioned conversation, coupled with a dash of mystery thrown in to fuel both our mental and physical fires. From a male perspective, we are visual creatures—and a huge prerequisite to making a strong love connection is anticipation. Think back to when you were a kid and couldn't wait to open your presents on Christmas morning. The anticipation was euphoric! The same holds true when a man is attracted to a woman and eager to make love to her. Undressing her—or "unwrapping the package"—is a big part of what pumps the passion. What's more, because men are so visual, what happens if the naked woman we meet has physical flaws that we can't look past? By forgoing the opportunity to first get to know a woman fully clothed, we risk bypassing the chance to fall in love with a personality that could make her sexy beyond our wildest dreams!
I can't speak for women, but I would guess that this naked dating concept could turn out equally disastrously for them. Since women connect through conversation and emotions, how distracting would it be to have a "let's-get-to-know-each-other-better" discussion with a guy who's buck-naked? Granted, if he's well hung or has six-pack abs, the sexual chemistry might be instant. But the ensuing "relationship" is sure to lack substance and certainly won't keep a woman's emotional tank filled over the long haul. Before hopping in the sack, most women like to be wined and dined, kissed and caressed. They also want to don something sexy and have a man they're hot for undress them with his eyes. It's called foreplay, folks.
In my bestselling book, Conversation is Sexy, I recommend a different way of baring all that I've seen work wonders at helping couples communicate on a higher level and connect on a deeper, emotional level. It entails keeping your clothes on and exposing your vulnerable side to the person you love. Can it be scary? You bet! Where's the fun in sharing feelings of loneliness, self-consciousness, discouragement, helplessness, or insecurity?
The good news is there's an upside to being vulnerable. When you let your defenses down and allow yourself to get "naked" emotionally, it enables you and your significant other to get to know—and trust—each other to the very core. Once everything is out in the open, you can work together to help and support each other, which can intensify your emotional connection. Perhaps best of all, being able to share your needs, hopes, and fears leaves you with that amazing feeling that there's at least one person on the planet that totally "gets" you. And THAT's sexy!
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