I found pictures of
December 15, 2010 3:29 PM   Subscribe

I was looking through the pictures on my BF's iPhone this morning, and I found a few pictures of his ex girlfriend that he had saved recently. He claims that he has no feelings for her. Should I be worried?

A few things to note:

-I know for a fact that he downloaded the pictures relatively recently because he got the iPhone two months ago.
-They look like profile pictures (he is no longer friends with her on Facebook) and there are no nudes, but he admitted to jerking off to them nonetheless.
-He broke off the relationship with her, not the other way around


So, I fully admit to being a horrible, awful snoop (or having major trust issues because of a previous relationship, if you prefer the less harsh way of seeing things...). I apologized to him and tried to convince him that I meant no harm by snooping (which in retrospect seems a little insincere, but it's more about my own insecurities than hurting him or lashing out at him).

There have been problems in our relationship already (see my previous post) but we've always worked through them. The trust thing has only become a problem recently. A few weeks ago we had a discussion about this girl he'd been dating before he met me, and I asked him a bunch of questions about her, and just hearing him talking about it made me incredibly jealous. I knew it was stupid to ask, but sometimes I'm a masochist. What can I say. He and this girl didn't date for long, and he admitted that he intentionally broke things off with her because he felt that she "didn't deserve" to have to deal with his physical and mental health problems. To me, this sounds like he's putting her on a pedastal, and misses her and what could have been. I told him this, and he reassured me that that wasn't the case. Then, a few weeks later, I find pictures of her on his iPhone!

This makes me really upset, partly because I have put up with a lot for the sake of this relationship, and I believe I've helped him work through some of his issues he's been having...and I sort of feel like now that he's more confident in his ability to sustain a healthy sex life and relationship, he wishes he could go back and try things over with her. I realize this is a lot to extrapolate from just a few pictures. But I can't help wondering what sparked him to download the pictures in the first place. Was it the conversation we had about it? I've asked him about it and basically grilled him on it this morning, but he seemed defensive and it took a lot of coaxing to get him to admit that he misses certain things about her, sexually, and that she "does it" for him in a unique way (she is more his preferred body type).

I should mention that he claims to be head over heels for me, and this relationship has a lot going for it in other respects...he makes me happy most of the time and he is my best friend.

I just don't know how to move forward with this knowledge...I wish I had never looked, but hindsight is 20/20, etc etc. Any insights would be hugely appreciated.
posted by maggymay to Human Relations (56 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
he admitted to jerking off to them nonetheless.

Wow, really? DTMFA.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:31 PM on December 15, 2010 [52 favorites]


My husband has had a few pics of previous girlfriends in his wallet for the whole time I've known him, a nostalgia thing. I was a little unnerved when I first saw them but he has me as the pic he sees when he opens the wallet, and he's never given me any other sort of reason to distrust him, so now I'm okay with it.
But JERKING OFF to them? And TELLING YOU? That's some nasty stuff there, both parts. Not a guy I'd stay with.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:35 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suggest counseling: lack of trust on your part is an issue, but a bigger issue is his powerful sexual attraction to the ex.
posted by francesca too at 3:37 PM on December 15, 2010


I just can't see this being a healthy relationship. I'm more than a little weirded out that he admitted to jerking off to his exgirlfriend's pictures to you. You deserve to be with someone who isn't putting someone else on a pedestal.

I also second therapy for the trust issue, because if you can't work that out for yourself, it'll start haunting you.
posted by Zophi at 3:40 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


They look like profile pictures (he is no longer friends with her on Facebook) and there are no nudes, but he admitted to jerking off to them nonetheless.

Wow. Seriously, I can imagine someone jerking off to pictures of an ex, but masturbation can be a private thing, and that seems like something you'd admit to a lover in order to hurt and/or unnerve them.

I'd be upset.
posted by xingcat at 3:42 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It’s entirely possible for people to remember certain aspects of past relationships fondly (yes, even the sex) without having any desire to rekindle those relationships.

Of course, it's also common courtesy to avoid mentioning that to your current partner. He being far too honest when you (by your own admission) "grilled him".
posted by ripley_ at 3:42 PM on December 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think for us to truly have insight on this situation, we need to know what exactly he said. You glazed over the fact that he recently downloaded pictures of her and told you he jerked off to them, when that's a really really big deal. From the looks of it, on our end, no introspection or analysis or background story is needed. Unless there's a really convoluted story to why exactly he keeps these pictures on his phone and tells you he jerks off to them, DTMFA. This is not worth it. Yes, this is really bizarre and I suppose you should be worried, but more practically, you should just leave. There are better guys out there!
posted by lacedcoffee at 3:43 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew it was stupid to ask, but sometimes I'm a masochist.

