My girlfriend, Jenna Jameson.
August 6, 2013 8:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm a man in a relationship with a woman. We love each other and would like for that to continue. I recently came across a photo on the internet that looks shockingly like her but is too low quality to interpret if it is actually her. It's an amateur pornographic picture. Do I tell her what I've found?

There are a few options.

The image appears to be one used for baiting people into joining a porn site.

I could...
a) Forget about it, knowing that asking her could destroy our relationship.
b) Ask her and try to do it as gently as possible.
c) crop out the rest of the image, so it's only her face, and show a mutual friend that picture to try to determine if someone with better face-o-vision can justify my concerns.

Initially I was leaning towards a, and then that didn't work because it's been a few weeks and I keep going back to try to look for some clue in the picture that I didn't see before.

This friend will probably not keep this in confidence and leave it up to me to tell the girlfriend.

I'm not sure I would honestly care if she has been in amateur porn before, but I'd like to understand the circumstances because the decor of the environment indicates that she might have broken the trust in our relationship by doing so if she did it while on a recent trip.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (55 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Option c is not a good idea and you should not do that.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:45 PM on August 6, 2013 [24 favorites]

Why would you bring this up with her? What could she tell you that would make you feel better about her, yourself, or the relationship? And, to boot, you're not even sure it's her. Please forget it, and don't go looking for trouble.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:45 PM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

Take the image and put it in google image search, there's a reasonable chance that you'll find a higher resolution version of the same photo.
posted by foodgeek at 8:45 PM on August 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

With many things in life, we must either accept them as they are (your option a - forget about it) or deal with them (your option b - talk with her).

It sounds like forgetting about it - accepting that yeah, your girlfriend might have broken your trust on a recent trip and done something on the Internet that is not OK in your relationship - is not working for you. I would think about why this is. Do you have another reason or reasons not to trust your girlfriend?
posted by sockermom at 8:50 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure I would honestly care if she has been in amateur porn before


a) Forget about it, knowing that asking her could destroy our relationship.

So you know the consequences. And you don't actually care about the answer.

So why on earth would you even consider this?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:51 PM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Is your concern that she has engaged in sexual behavior that might impact your health as a partner, or are you referring to an agreement surrounding the idea that you two should only be naked around each other? What aspect of trust has been broken?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:52 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

that looks shockingly like her but is too low quality to interpret if it is actually her

It's probably not her. It's pretty easy to read things into a low-resolution photo.

Anyway, a lot of people take erotic photos just for fun, and a lot of times their partners betray their trust by sharing them on the internet. It doesn't mean she's involved in pornography. The people using it to promote a site don't care where it came from.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:52 PM on August 6, 2013 [16 favorites]

Well did she go recently go on a trip to pornland? Surely there is some further reason you would suspect her to be a debutante as such?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

the decor of the environment indicates that she might have broken the trust in our relationship by doing so if she did it while on a recent trip.

I'm not sure what this means. There is something in the photo that proves that it was taken recently?
posted by hydrophonic at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's really pretty unlikely that it is her. Especially because you feel a little doubt and it's a crappy photo - as we were recently reminded. It's amazing, but people aren't really that unique looking.

If it were me, I'd ask her, but do be prepared to explain how you happened to stumble across this amateur pornographic picture.
posted by Miko at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

The level of uncertainty here is high enough that you've got more to lose by being wrong than you have to gain by being right (in the hypothetical scenario that you have discovered a breach of trust). Don't say anything, delete the photo.

If she's cheating and it's her pattern, the pattern will repeat, and someday you'll catch on. If it was a one-time thing she regrets and she can't be forthcoming about it, it's probably better to keep what you have together anyway. If she comes forward, let the chips fall.

There's really not going to be a good outcome if she says something, and you say "hey, based on you saying that, I want you to see this photo I found." Then you were both holding back, and that's not going to make for a good evening. You apparently don't have grounds for anything yet, now or in the near future. And it's very possibly a youthful indiscretion that she'd just as soon have nobody ever know about, and you're doing her a loving favor by participating in the airbrushing of that bit of her past.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:54 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

It is likely her "evil twin". When I was working in a photolab making prints, a co-worker asked me "when were you playing in this band?" He showed me a picture that I thought was me, same face, haircut, glasses, jeans and bad posture/slouch. If the context wasn't so out of place for me, I would have seriously thought I had a memory loss.
So you could show her the pic, as a "funny here's your twin"
The fact that you suspect her of breaking your trust is a whole 'nother issue.
posted by Sophont at 8:54 PM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

How would you feel if she found a photo on an amateur porn site that kinda looked like you - maybe having sex with a man? What if the pic WAS you and you never dreamed she'd find it - or what if the pic WASN'T you and you were shocked that she'd even think such a thing?

