Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Took Photos Of My Feet While I Slept!”

feet

My boyfriend and I have been together for only a year, but we were both really in love from the very beginning. He treats me well and I am very thoughtful with him too. Recently, he confessed he has a foot fetish, and I told him that it’s pretty normal and that it doesn’t bother me at all. I was very supportive and told him that he shouldn’t have been ashamed of that.

A few days ago, I had to use dropbox on his computer and it automatically opened his account. A folder with a weird name caught my attention so I clicked and didn’t even know how to feel with what I found. It was a folder with at least 25 different images of my feet, pictures he took without my consent while I was sleeping. There were also two or three videos of him massaging my feet. It made me uncomfortable to know that I was being filmed while sleeping. Also, the pictures were full close-ups, so I felt like it didn’t matter that it was MY feet; he just wanted feet. There was not even one picture of my face … but who knows if I would’ve find that even creepier.

He has low self-esteem and depression, so I couldn’t confront him about it without thinking it through first. I checked and the date of those videos was before he confessed his fetish, so I figured he only confessed because he was ashamed. I talked with him, asked for an explanation, he was very sorry about it, I asked him to delete those pictures, and he did. In the end, I forgave him, but now I’m wondering if this is something I shouldn’t forgive so easily? I think I might have some resentment towards him now. I felt somehow abused, but I can’t think of a way that we can completely close this chapter. Help? — Feeling Defeated

Let’s get this out of the way: what your boyfriend did — taking photos and videos of your feet, without your consent, while you slept is creepy and wrong. It’s a betrayal of your trust and a violation of your privacy. But his doing that isn’t the only reason you’re upset; the level of creep and ick isn’t the only reason you’re questioning whether you forgave too easily. The bigger — or at least equally big — issue is that your boyfriend betrayed you twice in this scenario — the first time when he took 25+ images of your feet without your knowledge, and the second time when he essentially “confessed” without really confessing and sought acceptance, if not forgiveness, with actually confessing his true crime. And in your telling him his foot fetish was normal and didn’t bother you and he shouldn’t be ashamed of it, you relieved him of his guilty conscience. Had you known what he was actually feeling guilty about, you would not have absolved him so quickly, and there’s the rub (no pun intended).

So, what do you do about this problem? You tell him you’re mad that his initial confession was essentially a lie — or at least, not the whole truth. Tell him you feel betrayed not just by the photos and videos he took without your consent, but by the absolution he got from you without first confessing what it was he was really seeking forgiveness for. Tell him you feel violated times two and that you deserve more regard and respect that he’s shown you, as his girlfriend, as a woman, as a person.

Finally, be careful not to let his self-esteem and depression issues cloud or dilute honest reactions you might have to behavior that’s less than savory. It’s one thing to be compassionate — and most people, regardless of their mental and emotional well-being deserve compassion; but it’s quite another to give a pass for behavior you would otherwise not so easily accept or forgive.

You can get past this issue if you decide you want to. Trust can be restored. You can most definitely forgive. But I would urge you not to forget. File this away as a red flag (a big one, at that). Your relationship is still very young and to have fallen in love as quickly as you say you did, there may be blinders still in place that have prevented you from seeing the whole picture of who your boyfriend is. Seeing — and accepting — the flaws of people we care about can deepen our love and strengthen our bond, but it can also showcase deal-breakers we didn’t know existed. Ultimately, though, any scenario that moves your forward and closer to authenticity is good, even if it doesn’t always feel comfortable.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

22 comments… add one
  • avatar

    SasLinna November 20, 2015, 9:15 am

    Yep, it’s creepy. This wasn’t like one picture that he took with his phone spontaneously. He took several and saved them to look at them later, and didn’t ask for your consent at any point. Personally, I’d be pretty freaked out by that. The foot fetish itself doesn’t matter, it would be same thing if he had taken pictures of, say, your breasts.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 20, 2015, 12:24 pm

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. This is no different than if he took nude pics and videos secretly, and used them to jerk off. It’s a huge violation. I don’t think I could get past it, personally.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 20, 2015, 9:26 am

    You found that you can’t trust him and that you didn’t know him. Trust is something that every relationship needs. It doesn’t matter whether the trust is broken by sneaking photos of your feet or cheating or lying or stealing. When the trust is broken it is hard to repair. You will never be certain that he isn’t photographing your feet while you sleep. It isn’t the fetish that is creepy, it is the behavior associated with the fetish that is creepy. It is the sneaking that is creepy. I don’t know how you overcome that kind of lack of trust. Now you know more about him but what you know is that you don’t trust him.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous November 20, 2015, 9:27 am

    You must have some gorgeous feet! Trust me, no one would want photos of mine. What’s your secret?

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    • call-me-hobo

      call-me-hobo November 20, 2015, 10:23 am

      Hey, Anon, I think that you made this comment in jest, but it’s pretty tasteless. This is not an appropriate or helpful reply to the LW.

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  • avatar

    absurdfiction November 20, 2015, 9:35 am

    Something that makes this extra creepy (to me, anyway), is that these pictures and videos were sexual in nature. To you, your feet may just be feet, but to someone with a foot fetish, it’s more than that. I’d equate this to a guy taking photos of your breasts without your knowledge. It was sexual for him, and you did not consent. That is abusive, even if it was “just feet.”

