My boyfriend of almost six years (now my fiancee!) is an aspiring photographer. He’s been into photography since high school (he’s 30 now). He shoots a wide range of subjects, but he talks about wanting to shoot nudes/scantily clad photos of women, and I’m just not comfortable with it. I have no problem at all with him watching girls online in porn. But that’s a fantasy world and it’s no one we know or will ever know.
My fiancé’s not a sleazy guy or anything like that, and he’s not just a GWC (guy with camera) trying to get girls naked. I know it’s for his art and he thinks nude photos will progress his photography career. And while I believe all of this, it still comes down to the fact that he would be seeing other women — women he finds attractive because those are the only women he’ll shoot — scantily clad and posing/dressing in ways that turn him on. I don’t believe that he would physically cheat on me, but I don’t like knowing that these real-life women will be his masturbation material later on.
I feel bad because I would never want to hold him back from doing what he wants, especially when it comes to his art and career, but I know I won’t ever be able to feign comfort. Photographer friends of his shoot women this way, and he wonders why their girlfriends/wives are OK with it and I’m not, but I’ve told him I don’t really care about what other people are comfortable with; I’m not! This is a difficult situation that doesn’t really seem to have a solution. Please help! — No Nudies, Please
You say this is a situation that doesn’t have a solution, but the truth is it has a very obvious solution; it just happens to be a painful one. If your fiancé is determined to make something that really upsets you part of his regular life, you can either learn to live with it or break up with him. Both options are going to leave you unhappy and feeling like you’ve compromised more than you should have to. The big question is: which option is going to leave you feeling worse?
If you marry a man whose job — whose actual way of living — hurts you each and every day, what is that resentment going to do to you — and your relationship! — over time? it can’t be good. On the other hand, if you leave him, you’ll hurt quite a bit — maybe for a very long time — but eventually you’ll move on and hopefully find someone whom being with won’t require such sacrifice on your part.
Of course, the third option — the one you’re really hoping I address is that your fiancé give up his dream of photographing nude women, which is about as likely to happen as you magically waking up one morning and being totally fine with his line of work. You already know you’re not going to suddenly get over the idea of the man you love ogling beautiful naked women all day, so you could make one last ditch effort to see if your fiancé would consider giving it up. If he had to choose between you and the nudes, which would he choose? If it isn’t you, would you want to marry him anyway?
If the answer is “yes,” and you really, truly cannot see yourself walking away from this man — this man whose number one passion isn’t you but photographing other women — I suppose there a few steps you could take to try to become okay with what it is he does. You could visit him on a set a few times if he’d allow it and see if you built a sort of de-sensitivity to it over time. You could talk to the wives and girlfriends of his photographer friends about how they cope with their significant others’ careers. Or … you could develop a really extraordinary imagination and picture the women your man photographs as fully-clothed Susan Boyle look-alikes, and any time your fiancé wants to show you his newest pictures, you could squeeze your eyes shut, stick your fingers in your ears and shout, “I can’t hear you!” over and over until he drops the subject.
As I said in the first sentence, the most obvious solution is probably the best one, even if it is painful.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.