New relationship anxiety - age gap
December 4, 2013 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm feeling a little queasy about the sexual preferences of my new boyfriend. I'm in my early 20's, he is almost 40, and I look a little younger than I am. I'm just worried he likes really young girls, just doesn't want to admit it to me. I love him, but I wouldn't be comfortable getting older with someone whose sexuality seems focused on youth. Although, he says he is most attracted to women in their late 20's and early 30's, cares more about monogamy and love than physical beauty, etc. - so that's good. I still have concerns... Besides seeming to have a particular interest in 'teen' porn where the girls look underage, I saw a VLC media file with the title indicating underage teen porn. It was under the 'recent' files in windows, but when clicked on the file no longer exists. He says he wouldn't seek that out, isn't sure where it came from, that he just downloads zip files of porn in bulk. I understand men are going to be attracted to younger women and even teen girls, but I'd rather be with someone who didn't seek it out to that extent. Makes me wonder how much attraction they'd lose for me when I become 'old.' Thoughts?
posted by bluelights to Human Relations (92 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite


"Run" is the first thing that comes to mind. This guy seems like bad news.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:53 PM on December 4, 2013 [26 favorites]

Not something I really want to hear... I love him and I know in my heart he's a good guy - yet this feeling isn't going away.
posted by bluelights at 2:54 PM on December 4, 2013

Trust your gut. Trust yourself. Trust your judgment.
posted by headnsouth at 2:54 PM on December 4, 2013 [44 favorites]

How does he treat you? Does he treat you with respect, admire your smarts/talents/accomplishments, seem genuinely interested in you? Or does he seem only interested in your youth/body?

Talking the talk is different from walking the walk. What are his actions like?
posted by Zelos at 2:55 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think this has less to do with your age gap and more to do with his porn viewing. If you were looking through bulk "milf" porn, would you honestly feel any better, or would you just have a different thing to be upset about ("he doesn't seem to like people my age!").

Most straight men are going to find women in their early 20's attractive. I think this is nature. It has very little to do with who they might marry or build families with. Is your boyfriend a creepy weirdo? Maybe, but not just because he thinks 21-year-olds are hot. I'm a 32-year-old man who is dating a 25-year-old woman. I don't think there's a problem there, but then she's never going to get suspicious of me because of my disturbing pornography collection because *I don't have one*.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hi, early-30s guy here. Your boyfriend sounds relatively normal! His explanation is, in fact, often the case! Ignore these two, they're over-reacting.
posted by Oktober at 2:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

Generally, my advice is to trust your instincts. These are yellow flags at the very least, and it would definitely be worth keeping your eyes wide open.

Zelos has some good questions. Also, what have his previous girlfriends been like? Has he dated a range of women, including some closer to his own age, or all they all young, or at least look much younger than they are?
posted by rpfields at 2:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

How sexual is your relationship? If you asked to slow way down on sexual stuff -- say a 3 month moratorium on anything more than kissing, where you spent time really getting to know each other -- how do you think that would go... both the conversation where you asked for it and then the 3 month period itself? If this is a major concern for you, it might be worth exploring how your relationship goes when sex is completely off the table.
posted by brainmouse at 2:59 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think I'd be upset no matter what type of porn he watched - if it were MILF porn (which he said he also looks at!) - yes, I'd worry he doesn't like girls my age. I'm anxious and insecure in relationships in general. He does treat me very well and appreciate me beyond the physical, I know he loves me. Most of the time I feel pretty good. I don't want to sabotage this relationship with my own insecurity, but at the same time I don't want to ignore obvious signs of trouble.
posted by bluelights at 3:02 PM on December 4, 2013

"I just download zip files of porn in bulk, honey! That underage stuff was just accidental! Just part of my bulk porn zip drive!" Okaaaay. Come on.

Look, if there is one thing I've learned in my years of dating (I am 38), it's that when you have a gut instinct that something is wrong -- which you do, given this: this feeling isn't going away -- more often than not, your gut instinct is right, no matter how much you try to talk yourself out of it. Every single time I've tried to ignore that niggling feeling that something was off, I lived to regret it. YMMV.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:03 PM on December 4, 2013 [69 favorites]

I'm mostly concerned with the fact that he is potentially viewing underage (i.e. illegal) pornography. In addition to being against the law, I also consider it highly unethical to view pornography of individuals who are too young to legally consent.
posted by Asparagus at 3:05 PM on December 4, 2013 [18 favorites]

I don't think this needs so much analysis. You sound like you're not in a super serious relationship with this guy, more like you've been dating awhile and are just starting to think about getting serious, about stepping up the level of commitment. Assuming that is the case, I think that of your two main options -- have a real heart-to-heart with your partner and see if he can set you totally at ease, or else just break up and move on -- the latter makes by far the most sense. You don't need to waste your time with a partner who is making you uncomfortable like this and seems reticent to come totally clean.

Just break up, move on, and look for someone new who doesn't skeeve you out. You don't need an excuse or a reason (although you have one) it's enough to just want to do it. You have no legal or moral obligation to stay in this relationship if you're not totally comfortable, especially at (what I am assuming is) this fairly early stage.

You're in your early 20s, you've got loads of time to try out different partners and find one who really works for you. At your age, it's very possible that you don't even truly know what works for you in a relationship yet. That's something that generally can only be learned with experience of different partners. Well, experience and introspection, but the experience is still generally pretty key.