Well, clearly. You grill your guy about his ex, you snoop through his phone, you nag him until he admits that he still thinks or fantasizes about her on occasion (I'm guessing that he only admitted to jerking off to the pictures after you specifically asked him if he did, tell me if I'm wrong)- there was no good end to that line of behavior. He dated someone in the past, he still thinks of her fondly- what would you rather, that he violently hates her? I don't think it's necessary in a healthy relationship to know every thought your partner thinks. If your partner wants to look at pictures or fantaszie occasionally about his old girlfriend, well, so what? He's with you now. That's his life now, not her. I agree with others that you should talk to a therapist about why you felt the need to get into all this.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:43 PM on December 15, 2010 [35 favorites]


Your trust issues and grilling of him combined with his jerking off to pictures of her and sexual longing for her do not sound like a healthy combination. It's one thing if an SO likes porn and gets off on anonymous stars, but having a little self love time with the pictures of the ex? Somebody needs a different relationship.
posted by nomadicink at 3:44 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's what you do:

1) Buy a taco
2) Eat the taco
3) Buy another taco
4) Eat the taco
5) Buy a Dr. Pepper
6) Buy Rose's Lime Juice
7) Put a splash of Rose's Lime Juice in a glass with two ice cubes
8) Pour the Dr. Pepper into the glass
9) Drink the beverage
10) Love how awesome the drink is
11) Dump your boyfriend

Now, 11 is the only necessary step. But after having two tacos and a Dr. Pepper with a splash of lime syrup, you'll realize how awesome life is and wonder why you're spending time with a fuckpuddle "boyfriend", and ruminating over some petty crap like this.

All of that time and energy could be spent on other things. Like mixing Ginger Ale, Grenadine, Sweetened Lime Juice, and Rainbow Sherbet in a blender, and drinking that for desert.

Private message me if you have important matters to discuss, like if there is anything that mixes well with grape juice (there totally is).
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 3:45 PM on December 15, 2010 [248 favorites]


To be entirely clear, the fact that he may have masturbated to those pictures is irrelevant. The fact that he told you that he masturbated to them is very relevant and is a very bad sign unless you've given him reason to believe that you would get a kink-related thrill out of him telling you, which is not a vibe I get from your question.

Aside from that, that he has downloaded pictures of his exes to his phone is not that big a deal (especially when compared to the fact that you snooped), but all that is entirely moot in light of the thoroughly bizarre masturbation-confession issue above.
posted by 256 at 3:46 PM on December 15, 2010


Do your future self a favor and be strong enough now to get out of this unhealthy relationship. Making the choice now to stand up for yourself and realize that you deserve better will change your entire life and maybe help propel you into greater self-worth and more healthy relationships all around.

By the way, I'm absolutely speaking from very similar personal experience. It took me years and years to get out of my relationship and I truly hope you don't take as long as I did.
posted by smirkyfodder at 3:46 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


He also may have high testosterone that leaves him hypersexual. He obviously has sexual fantasies regarding the ex that leads him to masturbation. The question is if that alone is reason to dump your guy. I'm not so sure. I see his telling you can spin two ways, but I'm actually impressed that he obviously felt comfortable enough to tell you these intimate details. Was it cruel and thoughtless or was it incredibly honest and a cry for a need for more open discussion about sex? It could easily destroy your relationship or it could make it stronger by his honesty and your sitting down and having a heart-to-heart about the sex life between the two of you. That is what could lead to make your decision, but I'm not ready to jump on the 'dump him' train yet. After all, how many guys may masturbate to pix of ex girlfriends and simply keep it a secret? I see his telling you as a siren call for the two of you to discuss your future together and honest communication about sexual desires and trust. It may prove the undoing -- or the gluing.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 3:51 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Generally, you probably don't want to date men who are really into telling you how awesome their sex life is with their own hand and a picture of the ex, never mind ones who then proceed to tell you-- under duress or otherwise-- that the ex really, really does it for them in a way you do not.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:51 PM on December 15, 2010 [17 favorites]


Wow, really? DTMFA.

Because he masturbated while looking at a photograph of his ex girlfriend on his phone? What planet are you on? People masturbate while viewing and doing allsorts, it is traditionally a private act - until others intervene. Men and women can recall previous encounters and relationships with fondness, happiness, raging sexual desire without it having one single shred of real world relevance. No intent, no cheating, no desire. Pixels on a phone.

OP your "masochism," jealousy and insecurity are never going to make for a happy, healthy relationship. You need therapy to deal with these issues, which were clearly there and affecting you in an unhealthy way even before you checked his phone.
posted by fire&wings at 3:52 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I have put up with a lot for the sake of this relationship"

OP: If you want out, you want out, and this is as good a reason as any. And if you have trust issues, then maybe nothing that a partner does is good enough to solve those for you. You don't sound ready for *this particular relationship* and what it entails, but it seems to me like it is more about you than what photos are on his phone.
posted by gregglind at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2010


There are a lot of exceptional people here who no longer want to fuck anybody that they used to fuck.

