Gentlemen, I have good news. Women want to send you nudes. Not all of us, not all the time, and definitely not that random woman on Instagram whose DMs you’ve been thinking about sliding into, but plenty of us — particularly those of us with whom you’ve already established some form of flirtatious or intimate relationship — genuinely do want to send you our nudes.
More specifically, we want you to want us to send you nudes. As any responsible nude-sender well knows by now, sending an unsolicited nude is the first cardinal sin of sexting. It is also, friendly reminder, sexual assault. But for a nude to be solicited, someone needs to solicit it, and after years of memeing, mockery and legitimate, deserved criticism of the “send nudes” guys of the internet, many men — particularly the kind of thoughtful, well-meaning men a woman might actually be interested in sending nudes to — are understandably hesitant to make such a request.
This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve reached an insurmountable impasse. An unsolicited nude is no longer malignant as long as its recipient first consents to receiving it, and in this enlightened, feminist age of ours, women are more than capable of simply asking men if they’d like to receive a nude photo — in fact, many even prefer to do so.
But for many others, especially those of us who don’t generally consider ourselves sexual initiators, the prospect of asking a guy if we can send him nudes might seem awkward, uncomfortable or simply undesirable. For many of us in this camp, the appeal of sending nudes isn’t primarily in the sending of the nude itself, or even in the praise or validation we get in response to the nude, but rather in the feeling of being desired. It’s about the ego boost of knowing you’re thinking of us and want to see more of us. Yes, sometimes I really just want to send you this great picture I took because I feel really hot and want to show off, but even then, I’d rather know that you actually, actively want it. Moreover, having to ask you if you want a nude photo of me puts me in a position to get rejected, and while I realize men are in that position all the time, frankly, I’d rather it be you than me.
The other thing soliciting nudes provides is confirmation that you’re in an ideal position to receive sexy photos logistically — e.g. you’re not at dinner with your family, your kid isn’t playing with your phone and your iPad isn’t hooked up to a big screen in a conference room for a work presentation — but also mentally. Sure, I could ask you if I can send a nude photo, and as long as you or your phone are not otherwise engaged you might say yes, but you might not really want nude photos in that moment as much as you might at another time. Getting rejected is bad, but sending nude photos to someone who isn’t really all that enthusiastic about receiving them might be even worse. When you ask for photos, I know you really want them and aren’t just being polite or passively accepting a handout that happened to fall into your lap like a coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond that you hold onto just in case but probably won’t use.
That said, no one likes — or wants to be — the “Send Nudes” Guy. Fortunately, there are ways to respectfully solicit nudes without being that guy.
Only ask for nudes from women you actually know
Look, this isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule. Are there women on the internet who would love to send you, a random stranger, nudes? Probably! But your odds of actually finding those women are slim, and hitting up Tinder matches and sliding into DMs to ask for nudes puts you in prime “Send Nudes” Guy territory.
While it may seem riskier to ask for nudes from a woman you actually know, doing so will probably increase your odds of actually receiving the photos you seek, while also making you look like a generally more respectable human being.
It’s important to note that by “women you know,” I obviously don’t mean your female coworkers, your sister-in-law or the barista who makes your coffee every morning. Generally speaking, it’s probably best to stick to women with whom you’ve already established a romantic, sexual or at least flirtatious relationship. As Victoria, a 24-year-old woman from New York, puts it, “If we’ve never seen each other naked in person, I’m not going to send you a nude. I need history with a person to trust that they’ll respond appropriately and respect my privacy.”
That’s not to say nude-sending should be reserved only for loving partners who share deep, romantic intimacy and gaze into each other’s eyes during sex, but limiting your nude requests to women with whom you’ve already experienced some level of sexual connection is probably a smarter, more appropriate course of action that’s likely to yield better results.
Be aware of the tone you’re setting
Requesting nudes is obviously an overtly sexual gesture, but you should be aware that making that gesture can set an overtly sexual tone for an entire relationship, especially early on. If casual sex is all you’re looking for from this particular situation, no problem, but if you think you might be interested in something more serious with this person, it’s probably best to hold off on the nude photo requests for a bit.
