Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé Takes Boudoir Photos Of Sexy Models On His Bed”

I recently got engaged to my wonderful fiancé last December and we couldn’t be happier with each other. We are currently in a long-distance relationship but soon will be moving in together. We trust each other and tell one another anything. He is an amazing photographer and usually gets gigs from models. He had told me that he wanted to start taking boudoir shots of models. He had his first boudoir gig last evening. I didn’t mind at first, but when I saw the shots, I felt a bit offended because they were extremely sexy and explicit and they were done in his apartment on his bed.
I know that this is his job and he does his work in a professional manner. But I can’t help but feeling a little bit insecure especially with sexy models around him. My question is: Am I wrong for feeling this way? I feel that if I talk to him about this, he might think I’m being petty and trying to stop him from doing his job. What can I do about me feeling this way? — Insecure Fiancée

No one is ever “wrong” for feeling a certain way. What would be wrong, though, is to continue feeling bad without communicating to your fiancé. You say you tell each other anything, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your communication is great. For example, did you ask him why he wants to do boudoir photography all of a sudden? Is it about the money? The creativity? What, exactly, does he get out of it? Knowing that might help you appreciate his decision. I’d also be curious (and, frankly, furious) why he’s shooting these sexy photos in his own bedroom. Talk about blurring the line between personal and professional! He should have a studio that is strictly work space (so he can reserve his bedroom as strictly private/personal space) or should shoot on location.

You say he works in a professional manner, but doing gigs in his private space is not professional at all, and I can’t imagine it makes the models feel very professional posing provocatively on the bed their photographer sleeps and has sex on. Definitely talk to him about your feelings, and if he can’t relieve some of your concerns, I would think long and hard about moving forward with this engagement. Have you two ever even lived in the same city? I would take that step long before agreeing to marry this person. These sexy shoots of models on his bed is a red flag. Please proceed with caution.

I am recently engaged and have started wedding-planning. My fiancé and I have agreed on a small, intimate ceremony and a dinner afterwards at a restaurant instead of a traditional reception. We will have our parents and siblings and a few very close friends. We are both super excited about this. My issue is that while I have almost thirty aunts/uncles/cousins, my fiancé doesn’t have any extended family (his parents are both only children and his grandparents are gone). I don’t want to invite my extended family. We are not close as several live on the other side of the country and I haven’t seen them since I was a teenager (I’m mid-30s now). I don’t want what are essentially strangers at this very personal and private event. My question is: How do I tell my mother, whom I suspect will not be okay with this, that I am not inviting these relatives? — Sorry to Disappoint

 
First, congrats on your engagement! Tell Mom: “Fiancé and I are super excited to have a small, intimate wedding with our parents, siblings, and a few close friends. This will be the most meaningful way to celebrate such a special occasion with the people who are most important to us. We can’t imagine it any other way, and we look forward to your support and spending quality time with you while making special memories.” If she balks or in any way gives you a guilt trip, consider inviting her to throw you a reception for extended family at her convenience and expense (my own parents did this for me, not because I didn’t invite extended family to my wedding but because there were about twenty family members who lived across the country and it was more convenient for them to celebrate locally). P.S. If your mother is actually paying for your wedding, it will be much more difficult to control the guest list and you may have to acquiesce to her wishes, or suck it up and pay for it yourself (which I bet you’re already planning to do since you’re a grown adult in her mid-30s).

My husband and I have been married for ten years and we have two kids. My mother-in-law gave me a book for Christmas about improving your self-esteem. She asked me what I thought of it, and I told her I didn’t think it was an appropriate Christmas gift. I told her I understand she loved the book and found it helpful, but I’d rather she not give me self-improvement presents in the future. She is now horribly offended and said that as my “mother figure” it is her duty to help me improve. She frequently texts me diet advice, parenting advice, and self-help mantras. I told her I did not want to get more messages like these and she refused to stop sending them, so I blocked her from my cell phone. I have seen her at family gatherings and been polite and distant to her. I told her she is free to message her son to arrange times to see our children but that I do not wish to be her point of contact. What I’m struggling with is that the rest of my husband’s family sees me as being cruel to an older lady who just wants to offer me helpful advice. Is there a kinder way to draw a line here? I am just tired of being told all the things I could improve to have my best life. — Tired Daughter-in-Law

 
Continue ignoring her unsolicited advice. The next time she asks what you think of it/ a gift/ etc., just say, “Oh, I haven’t had a chance to look at it/ think about it/ read it/ check it out yet. I’ve been so busy living my best life!” And then steer the conversation to something that reflects this best life you are living. Maybe eventually your MIL will get the message that you are perfectly happy without her “help,” and even if she doesn’t, you have set clear boundaries without saying or doing anything overly offensive.