If you feel like you need someone's permission to break up with this guy and go look for a better match (or just be single for a while, whatever you prefer) then for what it's worth you have mine. And my blessing. Best of luck!
posted by Scientist at 3:06 PM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

I don't think any of the specific things you mention are huge red flags -- I think plenty of men can separate "this is hot to look at in porn" versus "what I'm realistically looking for/attracted to in a partner" -- after all, how many people actually get to date porn stars in real life? Not many, yet lots of people still manage to have healthy, happy relationships.

If it is REALLY only the porn thing, I would say to get over it. I mean, almost every guy watches porn, and the vast majority of straight porn involves women in the 18-25 year old range, right? However, it might be very possible that a different dude who watched similar porn would not make you feel so uncomfortable because other aspects of your relationship would be stronger.

What I would pay more attention to is your gut feeling that you just feel uneasy about this guy. It sounds like you're looking for 'hard evidence' one way or the other, when all you really need to know is that this guy makes you feel weird, creeped out, and insecure about your future together. That can be enough - you don't need to know 100% what he will do in the future to feel like the relationship isn't working for you, for whatever reason.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:08 PM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

The fact that he bulk downloads porn might be a red flag. It would seem if he were a casual consumer of porn he would just visit porn sites. The fact that he's downloading bulk files could indicate that he's not just a casual consumer. I could be wrong but that's my take on it. If I'm right, then the question for you is whether you are OK with him potentially being a heavy consumer of porn. And if he's downloading underage porn, then that's a whole different level of concern.

As for gut feelings, that's a tough call because sometimes first impressions are correct but at other times people are too quick to judge other people before they really know them.

I think no matter what, you need to dig into this and figure it out. This is not a concern that should be ignored.
posted by Dansaman at 3:09 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I try to bring up the age stuff and he responds like he doesn't really think about it - I can't tell if it's because he's just being a 'regular guy' looking at standard porn, or because he has something to hide. Maybe a bit of both - and I would assume that's normal. I am guilty of prying into him a lot.
posted by bluelights at 3:12 PM on December 4, 2013

OP, have you had other issues or insecure/uneasy feelings about previous boyfriends and their porn use?
posted by girlmightlive at 3:12 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Setting aside the issue of what he likes in porn: How does he treat you?

As a young woman, I often dated older--the biggest gap was 25 years. I'm now "older" myself and dating someone 21 years younger. My experience with this is that some folks just cannot get over how young you are, and one way or another, it shows. Some of my older girlfriends couldn't get over how young I was, and talked about it all the time, mentioning my age a lot, calling me a "baby," or enjoying telling me how much my perspective would change as I got older.

These women were annoying and jerky.

But I dated a couple of older women who just weren't so hung up on my age. Our age gap would come up from time to time, of course, as we talked about life experiences, but they didn't make a point of bringing it up, and when it did come up it was more similar to talking about other differences: the parts of the country we grew up in, our social class or education experience, where we were living when.

So, with your boyfriend, you might ask yourself how he relates to your age. Does he bring it up a lot, and in what context? Does he use it to put you down, act superior, or "impart wisdom"? When he tells you how good you look, does your youth factor into that? Does he compliment you more when your clothes and makeup seem "younger"? Does it play into any dirty talk he engages in during sex? In my experience, it was always pretty obvious when someone I was seeing was either objectifying me as a young woman, or seeing herself as automatically superior because of her age. Think about how he treats you.

As far as the porn goes, you will probably have to figure out for yourself how comfortable or uncomfortable you are with it. I will say that my favorite kind of porn--and I find it very very hot--is male-male slash fiction, which describes a kind of sexual activity I, by virtue of my anatomy, can never engage in. In addition, in real life I am not interested in engaging in sex with cisgendered men, and find penises kind of distasteful. So I wouldn't assume that his porn preferences necessarily reflect his real-life preferences. If they do, you'll figure that out soon enough.
posted by not that girl at 3:14 PM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

I understand men are going to be attracted to younger women and even teen girls, but I'd rather be with someone who didn't seek it out to that extent.

I understand men are going to be attracted to younger women and even teen girls, but I'd rather be with someone who didn't seek it out to that extent.


Your own words, emphasis mine. Trust yourself. Listen to and honor yourself and your own preferences—it sounds like you prefer not to be with someone who seeks out this kind of porn to that extent, and that's okay.
posted by mynameisluka at 3:14 PM on December 4, 2013 [23 favorites]

OP, if he "doesn't really think about" the age of the women in the porn he's downloading, I would start by pointing out to him that possession of child pornography can be punishable with a prison sentence.
posted by Asparagus at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2013 [11 favorites]

People have all sorts of porn preferences. They don't necessarily translate into real-world behavior.

Honestly, I'd worry a lot more about how he treats you than about what he likes to look at when he masturbates.

Is he aloof? Unloving? Do you feel taken for granted? That's way more important a red flag than a couple porn downloads.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

re: have you had other issues or insecure/uneasy feelings about previous boyfriends and their porn use?

Yes, I tend to be insecure/obsessive in relationships
posted by bluelights at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2013

At the risk of undermining my next point, I'll just point out that you'd probably also get that kind of message -- being unable to find a file in the "Recently opened" list -- if it were stored on removable media.

That said, I would venture that there's a high possibility that he's getting it just because that's the default kind of porn that's out there. (Unless MILF stuff is a higher proportion now; entirely possible.) Nothing is "GET YOUR HOT SEXY 26-YEAR-OLDS HERE" (despite the fact that that's probably more accurate).

