Topless pics damage control
December 18, 2010 3:55 PM   Subscribe

My ex-fiance has topless photos of me, we are still on good terms but I'm not sure how to proceed.

I broke up with him, it wasn't mutual but he wasn't completely surprised as we'd been having problems. We are still amicable/friendly but I don't want to assume we will be forever. What is the etiquette for asking him to delete them? Is this even worth it as there's never a guarantee that he hasn't saved them somewhere else?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and never again will I let someone take photos of me!

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can ask, but of course there's no guarantee. If you remain on good terms though, it's unlikely they'll spread. And if they do ever spread and you become aware, you'll know he's the source, and you can probably file suit for invasion of privacy.
posted by modernnomad at 3:58 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't mention it to him. I wouldn't want him to know that he has that weapon between us. Let it go and hope that he's not evil.
posted by shew at 4:08 PM on December 18, 2010 [14 favorites]

Yeah, what shew said.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 4:24 PM on December 18, 2010

yeah, if in the future things turned sour (and i think they'd have to be mighty sour for him to actually want to hurt you so), i wouldn't bother telling him *now* what could make you so upset.
posted by custard heart at 4:25 PM on December 18, 2010

I think you should mention that you don't want anyone else to see those photos. If you're on good terms it's best to make sure you're on the same page.
posted by teraspawn at 4:36 PM on December 18, 2010

If it helps, I think that the vast majority of people would never do such a thing. Your relationship with him might change, but his character won't. If he's not a nasty, vindictive person then you've really got nothing to worry about.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:37 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't think there's anything that you can do to keep the pictures from getting posted online because, frankly, he'd have to be a dick to do that and dicks aren't going to be convinced not to be dicks just because someone asked nicely.

OTOH, if he's a dick and has forgotten about the pictures, then your request might remind him that they exist. Just saying.

So, let's assume that he's a nice guy. If you say nothing then he might keep the pictures because he's either forgotten about them or because he figures that there's no harm if only he sees them (you may feel that this is horrible and immoral, and you might be right, but speaking as a guy who likes boobs, I also feel it's quite likely). If you say something then, assuming he's a good guy, he'll delete them.

So, if you want them gone you should ask him. If you just don't want them on the intertubes, you should probably say nothing.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:59 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Ask him nicely.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:29 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Dear ex-fiance, please delete the topless pics. Thanks."
posted by zippy at 7:39 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a risk either way, but if he's a nice guy, currently in a good mood, and you ask nicely and he gets rid of them, then they won't be around if he gets in a snit in the future (not to sound machivellian about it, but for example: if it sinks in you're never coming back).

On a tech note; if you can, I'd show up without discussing what you want to do in advance, ask if you could look over his shoulder when he does this, and once he removes all the pics you request, also ask him to "empty the trash or recycle bin" on his computer. While the trash does automatically age stuff out after a while, I sometime find, when I go diving into it for stuff I later realize I needed, that things hold there for a while.

If he's reluctant to do that, ask if he'll go in there and selectively remove the pictures, which, at least in Windows, permanently removes them. If you're not already familiar with the procedure, I'd practice it on whatever operating system he has on his computer.

There is still a sense in which the data could be recovered from the hard drives until the data is literally overwritten on the disk cylinders, but this should put them beyond the reach of a typical computer user, and employing a disk wipe/file shred tool may be too much to ask. And of course, there could be copies stored elsewhere, but I think if you can do this your chances are reduced.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:00 PM on December 18, 2010

Assuming there are other matters that need to be cleared up, I would include this in the list. I would note to him you want him to delete them, but if for some reason he does not delete them let him know that he is the only one who has them and if they turn up anywhere else, he is the only source.
posted by AugustWest at 8:09 PM on December 18, 2010

if you can, I'd show up without discussing what you want to do in advance, ask if you could look over his shoulder when he does this, and once he removes all the pics you request, also ask him to "empty the trash or recycle bin" on his computer.

if anyone, especially an ex, looked over my shoulder asking/demanding i remove things from my computer, i'd tell them to go take a hike.

most of the commenters have it - a nice guy wouldn't use these things against you, a jerk would. asking for their removal won't actually do anything besides possibly get the photos released. once you give someone naked pictures, you have to act as if they will never be deleted. it's just too easy to have backups and alternate copies and what not.
posted by nadawi at 9:07 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

The problem is not the guy, necessarily, it's that she has to worry about who has access to his files, including tech-support people. However, and I apologize if this is cold comfort, I think it's a truism that there are so many of these pics out in the wild that the risk of being recognized is pretty low.
posted by rhizome at 9:38 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Assuming that you are both relatively drama-free, reasonable people, a serious, frank request that he delete the pictures seems sufficient to me. Obviously it's true, you will (god willing) never have any way to be certain that he has deleted them, but if you were engaged I'd hope that there's enough respect there for him to delete the pictures.