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

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

24 comments… add one
  • avatar

    MissDre June 30, 2017, 1:10 pm

    I do a bit of modelling, and a lot of photographers don’t have separate studio space. It’s VERY expensive. I’ve worked with three female photographers who have turned their homes into beautiful studios, and one male photographer in this same situation but I knew him through other photographers. I do NOT work with male photographers in their homes if I don’t know them, though.

    Doing this in his bedroom is odd, though. I can understand why he’s doing it, especially if he’s not yet an established photographer, but I would NEVER be comfortable with this and a lot of models will likely worry that he’s a creep (even if he isn’t).

    Tell him that it bothers you. It will probably also bother a lot of models.

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    • avatar

      Janelle June 30, 2017, 2:24 pm

      I had a good friend who was an amazing photographer and did do numerous sexy shots in his bedroom. At first it felt weird to me, not even dating him, but then I asked him to do mine! I was in the best shape of my life, felt comfortable around him and thought why not have some great photos even if I only ever see them.

      Even though we were friends it was totally professional, it wasn’t like I was nude in his unmade bed, the bed was more of the backdrop. He does many with models in hotels rooms, just for the luxury look but his bedroom was set up similarly. I can see how it could feel weird. I am quite sure if it was my boyfriends bed I would feel weird BUT it can be completely professional. I also walked away with amazing photos from someone who could get me out of my shell. I likely will never share them but I look forward to looking back when I am an old lady.

      I think this all boils down to trust and integrity.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros July 1, 2017, 10:30 am

      Yeah, I don’t think he has to rent a separate space, but even just having a studio room would help. My photographer friends have studios in their homes. They don’t take photos in their personal living areas.

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  • avatar

    TheHizzy June 30, 2017, 1:40 pm

    LW#1 you could request that he tells his client to book a hotel room or do it at their house. I did a shoot like this and did it at my apartment. But my photographer was another female so…yeah.

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    • avatar

      MissDre June 30, 2017, 2:24 pm

      Yes I did a shoot like this where I had to book my own hotel room.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros July 1, 2017, 10:29 am

      I think if he’s planning to get into this business, he needs to have a studio. Their home sounds just as bad as his. Hotel is OK, but for me, it would fall into the same category of “not a place I go to with a stranger.”

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  • avatar

    Ashley June 30, 2017, 1:43 pm

    I still think it’s a good point about using his bedroom to take these photos. What about when you move in there? Are you not going to be able to relax in your own home because there will be strangers there at all hours? Personally I wouldn’t go to a photographer who works out of their own home, but I know these boudoir photos are becoming popular for brides to do and it’s probably a lucrative line of business. I would leave out your personal problems with the sexiness of these photos to be honest. Whether he’s doing explicitly sexy photos or not, beautiful women will probably come into play. You need to be able to handle that, it’s a part of his job.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star June 30, 2017, 1:43 pm

    LW 1: Inviting models into his bedroom for “boudoir shots” may backfire on your fiance professionally, just like it is personally. Explain to him how you feel about this. Hopefully he’s just an utterly clueless artiste, as you think he is, rather than a creep, like I think he is.

    LW 2: Agree with Wendy’s advice—and if it works out that Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary DO get invited and DO make the trip across country (definitely not a guarantee), it means they think you’re important, and that family matters to them. I don’t really see the downside to having more love in the room when you get married. Just sayin’.

    LW 3: Accept the fact that your husband’s family will never really get onboard with you treating your MIL the way you do. That’s the consequence of contemptuously cutting her off. Deal with it.

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    • avatar

      Sarah June 30, 2017, 4:27 pm

      The MIL is acting contemptuously, not the DIL!

      The MIL is NOT her mother or mother figure. She’s her husband’s mother. She has no right to behave like that. She is basically telling the DIL she isn’t good enough. She probably doesn’t mistreat anyone else that way, so the family can’t understand your concerns. Regardless, their behavior is unfair and you’re better off without them!

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  • avatar

    Ron June 30, 2017, 2:11 pm

    Northern Star —
    I fail to see how this is ‘contemptuously cutting off’ the MIL. Constantly offering self-help books and advice on multiple aspects of LW, from her her need to diet to her self-confidence, is a passive-aggressive or active-aggressive tangential series of attacks and harsh criticism toward LW. It is the MIL who has acted in a contemptuous way toward LW. LW has repeatedly asked her to stop and she has refused to do so. Cutting her off seems necessary to the preservation of LW’s sanity and self-esteem.

