When I moved into dorms when I started college, I was worried that I wouldn’t make any friends. Luckily, I ended up making three of the best friends I’ve ever had from that experience. We regularly began to shower together and when we moved out into a house with a bath, we began to bathe together as well.
Nudity isn’t inherently sexual. This is one of the key things that was reinforced to me from my experience bathing with my best friends. I can’t even really remember how or when the first showering together took place, just that it became the norm for us to squish into our tiny, shared shower and wash together. I think initially, it was a little bit uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but compare body parts and stare a little at the nakedness of relative strangers. But we’re all body-positive, empowered feminists that felt no shame or embarrassment in bathing together when it bought us all closer together and became a lovely, private space for us all,
It was a simplistic form of caring. Oftentimes we’d bathe together when one of us was feeling down or had a bad day. We all had a very bad year and I remember bathing together the most often during this time as a form of comfort. I remember coming back from the hospital after a bad mental health episode and sitting in the bath while two of my best friends washed my hair and body for me. I was mentally exhausted and this small act let me feel loved and cared for.
Sometimes it was just practical. There’d be days where we’d be pushed for time, wanted to share a bath bomb, wanted to watch the same episode of a show, or even one of us would need to pee while the other was having a wash! Bathing together and easily sharing a bathroom without fear of nudity saved time and water and often meant we could spend more time together without being restricted by western society’s weird relationship with nudity.
It helped cultivate an intimacy. It’s hard to live with people that you haven’t grown up with and there was a lot of parts of group living throughout my four years at university that were insanely hard. By bathing together, a bond of intimacy was created between me and my best friends that I think ultimately shaped how strongly loving we are towards each other now.
We didn’t care that others found it odd. We definitely got some strange looks and remarks if we happened to say we were going to get a bath because again, this idea that nudity is inherently sexual is perpetuated a lot, particularly in the UK where I’m from. It never bothered us, though—being queer is nothing to be ashamed of, so even if others thought showering together was us practically confessing to a sexual relationship, what did it matter to us? A lot of the time, I would find that people, particularly girls, would shyly express that they wished they were as close with their friends or housemates.
It felt great! Having someone wash your hair when you’re tired or scrub your back or give you a foot massage is always wonderful. Who doesn’t like a bit of pampering? Who doesn’t like being pampered by people that you feel totally relaxed and comfortable around? Plus, it’s always helpful to have someone lend their hand and shave your legs when you really can’t be bothered.
It didn’t always mean we’d both be bathing at the same time. One of my housemates would sometimes sit next to the bath and draw or play on her DS while I read in the bath or washed my hair. When I finished, she’d get in the tub or shower while I waited for her. There were also daily moments where one of us needed to pee while another was showering, and that would end up being a two-hour conversation about dinosaurs. Sometimes it was just quiet companionship, which was just as nice.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk in the bathroom. Because when you’re naked with someone, even if it isn’t sexual, there is a certain level of vulnerability. Baths or showers became a good place to have all kinds of chats, ranging from personal to metaphysical. Talking while washing yourself or someone else is good for giving your hands something to do while you’re pouring your heart out.
It became kind of like date night. Couples tend to mark out a day of the week as their “date night” as a way of keeping their bond strong and their connection alive. In a way, showering and bathing together kind of became our own date night. It carved out a slice of time of the day for us to spend with each other, sometimes in twos, sometimes threes, and sometimes all four of us together. It was sweet and intimate and I have some great photos to keep as memories of those moments.
Living in the house was easier after we’d seen each other butt naked. Away went all of the uncomfortable and awkward sidestepping around issues once we’d showered together. It bought us much closer together with a bond that went beyond just housemates. Now that I’ve finished university and moved out, it’s definitely one of the things I’m going to miss the most about living with my best friends.
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