I would ask in real-time - that is, I wouldn't send an email. Personally, I don't think I could bear to do this in person, but over the phone doesn't seem too cold to me. If you feel it's prudent to have proof you asked (and he said yes, one would hope/assume), Gchat seems OK to me. I say real-time because then it is a dialogue, a request, and you can immediately discuss what it might mean to him to delete the photos. An email could come off as a command.

That said, if you are remotely drama-prone people, not mentioning them seems maybe like a good idea. Or, if you are still at a point where you have access to his computer, it'd be hard for him to make an effective point that you deleting them invades his privacy.

But seriously, if you were engaged and you are still civil, this is a completely reasonable request. You shouldn't feel embarassed to ask and there is pretty much no excuse for him to say no.
posted by maryr at 9:55 PM on December 18, 2010

FWIW, I had completely naked (in extremely revealing positions, with face recognizable) photos of an ex. I never deleted them, I only lost them when a hard drive crashed and I had to reformat the thing without a backup. We did not break up on the best of terms. She left me for another dude. I had every right to be angry and pissed at the way she left me, too.

I could have posted them on the net, but what does that get me? A lot of dudes lusting after my girl that I loved? I don't want that, and your ex probably isn't totally cool with that either, whether the breakup is mutual or otherwise.

I never deleted the photos, as I said, but I never ever would have thought of releasing them to the internet wild. That would have been a heinous kind of "revenge" that would not have given me any solace. They were in a nondescript folder that no one would look for photos in. I didn't look at them myself, actually, for a long time. It was only after the HDD crashed that I realized they were gone forever, and my reaction was basically "meh, for the best".

So, as stated upthread, most guys would not release this to the wild. If he's extremely chivalrous, he'll delete them, knowing that they might get out if he takes his laptop in for maintenance at Best Buy, but he may put them on a thumb drive and stuff it in the back of his sock drawer. If he's a normal dude, he'll just leave them until they succumb to the death that all magnetic tape succumbs to. And then they will be gone.
posted by King Bee at 9:56 PM on December 18, 2010

also ask him to "empty the trash or recycle bin"

Datapoint: Shift-Del in Windows kills files immediately without passing by the Recycle bin.

Having said that, however, I agree with most others upthread: if y'all are not drama-prone, he's very unlikely indeed to want to do anything so reprehensible and will probably delete them himself once he's come to terms with the breakup. A decent person would feel totally guilty and filthy just considering the idea. Good luck.
posted by aqsakal at 12:11 AM on December 19, 2010

Is this even worth it as there's never a guarantee that he hasn't saved them somewhere else?

Put yourself in his position...I think the answer is no. I mean, I think you've gotta trust that he's not a creep. Asking him explicitly to delete them implies strongly that you think he's the kind of creep who might post them publicly.
posted by desuetude at 1:03 AM on December 19, 2010

It may be small consolation, but remember they are 'only' topless photos - it could be worse, a lot worse ... (am I a glass half full person, or what?!).

I would let sleeping dogs lie, on the basis that if you can trust him not to use them/allow their use, you don't need to ask, and if you can't trust him he won't delete them anyway.

As you say, a lesson learned, and hopefully learned by others too ...
posted by GeeEmm at 4:19 AM on December 19, 2010

Not worth it. He will almost certainly keep copies. You just need to hope he's a decent human being who won't spread them around. I think most of us are. I still have pics of an old girlfriend with whom I parted on very bad terms a long time ago, and I still dislike her a lot. Wouldn't dream of showing the pics to anyone else. It's just such a nasty, low-class thing to do.

For future reference, don't do the naughty pics thing if you're going to worry about people other than the taker seeing them. Just don't go there.
posted by Decani at 6:07 AM on December 19, 2010

I have exes with whom I'm still friends, ranging from casual FB contacts to close buds. And I have exes I'd rather not ever hear from again. If any of them made a polite request for me to delete nude pics of them (don't have many anyway, but for the hypothetical point), I'd do it.

If they were antagonistic, I'd probably ignore the rudeness.

When you let someone into your vulnerable, private life, you take risks. Sometimes you make mistakes. I can't prevent my exes from spreading true & false, good & bad stories about me, by analogy.

So: be polite, and ask. He'll probably comply, esp. if he's a decent guy.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:17 AM on December 19, 2010

Decani - OP says in post that she'll not take pix again.
posted by maryr at 12:12 PM on December 19, 2010

You should ask him nicely to delete them. He probably will.

You should ask not because of what he might do with them, which, as noted by many others, is at most look at them. No, they should be deleted because computers are notoriously insecure despite our intentions. In 5 years when he forgets about the pictures and any of these happen: has his computer serviced/sells his computer/gets hacked, then your pics are possibly out there where you don't want them.
posted by Four Flavors at 11:49 AM on December 20, 2010

« Older I don't want my buddy to freeze.   |   how did you become less self centered Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.