I don't think we have enough information to tell you whether you need to DTMFA. He didn't just come out and tell you "I jerk off to my old GF," right? He was honest about the pictures you snooped and found (and possibly asked directly about masturbating to), right? I don't think either doing that or admitting it is a dump-able offense. If he's lording that over you, deliberately telling you things like that make you feel bad / paranoid / jealous, it's a whole different story. And I don't know which you're dealing with here.

The relationship doesn't sound very healthy to me, and I'm not saying you should definitely give him a break here. But don't follow the advice that says "People who think about their exes while they're masturbating don't deserve new partners."
posted by PhatLobley at 3:59 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


that seems like something you'd admit to a lover in order to hurt and/or unnerve them.

The fact that he told you that he masturbated to them is very relevant

Right, that's not something you tell a partner. But did he say it without much prompting or did he say it because the OP was forcing him to admit it under intense questioning?

The OP's post sets off a lot of red flags for me. "major trust issues", snooping with what seems like very little cause, prying into past relationships, and grilling her boyfriend and "coaxing to get him to admit that he misses certain things about her, sexually".

I don't think anyone here knows enough about the situation to decisively come down on one side or the other.
posted by ripley_ at 4:00 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Generally, you probably don't want to date men who are really into telling you how awesome their sex life is with their own hand and a picture of the ex, never mind ones who then proceed to tell you-- under duress or otherwise-- that the ex really, really does it for them in a way you do not.

It sounds to me like her boyfriend has been honest when confronted. He isn't "really into telling," it was a "grilling," because "horrible, awful snoop" maggymay is a "masochist." Sounds like he was pretty admirably upfront about it in the face of behaviour which is boundary crossing to say the least.

The most telling word in the question is the "claim," he is head over heels with you. You need therapy.
posted by fire&wings at 4:01 PM on December 15, 2010


Dump him for every good reason mentioned above.

In the future, if someone makes you feel like snooping, take that as a sign the relationship is not for you in some significant way. DTMFA. Snooping to confirm your gut instinct is not necessary. The only thing that is necessary is listening to your gut.
posted by jbenben at 4:10 PM on December 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I agree with jbenben. If you have to snoop on his phone then your trust is suspicious at best and beyond reason. Do him a great favor and dump him.
posted by JayRwv at 4:20 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you can't move forward. Not because this is unquestionably an unforgiveable sin, but because of who you and he are. He is a depressed, self-involved person who is either selfish enough or socially stupid enough to share this information with you. You're deeply, deeply insecure and on a fundamental level do not trust him.

He is too mentally unhealthy or socially retarded to offer the support and understanding you need to overcome said insecurities, and you are clearly not in a good place to offer him counseling on the depression and social retardation because this behavior directly affects you in hurtful ways that play directly into your insecurities.

You are not good for each other.
posted by schroedinger at 4:22 PM on December 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Alright, out of the way, I'm going to comment/answer, stand back:

basically grilled him .... and it took a lot of coaxing to get him to admit that he misses certain things about her

Right, you coaxed him? Is it possible anything he's told you by your coaxing is just sarcastic crap he's saying just so that you'd stop pestering him? Did it go anything like this?

F) Do you like X?
M) Nah. Sorry, reading.
F) Are you suuuuure you don't like X?
M) It's/They're okay.
F) Are you suuuuuuuuure you don't like X?
M) Sigh, I don't know.
F) Are you suuuuuuuuure you don't like X?
M) Yeah, whatever, sure. Leave me alone.
F) AH HA! YOU DO LIKE X!!!!
M) What?!?
F) .... (steams off angry about it)
M) Wait, what were you asking?


He needs to learn to answer yes or no to these sorts of questions, and stick with them.
posted by peppito at 4:25 PM on December 15, 2010


You asked him a bunch of questions about his ex in a fit of masochism, vividly imagined a whole complicated analysis of their short relationship, interrogated him into incriminating himself, and are now torturing yourself over the unknowns. Oh, and snooped on his phone.

Stop talking about her. Seriously, drop it. If you don't want him to think about his ex-girlfriend, then quit dragging her into your relationship. This isn't about her anyway.

Start thinking about you and him. Talk about that.
posted by desuetude at 4:31 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


A few weeks ago we had a discussion about this girl he'd been dating before he met me, and I asked him a bunch of questions about her, and just hearing him talking about it made me incredibly jealous. I knew it was stupid to ask, but sometimes I'm a masochist. What can I say. He and this girl didn't date for long, and he admitted that he intentionally broke things off with her because he felt that she "didn't deserve" to have to deal with his physical and mental health problems. To me, this sounds like he's putting her on a pedastal, and misses her and what could have been. I told him this, and he reassured me that that wasn't the case. Then, a few weeks later, I find pictures of her on his iPhone!