Are you going to explain to her what you were doing on an amateur porn site when you came across this photo, or is that not part of the issue at all? To you or to her?

Think very seriously before you broach the idea that she may be keeping something that important from you - that's a trust issue, and those are the ones that make or break relationships.
posted by aryma at 8:55 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Unless you have some circumstantial evidence that your girlfriend has done that sort of work, why would you assume anything other than it being a coincidental likeness? The odds are vanishingly low. I saw a young, thin blonde at Chick-fil-a the other day. Really looked a lot like Taylor Swift. But she wasn't... No I didn't ask her. The BS filter just kicked in.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:56 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's really pretty unlikely that it is her. Especially because you feel a little doubt and it's a crappy photo. It's amazing, but people aren't really that unique looking.

This is an extremely good point i forgot to touch on as well. I'm a really weird looking guy. No one i ever see in my city looks like me. My girlfriend is the same way and is just generally very unique looking.

We've both seen twins of eachother out on the streets of various cities, and have both found small time/indie actors, photo models, and amateur or smalltime porn stars who look like us.

It's entirely possible it's not even her. The worst thing you could do here is go AHA FUKKEN LI0R if you actually do ask her and she says it's not her. Unless she has like, a giant chest tattoo that's in the photo or something.
posted by emptythought at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2013

It's not a great sign that your first thought is "did she cheat on me?" and not "shit, does she know this photo is out there, and did she give permission for it to be used?"

It's probably not her. But if you were absolutely sure it was, you should only tell her because she has a right to know, not as an accusation of infidelity.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2013 [42 favorites]

You seem to have strong feelings about this and that is an ok thing, but it sounds like you haven't really unpacked that at all and are just hyperfocusing on weird things instead, which maybe isn't so wise. You mentioned that your are in a relationship with this woman, but this does mean that you can do things like intimately share your concerns and insecurities and secrets and everything right? How exactly would communicating about this endanger your relationship in a way not communicating about it wouldn't? Is looking at pornography something you agreed to not do?
posted by Blasdelb at 8:58 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Look if it bothers you, and you really really love her, tell her honestly what you saw and that if it is her it doesn't make you love her less, you just don't know what to do now that you've seen it. Shit maybe she has no idea some evil ex posted her nude shots and will thank you for it!

Sure it might ruin your relationship, but so might your imagination. If you can forget it, do so. If you can't, option b may actually be the beginning of a new level of honesty between y'all.

(Option C is literally the worst idea ever. Tell her maybe, tell anyone else ever, no.)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:00 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Are you sure that some asshole ex didn't post a picture of her that they took privately? Because that happens like a lot.

Also what did you recognize? Someone's distinct furniture? Family photo in the background? What? If it was taken in a Hilton hotel room somewhere and your like that could totally be the Hilton she stayed at in Phoenix you need to calm the hell down.

Also, I'm going to put it at about 90% chance it's not her. I would just ask her. And by ask her I mean "god this is so crazy I saw this picture of a naked girl and she looked so much like you isn't that crazy?"
posted by whoaali at 9:05 PM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]

the decor of the environment indicates that she might have broken the trust in our relationship by doing so if she did it while on a recent trip.

There is a wild and stark difference between suspecting that your girlfriend may have "been in amateur porn before" versus suspecting that she has been unfaithful during your relationship. Those are questions you should consider separately.

If I were you, I'd ignore strangers' random speculation about whether it's probably her or probably not. How silly.
posted by cribcage at 9:06 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

An ex of mine found a photo of my doppelganger doing an acrobatic handstand on a keg. It wasn't me, but *I* had to look at the photo several times to be totally sure. And I am pretty sure I can't do that kind of a handstand anyhow.

He showed it to me with "hey there's this girl who looks *so much like you* doing a handstand here." Never occurred to me he might have thought it was me, and I think if you must ask her about this, that's how you should do it.