Yes, trust your instincts, but put much much much more weight on your interactions with him, rather than what he may or may not do in his alone-time.
posted by supercres at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

[OP please don't threadsit.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2013

with the title indicating underage teen porn

Sorry, I only read this far. Before that phrase I had a whole response working up, but then I read this. Just get far away from this guy. If you have an icky feeling about sex, one surrounding a taboo that is so palpable coming off of him that you actually notice it, just get away.
posted by mibo at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

Something like half the random porn on the net calls itself teen porn.
posted by ryanrs at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2013 [10 favorites]

bluelights: "I love him and I know in my heart he's a good guy"

Man, if I had a dollar for every time I'd decided to stay in a non-working relationship because of this, I could pay off my student debt today and maybe put a down payment on a house too. And if I'd just broken up with those people the first time I had that feeling – if I'd broken up even though I was in love, even though my then-partners were good people – I'd be a much happier, more relaxed, less screwed-up person today. Also I would have recovered several years of my life that could have otherwise been used learning to be happy with myself and looking for partners who really suit me, rather than living inside the miserable bubble of a dysfunctional relationship.

Don't stay with someone just because you love them and think they're a good person. Stay with them because they make you happy and comfortable and you trust them wholeheartedly, and because they enable you to be the best, most free, most fulfilled and empowered version of yourself possible (and also because you love them and think they're a good person, of course).

Loving someone, and their being a good person, is not enough. That was a hard, hard lesson for me to learn but it's also one of the most valuable I ever acquired. I convey this hard-won understanding to you in the sincere hope that you can learn from my mistakes rather than your own, and thereby save yourself many years of heartbreak and pain.
posted by Scientist at 3:26 PM on December 4, 2013 [108 favorites]

How old were his ex-partners? If they're all roughly his age, and you're the exception, that's one thing. If, however, he's consistently slept with girls who're all about 20… then, no, it's not just your insecurity.

That said: do you really want to be with someone who leaves you feeling insecure, uncomfortable, and queasy about such a crucial aspect of romantic relationships? Okay, so you have a history of feeling insecure in relationships — but regardless of your history, this guy's behavior doesn't make you feel secure enough, and it's not working for you.
posted by culfinglin at 3:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

Sorry to pop back in so quickly, but I want to reinforce what I just said because I feel it's so important:

It is totally possible to be very much in love with a very good person but for them to nonetheless be a terrible partner for you.
posted by Scientist at 3:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [38 favorites]

If he really does like underage girls, there is no way in hell he's going to sit down and calmly admit that to you like it's just part of a normal conversation. One of my exes was just like this and also came out with the old 'I like MILFS too, I just click around not really looking at titles'. But yet, he always managed to find the youngest looking girls and I later found out he (26) had dated a 15yr old before me. My partner now looks at porn but it doesn't bother me because we have a healthy and non-squicky relationship and he is not a skeeve. If you feel like this, there is no reason on earth to keep seeing this guy and it will always be in the back of your mind. Just let him go. You're young and there'll be plenty more.
posted by everydayanewday at 3:30 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

He's lying about not knowing where the porn came from - he clicked on it to watch it, after all - but that doesn't necessarily mean it means anything in terms of his preferences. Doesn't mean it doesn't, either. Also:

I saw a VLC media file with the title indicating underage teen porn. It was under the 'recent' files in windows, but when clicked on the file no longer exists.

The item in recent files is only a shortcut. It means he deleted the file. Personally I can easily see a scenario where he watched it out of morbid curiosity or what have you. I'm not saying that's what happened, just that it's not a great idea to jump to the conclusion that your new beau is an insatiable shorteyes.

On the one hand, yeah, trust your instincts. On the other hand -

I'm anxious and insecure in relationships in general.

From this question and from the other ones you've posted, it seems like anxiety and second-guessing yourself are a consistent theme, something that happens a lot. Even outside the context of this relationship, I think that this is something you would have a lot of success talking about with a therapist. Regardless of the outcome of this particular relationship, it will have long-lasting positive effects for you in the future.

You're going to get a lot of advice telling you to RUN and trust your gut and all of that, and I'm not here to say you shouldn't. But sometimes - especially if you have anxiety and obsessive thoughts - your gut can lie to you. If you find that you can't really tell if this is him being skeevy or you being anxious, my suggestion would be to start working on your own self, so that down the line, you will have an easier time appraising the situation with a clear head.

Anyway. My take on it, from what you've said, is that him being into a particular kind of porn doesn't mean he only wants sex with women who look like that, or that he'll leave you when you start looking a little dry. You say he treats you well, so there's that. Leave it alone for now. Work on yourself. Stop prying, because you will always find something to make you worry. That's how anxiety works.

I think maybe you could stand to ask him why he actually clicked on the VLC file whose title told him that he was going to be looking at an underaged girl. If his answer is anything other than "morbid curiosity," either he's more of a diddler than he lets on, or he's an awful liar, but either way he's bad news.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:33 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Your boyfriend is 40 and dating a person in their early 20s.

He likes barely legal porn.

His porn habits are such that he thinks it's better to claim that he torrents huge archives of potentially super illegal bulk porn. (Not usually something to brag about in the circles I run in.)

Dude, DTMFA. What a fucking creep.

I mean, seriously, I'd dump him over his porn habits before even unpacking his Wooderson Syndrome.

On the off chance that you actually want to date someone who likes porn so much that they indiscriminately torrent so much of it that they can't even begin to know what they even have sitting around on their hard drive, I would start by finding out how old the women he usually dates are and how long his relationships typically last. If he gets older, but his girlfriends stay the same age, well there you go.
posted by Sara C. at 3:36 PM on December 4, 2013 [46 favorites]

I think there's two separate issues here that are getting intertwined in your mind. And i think a lot of people are responding to them as if they're one monolithic issue as well.

