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LOVE LETTERS

He's in hot water

She’s irked by boyfriend’s naked hot tubbing weekend with other women

By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / January 15, 2011

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Q. My boyfriend, “Tom,’’ and I have been together for a year and a half and have a great relationship. We are both in our mid-20s, educated, hard-working, and very affectionate with each other. We have discussed moving in together once I finish grad school in a few months. I have no doubts that we love each other and share a great friendship, but I’m having trouble getting over something that happened last week.

Tom spent a few nights visiting a male friend in his old college town. He called a few times while he was out there, and I had no problem with him getting away for a few days. However, when he came home, he told me about his big night out, which included a dinner party followed by a naked hot tub session with about five other people, two of whom were girls. He seemed a little uncomfortable telling me. He didn’t tell me straight out that everyone was naked — I assumed they were, and he confirmed my suspicion. I smiled and acted like it wasn’t a big deal at first, but after a few minutes of cuddling he figured out that I was upset. I told him that I wasn’t angry. I was “bothered’’ (like that makes more sense). He reassured me that I’m his only girl and absolutely nothing happened, and I believe him.

This particular college town (and the people he was visiting) is especially free-spirited and of a communal nature, so I wasn’t surprised that everyone was eating vegetarian dinners and walking around naked. Tom thoughtfully listened to my concerns about the hot tub and worked hard to reassure me that “it wasn’t like that.’’ Even though I absolutely believe him that nothing happened, and that the hot tub party wasn’t exactly a sexual romp in hot water, it’s still eating away at me that he was naked with girls I don’t know in a hot tub.

Tom actually joked that I should write to an advice column about this, and I silently agreed. I have some major physical insecurities and am apparently a bit jealous.

I know I’m obsessing about this, but am I completely out of line? I trust and love him, and I know the feeling is mutual. Am I being petty for letting this get to me so much? I don’t want to make him feel like he has to sacrifice fun times because he’s with me, but hanging out with naked chicks in a hot tub is very low on my list of desired mental images.

LEFT OUT OF THE TUB, Boston

A. Sounds like Tom was hanging out with hippie naked people, not sexed-up naked people. Vegetarian naked people. Spiritual naked people. Seitan-filled naked people.

You know that he behaved himself. As you put it, this wasn’t a sexual romp, just a friendly bath.

That said, you’re allowed to tell him that in the future, you’d like him to keep his clothes on when you’re not around. You’re allowed to feel weird about what happened. You’re allowed to be creeped out — and just a little bit annoyed. We make rules in relationships as we go along. You can set a new one. “No naked hot tubbing.’’

Just know that it’s OK to feel jealous and insecure. Jealousy isn’t such a bad thing. It reminds us that we have something to lose. His naked party poked at your insecurities, but you’ve probably done a million things to make him jealous over time. Maybe you’ve had an inside joke with a male co-worker. Maybe for him that’s more intimate than being naked with a tofu-eating stranger.

My advice is to make the rule about nudity with others and then replace that haunting hot tub image with a better one. Take him to one of those places in Boston that allows you to rent a hot tub by the hour. Splash around. Laugh this one off and make your own memory. You’ll get over this, I promise. MEREDITH

READERS RESPOND

Everyone has their own level of comfortable with naked. I, personally, am the “naked friend’’ (and I think every circle of friends has their version — the person that’s quite comfortable in their skin). I’m not a 10 in body shape or confidence necessarily, I’m just OK with naked. In the scenario you describe, I’m one of the first in the tub. I also wouldn’t have thought twice about the nakedness around me, and I wouldn’t have made a pass at any of the men around me — nude or otherwise.

NATURALGINGER

I would love to hear his response if you had gone hippy-naked-hot-tubbing-but-it-was-no-big-deal hot tubbing with a bunch of random dudes. My guy would hit the roof, and I would with him. Maybe it’s because I’m not into that whole hippy/granola/we-were-born-naked-let’s-always-be-naked thing, but I definitely don’t blame you for being totally weirded out by this.

BRITT9312

My math has it as two girls and three other guys (four guys total) in this hot tub naked. Average hot tub is maybe 7 to 8 foot square, which leads me to the conclusion that there was definitely some skin on skin contact in there.

VITZY

Naked chicks in a hot tub are naked chicks in a hot tub, even if they wear Birkenstocks with socks. Your bf was out of line and should be told that.

MONTYY

I’m trying to imagine what Tom will do next time he visits his Naked Hippie Friends and they go for an after-dinner dip. “No thanks, my girlfriend won’t let me’’ just seems so lame.

WIZEN

You are projecting your own insecurity about your body image onto the actions of your boyfriend. You would never get into a hot tub naked, so you can’t understand why anyone would. People who are secure in their body image can get naked in hot tubs, and it’s OK that they do this. 2BAD4U

I have a hot tub and an opinion. There are plenty of times that groups of adults are at our place and end up in our tub. Some are naked, a few are in underwear, and some borrow swimsuits. The rule is “whatever you’re comfortable with,’’ and no one gives anyone a hard time. There is nothing sexual going on. Now, most of our friends are coupled up, but the tone we set is relaxation/fun, not wild stuff, and everyone behaves. My point is that the letter writer’s boyfriend is likely telling the truth about the naked hot tubbing. He was probably taken by surprise when everyone stripped down and just went along with it. There’s really no harm in that if there was no misbehavior.

ACTONMOM

Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.