Personally I find it kind of funny-- evidently your taste in amateur porn runs towards, well, women who look like your girlfriend.
posted by nat at 9:38 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Obviously, it's probably not her. BUT if she knows/is okay with the fact that you look at porn, why haven't you just called her over and been like, "Hey [GF]! You've gotta see this! This porn star looks just like you!"
posted by obviousresistance at 9:39 PM on August 6, 2013

You're aware of Pareidolia, right? We humans are hard-wired to see patterns in random noise - for example, clouds. Pareidolia also explains the phenomenon of UFO's, ghosts, bigfoot, and thinking that that low-quality image is your girlfriend in a porno shoot.

Anyway, what difference does it make? You like her and want to keep dating her. Confronting her with the picture would ruin all of that.

I know it's not politically correct to say this, but try to behave like a gentleman.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:45 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just want to say that I was hanging out with 4 guys tonight. #1 and #2 told #3 that they have seen a woman in the neighborhood who looks exactly like #3's girlfriend -- so much so that #1 caught up with her walking down the street and said hi and even when she turned around and he was face to face up close with her, she still looked a whole lot like #3's girlfriend. At that point, to my surprise, #4 joined in and agreed with all that had been said. Why was I surprised? Because #4 is the father of #3's girlfriend. If up close and in person her father could see an uncanny resemblance, it should make you hesitate before attributing a fuzzy grainy image to your girlfriend.
posted by janey47 at 9:51 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Talk to her about it. Don't accuse her. Show her the picture, and say, "This really looks like you. I don't want to believe it's you, but it looks so much like you that I'm kind of freaking out." Maybe it's somebody else. Maybe some asshole ex posted her pic online without telling her. (In which case, she needs to know that.) Maybe she cheated on you. There is nothing wrong with bringing the photo to her attention, pointing out the amazing resemblance, and asking her for her take on what's going on.

You are also fully entitled to look at porn, and have nothing to apologize for there.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:28 PM on August 6, 2013

I'm a bit confused by some of the answers. I don't think there is anything weird/wrong/invasive about wanting to simply know if a photo you found on the internet is of her (especially if you are not judgmental and don't really care). I also don't think there is anything weird/wrong/invasive about wanting to know if said photo occurred during the relationship (especially if it appears that someone else took the photo.)

I would ask, just make sure to preface it with "I know this is really weird and I will not judge you, but..."

If the issue is that you have agreed to not look at porn (and no, in certain relationships people are not "entitled"), well then that is a whole other can of worms.
posted by DeltaForce at 10:28 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

and no, in certain relationships people are not "entitled"

If they have a specific no-porn clause in their relationship, that's one thing. But I'm assuming they don't, in which case he has every right to look at all the porn he likes.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:00 PM on August 6, 2013

Don't do option C.

I think this depends on a few things - if you ask her, are you certain she'll tell the truth about it? Or has the damage already been done - are you going to forever wonder if it was her? If you choose option A can you truly just forget about it?

I'd personally pick option B, but that's because things tend to bug me. Especially since you mention you've been scrutinizing the picture; I've done this when a photo popped up online that suggested my partner was lying about something; checking out the background to see when it was, etc. So I'm going to assume you're like me and can't "let it go."

So, I'd ask her before it snowballs into a major trust issue. I'd save asking when the photo was taken until she actually says it's her. Also, she may not want a (presumably pornographic) photo of her floating around the internet anyway, which is another reason to lean toward asking her.

One caveat - you mention that you want to understand the circumstances. So I think before you take any action, you should ask yourself this - if it was her in the picture and she did compromise the trust in your relationship, could you forgive her? Would you want to continue the relationship anyway? And are you the type that could let it go and not worry she's out doing whatever behind your back?

If you can do that, I wouldn't ask - better not to open up the can of worms if you know ultimately it isn't going to affect how you feel about her/your ability to remain in the relationship/etc. I know there's been plenty of moments where I've brought something up and the collateral damage to the otherwise awesome relationship just wasn't worth it.

Good luck whatever you choose!
posted by Autumn at 11:11 PM on August 6, 2013

Do a reverse image search on the image using or Google image search. That may lead you to the other images in the set, usages where the model is named, the same image at higher resolution etc.
You"ll probably see that the resemblance is not that great, when you have more information.
posted by w0mbat at 11:18 PM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Its highly unlikely that a photo of her on a recent trip is suddenly on a porno site. Someone would have to take it (likely a video), post it, and then someone else would find it and steal it.