    It is very hard to prevent constant ‘self-help advice’ from turning into constant personal criticism and MIL doesn’t have the skill to pull it off. I get the sense that MIL wants to scream “you’re a fat wimp who’s a lousy mother and not at all up to what I wanted in a wife for my son, and now you won’t let me fix you!,” but realizes her son will blow up if she does. No reason at all for LW to put up with such crap. It sounds like both LW and her husband are happy with exactly the way LW already is. It is just the MIL who can’t keep to herself how inadequate she finds LW to be.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star June 30, 2017, 2:41 pm

      Her question was how do I treat her better so the family gets off my back. You say she doesn’t need to. Then, the family won’t think any differently of her. So, my answer stands. She’ll just have to deal with it.

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    • Portia

      Portia June 30, 2017, 3:59 pm

      I’m also not seeing the contempt from LW3, but I am seeing a lot of (valid) frustration. But it is getting in the way of other family relationships, so I think there are ways to not encounter this barrage of passive-aggressive bs without burning the larger bridge by “reframing” a few things. “Not contacting me” could be “husband is in charge of coordinating schedules, so you’ve really got to go through him” and continue to redirect her and potentially other family members (and get the husband on board with the family line). Repeat as much as necessary. If the LW wants to get creative (especially if she can tell if you’ve blocked her number), get a Google voice number and tell her you’ve changed your cell number. Then she can send all her “best life tips” (gag) but the LW won’t have to see what she’s sending…

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  • avatar

    Essie June 30, 2017, 2:13 pm

    I get that studio space is expensive. But shooting boudoir shots on his own personal bed sounds creepy and inappropriate beyond belief, and I have to think a lot of models will a) cancel the shoot when they see the circumstances, and b) tell their friends to stay far away from this guy. Neither of which is going to do any good for his career.

    I mean, it’s like something out of a bad sitcom, showing up for a modeling gig and the “professional” photographer leads you to his bedroom. Ewwww.

    There has to be an alternative. Converting a room in his home to a studio, with an inexpensive bed from IKEA. Sharing studio space with other photographers who are just starting out. He’s not the first photographer starting out on a tight budget, I’m sure a little googling will yield some creative ideas.

    But that wasn’t your question. As his fiancee, would I be comfortable with it? No. Not at all. I’m not the jealous type, but this just feels…sleazy. Even if I absolutely trusted him not to cheat, I’d be concerned about his judgement, and the reputation he’d be getting, and how it would affect his career prospects.

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    • avatar

      MissDre June 30, 2017, 2:27 pm

      Yes, I agree that he should be converting another room to his studio space.

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  • avatar

    Leslie Joan June 30, 2017, 4:44 pm

    Tired DIL, Wendy gave some good advice for a kinder way to let your MIL’s suggestions roll off your shoulders. I didn’t have a good sense for how much you are getting fed “advice” by this lady, and how long it’s been going on. Has she always been kind of controlly and managerial, or is this a new kick since Xmas?

    I’m sure it’s maddening to feel as though you’re any body’s home improvement project, but the bottom line is that there are two ways to handle it: you’ve tried the first way, which is the “direct” approach, and you’ve seen the consequences when the other person just digs in. This left you to escalate into full cutoff mode, which is not without its costs. Now she gets to whine to everyone else, who then get to wonder why you don’t just yes her to death and ignore it all with an internal eyeroll. The second way is to yes her to death but don’t really do anything about it and don’t take a molecule of what she says seriously. If she’s just a crazy bossy lady, I understand that it’s annoying to be on the receiving end of her. But it’s on you if you let her get under your skin. Don’t choose to take an insult, whether or not one was meant. The best part of doing this is that it’ll drive her nuts, so you’ll enjoy it.

    I have a former MIL who was narcissistic, and I had never encountered npd before. I was always very direct and very honest, and detested the idea of people who are game-players. This meant I stupidly played right into her hands, and it was a situation where I could never win. She wouldn’t directly insult me, but she would say things that, reading between the lines, I knew she intended as an insult. So I decided that, although I didn’t like playing games, I’d do it if I was forced into it, and then I would play to win. So instead of reading between the lines to “get” her insults and to take them, I would play dumb. “I don’t understand; what exactly do you mean?” said in an innocent tone. She wouldn’t cross the line to directly insult by explaining exactly what she meant , so she would sputter and drop it. And it would bug her because she didn’t get the reaction she wanted, which was funny to me.