1. Your insecurity in previous relationships, and with relations to porn. And your want to not be the "ridiculous over reacting girlfriend" and be "cool", and try and calibrate your compass of such to something realistic, in your mind.

2. The fact that he looks at porn of underage girls, or at least girls who look underage.

Lets hit #2 first, why don't we

He says he wouldn't seek that out, isn't sure where it came from, that he just downloads zip files of porn in bulk.


This sounds like a really lame-ass excuse i'd give my mom when i was 12 if i got busted using the computer at 1am for nefarious things. It's SO weak, and fails the smell test nearly instantly. Like, COME ON, REALLY? It's the kind of excuse that only works if the person receiving it just wants an "answer" to file away and doesn't care anyways, and isn't going to do any critical thinking. I'm not saying that's you, i'm just saying it's a REALLY low effort excuse that reeks. Little kid playing ball in the house and breaking the lamp and saying they were TOTALLY unrelated and it just randomly broke while they were standing there kind of excuse.

So, that said, i do not think you're just making up some hysterical bullshit in thinking that it's a bit weird that you're young, look younger, and he seems to have a preference for young girls in porn. Not everyone who is in that sort of gross thing is just a straight up pedophile. A lot of them realize that they need to "play the game" and find younger looking girls who are of legal age. It doesn't mean that they aren't in to young girls though, because they want to fuck girls who look way younger. I've actually known several gross guys like this, and they would often alternate between dating barely-legal(or even like, 17 year old) girls, and older ladies who looked way younger.

And that said, on preview, what everydayanewday is saying that he'd never admit this is true. He'll likely even lie about the age of his exes if he realizes you're starting to become uncomfortable with this.

As for point #1, i think this really sounds like a broken clock is right twice a day kind of thing. You may have issues with anxiety and obsessing over things previous partners have done, and may regularly think somethings wrong... But just reading this description of this guy and especially his lying bullshit response skeeved me out pretty hard.

I agree with the comments that you should work on yourself, but something set off your sketch detector here and was a positive hit even though said detector may be miscalibrated.
posted by emptythought at 3:38 PM on December 4, 2013 [19 favorites]

There is nothing wrong with breaking up with someone because they like skeevy porn. Dump him.
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:40 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

In general I would not want to be with someone who was uncomfortable being honest with me re: their porn viewing habits. I do not think I could happily date a guy who was secretive/furtive/shifty/creepy about his personal porn preferences; actually the thought of doing so is almost unimaginable to me.

The fact that his first instinct when confronted about a porn download was to tell a pretty obvious lie, as though he was a kid and you were his parent, is troubling.
posted by elizardbits at 3:44 PM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

From your original question and several follow-ups, it appears that he enjoys pornography featuring young women, and also pornography featuring "MILF"-type women. This strikes me as incredible normal behavior for a heterosexual man in early 21st-century North America.

I would only be concerned if child pornography were involved. I do not take that from your question, the reference to the "underage teen porn" not withstanding. A file name can be anything, and without video with a 18 U.S.C. 2257 custodian of records notice, no one here can make that call. As ryanrs noted, it is very common for Internet pornography to be labeled as "TEEN! VIRGIN! OH SO YOUNG!" while the performers are in fact of legal age. And again, a computer file can be named anything. It could have been called "Ghostbusters II 1080p". Looking back, maybe he should have named it that.

I don't know why you think your boyfriend's masturbation habits are any of your business, or why you were checking out recently opened files on his computer. But, to the extent that you are obsessing over how your boyfriend chooses to masturbate, I think your concerns are very much about your own insecurity. If I were a betting man, I would bet that every man you will have as a boyfriend, "friends with benefits", husband, "partner", or whatever else will masturbate with pornography. Until you address your own insecurities about this issue (and insecurity in general, based on at least one past question), you will be back.

I also think there is a general undercurrent here of shaming men who prefers younger women. He gets to do that. It doesn't make him bad, deviant, or a "creep" any more than Demi Moore was somehow perverted for marrying someone 15 years her junior.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:48 PM on December 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed.
posted by bluelights at 3:52 PM on December 4, 2013

Guy here -- if that matters, but I have to chime in to second the notion that plenty of men can separate their porn tastes and 'real' tastes. Some things, while entertaining to watch, just don't translate into something that is feasible and/or attractive in real life. Porn is fantasy. Most guys know this.

Furthermore it is VERY possible to do 'bulk' downloads of porn, whereupon there may be content you have/had no desire to ever see. This is FAR more common than people (who aren't downloading porn) realize. It's the nature of downloading free porn--there are certain risks you take. Now, I'm not saying there aren't people who download illegal things and use bulk downloads as an excuse, but I think a first-time offense deserves some credit--not eye rolling. Additionally, MANY legal and of-age people are tagged as underage or underage-looking in porn (this is VERY common in gay porn). A title with 'Underage Teen' is not uncommon, regardless of true, legal subject matter. I tend to find that professional porn is labeled in this way (likely because they have to have statements of age to prove their legality and can get away with saying "No it's not, see?").

But I digress, it sounds to me like the real issue is his looking at porn to begin with and your insecurity that it means he doesn't like you and/or is going to seek someone else (younger) out.

If the relationship makes you uncomfortable, by all means, end it---there's nothing holding you back and it's your right to do so. I just wonder if you're jumping the gun based on those insecurities and porn tastes (because there is no evidence he is actually looking at true underage, illegal girls).
posted by stubbehtail at 3:52 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

that feeling you're having isn't going to go away because it is there to tell you to RUN. trust your gut. anyone who is bulk downloading porn and has a thing for barely legal girls is so not good relationship material. trust your gut.
posted by wildflower at 3:53 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Uhhh.... he did what?!