I think its funny really. If she's sex positive, and is ok with you and porn, I'd say "your evil twin is doing amateur porn!"

If it is her, the likelihood it is recent is really, really low.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:29 PM on August 6, 2013

I found a picture that seriously looked like my husband kissing another dude. My reaction was "Holy shit Bzou! This dude looks like you! You didn't tell me you got it on with some nerd on your last 'business' trip!" - in jest, but I showed him the picture and we were all a little discomfited by the reminder that as humans we're pretty non-unique.

My dad almost walked into a shop to say hello to me before realising that not only was I living in a different city altogether, I'd recently lost weight. Other than that the assistant looked enough like me to get my dad to walk into a bookstore.

So I lean towards the 'holy shit hon, this looks like you' but only because I would never have actually been suspicious in the first place. Since you are, it's also a good opening to see if it is indeed her.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:45 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was just about to mention the EXACT SAME THING as Miko. The night they were chasing the "Bomber #2" around Boston, someone on reddit superimposed the face of Sunil Tripathi over a low-quality image of "Bomber #2" and it fit perfectly. Everyone on reddit was all bowled over and congratulating each other and talking about how it showed how amazing reddit was. Guess what guys, it wasn't him at all.

It's definitely something to give careful consideration to.
posted by cairdeas at 11:48 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh yeah, one night years and years ago I was looking at random photos on Myspace (I think). I stumbled across a girl who looked EXACTLY like my sister. EXACTLY. Just the background was a room I didn't recognize at all. I called my sister over and I said "Who is this a picture of?" My sister said, "Me." ..."WAIT!!!!!"

It was crazy crazy crazy. I still wonder who that girl is...
posted by cairdeas at 11:51 PM on August 6, 2013

Reverse image searching is a good idea. So is being very careful about this.
First and foremost, is she ok with your consumption of pornography? I know couples that range from "let's watch porn and hump" to "I will divorce you if I find you looking at pictures of other women and having a wank." Depending on which end of the spectrum your relationship is on, you might be better just trying to pretend this never happened.
With that said, assuming you're in the "porn is no big deal and it's not embarrassing for me" territory, I'll echo what other people have said: it's unlikely to be her, just by the numerical facts. I had a similar experience where I thought I'd stumbled across a picture of an ex that had been taken in confidence and leaked after a breakup: it wasn't her. Not even close. After bringing it to her attention in a "haha, this is kinda funny, but just to be sure..." manner, I realized that, by her responses, she definitely COULD have been the victim of such a thing, but she was not in fact at this specific point in time a victim. Rather, some people had dirty photos of her, but this wasn't one of them, and there was no reason to assume that her photos had been leaked.
Keep in mind that there are entire websites devoted to leaking pictures of your exes, and most often, they don't even use real exes or pornographic photos; I remember reading a blog article about some famous "hottest blogger girl in Taiwan," and rolling my eyes at the pablum that passed for front page news on that particular Asia blog. A few months later, I noticed some of the same images being used improperly, thinking "that girl is net-famous, not a pornography star, and this was just skimmed off google as 'sexy asian babe."
If you do want to bring it up to her, do it in a light-hearted, self-deprecating way. Keep in mind, this does make you look like you must consume a LOT of porno, to have beaten the odds and found either a picture of her or a picture that looks just like her. If you must, bring it up as "holy shit this his hilarious, check out what I found, isn't that funny?" and make your mind up based on the response she gives. If it's atypical of what she'd normally do, overly awkward, you might have something to go on.
Or, you might just be reading too far into things and poisoning a perfectly happy relationship.
It's your call.
posted by GoingToShopping at 12:48 AM on August 7, 2013

My original post got blammed for being a bit too harsh, so i figured i'd grab the best bits and make a remix here.

I think the question here is to ask if this bothers you, and why. If it's genuinely just curiosity and you wanna hear the story and stuff then i'd be fine with bringing it up. But only if you could do it in a really playful like "lol so i ran in to this image and i was wondering what the story was? Is it you, or is it just some weird internet twin? because i've totally found pictures that looked just like me but weren't" kinda thing and do it really casually when you guys are just sitting on the couch reading and surfing the internet next to each other or something.

