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Do Women Find Naked Men Gross?

Amy Sohn answers your questions about marriage, divorce, and what women really think about your naked bod

Photo collage of woman's face over Michelangelo's David
Paul Spella

During the 1990s and 2000s, Amy Sohn wrote sex columns with names like “Mating” and “Female Trouble” — about being young, single and full of sexual energy — for publications like New York Press and New York magazine. Now, like the rest of us, Amy is older and wiser, and ready to answer all of your age 40-and-older relationship questions.

* * *

Dear Amy:

Do women find naked middle-aged men attractive? I’m still in pretty good shape, but not like I was in my 20s. I’m more self-conscious about being nude around her. Last time I got out of the shower when she was in the bathroom, I swear I saw her grimace. Or am I being paranoid?

Frank C.
Boston, Mass.

Listen, everybody’s bodies are weird and odd, especially as we age. She shouldn’t be repelled by you in your natural state, as I’m sure you don’t make a big deal about her varicose veins or the fact that she feels bad about her neck. People in glass houses, and all that. But if you’re worried about that grimace, just ask her about it. She might’ve been grimacing about something else entirely. Maybe she was dealing with her own body anxiety. Everybody thinks they’re being judged, but most people are too busy obsessing over their own imperfections. Tell her you’re feeling insecure about your body and see what happens. Maybe she’ll join you in your naked vulnerable state - and you can go back in the shower together.

* * *

Dear Amy:

When I married her, my wife was my best friend. Now, she is more like a roommate. We talk about bills and groceries, and whether I’m loading the dishwasher the right way. I want my best friend back. How do we get out of this rut?

Tim L.
Knoxville, Tenn.

She’s telling you to load the dishwasher the way she wants to. Do it her way, even if it leaves nasty warm water in the coupe glasses. Let her have that pathetic victory.

Then, to get your best friend back, talk to her about your emotional life. If you’re telling a work story, home in on an emotional detail as you tell it, so she realizes that’s why you’re talking. For example, “Do you think that’s what Tom meant at the morning meeting? I worry he has it in for me.” A little bit of vulnerability, when shown by you, can make for more meaningful connections. (See question above.)

And when she’s telling her own tales, draw her out about her emotional life. When she shares the excruciating details of the FreshDirect delivery, rub the sand from your eyes, jerk that chin up and try to hear what she’s really communicating. What does her overtipping say about her need to be liked? Has a friend been pulling away from her lately? Do the money issues really just come from her mother, and her money issues? Ask questions. 

And when you don’t know what to ask, repeat what she just said but rearrange the words and ask if that’s what she’s saying. This also works in party situations, with strangers. Say little, listen and ask a question or two that indicates you’re hearing the story. Guaranteed you will be the most popular person at the gathering. Anyone who spoke to you will say, “Who was that guy? I have no idea what his name is or what he does for a living, but he was super cool.”

* * *

Dear Amy:

I’m in one of those “let’s stay together for the kids” marriages. But in the history of relationships, has that EVER worked, or are we just going to make everybody involved more miserable?

Charles B.
Chicago, Ill.

Hi, Charles.

As a divorcée and a mom who struggled with this question for years, I come out on the side of, Don’t stay together for the kids. And I was not blasé about divorce, believe me. (Though really, who is?) The “stay together for the kids” idea is so Gen X. We Gen Xers don’t even look at our own happiness as an important goal, separate from what the implications are for our children.

Even when we get divorced, we have to make it all about them: We stayed together — for the kids; but then we realized all of our fighting was bad — for the kids; so we got divorced — for the kids; but now we worry about them all the time and maybe all of their problems are because we got divorced — for the kids. 

In the twenty-first century, we live too long to spend two, three decades miserable. In the past, you did that and then you dropped dead. Now you have options, especially if you incorporate Cialis in all of its versions. Think about how much fun you can have with a loving, non-yelling partner. You could have all the joy and communion and sex you’re not having now, especially now that your kids aren’t sleeping in the next room because your ex has them half the time.