That is really fucked up! No ifs ands or buts. The porn thing could go either way but based on what you just said, he is definitely bad news.
posted by Aubergine at 3:53 PM on December 4, 2013 [35 favorites]

Underage means not legally old enough to consent and I am surprised nobody is expressing alarm at that.

He shouldn't have stuff like that at all, no matter how well he can excuse it.
posted by tel3path at 3:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

Run is also he first thing that came to my mind.
posted by bananafish at 3:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

On reading your latest update


Seriously unless the photos are of up your skirt and you consented to him doing that, this says:

- he is cheating on you

- he is potentially some kind of gross date rapist

- both of those things?
posted by Sara C. at 3:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [44 favorites]

For crying out loud, you buried the lede. The porn isn't necessarily a problem. Taking videos of people's private parts without their consent- specifically in a situation where they are physically incapable of giving their consent- is simply inexcusable.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:00 PM on December 4, 2013 [29 favorites]

[OP seriously, please limit your responses to answering questions, don't trickle out other weird shit your boyfriend has done.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:04 PM on December 4, 2013 [15 favorites]

I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed.

haha no dump this fucking shitbag trainwreck creeper right the fuck now
posted by elizardbits at 4:06 PM on December 4, 2013 [55 favorites]

Also sorry OP but if it is underage porn, regardless of whether he actually "meant" to download it, there is a very real chance that he could become a convicted sex offender and face serious time (like, 10-15 years). There are tons of undercover cops all over the place whose job it is to track this stuff. Not saying it will happen or is even likely (depending on whether he is in the habit of downloading underage porn), but maybe something to consider?
posted by likeatoaster at 4:11 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed.

That's 100% straight fucked up super creepy predator shit. Sorry to be so blunt, but really that's the kind of thing that there is NO possible excuse for.
posted by MsMolly at 4:14 PM on December 4, 2013 [10 favorites]

You know, a really good way to build up security and confidence is to dump people who set off alarm bells or give you an uneasy feeling. Really. Setting boundaries and putting your foot down will make you happier and minimize the time you waste with creeps.

Trust yourself. Run.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:17 PM on December 4, 2013 [26 favorites]

Look, just, next week post this as your question:

"I found pictures my boyfriend took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed. What should I do?"

You will see a consensus in the answers unlike maybe 95% of AskMetafilter questions. I probably don't need to tell you what the consensus will be, or whether it will be the correct course of action. You're asking us to confirm what you already suspect, and, well, it is absolutely 100% confirmed. Ignoring his porn habits entirely, this dude is a creep and a half and, well, honestly, I'd get the fuck out of dodge before photos of you end up somewhere you really don't want them to.
posted by griphus at 4:20 PM on December 4, 2013 [14 favorites]

I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed.

Way to bury the lede, OP. The porn thing doesn't strike me as such a big deal, but taking pictures up a girls dress with a silent camera ap? What the fuckity fuck?!?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:22 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Count me in the group of people that didn't think the issue posed in the original question was that serious, but after your latest update?

Leave him now.
posted by alligatorman at 4:35 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

You really don't want to be in this relationship, and your mind is offering you a way out.

Take it.
posted by four panels at 4:38 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, your latest update moves the situation from yellow to red flag. My advise is DTMFA.
posted by rpfields at 4:40 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't often respond to MeFi questions like this -- but I read the sage advice for most of them.

You are receiving sage advice here. Direct and sage advice.

You want to love him for whatever insecurities you may have. I totally appreciate this feeling. Your insecurities are a speck compared to what you're telling us here. I'm a mom and if I were your mom I'd be walking you to the door of this relationship. (I'm protective in that way, see my handle.)

Too many fish in the sea.
Next bus is around the corner.

Drop this guy. Like now. Right now.
posted by mamabear at 4:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

> I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed

Dump him. And if by "girl" you actually mean a girl, call the police. (And then quit using "girl" if you mean "woman," as nothing good can come out of using the same word for both.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:46 PM on December 4, 2013 [25 favorites]

Oh, and delete that photo before you go. Maybe his next girlfriend will do the same for you.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:47 PM on December 4, 2013 [16 favorites]

Ooh.. creepy photo taking when there's no way to determine consent? Yeah... dump him. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt but you can't overlook such a blatant abuse of trust.
posted by stubbehtail at 4:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was on his side til that last update from the OP about the creep shots. You want to dump this guy, right? Just dump him and be done.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2013

TIL that I am the only person who finds it easier to just grab a couple of big torrents and then delete than wade through porn online.

"I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed."

Wait, what?

I've taken nude polaroids of women sleeping, but only after I'd asked them about it because otherwise it's hella creepy and predatory.

The fuck? That's a dumpin'.
posted by klangklangston at 5:04 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed.

