He got naked with others

As I mentioned yesterday, Jan. 22 is the second anniversary of Love Letters. To celebrate, I’m asking people to send me pictures of themselves wearing cotton -- because I am told that cotton is the traditional gift for second anniversaries. I want to see people in cotton pajamas. Cotton sweats. Cotton sheets with belts around them. The best entry of the bunch gets a prize. You can e-mail photos to meregoldstein at gmail dot com, or upload them here. As I said yesterday, I don't even need to see faces. Just cotton.

And as promised, here's the naked hot tub letter.

Hi, Meredith.

I'll start this query in the usual fashion by saying that 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

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, LOOTT. 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.
Readers? Was he in the wrong to get naked without her permission? How can she get the image out of her mind? Is she lying about being bothered (as opposed to angry)? Is she allowed to set a nudity rule? Does he get points for telling her to write an advice columnist? Discuss.

– Meredith