However, if this is coming from some place of not feeling comfortable with other people and/or random people on the internet being able to see your girlfriend naked, then you should really examine the weird insecurity and like weird possessive "ownership" you expect to have of the body of someone you're dating, because whether or not it's a common socially acceptable jealously it's still BS.

You really need to sit down and take a long hard look at the reasons why you want to pursue this, why it bothers you, if it bothers you, and what you expect to get out of it. If this is coming from anything but just curiosity as to what the story is you should really have a long hard think about whether or not you're approaching this in good faith. Your comments questioning infidelity have me thinking you may be barking up a weird tree here, if not just something which looks like a tree but really isn't.

And if you don't think you can let it go without doing something about it and it's coming from a questionable place, you should really just break up with her. I'm completely serious. You being weird and possessive about this can only end badly, and with you being another "creepy" ex being weird and possibly a bit slut shamey to her that she chats about with her friends.

The fact that you even considered option C seems to not bode well for the intentions you're going in to this with, and your general attitude/approach about this kind of thing with relation to your partners past and present by the way. The reason i say this is why would you want to clandestinely know that it was her? and it's not like that would be a factual confirmation anyways. It's the urge to have this information without her knowing you know that disturbs me.

I'd also like to note that i'm writing this as a guy who has dated a hardcore cam girl, and had a fairly casual relationship with a nude model. I've also had several friends over the years who have done everything from nude modeling to camming and even more sexual, for lack of a better word, stuff than that.

One common thread through all of them is the "Oh ugh, THIS shit again" reactions they have to another guy being weird, possessive, jealous and just generally uncomfortable with the stuff they've done in the past, or who's thought that it's some kind of thing like an STD that they should have disclosed a couple of dates in to the relationship even if it was years ago.

She may very well even wish those photos weren't out there if they are, and might already have some weird feelings and concerns about it. A friend of mine was a 4chan "camwhore" for a couple months and those images still circulate around. She never did anything like that again, and still regrets it* because she knows they'll pop up in random places on the internet for probably longer than her actual life.

This may be something she's already like "ugh" about, or it may be something she's completely fine with that she enjoyed(or enjoys) doing and will be incredibly turned off by your reaction to it if it's a negative or possessive one.

Consider your motivations, approach, and general tact here very carefully. To reiterate what i said, if you approach this in bad faith in that sense this may end very poorly.

*off topic, but an interesting note here that surprised the shit out of me was she contacted the 4chan mods just like you'd contact the mods here, and they actually disallowed the images from being posted, and started banning people who posted or requested them in threads about 4chan camgirls. 4chan actually has moderation, and not just random stuff or as a joke. And they're actually nice and mostly reasonable people. that day i learned something weird.
posted by emptythought at 1:18 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

My thoughts go like this.

1. People do amateur naughty shots. A lot. It used to just be on good old-fashioned non-digital photographs, which were much easier to keep track of and keep private. These days the bloody things get all over the damned internet. Gah.

2. It probably isn't her.

3. What if it is? You're not bothered that she had previous sexual relationships, I assume? So maybe, like so many people, she and her bed-chum decided to take some naughty pics. Is it really such a big deal? If so, why?

Option a) would be the way to go, I reckon. Or, if you have the kind of relationship where talking about or using porn isn't an issue, and if you're both pretty relaxed about the whole thing, you could bring it up in a light-hearted, non-condemnatory way at a suitable moment. But only if you're pretty damned sure it isn't going to embarrass her or otherwise make her uncomfortable.
posted by Decani at 2:18 AM on August 7, 2013

it's been a few weeks and I keep going back to try to look for some clue in the picture that I didn't see before

I think that you have major trust issues and this fixation on a grainy photo on which you're concentrating on the decor is completely unhealthy. The title of this post suggests you already think that she's the one in the photo and it will only be a matter of time before you find that revealing detail.

You should not speak to your friend. You should speak to a professional before you completely kill off this relationship with your anxiety.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:20 AM on August 7, 2013

Option C) is just plain creepy! Particularly because: "This friend will probably not keep this in confidence". WTF!?
posted by travelwithcats at 4:37 AM on August 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Do you like your current relationship with her? If so, forget about ever bringing this up with her. There is no good outcome if you bring this up.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on August 7, 2013

Option C is not on, for many reasons. Take that off the table, right now.