Are you - and this question for real - this does not sound like a safe person to date, let alone someone who is at heart "a good guy". What are you looking for here? The way you've asked this question and given updates really makes me question what you do or don't know about this guy, and if this relationship is even real. There are very few people who would be okay or just a little bit unsure like the way you are. This is one of those times you don't want to be in the minority.
posted by smoke at 5:24 PM on December 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

I would like to amend my answer: Dump him so hard that it is visible from space.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2013 [28 favorites]

I just wanted to say that whether this guy's porn viewing habits are "normal" or not may not be the issue. If "normal" means average, as it seems to here, it does not automatically imply good or healthy. I think whether or not this is typical these days, you can still ask the question of whether it's good or healthy, or something you feel comfortable with. It seems your instincts may be answering these questions for you, or at least alerting you to the fact that there may be something questionable here. Even if many are chiming in saying this is what all guys do these days.
posted by Blitz at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

Okay, so it's verified that suspicious underage porn + creeper camera = dump now. But before I go, a word on older men who prefer much younger girls: DON'T DATE THE WOODERSONS (thank you for that mention!). Woodersons are picking you because you're young, hot, naive, insecure, and easy to snow. For example, he can tell you this crap about downloading the porn because he thinks you'll buy it, and you'll put up with whatever he dishes out because you're naive and insecure and you don't know any better about how older men act and you want to be "the cool girlfriend" and "mature" and crap like that. This kind of creep is a fucking predator on young women, and if you look even younger than your age, you are their catnip. So am I. I would highly recommend NOT DATING GUYS AROUND OR OVER 40 until you're around that age yourself, because most of the ones that will go for a girl who looks and acts super young aren't exactly looking for a life partner and equal. And yeah, you will age out of their "barely legal "demographic someday too. Thank God.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:28 PM on December 4, 2013 [27 favorites]

jenfullmoon is right. There's nothing wrong with people dating persons older than themselves. But you need to be secure in yourself and your relationships to make it work! You are clearly neither. Which does not take anything away from the fact that this guy sounds like a skeevy creeper. In fact you may well have ended up with a skeevy creeper specifically because of that insecurity.

So I would 1) stop dating the skeevy creeper. 2) Date people close to your own age until you have a little more experience and are able to feel secure with yourself and in your relationships.
posted by Justinian at 5:47 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

You feel uncomfortable about it and it will always be lurking in the back of your psyche if you stay with him. It could lead to emotional paranoia/resentment etc.

Men are visual creatures yes, but there's a great disparity between a guy with a healthy appetite for young women and a pervert who's into young girls. Any guy who's into girls is a borderline pedo. He probably loves Nabokov's 'Lolita.'

Personally I'd dump him.
posted by OneHermit at 5:48 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

A reliable "little voice" is one of the greatest survival tools you can have, but at your age it is still in training mode. No one here can see in your boyfriend's heart, but your voice is trying to get your attention.

If you listen to it and it's wrong, then you are losing a boyfriend who is probably not going to end up being a part of your long-term plans anyway, and if it's right then you've just helped train and calibrate a little bit more. I have no idea if that voice is right or wrong, but I think listening to it and learning from it is the best option for you right now and will serve you best in the long run.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:55 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Done. All done.

And after you've dumped him and changed your number and cooperated with a future police investigation, then you can focus on what it is about your underlying anxiety that attracts creepy pervy liars. Trust me, they aren't going for women who will call them on their bullshit, they're looking for eager-to-please women with low-self esteem who will be grateful for the attention -- so grateful, in fact, that they aren't sure if they should dump them upon discovering evidence that they are, in fact, creepy pervy liars.
posted by mibo at 6:42 PM on December 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

[less dramaz more helpful answers please.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am sorry to reply a second time, but I need to adjust my advice based on your last follow-up that contained a very important fact that you failed to mention from the outset because you were parceling out crumbs of information.

I stand by the advice about the pornography. Again, there is nothing wrong with liking pornography of young women or "MILFs" (this is very mainstream), and there is nothing wrong with a man being in a romantic relationship with a younger woman. However, the taking of secret photos such as the one you described falls into the realm of victimizing behavior. I am not telling you what to do in response to that behavior, but I think it is a legitimate cause for concern. It is disturbing behavior.

In closing, I note that you have unabashedly described lurking around your boyfriend's computer and cellular telephone. I recommend that you stop that behavior. It is not conducive to trust.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Given your followup, your problem is no longer that you and your boyfriend have different views about pornography, or even that your boyfriend may fall out of love with you when you age. Those are ordinary problems present in many relationships. The usual solution is development of self-confidence, minor compromises on both ends, and a lot of respectful communication from both parties.

Your problem is that you have evidence of your boyfriend grossly violating the privacy of a minor for sexual purposes. The atmosphere of trust and intimacy that your relationship exists in has helped you gloss over the seriousness of what he's done.

If it's any consolation, your gut feeling is operating correctly. It detected something very bad and let you know, even when you had an incentive to ignore it. Next time you get that uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong, listen to it. You might have a problem with low self-confidence, but that is only going to get worse when you date someone like this. You feel insecure and nervous in this relationship for a reason. You can't become a more trusting and confident person in a relationship where you have to keep convincing yourself that something as egregious as taking underage upskirt photos isn't a problem.
posted by rhythm and booze at 7:15 PM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

You know "in your heart" that he's a good guy... but you're snooping on his computer and finding things that make you really uncomfortable, his sexuality makes you "queasy", when you've tried to discuss your misgivings with him he seems to blow you off... and you're worried that your insecurities are going to make this relationship crash and burn?

I think your insecurities are what's keeping you in this relationship, actually. It doesn't sound like a great relationship to me -- a great relationship is one in which your partner's sexuality doesn't give you the creeps, for one thing.
posted by palomar at 7:17 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

You seem generally negative about yourself as a romantic partner. Don't allow this insecurity to cloud your judgment. Being in a relationship in your early 20s, you're damn well expected to be insecure, obsessive, paranoid, unreasonable and naive.

Apart from the squicky info you added, his responses don't seem like like they were part of any thoughtful, sharing discussion. If he can't do better than fluff you off, then I don't think you should be persuing a relationship with this guy.