    Bottom line is, so what if the old cow thinks that she is a fount of wisdom and great advice? You probably don’t think too much of her, but that clearly doesn’t stop her, amiright? So, if she gives you a self help book, and you don’t want it, just let it sit there, and either say what Wendy suggested and be non committal, and “hmm” and “really?” and “you don’t say!” her to death. Have fun with it. Same thing with the diet tips and the parenting advice and anything else. If you really are interested in any of it, then it could be worth a whirl to check it out. Take what you like, and leave the rest. But letting her under your skin, and letting her know that she’s gotten under your skin is only going to make life harder for you as long as she’s there. I wouldn’t be surprised if she does the exact same thing to others, and they’ve learned to jolly her along without really giving a hoot. It may seem false to the way you would prefer to do things, but the same techniques don’t work on everyone, and this can be a lifesaver for dealing with interfering people you can’t escape.

    I’m ashamed to say how long it took me to change my style for dealing with the difficult woman. I was so stuck in what I believed was “the right way,” which is the direct and honest way. I was an idiot. It’s like bringing a butter knife to a gunfight. There’s no advantage in being sincere with people who don’t care about being sincere themselves, or who think they’re the boss of you. Good luck, LW.

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    • avatar

      Rava July 1, 2017, 9:43 am

      “There’s no advantage in being sincere with people who don’t care about being sincere themselves”.

      Wow, high fiving a million angels for this comment. As I read this, SO many things clicked. I also thought: Why. Haven’t. I. Done. THIS. (All those times, different people, various scenarios.) I already liked WWS, but with this added bonus, it’s like… FFS, I’ve been such an idiot! Thank you for making that clear! 🙂

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      • avatar

        Leslie Joan July 1, 2017, 7:43 pm

        🙂 Glad it helps. Heh, as I said, I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to figure this out. 😉 Once I did, it became SO clear. And you have to be “ready” to accept the harsh reality, because it really sounds soooo cynical to believe – to know! – that there are some people who couldn’t be upfront with you or with anybody else to save their lives. It sounds cynical to have such low expectations, but it isn’t – it actually sets you free once you realize that you can see things clearly, as they are, and not the way you wish they were or you think they “ought” to be. And when you see them as they are, you don’t let yourself get bugged by all the things that used to get under your skin, because you see right through the games.

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      Rava July 2, 2017, 6:24 am

      Yes, it really helps. I mean, my last sentence in the post above sounds cynical, but I really meant it. I’ve been in so many arguments with people because I was focusing on contents, not form. People who insist that the grass is purple even though there’s so much proof that it is green. Me saying, “I understand that you WANT the grass to be purple, but we can agree it is not (yet), right?”, with them saying, “No, it’s purple”. Or other people, who are mean, and whom I’ve asked what was wrong, who said something in the realms of: “I’m so sorry to hear that you’re this insecure”.

      The arguments have gotten less frequent because luckily I *have* grown-up a bit – in my early twenties, I thought I was doing the World a favor by pointing out everyone’s cognitive dissonances including my own (or at least the ones I’d detected), which made me an asshole. A well-meaning asshole, but an asshole. (And I’ve written in to DW once where Wendy and the commenters exposed the enormous cognitive dissonance I myself was clinging on to, so yeah. Way to go on the preaching.)

      Until recently I’ve always tried to realize harmony in my relationships with others and that involved addressing the elephant in the room if I saw one, and I was always genuinely confused when others refused to acknowledge the elephant. I’ve learned to let it go and accept that other people face and handle reality differently than I do.

      But I’ve never thought of the approach you, LJ, describe, as something that “sets you free”. I think I viewed it more as a ‘sacrifice’ than a profit. So jeez, seriously, I’ve got some shit to think about. This is really eye-opening. Thanks again!

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  • avatar

    dinoceros June 30, 2017, 7:20 pm

    LW1: But he’s not professional. It’s not appropriate to do those photos in one’s own bedroom. It’s very easy the blur the lines to where a model would either feel apprehensive or that it’s more personal than it is. If you’re in a relationship where you can’t bring up your feelings because you are afraid he might think you’re petty and where you have to just force yourself to feel different things, then you’re in the wrong relationship. Or if it’s not the relationship, you’re not mature enough for marriage. A question — have you ever lived near this guy? I wouldn’t recommend marrying someone unless you’ve spent at least a year living in the same city.