Personally, I'd go for the 'Hey, come over here and look at this! It looks exactly like you!!'. And watch her reaction.

Of course, it depends how much it matters to you whether it IS her or not. In your position, I'd really want to know, because yes, it would matter to me.
posted by Salamander at 4:46 AM on August 7, 2013

Sorry, to be clear: it would matter to me that my partner had done an ad for a porn site while we were together.

If s/he did not already know that, I would want to discuss it.
posted by Salamander at 4:50 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Man, didn't you see the episode of Community with White Abed? No to join the echo chamber here but you *claim* not to care even if she has done porn, so why are you jumping to conclusions?

Just laugh and move on. And if you can't laugh about it, something else is wrong.
posted by thirdletter at 4:52 AM on August 7, 2013

I don't understand how asking her about it would ruin your relationship? If someone, especially my partner, thought they saw my picture on a porn site, then I'd want to know about it.
I once found a picture of my ex girlfriend online (not nude), showed it to her, and she was all 'wow that girl looks uncannily like me, but is not me, freaky'.
posted by whalebreath at 5:01 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have also seen a picture that looked exactly like me, I mean even I thought so, but was not me.
posted by Miko at 5:54 AM on August 7, 2013

Hotels are incredibly generic. As are beaches, mountains, fields, woods... I would need a lot more background evidence to worry about before I started jumping to conclusions about timing and location.
posted by Jacen at 6:05 AM on August 7, 2013

So I was once on your girlfriend's end of this — an ex sent me a link to some pictures and said "Hey, I didn't realize you'd done porn." Sure enough the person in the pictures looked a lot like me, and I said "Nope but I totally see what you mean" and we had a good laugh over it.

Reasons this was okay:
  • This ex was the sort of guy who would not have thought less of me if the answer had been "Yeah that's me and I'm proud of it." I mean, really genuinely wouldn't have thought less of me, and wouldn't have gotten weird or insecure or taken it out on me in some other way.
  • This ex was the sort of guy who would have been really, nonjudgmentally sympathetic if the answer had been "Oh shit, yeah, that's me but those pictures were supposed to be private." Wouldn't have blamed me, wouldn't have thought I deserved it, would have kept his mouth shut and listened and been a good shoulder to cry on.
  • This ex trusted me enough that the minute I said "No that's not me," he assumed I was telling the truth. Didn't keep prying, didn't get all "Are you sure? You can tell me the truth, you know," didn't maintain secret suspicions.
  • I've got a pretty relaxed attitude towards this stuff too, and didn't find the question inherently offensive. And this ex knew that I've got that sort of relaxed attitude, and knew that I wouldn't be offended.
If it weren't for all those things, bringing it up would have been a seriously shitty thing to do.


Initially I was leaning towards a, and then that didn't work because it's been a few weeks and I keep going back to try to look for some clue in the picture that I didn't see before.

It will work better if you stop doing that. This is a thing that you have control over. If it's making you stressed out and unhappy, then cut it out.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:59 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Picture whatever you're afraid of as being true, sit with that thought for long enough that you get bored of it (this may take weeks), then delete it and move on.

It's healthy to accept not being allowed to know things that aren't your right to know. Most of the naked things your partner has done in life go in that category.
posted by ead at 7:39 AM on August 7, 2013

I have a doppelganger; she either lives or works in my neighborhood. I haven't ever seen her, but several of my friends have stories of, "Oh! I waved someone down today at the Starbucks and then it wasn't you at all!"

When I first started dating my current boyfriend exclusively, I went out of town for a long weekend. I came back and he said, "Thank goodness you're so tan! I saw some girl who I could've sworn was you...but she was makin' out with some dude!" Many boring pictures of my beach weekend later, he was thoroughly convinced and comforted, and lo, the relationship was saved.

Here's why this worked out OK, and why I didn't freak out and go into anti-jealous-stalker mode:

1) His concern was genuine, but his tone was light and jokey.
2) The first thing he said signaled to me that he *already* was ready to believe that I had been where I said I was. In other words, his default mode for me was trust, but the coincidence was too weird for him not to verify. That's cool by me. Don't know if it's cool with your GF, but it's a start.
3) When I provided him with even a minimum of evidence, he believed me. He did not go down some paranoia rabbit hole of "anyone could have sent you those pictures, anyone can download pictures off the internet, maybe you came back a day early, maybe I should hack into your email and make sure..." etc. (Which some of my exes would indeed have done.)