(which, on preview is a poorer version of what Palomar said above)
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:21 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I deal with anxiety, and here's what I've been learning. It may be true that you overreact to things, but that doesn't mean that there is nothing to react to. The trick is not letting the anxiety panic you into one extreme or the other. The two things that don't really work are "OMG worry worry worry" and "lalala I'm anxious so it's probably nothing at all lala nothing nothing not thinking about it." In fact, my anxiety gets worse the more I avoid something I suspect to be true.

You might try to find a way to ask yourself "so what is making me feel anxious and is that REALLY such a big deal?" and tackling the issue head on.
posted by salvia at 7:23 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I also found pictures he took with a silent camera application up a girl's dress sleeping in his bed.

And he readily admits to downloading porn in bulk.

You might consider if he's uploading anything, and what that might be. If he likes to take secret pictures of people, he's probably taken secret pictures and video of you.

If good guys illegally take pictures of girls up the dress of girls sleeping in their bed, what would he have to do to be a bad guy?
posted by yohko at 7:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [18 favorites]

Oh lol, I had only read 2/3 off the comments when I commented above. The follow-up definitely tips things into DTMFA territory.
posted by salvia at 7:45 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Be good to yourself, ok? As a young and admittedly insecure person, you should be with someone who doesn't cause creep you out to the point that your're asking internet strangers for advice in his viewing of underage porn.

Let this go and work on being good to yourself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:06 PM on December 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

OP, can you please read Scientist's advice upthread (both pieces) and commit it to memory? Tattoo it on yourself, if necessary. I would favourite that 5000 times if I could. It is spot on.

Oh, and to add to the consensus: dump him. He is no good for you, and the only thing keeping you in this relationship is not your love for him, but your insecurity. Trust me.
posted by Salamander at 8:18 PM on December 4, 2013

Downloading porn in bulk-- not a horrendous habit. I know some otherwise good guys (and gals) who do this, I don't, don't really smile on it, but it's just a method of obtaining porn without slogging through website after website.

The other shit, gross, dump him. That's the reason your bad feelings aren't going away. Don't force them away-- don't blame yourself for this. If your self-esteem were better, you probably would have dumped him long ago (rather than other way around).

Idk, as a rule, after having one relationship with an age gap of 20 years, I don't play that shit anymore. It's perfectly OK to realize that it's a dealbreaker for you and not dating men significantly older than you if it makes the waters too difficult to navigate.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:52 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm anxious and insecure in relationships in general.

I think people are reacting so strongly because there is a pattern, and your relationship fits it, and currently there are no contraindications about why it doesn't fit it. Predatory people tend to find insecure people and take advantage of their unsureness and pussyfooting around about whether or not they want to be in a relationship. The age gap is concerning - the age gap is a structure that can contribute to that unsureness in you and ability to manipulate in him. In other words, an age gap to someone with lame intentions can be useful.

Now, I realize this isn't always true with May/September relationships, and I always leave room for the successful ones - sometimes it's fine and works out and can be a normal and healthy relationship. But a lot of the time, I'd really have to guess most of the time, it's not healthy, but represents an older person who is unable to mature seeking out a younger person whose sense of self and self-worth is not fully developed and because of inexperience is not yet able to identify what elements of a healthy relationship might be missing.

If you were able to say "here are all the reasons our relationship is strong, positive, healthy, and legitimate minus this one small problem," you might get a greater range of responses. But "I am insecure" but he is "a good guy at heart" is not what you say when you feel that. "A good guy at heart" is what you say about a guy who is apparently not a good guy on the surface, not a good guy to most observers, and not a good guy according to the way you feel about things. If you find yourself having to argue, hard, that someone is a good guy in the face of all the evidence - well, maybe the only reason they seem so good is that they're paying attention to you and making you feel worthwhile.

You don't really need that, even if you feel like you do. In the end, it feels worse. I don't see much worth rescuing here, if everything you say is true. If what you say is true, the guy is not to be trusted for a moment, and you are not safe around him. It sounds to me like you could use some time being on your own and building up your self-worth before entering into any more relationships. In a good relationship, you'll never have to second-guess.
posted by Miko at 9:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [26 favorites]

To me it's not so much that he does it, it's that:

A) He does it in a manner that could result in actual underage porn being on his computer, which, I mean I don't know maybe I just really don't know from porn torrenting, but surely if every dude in America was casually downloading heaps of porn that can actually get you sent to jail for real just for having it? Sounds kiiiiind of far-fetched to me. That's like saying you went grocery shopping while hungry and came home with crack.

B) When asked about a super-objectionable bit of porn found on his computer, his answer is basically "idk I download all kinds of porn constantly so who even knows", which, there's nothing wrong with that, but when that's how you put a veneer of normalcy on how there could be kiddie porn on your computer?

The problem isn't so much "boyfriend likes porn", it's "boyfriend normalizes porn to such a degree that he doesn't see child porn as particularly problematic".
posted by Sara C. at 10:02 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

How do I move to MetaTalk? I'm not familiar with that - how does it work?

The upskirt photo I'm not sure about. Maybe it was an ex or something, but I couldn't see her face as it's blurry. Says he often takes pictures of ex's or women he has sex with, but isn't sure what pictures I'm referring to (implying he only does so with their consent, denies it being in their sleep). He also says the underage file title probably came from bulk amateur porn he downloaded which puts the files in alphabetical order.
posted by bluelights at 11:06 PM on December 4, 2013

Okay. The most charitable explanation is that this girl (and I notice you didn't specify whether or not she was a girl in the sense that she is visibly underage) was an ex and had given her consent for the pictures.