Before I say anything else. How long have you guys been together? And how long has it been since he dated this girl? Did he break up with her and immediately start up with you?

OK. Now that's squared away. You need to keep in mind that they broke up. He says he doesn't want to be with her. You have no evidence that anything is going on between them*. He has been open with you in talking about her, their relationship, why they broke up, and even the fact that he sometimes masturbates thinking about her. And yet he says he's not interested in going back there. What more do you want, here? Let it go, already!

Another thing. I'm someone who tends to stay friends with my exes. I am also someone who has one or two "ones who got away". Neither of those two details has any bearing on anyone I date going forward. I know it's highly unlikely that I would get back together with the "ones who got away" - all of those relationships failed for very obvious reasons, and though I might fantasize about them, I know there's little chance we could ever end up together. Same with the exes who are now friends. We broke up for a reason. It didn't work between us. I'm over it. But hey, they're still nice people who I enjoy having in my life.

This is something you're going to need to learn to deal with as you grow older and continue to find yourself in relationships with adults who had a life before you came along.

*And don't go snooping for it now, please!
posted by Sara C. at 4:38 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think something that you need to figure out for yourself is -- regardless of how 'normal' it may be -- do you want to be in a relationship where someone's idea of fun is pretending to sleep with someone other than yourself?
posted by MeiraV at 5:01 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I read your question, I thought you were overreacting. It seemed, from your telling of it, that you had backed him into a corner. I thought the calls for DTMFA were a little over-eager.

However, after seeing from your previous question that you've been with this guy for 8+ months, and things are still this difficult, it's time to take a good look at why you're in a relationship that seems to be causing you so much trouble. If a relationship doesn't make you happy, it's not worth being in.
posted by auto-correct at 5:03 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


>he intentionally broke things off with her because he felt that she "didn't deserve" to have to deal with his physical and mental health problems

OH NO HE DI'NT. The pics and the jerking off pale in comparison to this.

But YOU, of course, DO deserve to deal with his problems.

HONEY, NO.

You have to deal with your own problems and trust issues. Dump this motherfucker already and start doing that.
posted by cyndigo at 5:03 PM on December 15, 2010 [26 favorites]


There have been problems in our relationship already (see my previous post)

Is this the guy from February as well as the guy in your last question? I can see why you feel insecure in this relationship. If he's the February guy, you were worried that he wasn't interested, and you stated several times that you like to be pursued. And, he deceived you into closing your OKCupid account even though he didn't. And you found out because he was checking out your friend's profile.

Then in the most-recent previous post, he's been breaking plans. He has ED problems, a prescription for Viagra, and now he's masturbating... to the photo (from yet another profile he perused) and memory of an ex. And telling you (and I think no matter how much you grilled him for that tidbit of info, really some things are better left unsaid and he should know that).

You can do better.
posted by Houstonian at 5:04 PM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Before you make rash decisions about whether to dump this guy, it is probably worth considering that the average male thinks about sex an awful lot the whole time he's alive and stops only when he's got at least one foot in the grave. Not only that, but most healthy guys crave variety in sex partners without necessarily wanting to give up their relationship. Masturbation and associated fantasies of other women seems like a harmless compromise of that interest.

As long as he's with you, and not with her, and he's not using his fantasy life as a weapon, then whatever suffering you're experiencing seems self-inflicted. You obviously have valid reasons to have trust issues generally without having reason to doubt your boyfriend, and I think it would be worthwhile to explore those with a counselor.
posted by Hylas at 5:07 PM on December 15, 2010


But YOU, of course, DO deserve to deal with his problems.

Well, the OP made it clear that some of those problems are better now.

Directly from the OP's post (emphasis mine): "he's more confident in his ability to sustain a healthy sex life and relationship"
posted by ripley_ at 5:09 PM on December 15, 2010


he admitted that he intentionally broke things off with her because he felt that she "didn't deserve" to have to deal with his physical and mental health problems.

and you do?
posted by space_cookie at 5:21 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Did you badger him into the position of exasperatedly "admitting" to whatever it is you clearly wanted him to admit, consequences be damned can we just fucking drop it now already? I've been there. Of course, by tomorrow you wouldn't have to decide whether or not to dump me.

It sounds to me like this is too hard for being 8 months in. Whether it's you, whether it's him, it doesn't look to this non-professionally-qualified only-know-what-you've-written internet therapist like it's working out.
posted by ctmf at 5:29 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


he admitted to jerking off to them nonetheless.

Wow, really? DTMFA.