    LW3: Unfortunately, there are rarely perfect solutions with only pros and no cons. Luckily, you don’t have to deal with her as much. The tradeoff is that people who do not understand the situation may judge you. Decide whether it’s more important to not have your MIL bugging you or to not have people think things about you.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph July 1, 2017, 2:17 am

    LW1, I was all set to tell you that you were overreacting. Models, fine. Boudoir shoots, fine. But in his apartment on his actual bed… ew, no! How often does he wash his sheets?! No way I’m lying down mostly naked on a dudes used sheets for any purpose other than to have sex with him. Just ew.
    LW3, while your mil is awful, you can’t really cut her off like that while your husband and children wish to maintain a relationship. I agree with Wendy you just have to deflect and ignore as best you can when she offers advice and try to let it roll off your back. Unfortunately sometimes awful family comes as a package deal with marriage.

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  • avatar

    carolann July 1, 2017, 5:47 am

    LW1- I would flip the **** out in that situation oh HELL NO!
    I agree with all the others that anything that involves another person and the bed he sleeps in is gross and unprofessional.
    Reminds me of a very uncomfortable situation I got into with a photographer years ago. (before kids…club days) It started off very professional, but didn’t end that way. (This man actually owned a studio) It still gives me the creeps to think about it.
    Time for him to get an air mattress (like they often use to stage homes for sale) and an extra room or move the furniture aside in his LR or something. He has to set up his lighting etc anyway, so it shouldn’t be much more trouble.
    If he cares about your feelings AND cares about making his models comfortable, he should set up a dedicated studio space. I have a studio set up in my house…it isn’t too hard.
    LW2 You say pretty clear that you want small and private. Mom will just have to make her own arrangements for extended family like Wendy said. I hope you are paying yourself then you have most of the say so.
    LW3 I have had many, many issues with my MIL over the past 12 years starting with my not meeting her (for the first time) at an adult toy party his SIL was throwing. I didn’t want to go. (and didn’t) and the SIL was an overbearing , rude know it all. (Although she knew very little and still doesn’t…she is the ex SIL now) I didn’t meet her until much later and she still doesn’t like me. She tries to act like she does, but she doesn’t. We kind of pretend to like each other for my husband’s sake. She is the worst gift giver ever. She always asks what the kids or I want for a gift and then ignores what I tell her completely. ( why does she even ask?) She goes to WM at the last minute or wm online and just buys the crappiest version of whatever. (She is a very well off woman and could afford whatever, not that I am complaining, but most of what she buys is broken within a week) It irritates me, but I just put it in the closet or throw it out when my kid breaks it. I know I sound petty, but why ask what I want or the kids want if you have no intention of making the effort to get it? She practically ignores my kids except on holidays or their birthday. (the younger kids share a birthday) There is SO much more to add, but I will spare you. Fact is most ppl have issues with their MIL at some point. I would completely ignore it…that is what I do. I used to let it bother me, but I have moved on. Take her gifts, smile and then donate them. Give her a Google voice number and try not to think about it.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix July 1, 2017, 9:54 pm

    #3: Presuming that she doesn’t know you blocked her, your mistake was being distant in person. Be warm in person, but (warmly) remove yourself from the conversation every time she starts up with the suggestions, and make your husband deal with her.

    “You know LW3 I’ve found a lotion that would do great things for your skin”
    “That’s sounds like something, MIL. You’ll have to excuse me, I think I see uncle Joe and I need to tell him (X thing)” *kiss MIL on check*
    “Husband, your mom is doing that thing again, could you go talk to her.”

    You can also make a game of it: “How long can MIL go in a conversation until she insults me?” You might find that there is some interaction which is triggering this.

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  • avatar

    Seaotter July 4, 2017, 8:36 am

    LW 3: I think you’re a champ and have handled this extremely well. I’ll never know why people will justify letting others treat you like crud “because family”. This woman isn’t even your blood, and your husband needs to step up hard and tell her to knock it off or she’ll be seeing a whole lot less of you all (including him and the kids- you’re a team and if anyone treated my husband this way they wouldn’t be seeing me). It’s great that you have totally reasonable boundaries and have stuck to them, don’t feel bad about it at all and brush off anyone who tries to make you feel guilty. What kind of example is your MIL setting for your kids? Is she going to start the odd hyper-critical treatment of them someday? Is there anything you or your family is getting out of being around a person who can’t respect “no, I don’t want your passive-aggressive-cristicism-cum-advice” without running around and whining to any family who will listen? If it was well-intentioned, she would’ve felt embarrassed and stopped when you pointed it out. You don’t need this and your kids don’t either.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 July 5, 2017, 9:22 am

    LW3: start sending your mom some “helpful advice” through text everyday. I feel like this is another case of the husband not stepping in to help put things like this to an end, and now that it has gone on too long it’s ruining the LW’s relationship with the whole family.

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