Keeping them around is still skeevy as all hell after their relationship is over. Again, the most charitable explanation (which I am not inclined to believe) is that he forgot about them, but once you reminded him of their existence he should be going "omgwtf, I totally forgot about them, sorry for making you feel bad, here let me delete them all POSTHASTE so you wouldn't feel icky about this entire thing". Even then that might not make up for his actions given everything you've revealed, but at least he'd be making a token effort.

Instead? He's not even doing that. He's deflecting. Oh, that was mass-downloaded porn. Oh, that was an ex. He's not taking any responsibility for hurting your feelings, and your general insecurities about relationships aside, these are VERY good reasons to be hurt and insecure even if you're usually the most nonchalant girlfriend in the history of time. If you don't feel good about a relationship, that's reason enough to get out. But he's not even trying to make you feel good about the relationship at this point.

You've gone from yellow flag to blaring klaxons. Seriously, OP, get out. Like FAMOUS MONSTER, I'm amending my answer: throw him out on his ass so hard he'll make a crater in the earth.
posted by Zelos at 11:26 PM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

Uh... how exactly is this guy "a good guy at heart"? Because everything you're telling us makes him sound like a creepy loser who hooks up with insecure younger women who are too scared to call him on his creepy shit because they think they can't land anyone better than him.
posted by palomar at 11:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

What, is this a RL episode of Coupling, where your boyfriend's got his own version of Patrick's Cupboard of Love?

Think this through: if the exes all consented to him taking photos while they were asleep/unaware… why would he need a silent photo app? If they heard the camera phone's shutter noise, they'd sleepily notice, 'oh, he took my photo' and fall back asleep. It implies he takes these sorts of photos regularly enough to necessitate an app — and yet, he's apparently never taken an upskirt photo of you that you know about or have agreed to. So who else is he photographing? And when is he photographing you?

Consider the very real possibility that he's taken similar photos of you that you know nothing of; and that the photos have been uploaded to amateur porn sites.

Also: 'a good guy' does not, when asked about sketchy behavior, give his girlfriend a load of codswallop whilst dismissing her concerns. Even if they're concerns fueled by insecurity with no basis in reality whatsoever — a guy who genuinely cares about you will address them. Your boyfriend's behavior isn't that of a good guy. Do you really want to wait for it to become worse?
posted by culfinglin at 11:48 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

[bluelights, the comment about Metatalk you are responding to has been deleted. At this point, please just take in the advice and don't turn this into a conversation or debate where you provide possible explanations for your boyfriend. If you don't find the advice palatable, better just to leave off reading the thread, but this isn't a counseling session or an ad hoc court, so you need to either read and consider on your own what's helpful without hyper-responding, or close the page and let it be.]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:06 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just to chime in, I remarked the other day to another guy 15 years younger than me that I was very happy to be attracted to women around my age or a little older, and also that as I got older my tastes stayed appropriate.

He said "don't you miss those tight bodies, the young face, yadda yadda"

I replied "dude, I barely want to speak to someone 20 years younger than me, much less have sex with them." (I'm 40)

Chances are you're with a guy who's into younger women. What were his last mates like, age-wise?
posted by nevercalm at 2:16 AM on December 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

Advice is what you ask for when you know what do but don't wanna.

or, the actual quote “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” ~Erica Jong.

Take a break from dating. Live on your own for at least a year. Get therapy, hang with wise women, have adventures, gain knowledge and power and wisdom. (....I accidentally channeled Zelda there, sorry)

But, seriously. Dump him, get to know and love yourself better, and your next relationship will be 1000% better. You tend to attract people with the same amount of baggage/issues you have. Good luck, and enjoy your journey :)
posted by Jacen at 6:17 AM on December 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

Some people are okay with their partners looking at porn. Some people are not okay with it.

If it bothers you at all, then find a partner who is not into porn.

This sounds like a HUGE red flag to me, and if you feel uneasy, don't chalk it up to insecurity, chalk it up to your past experiences informing your present judgement.

You can love people who may be "good people" but who may not be good for you.

The age difference is a red herring, it's the underage porn and the amount of it that's a problem for you.

You have my permission to break up with him.

I think that breaking up now, before you get any more enmeshed. This guy just isn't right for you and you're settling for something less than you deserve.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:06 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

In your latest comment, it sounds like you are trying find a way to defend him, but your gut feels otherwise. These are issues that bothered you enough to write an AskMe. The upskirt picture bothered you enough to include in your post. All of this is enough reason to walk away. These feelings of doubt and uncertainty won't just magically go away, no matter what kind of things you tell yourself to justify his actions. That is not what you want in a relationship.

Listen to your gut. It's telling you to leave.
posted by alligatorman at 7:27 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Says he often takes pictures of ex's or women he has sex with, but isn't sure what pictures I'm referring to

YIKES. So he basically has pictures of so many naked women that he can't even keep track of them all? He's also trying to figure out how much you know. He's thinking, "Oh shit, did she find find the pic of my 25-year-old ex-girlfriend, or of the 17-year-old I brought back to my place last weekend?"
posted by Asparagus at 8:03 AM on December 5, 2013 [18 favorites]

I was willing to give the dude the benefit of the doubt until your revelation re: the upskirt photos. That is straight up creeper shit, and very, very uncool. You should have led with that, IMO.
posted by brand-gnu at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would caution basing the content of pornography on the title.I have watched and downloaded (just because its vlc doesn't mean it's professional porn) videos which said "hot young 18 year old innocent xxx" where the woman is clearly over 18.
posted by laptolain at 1:25 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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