So what? Men jerk off to all kinds of imagery, whether in their imaginations or on an iPhone screen. It doesn't mean anything. Unless you have reason to believe he is trying to reconnect with her, this is no transgression at all.

But if you're going to constantly feel the need to snoop on him, searching for any sign of infidelity, do him a favor and end this relationship now.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:45 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's one thing to still be friends with your exes, platonically. It's even one thing to still keep around photos and mementos of your exes that you already had before.

IMHO it's quite another thing to be downloading new photos of your exes to save on your phone. To me, that is not something you would do if your feelings for your ex were totally platonic. And to jack off to those pictures?? And then, to TELL your current SO that you jacked off to those pictures??

Also, I agree with the people upthread who said you snooped because in your gut you didn't trust him. In my observation, usually, people who snoop in that situation have good, logical reason not to trust the people they are snooping on; as opposed to just being irrationally suspicious people who just need therapy.

This guy obviously has a lot of issues. But an I ask you something? Was this guy, with all of his many issues and problems, attractive to you because it made you feel more secure? That someone with this many problems wouldn't leave you? That he would have a harder time finding someone else? That he would be more grateful to you, more dependent on you? That you would rescue him, and put up with his issues when others wouldn't, and for that he would love you, owe you, or would be afraid to leave knowing others wouldn't be as accepting as you?

If you do go to therapy, I think maybe *that* might be a good thing to talk about. I think you might find yourself in these situations less often if you dated guys who were whole, not guys who are wrecks like this one.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:50 PM on December 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


>>he admitted to jerking off to them nonetheless.

>>he admitted that he intentionally broke things off with her because he felt that she "didn't deserve" to have to deal with his physical and mental health problems

>>it took a lot of coaxing to get him to admit that he misses certain things about her, sexually, and that she "does it" for him in a unique way (she is more his preferred body type).

DTMFA DTMFA DTMFA.

The fact that he's telling is a pretty clear indication that he doesn't care about you all that much. You deserve better.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:00 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I should mention that he claims to be head over heels for me, and this relationship has a lot going for it in other respects...he makes me happy most of the time and he is my best friend.

I just don't know how to move forward with this knowledge...I wish I had never looked, but hindsight is 20/20, etc etc. Any insights would be hugely appreciated.


I'm going to say that if you are generally happy and really only want advice on how to move past it, you just need to... move past it. Tell him that that behavior is NOT okay with you, and telling you about it, no matter how much you "coax" him, is not the right answer either. His private jerking time is between himself and his hand and his ex-girlfriends aren't to be involved in picture form if he wants to keep dating you.

I mean, it's really easy to say DTMFA, but come on. Boys are dumb sometimes! You have to know that lots of dudes out there think about aspects of their ex-GFs when they're having alone time. The main problem here is that he put absolute honesty above rational thought for a second (and crossed the line into actually downloading pictures of her to use), but let's try not to read into it too much. Maybe there are other issues to be addressed, but I think that in the grand scheme of things, this is not too bad.
posted by coupdefoudre at 6:28 PM on December 15, 2010


This whole relationship sounds more like mother/son than girlfriend/boyfriend. You keep tabs on him and snoop and trick him into admissions or force confessions out of him. Meanwhile, he just keeps doing things behind your back...this is not a healthy dynamic.

I am not surprised he is now fantasizing about his past relationship. I honestly don't know why you want to hang on to this one.
posted by misha at 6:35 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I disagree with the seemingly knee-jerk DTMFA majority. I'd be pretty frustrated/annoyed if my girlfriend probed me about my masturbation habits because of her own insecurity, especially after snooping on my phone. That's my own personal business. I would also be bothered if she questioned me constantly waiting for me to slip. I'm assuming, like other people here, that he only admitted to masturbating to the pictures after you specifically asked him about it. He said "yes," along with answering your other questions - which was stupid of him - but then again, I'm sure he couldn't think of the smart thing to do (which would be to kill the conversation early) when he's getting verbally ambushed.

... I meant no harm by snooping

What? The only thing snooping can cause is harm.

...took a lot of coaxing to get him to admit that he misses certain things about her

Jesus. I would consider this incessant probing and "grilling" to be self-sabotage, if you ask me. It's like you're desperate for him to admit it just so you can prove to yourself that you're right.
posted by Evernix at 7:09 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


relationships do not need to be this difficult.

really. they don't. guilt & lack of trust will never take you anywhere you really want to be.
posted by annie o at 7:13 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would like to emphasize that it wasn't cool to snoop, and yes, grilling only leads to pain for both parties and is not fruitful. You need to learn to curb your curiosity... maybe in a future relationship where you can establish some trust with your partner. But, he told you he masturbated to her pictures? That she's too good for him? That he prefers her body? Please leave this asshole. Staying with this guy will only feed your insecurity. I know it seems like it's throwing away lots of good times, but he is a jerk, and you deserve someone who makes you feel beautiful and worshiped.
posted by mostlybecky at 7:51 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


he admitted to jerking off to them nonetheless.