So if you cannot let this go and you don't just want to break up with your GF outright,
1) approach her lightly
2) signal that you trust her to tell the truth
3) believe her, with zero reservations, whatever she tells you.

If any of those are beyond you at this point, you just gotta break up with her.
posted by like_a_friend at 7:52 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is obviously a big deal to you. I don't see how forgetting about it could be a viable option.
posted by salvia at 8:11 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Anyway, a lot of people take erotic photos just for fun, and a lot of times their partners betray their trust by sharing them on the internet. It doesn't mean she's involved in pornography. The people using it to promote a site don't care where it came from.

I agree with this, having once been out with someone who liked to joke about uploading photos of exes to BBWChan. Assuming it is your ex - as others have said, we think we see people we know all the time - it's uncomfortable probably to think of her sending n00ds to someone else, but if it IS her, this is the most likely scenario, and someone in some other country decided that photos on the internet are fair usage and used it to get visitors to the site.
posted by mippy at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2013

Dunno, seems more likely that it isn't her, and just someone who looks like her. As people have said, this is more common than people think.

We're not given a lot of info. We're not told how long you've been together, if she has exes, or a past that might explain the photo. We're not told how graphic the photo is, or what it entails: Is it a selfie? did someone else take it? Is it clothed or not? Is it in the act? It's not that I want to know these things, but knowing might explain some things. For example, the recent trip may not mean anything-- it usually takes a while for photos to circulate widely around the internet. Unless it goes viral, they take a bit to gain momentum-- and even when they do, social media is the first to get ahold of them, usually.

If it's just a nude selfie or something an ex could have taken-- it just may be stolen. I know that porn sites steal photos and content ALL the time, so don't assume that just because the site looks legit, that they have legit content, and/or they have the consent of the person in the click-bait. I'm guessing it usually isn't the case. Moreover, I bet on some sites the click-bait photo has nothing to do with actual content inside. A bit like how the click-bait advertisements of hot women who are dying to chat with dudes are not the actual women you will chat with. Basically someone may have just come across it and saved it to use later. I am nthing the reverse Google search, to see if you can find anything more, before jumping to conclusions.

But let's assume it is her, then what are the options?

1. She took the photos/videos in the past for someone else/with someone else, who leaked them online to one of those 'exes' sites. The photos were then stolen to be used as click-bait without her knowing.
2. She took the photo with the express intention of using her body for money and gave them to this site.
3. She used to do amateur porn/camming/blogging etc in the past.
4. She cheated or is acting inappropriately, possibly during this trip you mention-- taking pics in the process.

Three of those options don't matter, or rather they shouldn't. The only thing that matters, and the thing that appears to be keeping you up at night is the possibility that #4 is at play here.

There's a remote chance it may be #4, yeah.

You need to ask about it, not because that's likely, but because it's bothering you. And not "did you cheat on me, aha!" by pulling out the photo gotcha-style, but just ask about it lightly-- in the way 'like-a-friend' described. And then not only believe what she says, but make sure you're prepared for the answer possibly not being what you want to hear.

You may be afraid she will freak out and think, 'how could you ever think that!?' and bounce, and I can see why you'd be scared of that, which is why you have to approach it pretty lightly. Framing it as, "I'm okay with your sordid past, honey, you can tell me" = BAD IDEA. Instead, assume the best, but prepare for the worst. "Your ex would happen to have nudes or something, right? It's probably not you, but I saw this picture of this girl..."

And before that, you have to seriously ask yourself whether you're truly okay with it being either options 1-3, and whether the answer being one of those gets to you, or not. And also whether you can live with that or not. Because it seems like you wouldn't be okay-- you are already assuming the default is, "I'm okay if she did this in her past... if she did it recently then she probably... " instead of thinking: " It's probably totally not her-- she's not the type. But maybe she had a disgruntled ex, or...' I find that kind of telling that your initial assumption is distrust instead of trust, so I'm wondering if you're really okay with it.

You say yourself that you wouldn't care if she did amateur porn in the past; if that's true, then ask, and put your mind at rest, and move on from there. If it's not a big deal to you then... don't let it be a big deal.

