Secret Photos

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Dear Hoopers,
My boyfriend let me borrow his iPad. Admittedly I snooped, and found 47 pictures he took a year ago (before we started dating) of his best friend’s wife. In the pictures she was passed out naked and drunk next to his best friend. They don’t know he took the pictures. I also found a video he took of her secretly while she was getting out of the shower. He used to live with them for 3 years, and there is an obvious attraction between them that I noticed initially when he introduced me to the group. I tried to ignore it since I can understand that a friendship develops when you live with someone for 3 years, and that it’s normal to be attracted to other people. However, since I found these pictures last night I don’t know how to react. 1. It makes me question his values and what he thinks is acceptable. 2. I don’t know how I should feel being around them, or how I should look at this logically.

She is the only attractive female he’s had any type of friendship with where he was never able to sleep with. The attraction between them is awkward, especially when I’m around, because of how he looks at her. I brought it up, and he doesn’t know he looks at her a certain way but admitted that there was an attraction. It hurts to see him look at another female like that. In the initial months of me dating “Jack,” I reached out to the girl, and tried to establish a friendship with her as well, but she declined all invitations to hang out, and several months later the situation combusted in a night where I overheard her gossip about me to her friends. I went home crying, and my boyfriend stated that gossip is a large dynamic of that girl group, and that he understands. I suspect she doesn’t like me because she’s used to having him give her all of his attention. I’m the first serious girlfriend he’s had in 6 years.

I confronted him about the pictures, and he said “he didn’t know why” he took them. He disclosed that a year before his best friend and she got married, she drunkenly told him that it should’ve been him that she was with and not his friend. To my knowledge nothing has physically happened, but he admits that he moved out because they were getting married, and it was “becoming more difficult to be around her and he would think about her a lot.” The guy is his best friend, and I would never ask him to stop seeing them or being around that group of people. But efforts to have a friendship with her have not progressed, and he is still very attracted to her. How would you handle this?
-Secret Photos

Dear Secret Photos,
There is a lot to unpack here. My biggest concern is the secret photos that he perpetrated on his ex-roommate and female friend. His secret nude photography of her and his friend is bordering on a sex crime. Just because he knows her and is attracted to her doesn’t mean that he has a right to secretly photograph her in compromising photos. I’m sure the legal standing of capturing and maintaining these photos depends on your state laws but this is a big problem.

Not to mention creepy. In no way did she consent to having her nude likeness captured on his iPad. And did you say 47 photos? That’s not an accidental photo. That’s a planned and executed photo shoot. He didn’t respect her body and sexual boundaries enough to resist the temptation to take her photo when she didn’t know and he still has the photos a year later. This implies to me that he lacks understanding of boundaries and may believe that he had the ability to violate others boundaries when he desires. This is a big red flag for your future with him. Even if you are able to dismiss the seriousness of this incident now, his poor boundaries around these photos and his general poor handling of this relationship suggest the strong possibility of bad decisions in the future.


This is a big red flag for your future with him.

-Dr. Ryan

It is possible that he can learn a lot from this violation but he will need to make big changes in order to do so. When you first brought this up to him it seems like it caught him off guard and he didn’t have a response, although not as surprised as I’m sure his ex-roommates would be if they find out, but we will talk about that in a minute.

It is time to talk about it again with him. It is up to you how to proceed but If I were in your shoes I would take some serious steps. I would discuss how creepy I find this and how concerned I am about him secretly photographing his ex-roommates. I would discuss the importance of consent and respecting other’s boundaries. I would be willing to enter therapy with him to bring an outside perspective on how problematic this is and to discuss how to move forward from this. Anything less than this I believe is disrespecting yourself and your future.
-Dr. Ryan

Dear Secret Photos,
This is not friendly attraction. This is most certainly sounding like obsession. Taking nude pictures of someone without their consent is not only wrong, but it’s illegal.

The Video Voyeurism Prevention Act prohibits the photographing or videotaping of a naked person without his or her permission in a gym, tanning salon, dressing room or anywhere else where one expects a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Violators can expect fines of up to $100,000 and/or up to a year in prison. The 47 pictures that you saw should be jarring and the relationship that he continues to have with this woman should certainly be concerning.


This invasion of privacy certainly would have me concerned.

-Kate

Don’t fool yourself that this is simply a “friendship that developed.” Reverse the roles. What if these photos and video had been taken of you? This invasion of privacy certainly would have me concerned. I would handle this by getting out of the picture as soon as possible. This guy is the definition of creep. You are an autonomous person who can make your own choices and decide who you want to date. But with what you have seen and what you know, I wouldn’t walk. I’d run.
-Kate