Maria, a 23-year-old from Northern California, says she enjoyed sending nudes in her younger and more vulnerable years — she’s engaged now and apparently considers herself too mature and sophisticated to send nudes, which she says is “a thing teenagers do.” (Side note: Please do not ask teens for nudes.) “I loved it when men asked for nudes,” she says, but adds that “sometimes it was off-putting when I wanted to have a conversation with a guy I genuinely liked and all they wanted was nudes.”
If you’re just in it for something casual, by all means, feel free to ask for nudes. But if you have more romantic intentions in mind, be aware that a premature request for nudes may give the person you’re asking a different impression.
Ask before you ask
Some women will simply never want to send you nude photos, and some may not even like being asked. Particularly if it’s your first time exchanging nude photos with a new partner, it may be best to first inquire about their comfort level with nude-sharing in general, before asking for actual photos.
“The best approaches have asked for my comfort level rather than the photos themselves,” says Victoria. “Something along the lines of, ‘Hey, I really like sending/receiving sexy photos — is that something that you’d be into?” or “I’d really like to see more of your body if you’d feel comfortable sharing a photo.”
Rather than putting a woman on the spot and in a position where she may feel pressured to fulfill a specific request, an approach like this opens up the doors to a conversation, one that might even lead to a larger discussion about consent, boundaries and other wants and desires you may or may not share. And yes, such a conversation might also lead to nudes.
“People think that consent-positive conversations ruin the mood, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Victoria. “I’m definitely more likely to send something sexy to a man who cares about my comfort rather than just his own pleasure.”
Time and place
When you ask is as important as how you ask, and that’s true whether it’s your first time asking a particular person for nudes or the thousandth. Context is key, and an ill-timed or random request could easily come off as offensive or simply off-putting.
“Wait until there’s some trust and chemistry between you and ask in a moment when you’re already flirting,” Victoria advises, adding that she’s received ill-advised requests “totally out of the blue or during serious or emotional conversations.”
Sending nudes should be light, fun and sexy for everyone involved, which means you should only solicit them in contexts that match that tone. Don’t ask for nudes in the middle of a serious or emotional conversation or right after a fight. Don’t ask for them after your partner just got done venting about her day at work or roommate drama, and unless you happen to know your partner is amenable to surprise requests, you might want to avoid randomly asking for nudes out of the blue or in the middle of an otherwise mundane conversation. A satisfying exchange of photos may well be the result of an already sexy tone, but a random request for nudes is unlikely to set that tone.
Take your rejections graciously
Nobody wants to be rejected. In fact, I don’t want to be rejected, which, again, is part of the reason I’d rather you be the one who solicits my nudes rather than having to solicit you to solicit them. But it’s important to remember that no one, ever, is under any obligation to fulfill your request for nudes, no matter how politely you’ve made it. Some women simply don’t like sending nudes at all, some women prefer to initiate, some women may be busy or not ready or not feeling good about their bodies and some women might just not feel like it. All of these are good excuses, and none of them are excuses you’re owed. A woman can turn down your request for any reason, at any time, even if she’s sent you nude photos hundreds of times before, and she will never owe you an explanation for it.
It’s also important to remember that when a woman rejects your request for nudes, she isn’t necessarily rejecting you, personally. Again, a woman might turn down a request for nudes for any number of reasons, not all of which are because she’s simply repulsed by you. Just because a woman doesn’t want to send you nudes, that doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t want to talk to you or hang out with you or even have sex with you. It doesn’t guarantee that she does want to do any of those things either, of course, but that’s something you’ll have to determine for yourself. All I’m saying is that a rejected request for nudes is not a rejection of you, personally, so don’t take it personally.
Last but not least, please don’t take this article as an invitation or an excuse to go out and pester women relentlessly for nudes. I want you to want me to send nudes, yes, but that doesn’t mean all women do. Please show me you can handle this, otherwise you’ll ruin it for all of us.