!??!?!

WHAT

no

1) It's pretty awful he did that in the first place.

2) It's UNFORGIVABLY TERRIBLE that he told you.

Also this, frankly:

it took a lot of coaxing to get him to admit that he misses certain things about her, sexually, and that she "does it" for him in a unique way (she is more his preferred body type).

I don't care if you tied him to a chair and beat him about the head, telling you any of this was an incredibly stupid thing to do.

However, it was also a really foolish thing for you to be badgering him about in the first place.

If you're so uncomfortable in this relationship that you're snooping through his photos and masochistically badgering him for sexual details about his ex, and he's so disrespectful of your feelings (or plain clueless) that he's telling you this nonsense? That does not say great things about your long term compatibility.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:24 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh boy. I have a different perspective on this: I WAS the other woman. You know, the hot ex that the depressed needy guy dumped and then begged to take him back once I showed any sign of moving on and dating someone new. After he had a new girlfriend. He told me he couldn't get it up for her, and that I "ruined him" because I just had the right pheromones to turn his crank or whatever. You can imagine how my heart just BLED for him. How FLATTERED I was. Ha.

Let's forget boyfriend and look at things from HER perspective: A dude dumps her, gives her "its not you it's me", then downloads pics of her when they are no longer friends on facebook, jerks off to them, tells his girlfriend about it, and is probably thinking about begging her to take him back.

What a winner! He has no respect for her OR you. Only himself as his inch-deep emotions and passings desires. DTMFA.
posted by Nixy at 8:43 PM on December 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


Assuming he is not seeing anyone else on the side and lying about it, the guy's only mistake was sharing too much information with you. It's no big deal. People in committed relationships sometimes fantasize about other people. Granted, his hobby about downloading photos of his ex's is a little weird, but it seems harmless, and sharing with you has clearly done more harm than good.

You can either trust him and move on, or keep worrying about small "kinks" in your relationship and wreck your relationship by extrapolating complete fictions.

Then again, maybe the two of you are not a good fit.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:19 PM on December 15, 2010


Ok, I'm sure I'll get some flack for things I'm about to say, but so be it. When I read your question, this is what I see:

"During my interrogation of the suspect, he complained that the spotlight was very hot. I think this means he finds our relationship very intense. How can I make sure he only thinks thoughts prescribed thru the Telescreen?"

Here, since you like honesty, let me be honest. I recently had a very fine mastabutory session thinking about my first time with an ex. He had a great way of doing this thing with his tongue that... well, I won't be that forthcoming. Do I want to break off all my current relationships and go back with him? No, because he had the habit doing that thing with his tongue to other guys while I was at work.

So, why did I choose that particular moment in my love life to bring up? Am I deeply in love with him and need to realize it?

No, it's because it was a satisfying sexual experience that I enjoyed, decided to relive in my mind, and I had 10 minutes without interruptions. Guys don't masturbate to a particular image because they're deeply, madly in love with it or because they want to marry that image and have 10 kids and a dog. They masturbate to that image because it makes their penis hard. Something hot becomes fodder for the Spank Bank. Plain and simple.

I went over your questions related to your boyfriend, who you imply is the subject of your other questions. I have learned that you…

- snoop in his things
- grill him on past relationships
- become extremely jealous because, at some point in time, he had feelings for someone else
- get upset when he gives you honest answers
- get upset when he gives you evasive answers
- think he's a hypochondriac because he was physically ill while depressed over his father's illness
- said his erectile issues were BS because you didn't notice a difference.

And thru all of this, somehow he's the bad guy because he wanted to wank when he actually does get it hard. And this is probably going to hurt your feelings, but I'll say it as a person who's been severely depressed and had erectile issues because of it and the medication: If someone acted toward me the way you have toward him, they probably wouldn't be the first face I pictured when I wanted to beat off.
posted by aristan at 11:12 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow, I really disagree with the prevailing mood here, that his masturbating to a picture of his ex is a huge, unforgivable offense. Maggymay, here's what his jerking off to a picture of his ex means for you and your relationship:

Nothing.

What he pictures or looks at while he's alone has literally not a thing to do with you and your relationship. I get the sense from some other comments that people think that people in relationships should only picture their partners while masturbating. This is, to my mind, totally unreasonable and unrealistic. What goes on in his head while he's alone is his own business, and it means nothing for you one way or another. Imagining sex with other people is what masturbation is for - it's the safety valve that makes monogamy possible.

