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German Woman Upset After American Boyfriend Refuses To Go To All-Nude Spa With Her

two men seated in a sauna
Hans Neleman/Getty Images

Attitudes about nudity differ greatly based on where you live and what culture you’re part of.

The United States tends to be on the modest side when it comes to nudity that isn’t related to sex work or entertainment. But in many other parts of the world, nudity isn’t automatically associated with sex.

Beaches, spas, bathhouses and onsens with public nudity are a big part of their culture for people of all ages.

So if you travel to a country where nudity isn’t a big deal, should you adjust your own attitude?

A man who traveled to Germany for schooling is asking that question.

Germany’s the home of Frei Korper Kuktur—free body culture—although it’s hardly a universally accepted practice. Not every German is comfortable with public nudity.

And this American student wasn’t interested in participating either, to the annoyance of his German girlfriend. So he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

This_Tadpole_8951 asked:

“AITA for refusing to go to a nude spa that my [23, male] girlfriend [21, female] had paid for in advance?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I’m in Germany as an exchange student and have met a German girl here who I nowadays call my girlfriend. Everything was going well yesterday until she randomly told me that she had gotten both of us tickets to a spa where you’re naked.”

“I told her that I really appreciated the thought and like spas, but that it feels quite awkward and uncomfortable to be naked at a spa like that. She really tried to convince me and said the age-old line: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’.”

“Now she is really mad, and I do feel bad because the tickets are non-refundable, and she had a really nice thought in mind.”

“However, I feel like she does not understand that such nude spas aren’t normal in America and that it feels really uncomfortable.”


The OP summed up their conundrum.

“I might be the a**hole because she had paid for it in advance, and it was expensive, and as we are in Germany, she had the right to expect that I would join in.”

“However, I do feel like I have a point, too, because it makes me super uncomfortable.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors were split in their judgments, with some saying the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. guilting you into doing something you’re not comfortable with is the same as bullying.”

“It may be normal for her, and that’s fine. She should have discussed it with you first.” ~ kaett

“NTA. She should have asked if you were comfortable with that. Who invites people to a nude spa unexpectedly and then gets mad when they don’t feel comfortable going?”

“I feel like it’s common sense to ask before spending the money, especially on something like this.” ~ Chemical-Froyo-6286

“NTA, you asserted your boundaries, and she has to respect that.” ~ Lonely-Juggernaut201

“NTA. Nudity is one of those things where if you’re not comfortable with it, you don’t do it.”

“She definitely should have checked with you first.”

“(As a Brit) I feel like American attitudes to nudity are well known enough that it’s common sense to check if your particular American is comfortable with public nudity before buying non-refundable tickets.” ~ ChocolatMacaron

“NTA. But she’s only a mild a-hole because she came from a good place and just wanted to give a nice gift.”

“But she really should have asked if you were interested before buying non-refundable tickets.” ~ PumpKiing

“She’s NTA at all for the thought and the booking, she’s absolutely an a**hole for being mad that he doesn’t want to get naked around strangers.”

“It doesn’t matter at all if it’s normal somewhere else. It’s not normal in the USA, where he’s from.”

“Cultural consideration is something reasonable people expect.” ~ Babaduderino

Others felt the OP was the a**hole (YTA).

“YTA. Why have you gone on exchange to Germany if you only want to do things that are normal in America?” ~ mattmelb69

“YTA. Haven’t you ever been to a gym or taken a shower after PE class? Never gone skinny dipping?”

“No one is going to stare at your junk. It’s not like you lie flat on your back reliving ‘Free Willy’.”

“She did something nice for you, and you won’t even try it?”

“God, don’t come here to Japan. I go to baths with my kids and 50-60 of our closest strangers all the time (yes, my kids have seen me nekkid).” ~ Japanat1

“YTA. You wanna be an uptight prude in Germany, date American expats.”

“But then why did you go to Germany?” ~ OaktownPirate

“YTA. I’ve been to a German spa, and they are AMAZING. Even if you’re a little uncomfortable with it, you should try it anyway.”

