Discovered my boyfriend has been secretly (occasionally) photographing naked models going back for years. I confronted, he came clean. Why am I still upset? (poss NSFW)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (67 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
(Apologies for the length, it turns out I'm another of those self-obsessed people who posts reams in relationship questions.)
Well, I guess I deserved the shock I got when I was poking around on his computer. (I know, shame on me, I have told him and apologised for this.) I found several folders of photos documenting photo sessions lasting 1 or 2 hours with scantily clad, topless or naked women. I did not find very many sessions (about half a dozen) but the dates went back to four years ago, a year after we started dating.
It was obviously his photography: these sessions seemed to mostly take place at his parents' house, which he visits as a base for 1-day business trips in his home town every fortnight. Two recent sessions were in our new house which we moved into in August. The photos were at first taken with his camera, then with my (better) camera which he borrowed. Most of the photos were just poses of the women in various states of undress (occasionally fully clothed), in different rooms etc. Some were very explicit, eg. shots of one naked woman eating half a strawberry then dribbling the juice over her (close-up) vagina. There is no suggestion of any kind of sexual contact with the women, nor do I believe this to be true.
We have been together for five years, since I was 18, and have lived together for three. We are a close couple and spend most of our time together. This is compounded by the fact that neither of us are very outgoing and we don't have much of a social network. We spend a lot of weekends at home together. He probably has more close friends than I do, but pretty much 100% of them are online-only friends. He works from home as well, so doesn't have any workmates either. I know this is sometimes frustrating for him and he'd like to have more contact with people.
I was quite shocked when I first found the photos - partly because of the subject matter, but the real punch to the gut was that he had kept this completely from me, for years, and I never suspected anything. I don't want to be the nagging girlfriend who lays down the law and stops him from doing the few things he wants to do. I also feel guilty for his lack of social network because he hasn't been very happy since moving away from his home town, and somewhat blames me for dragging him away from there (first for university, then for my work). He has his own internet business which is fairly easy to run from whatever location, but 90% of his clients are still in his home town (2.5 hours away) and he hasn't found any local ones.
I tried to sort out how I felt and concluded that it wasn't the subject matter but the secrecy that bothered me. (Btw, I also found some porn on his computer that I didn't know about. Don't care.) When he came home I gently confronted him. He seemed quite unruffled (not the reaction I was expecting) and explained that he's always had an interest in that kind of thing, but has always kept it quite discreet because of not wanting it to intrude at all on his professional life. He said that it was a weird thing to bring up when we first started dating (and it would have been, with me having been quite a naive 18 year old) and then the longer he left it the weirder it would have seemed to bring it up. I get that. He also said that he's used to compartmentalising his life, and that with us living "on top of each other" a lot of the time he kind of liked having some part of his life that he didn't have to share, that he had control over, and that everybody didn't know about.
He also said he assumed I wouldn't be bothered by the subject matter because we both have fairly liberal attitudes when it comes to sex, and that I probably recognised that there's a professional boundary in photography, ie. thinking of the subject as an artistic object rather than a naked woman in front of you. He explained that he knows these models from an online photography network he frequents. Some of them are paid, some of them do it for fun.
He agreed, after I asked, that in future he would tell me about it whenever he does this, and that if it did bother me that it would be no great loss to stop doing it. I told him it was okay as long as I know about it, but now I'm not sure if it is.
Right now I feel deeply weirded out, but that it's my problem and I'll get over it. The thing is that the more I reflect on it the more uncomfortable and prudish I feel. I dislike the fact that my boyfriend has been interacting at all with (half-)naked women while he or I am away, even though intellectually I think he's separated it in his mind from thoughts of me, and it's not a sexual situation for him. I am getting all insecure over whether he would prefer it if I looked like they do. I feel that this isn't a big deal for him, and therefore it shouldn't be for me either.
So how much am I obsessing? (Quite a lot, given the length of this post.) Does this have any larger implications for our relationship, or how he thinks of me? Am I being irrational? How much upset is justified, and how much due to the sheltered world I live in (which I therefore should get over)?
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