Now, he probably shouldn't have told you about it. But it sounds from your question like you really badgered him into it. I mean, really, this:

I've asked him about it and basically grilled him on it this morning, but he seemed defensive and it took a lot of coaxing to get him to admit that he misses certain things about her, sexually, and that she "does it" for him in a unique way (she is more his preferred body type).

is not healthy relationship behavior. I'm sure he didn't want to tell you what he did with those pictures, but he was also probably uncomfortable lying to you, and you were forcing him to do that by repeatedly raising the question.

So here's the deal. This guy is in a relationship with you. He says he loves you. You need to learn to take yes for an answer. Are you worried that sometimes he wants to have sex with other people or looks back fondly on sex with his ex? I guarantee that he does both. So do most people. So what? Don't put yourself in a position of trying to police someone's desires: unless he acts on those desires with a real, present person, he's done nothing wrong. But you really need to stop asking him about his ex. It's hurting you, it's probably making him uncomfortable, and if you don't stop he's going to break up with you. When you feel those "masochist" tendencies welling up inside you, go for a walk, get away from him, whatever. Do not allow yourself to interrogate him about her again. Otherwise his relationship with her is just going to start looking better and better in retrospect.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:43 AM on December 16, 2010


I left out details that might have been important. At this point it's becoming clear to me that people from an outside perspective might not be the best resource, because obviously you weren't there, don't know exactly what happened, what was said and how it was said, etc. Wrong assumptions are made. Understandable. I will say that I really appreciate all the perspectives though, it's definitely given me a lot to think about and I have some major apologizing and re-evaluating to do.

My phrasing was...unfortunate. The pictures were found, not looked for. I call it snooping because it FELT like snooping. I could have just turned off the phone and forgotten about it. My curiosity and insecurity got the better of me. I realize it was wrong and awful of me to be on his phone at all in the first place, but he has a cool phone with lots of apps, which I have browsed before with him watching, and I honestly did not expect to find anything unpleasant there. This was not "premeditated." He deserves more privacy and more trust and I do feel terrible about that, but once you see something like that there's no undoing it, you know?

Second, while it may seem like I flipped out at him and overreacted, none of you were there, so I wouldn't make assumptions about the kind of person I am based on the few details I gave above. I confronted him pretty matter-of-factly at first considering how upset I was, but rather than being reassuring, his first reaction was defensive and hostile (which I misinterpreted as guilt, and which escalated to us being more upset at each other, and me writing this post). I think my big mistake was not giving myself enough time to think it through before I confronted him.

Third, contrary to what many of you must think, I have no problem with him jerking off to other women. I'm a little surprised that the one line about him jerking off to her got the most reaction here, but I guess that's just because I don't see that information as being the most relevant. We both look at porn on our own time, and I understand that people need variety in their fantasies. That is not what bothered me. I was worried and upset mostly because it was a past girlfriend, not some random chick online with a hot body. In our heart to heart last night he helped me understand where he was coming from and reassured me that this really was just a horny whim. And I'm fine with that. I really am. A bigger part of the problem was that I also felt taken advantage of because my (skewed) perception was that I had sacrificed a lot emotionally for this relationship, helping him get a job and become more confident in himself, encouraging him to get therapy, etc. And worried that he was going to take all the progress we've made together and actually do something to get in contact with this girl and move on without me. This was insecurities from a past relationship speaking. I was completely wrong, and I know that because we talked through things, like we always do.
posted by maggymay at 8:43 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


You sound like you've made up your mind to smooth over this incident, but from your own description, it seems like this relationship is a lot of work. Just ask yourself if what you're getting here is worth the effort, the compromises, and that nagging feeling you're trying to satisfy by looking into his phone. Don't talk yourself out of your feelings.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:30 AM on December 16, 2010


P.S. I marked Bathtub Bobsled's as best answer entirely because it made me smile. Not so sure about #11, but thanks for that.
posted by maggymay at 10:05 AM on December 16, 2010


Third, contrary to what many of you must think, I have no problem with him jerking off to other women. I'm a little surprised that the one line about him jerking off to her got the most reaction here [...] That is not what bothered me. I was worried and upset mostly because it was a past girlfriend, not some random chick online with a hot body.

It is interesting that you say this, because it seems fairly obvious that all the comments on this topic are essentially saying a very similar thing. No one really indicated any horror over general jacking off; instead, they are specifically pointing out the problematic nature of the fact that it was to the girlfriend - and that he told you this, even though such a revelation would be considered super hurtful by large numbers of people.

That it sounds like you think they said something else is just interesting, you know? An interesting communicative tact that might not necessarily be working in your relationships...

I dunno.
posted by vivid postcard at 10:38 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreeing with vivid postcard. It's not the jacking off; it's not the jacking off to an ex; it's not the telling you about jacking off; it's the telling you about jerking off to his ex.