I think there's been a bit of a pile on, and not totally sure why, because we have so little info. I can understand you being curious, and it's normal to wonder if it's really her, and it's normal for it to play on your mind. Trust is trust, but 'seeing is believing' and it can be pretty tough to shake your misgivings when you're faced with what you perceive as actualized 'proof'. Just realize, it probably isn't what you think it is, at all.

And I also think that it's kind of normal to want to ask someone else if it's her too-- since your mind is wrestling between 'it totally is!/it totally isn't!' -- it's normal to want a third party to corroborate what you see. "Is it just me or..." This is a totally bad idea though-- totally bad-- especially since this friend is not trustworthy. It should only be between you and her-- really.

If you truly mean that you don't care about her past-- then you should be fine, and she should be able to trust you to tell you whatever it is. Good luck.
posted by Dimes at 9:02 AM on August 7, 2013

You're fixated on this, and I think you owe it to your girlfriend to ask her about it instead of speculating endlessly. You say that talking to her about it might destroy the relationship, but the fact that you keep looking at it, searching for clues about it, suggests that it's going to come up, painfully, one way or the other anyway.
posted by sm1tten at 9:06 AM on August 7, 2013

> I found a picture that seriously looked like my husband kissing another dude. My reaction was "Holy shit Bzou! This dude looks like you! You didn't tell me you got it on with some nerd on your last 'business' trip!" - in jest, but I showed him the picture and we were all a little discomfited by the reminder that as humans we're pretty non-unique.

Chiming in to nth this sentiment and the rest of the people who offered similar stories of photos which "look just like" them or their SO. Conversely, think about all the candid photos taken out with friends, at family events, etc. where someone in a photo looks NOTHING like themselves, unrecognizably distorted by some combination of angle, lighting, facial expression. As you noted, low-res photos are not a good way to positively identify someone.

So, logically speaking, what's more likely:

a) your girlfriend decided to have sex with someone else behind your back b) yet let it be filmed c) for an amateur porn site d) and her photo was chosen as bait for the website e) AND you happened to stumble upon this specific photo among all the porn on the internet. f) AND that her cheating, the web posting, and your coincidental discovery of it happened within a timeline of just the last few weeks.


a) the "photo on the internet that looks shockingly like her but is too low quality to interpret if it is actually her" is not actually her.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

My college sent a flier home to my parents. On the cover, there was a woman in a yoga studio, striking a pose, who looked exactly like me and had exactly my build.

My mom called and asked when I had taken up yoga.

I hadn't. She showed me the photo and this woman looked so much like me, I wondered if I had started engaging in yoga while sleepwalking. And it was a high def,
glossy magazine image we were looking at.

Wasn't me. Probably isn't your girlfriend either.
posted by slateyness at 11:03 AM on August 7, 2013

looks shockingly like her

is too low quality to interpret if it is actually her

These two assertions are mutually exclusive.

Your options are to believe that among the literal millions and millions of women with dirty pictures out there, there is an individual who superficially resembles your girlfriend enough that your pattern-hungry brain jumped to the conclusion of associating an unresolvably low-quality image with her...

Or believing that your girlfriend cheated on you, either allowed a picture to be taken of her by someone unsavory enough to post it to the internet without her knowledge (or posted it herself?) and that in the brief time since that image made it onto the internet since this "recent" trip someone picked it up and used it as an advertisement for a commercial porn site (as opposed to using the much safer expedient of buying a properly vetted fake-amateur image license from one of the hundreds of businesses that offer such content for just such use).

Do you have other reasons to distrust your girlfriend? Are they any less fuzzy than this picture or less likely than the latter scenario? Are you the jealous type? Has this interfered with relationships in the past? Sorry, I may be jumping to conclusions about you based on the fuzzy picture of you I've formed from the small amount of information gleaned from your question and confirmation bias based on past experiences with unrelated other people.

that didn't work because it's been a few weeks and I keep going back to try to look for some clue in the picture that I didn't see before

"That didn't work because I refused to actually do it." Exert your free will, man. Under no no no no no no no no circumstances elect for option C. On what basis would you interpret whether another person has "better face-o-vision" (not a real thing).

If you must talk to her about it (if you can't let it go, if you can't give your girlfriend the benefit of the doubt) then at least be honest about it. Yeah she'll probably dump you over it, you probably deserve it. But that could be my confirmation bias again. Pattern-hungry that damn brain.
posted by Luke Skywalker at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2013

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