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    • avatar

      Sabrisa November 20, 2015, 4:06 pm

      Yep that’s the whole point. My spouse and I take pics and videos of each other sleeping / snoring sometimes (for fun/ cute pic sleeping with baby or to prove how loud the snoring is) and it’s not a violation at all (to us)
      This is really icky to me though.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes November 20, 2015, 10:29 am

    WWS.
    *
    Now, I might be unpopular for the following opinion, but here goes: LW, this is creepy- and I think that goes without saying, but it isnt THAT bad. Yes, it could definitely be termed “abuse,” but cmon. Not to “lessen” the abuse, but really- you didnt find a bunch of up-the-skirt shots or even pictures of OTHER women’s feet. They were all of you, right? Im not 100% sure, but I read it twice, and it seems that he actually massaged your feet and recorded it WHILE YOU WERE ASLEEP- this is the most disturbing part here. That you all had this AMAAAZEBALLS connection from the beginning, but he hid this (not innocuous, but again, not up-the-skirt picture kinda stuff) fetish from you. So where do you go from here? Well, you either trust him, or you dont. This is something that you have to/get to decide where your line is. Wherever you draw the line, that is for YOU to decide. It is perfectly acceptable to say that you cannot deal with this and break it off. It is also perfectly acceptable to say that you want to work on your trust here, and maybe go see a therapist (or not) and work through it (OR decide there that you cannot overcome this). Whatever. But strangers on the internet truly cant tell you the proper headspace to be in here.
    *
    Good luck.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros November 20, 2015, 10:39 am

    This is super creepy. Huge violation of trust. The issue with things like this, for me, is that I think it reveals something about a person’s character. The fact that he thinks it’s OK to take sexual photos of you while you’re sleeping and without your consent and hide them from you is pretty concerning. Even if you can rebuild trust after this, it would make me question a lot of things about what kind of person he is and what other things he’d lie about to save face.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie November 20, 2015, 10:47 am

    I think this has to be a deal breaker and MOA. If he can hide this from you, then tell you half truths as a big reveal shows that honesty is not his strength. It is fine to have a fetish but to act on it, expressly without someone’s consent is abuse. He didn’t trust you enough to share who he really was. You have seen now that he is capable of keeping important things from you, and that his morality tells him it is okay to act upon his impulses and then hide it.

    His fetish was a chance for him to open up to you and let the relationship grow. Instead he violated you, physically, and betrayed your trust. Think about spending your life with someone who is capable of this, and hopefully you will reconsider your forgiveness.

    Let’s put aside that the issue was feet, and instead maybe it is being a spend-thrift or doing drugs. His behavior here shows he thinks it is okay to hide these desires and act upon them behind your back. I hope you wouldn’t consider staying with someone who carelessly spent down your savings or was a drug user/addict behind your back. The feet are not the problem, how he chose to (not) communicate and act upon his urges is.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 20, 2015, 10:54 am

    You also don’t know whether he was sneaking photos of your feet because he was embarrassed to let you know he has a foot fetish or if sneaking forbidden photos is part of the thrill, part of the fetish.

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  • kmtthat

    kmentothat November 20, 2015, 11:01 am

    I’m a very open minded person, but yeah, swap in another more traditionally sexualized body part and hear how creepy it sounds. As a pretty staunch feminist, I take real issue of the objectification of women against our will and this is such an example of that. He treated you not as person, or someone worthy of respect, and boiled your body down to something just to fulfill his needs without your consent. I’m mad for you, LW. Especially since you seem really cool, good giving and game, and maybe even would have consented to some naughty foot pictures if he had been open with you in the first place.

    That being said, it’s really about trust. Trust can absolutely be built again, but he really can’t take this lightly. Personally, I’d be out.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo November 20, 2015, 11:11 am

      I’m with you. I think the LW has the right to feel violated. I don’t care about the fetish one way or the other, but the violation is a problem. Think how much fun they could have had with this if he had just asked. It’s so basically harmless except for the trust issue. But now the whole fetish is tainted. He won’t be able to explore it with her without this weirdness. He could have had it all. LW, you deserve to be with someone who isn’t such a dumbass.

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    • avatar

      McLovin November 29, 2015, 6:24 am

      I love how you always come straight at the problem. And, I’m sure your cat gives great advice as well!

      Reply Link
  • BlueKate

    BlueKate November 20, 2015, 11:17 am

    WWS and what the PPs said too. Additionally, because it was Dropbox, the photos aren’t deleted. The originals are somewhere else, so unless you demand to see what he used to take them and delete them, get his email and online photos if they back up from his phone, and delete this, and then search his computer for the jpeg files…then they’re still there. I would also suggest you see the sharing permission of that Dropbox file, because he may have shared them.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 20, 2015, 12:29 pm

      Very good points. These aren’t Polaroids that he destroyed. They’re one copy of a digital image. Which could easily be shared elsewhere. Maybe that’s why he didn’t include her face? He wanted to share them, but thought sharing her face would be too much of a violation?

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  • avatar

    Another Jen November 20, 2015, 11:19 am

    This is creepy (the sneaking, not the liking feet). Perhaps I’m reading more into it, but I use Dropbox for file sharing. If I considered something private, I’d just keep a local copy for myself. Is there a chance he shared these fetish images with other people? If so, I’d consider it in a whole other league of betrayal.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy November 20, 2015, 12:03 pm

      Thats’s a great point.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      SasLinna November 20, 2015, 12:12 pm

      I use it to share files between different computers, not usually with other people, I think lots of people do. But it definitely means that the files could still be accessible from another device.

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  • Portia

    Portia November 20, 2015, 11:23 am

    Pictures of you while you slept without your consent? Ewwwwwww, no…

    Reply Link
  • Lianne

    Lianne November 20, 2015, 11:42 am

    Plus, you can share dropbox files with others – who knows if he is doing this, as well! This just gets creepier and creepier the more I read.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna November 20, 2015, 11:54 am

      Yeah it’s pretty bad from a privacy protection angle, too. I wouldn’t put any sensitive data in the dropbox.

      Reply Link

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