For years I have defined myself as being a shy exhibitionist. Many I tell that to wonder how that is even possible. Well, I thought I would finally go into great detail to tell you how it is possible. Maybe even inspire some who are refusing to live their truth because of the popular opinion that shyness and exhibitionism cannot co-exist.
Those who are considered exhibitionists are often publicly scrutinized, but by those same people, they are secretly praised. For exhibitionists are often thought to be too liberal, sexually fluid, polyamorous, and/or promiscuous.
Sometimes that is the case, and there is nothing wrong with most of those if done with the right intentions. However, an exhibitionist can just as easily be the exact opposite. As there are some people who define themselves as exhibitionists, but also describe themselves to be reserved to some degree. I know because I am such a person.
I can go to a space that is sexually permissive and/or clothing optional and take off my clothes and have sex with people watching with no problem. Yet, if you were to approach me, you would find me to be quite shy. How is this even possible? How does a shy exhibitionist even exist?
Shyness is about how you interact with others. Not everyone is comfortable with speaking to people, especially those they do not know. And that is perfectly fine. While I stand in spaces as a wallflower because of my shyness, I am actually observing the room. Seeing who may or may not be worthy of my time.
Being shy, many wonder how do shy people meet people. My tactic is one that I am sure is shared by many shy people, and not just shy exhibitionists. For me, I strategically place myself in the line of view of the person I am interested in. It could be directly in line, or somewhere between their direct view and their undeniable peripheral vision.
Give some side glances to see if they are watching. If they are, then I might either give a little smile or get up the nerve to make the first move to speak. I will admit that this does not always work. After all, the person of interest might be shy as well. Maybe even more so than you. If that is the case, and neither person makes a move, then just take it to be that Fate has other plans for you both.
Quite often though, in spaces permitting displays of exhibitionism, that exhibitionism can be an icebreaker. For as the age-old saying goes, “the sweetest fruit is the forbidden fruit”. And nudity and sexuality in any space accessible to the public, natural as they may be, are forbidden fruits.
Therefore, the shame over both imposed by many religious and territorial laws make people interested as to why you are there in your underwear or naked even. Never mind the fact that the space permits it. So their curiosity makes them start a conversation. Thereby making the shy person not having to do a thing to get a chat going. Their stripping down started the interaction for them.
All this does not answer: Why would a shy person strip down? Well, the answer is a lot simpler than many realize.
Exhibitionism is unlike shyness in that shyness is about the individual’s interaction with others, while exhibitionism is about the individual’s interaction with him/her/themself. That interaction with oneself often resulting in the display of their body and sexuality directly in front of others is why many believe that exhibitionism cannot coexist with shyness.
Exhibitionism might result in you having sex at a sex party/backroom with many watching; taking erotic photos for a magazine or website that will result in many eyes seeing your body; or modeling nude at a drawing studio. Many see these as acts of narcissism.
For some, they are. But for the healthy-minded, such acts from exhibitionists are ones of self-expression to say what they need to say about their body and/or their sexuality. And the necessity for that self- expression can make one ignore the fact that people are looking. Whether they can see the people or not.
Think of it this way...the root word of “exhibitionism” is “exhibit”. And since the naked body and sex are both art forms, think of an exhibitionist as an artist. Their display of nudity and/or sexuality is the art exhibit, and the space allowing their exhibitionism is a museum or art gallery. And like in most museums and art galleries, you look, but don’t touch. That is, unless you are invited to do so.
When sex is the art form displayed, voyeurs are to only visually admire the art. Not touch it. This is indicated by the word’s origin, the French verb “voir”, which to mean “to see”. Noting this allows the exhibitionist(s) to continue in their self-expression with no intrusion to the awesome property that is their body.
With all that said, a person being shy does not lessen their need for self-expression. And repression from various cultures will trigger a need to make a shy person forget about onlookers. Case in point, I am a shy person. I am also a nudist at home.
So a clothing optional space makes me feel comfortable. Or I can meet someone in a sexually permissive space, and I have no problem getting it on in front of people. Why? Because My nakedness and sexuality in that space is not about those watching me. It is about my shy self expressing my comfort in nudity and sexuality in a space that allows it.
Now that you know exhibitionists can be just as shy as the next person, if an exhibitionist interests you, don’t be afraid to make the first move. They might have been hoping you would.
LeNair Xavier has studied sex and sexuality by reading up on and observing various sexual behaviors. These observations has led to time in the gay porn industry, and now writing erotic poetry. Tales of his journeys leading to his growing sexual knowledge can be found on his blog, L’s X-Ray Vision.
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