“And, after a good try, if you don’t like it, you can leave and not come back.” ~ pooplingpo

“YTA. There are a number of minor reasons for this judgment. While unusual in America, it’s quite common in Germany.”

“You’re reinforcing the stereotype of Americans being uptight and inflexible. You’re disappointing your gf and missing a good bonding experience.”

“The major thing is that YTA to yourself. This is the kind of thing you’ll look back on years later and regret that you lacked the guts to try even once.” ~ extinct_diplodocus

“You’ve gone as far as to go to school in a different country, but you need to follow what’s normal in America? YTA.” ~ Miserable_Dentist_70

“YTA. Get the stick out of your a** and get out of your comfort zone. I promise you it is not weird, as it is normal in Germany to go nude to the sauna.”

“Life isn’t so serious. Enjoy it more.” ~ CapableAioli5862

“YTA. You still get a towel to cover up if you want.”

“Strange prude Americans are not particularly popular here in Germany, so you might want to adapt a little.” ~ okpm

“YTA. I am guessing you became an exchange program student to learn what it feels like to live in an entirely different culture.”

“And instead of trying a new thing, you are explaining how what’s normal in Germany is not what’s normal in America.”

“Of course not! That’s the whole point.” ~ SushiGuacDNA

But some decided there were no a**holes here (NAH).

“NAH. I would gather that there is nothing unusual about a spa where you can be nude in Germany (or much of Europe… and many, many other countries/cultures too), and that it’s not sexual at all.”

“It’s just a spa where you’re nude because that’s the way it’s done. You could even have asked if you have to be nude at all times—maybe you could’ve kept on a robe if you’re uncomfortable being nude.”

“I also think it could be a good opportunity to explore why you feel so uncomfortable with the prospect of nudity in this setting and possibly try to get out of your shell. Just because you aren’t used to it, doesn’t mean you can’t try it out or get used to it.”

“It’s all a part of the studying abroad experience, and other cultures/countries have a less prudish/completely sexualized concept of a nude body than here in the States.”

“In any case, maybe she can go with a friend.” ~ fallingintopolkadots

“NAH. When I was 14 I went to Japan on a school trip with some people from my Japanese language class. As part of that, we did a homestay with some local families in a rural area.”

“We were in groups of two, and each went to a different home. One of the pairings was taken by their host family to an onsen, which is a naked spa.”

“They were so awkward. Can you imagine two 14-year-old boys from a country where nudity isn’t common turning up to a spa in a foreign country, naked and full of quite a lot of older people?”

“The thought just cracks me up so much.”

“This particular pairing didn’t speak so much Japanese so they just had to put their arms into an X shape and say ‘dame’ which basically translates to ‘not allowed’.” ~ AlexisHoare

“I’m going to say NAH, because I have been where you are and now wish I had made different choices than I did.”

“When I was an exchange student in Denmark, I had the same instinctive aversion to nudity. It wasn’t normal where I was from, and I tried as far as possible to avoid being nude in front of other people, even in situations where that made me stick out like a sore thumb.”

“The result was that it took me longer to integrate into the community I was living in, I always felt like an outsider, and I was uncomfortable anyway because I was aware that I was out of step with everyone around me.”

“And yes, my friends absolutely thought I was weird and prudish because, for them, this was the most natural thing in the world, and they couldn’t understand my discomfort.”

“The mantra that we had drilled into us as exchange students was ‘it’s not better or worse, it’s just different’. Remind yourself of this as often as you need to.”

“When you feel uncomfortable, don’t worry about whether that feeling is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’—instead think about whether the new experience is worth pushing through that discomfort for.”

“Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Only you can decide that for yourself.”

“I personally wish I had done more of the things that scared me. I still had a good exchange, but with the clarity of time, I can see that I held myself back from a lot of valuable experiences because I wasn’t willing to push past my own hesitation.” ~ JangJaeYul

Americans notoriously associate nudity with sex. This leads to things like breastfeeding being shamed as indecent exposure.

But if you’ve grown up with that body shame, it’s difficult to pivot.

In the end, it’s his body, his choice.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.