Welcome to « Ask a Sex Educator, » a weekly series where renowned sex educator Lena Solov will be answering all of your questions about the tough stuff — sexuality, gender, bodies, STDs, pregnancy, consent, pleasure, and more.
My partner wants me to send him nude photos, but I’m kind of nervous and don’t feel comfortable. I told him I didn’t really want to, but he won’t drop it. He says I can trust him and that I will feel good about myself because I’m beautiful. Is it okay to send nude photos if someone promises not to share them?
Ugh back off, boyfy. It’s NOT OK for your boyfriend to pressure or push you into doing something you don’t want to do. It’s EXTRA not OK for him to act as if this is a trust issue. That’s manipulative — he’s making you feel like you are the problem, when the problem is him not respecting your boundaries! And what’s more, he’s hiding the pressure with a compliment (telling you you’re beautiful), which probably makes it feel more confusing. But let me be very clear — compliments are no longer nice when they are being used to pressure or confuse you, ESPECIALLY when you’ve already said you don’t want to.
Now, let’s talk about nudes for a minute. Taking and sending naked pics is a sexual activity, and just like with any sexual activity you want to first check in with yourself. If you’re not excited about doing this — forget it! And if you’re being pressured to do it — forget it, and maybe forget the jerk who’s pressing you. If you do a little self check-in and you ARE feeling totally into it, there are a few things to think about.
The truth is, there’s always some risk involved with sending a nude pic if you don’t want others to see it. That doesn’t mean it’s your fault if it gets shared broadly, and it doesn’t mean someone has the right to share it without your consent (NEVER DO THIS!). It just means that you should think about that as a possibility, just like you would want to know that you can get an STI from oral sex before deciding to do it! Also, keep in mind that if you are a minor there unfortunately can be pretty serious legal consequences for sending naked pics of yourself or others. And, just like you might decide not to have sex at all or you might decide to use a barrier (like a condom) during sex, you can decide how to lower the risks for those kinds of pics. If you decide to take a picture, maybe you want to take one that doesn’t have your face in it. Maybe you don’t want to be totally nude, but still want to pose in a way that makes you feel confident and good about your body.
With any sexual activity, it’s good to have a conversation with your partner about these decisions (though you don’t ever have to justify your boundaries), so you can understand each other and decide on things that feel good for both of you. Unfortunately, I don’t get the sense that that’s what’s happening here. It sounds more like your boyfriend is trying to push you to do something you don’t want to, and you have every right to stick to your boundaries.