I'm an asshole. I'm brutally honest, especially when asked a point-blank question. I jerk off, and would happily share that fact with anyone who wants to know. But I would cut off my hand before telling a current GF that I jerk off to recently downloaded pics of my ex (unless, of course, I had no balls and was looking for a way to end the relationship.)

Interestingly, there's at least one previous question on AskMe that's relevant.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:06 PM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


It is interesting that you say this, because it seems fairly obvious that all the comments on this topic are essentially saying a very similar thing. No one really indicated any horror over general jacking off; instead, they are specifically pointing out the problematic nature of the fact that it was to the girlfriend - and that he told you this, even though such a revelation would be considered super hurtful by large numbers of people.

That it sounds like you think they said something else is just interesting, you know?


I see what you're saying -- definitely a communication problem here, yah. I was responding more to those who thought I wanted to police his sexual desires:

"During my interrogation of the suspect, he complained that the spotlight was very hot. I think this means he finds our relationship very intense. How can I make sure he only thinks thoughts prescribed thru the Telescreen?"...If someone acted toward me the way you have toward him, they probably wouldn't be the first face I pictured when I wanted to beat off.

...which seemed unnecessarily harsh. I actually would rather that it be a sexual thing, than downloading the pictures out of some complicated sense of nostalgia or regret for who she was and what she meant to him. I think him admitting what he was using them for, just goes to show how open we are about that subject. He considered it (and knew that I would, too) less of an offense that he would just be getting off to her pictures because she's attractive, rather than it meaning more. That was what the whole argument was about, not the jerking off. I truly don't care that much about that. It's an aspect of our relationship I take for granted. I guess that didn't come off well in my original post. I know porn can be a healthy part of a relationship. But I think I was still justified in being upset, because there was a lack of information -- for all I knew, he missed her and wanted her back and was looking at the pictures lovingly or with regret. That upset me. And though it's not my first instinct, I'm coming around to the idea that it's not really my place to have a problem with this in general, i.e. he is welcome to fantasize about her, miss her, whatever, as long as it doesn't mean anything more serious about OUR relationship...and as long as I don't find out.
posted by maggymay at 1:45 PM on December 16, 2010


Interestingly, there's at least one previous question on AskMe that's relevant.

Wow, yeah -- very interesting, thanks for that.
posted by maggymay at 1:52 PM on December 16, 2010


I just don't know how to move forward with this knowledge

This is how I'd use askme to move forward:

If you read everyone's answers and thought, "Damn! I knew he was no good. Time to move on," then you should break up and find someone who does not keep pictures of their ex (but maybe your cat will hate him or he'll have a a mother who vacations with you. Who knows?).

But, if you read the above and thought (as it seems you do :)), "they are being unnecessarily harsh and I don't think I explained the situation right," then stay with him and focus on the things that make you happy about the relationship.

I know it's confusing when you feel hurt, but there's no right or wrong here -- your happiness is the only thing that really matters, so if you won't be as happy with/out him, that might be a good indicator of what the next step is.
posted by bluestocking at 6:01 PM on December 16, 2010


MaggyMay, I'm glad you found it harsh. It was meant to be. Some people need a wake up call.

Your original question sounded to me like you're penning blame for all your relationship problems on him, including your own insecurity and trust issues. Your followups have basically been defending him and your relationship from us, the people you asked the opinion of.

It's good that you want to defend your relationship from my comments because hopefully it means that you think there's something there worth defending. And that means you can save it.

Let me quote you from another question you posted:

"I love him very, very much and I'm truly happy with him in most respects."


If that's true, then a couple of pictures on his phone don't mean jack (sorry, I had to heh). He's not a villain, you're not a villain. You'll both get over it and you'll promise him you won't get offended by photos on his phone if he will learn to leer at beer poster bikini posters like a normal person.

Frankly, for all my harsh words, I do wish you the best with this.
posted by aristan at 6:18 PM on December 16, 2010


My phrasing was...unfortunate. The pictures were found, not looked for. I call it snooping because it FELT like snooping. I could have just turned off the phone and forgotten about it. My curiosity and insecurity got the better of me. I realize it was wrong and awful of me to be on his phone at all in the first place, but he has a cool phone with lots of apps, which I have browsed before with him watching, and I honestly did not expect to find anything unpleasant there. This was not "premeditated." He deserves more privacy and more trust and I do feel terrible about that, but once you see something like that there's no undoing it, you know?

I don't understand what you're trying to argue here. You described snooping properly -- snooping is poking around in someone's private stuff out of curiosity to see what there is to see. The risk is that you'll find something confusing or unpleasant.

Mostly, snooping yields boring stuff. Occasionally it'll give you something amusing. The problem with snooping is that it doesn't offer very much in the way of rewards, aside from the pleasure of doing what you wish without regard for the possible consequences.
posted by desuetude at 7:54 AM on December 17, 2010


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