Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Oops, I Threw a Surprise Party for My Girlfriend And Caught Her Naked In Front of Everyone!”

My girlfriend and I moved into our first place together. We’re both in our late 20s and work as nurses at a local hospital not too far away. In our home, right off the garage is a mud/laundry room. Our normal routine after we get home from work is to shuck our scrubs right into the laundry so the crud from work doesn’t track in.

I recently threw a surprise birthday party for her. We all heard the garage door and took our quiet hiding places. During that delay, it started to occur to me that she was probably stripping down like usual in the laundry room, something I just didn’t think of when planning the party. I quickly ran to the door separating the laundry room from the living space, but was too late as she walked in naked except for her panties to a crowd shouting “surprise!”. She was mortified and quickly slipped back into the laundry room and cried for the next hour, refusing to come out. Wendy, our guestlist was pretty substantial, consisting of her parents, my parents, friends and co-workers. Even her managers came to the party.

She’s still so upset and is holding this grudge against me. It’s really changed our relationship. I don’t know what to do or say. I further messed things up, trying to console her by talking about how nice her body looks and how she shouldn’t be ashamed of it. That little tid-bit only further enraged her toward me. She’s totally closed off from me now. It’s been three weeks with no intimacy and just a very, very cold shoulder. I don’t want this to end us. What can I do or say? — Unhappy Surprise

Oh, wow. Yeah, you really messed up. Obviously, it should have occurred to you as you were planning the party that every day that she comes home from work your girlfriend strips down to her underwear before stepping inside, and that maybe holding the surprise part of the party in the very area where she wanders out of the mudroom, nude, wouldn’t be well-received. When that only finally occurred to you seconds before everyone she knows yelled “surprise!,” you should have yelled to her, “Don’t come out! We have company!” And when you failed to do that, you should have ushered her back into the mudroom, apologized profusely, run to get her some clothes, apologized to all the guests, and then told her that you really messed up and you would make it up to her the best you could.

Making that comment about her body and how she shouldn’t be ashamed of it was probably the worst thing you could have said, and I’m not sure you understand why. It was a terrible thing to say because it brought more attention to the thing she didn’t want to think about (being naked in front of everyone she knows) and it implies that you think she was embarrassed because she was ashamed of her body. Um, no. She was embarrassed because her parents and your parents and her co-workers and friends all caught her in a very private moment and that made her feel incredibly exposed and vulnerable. The state and shape of her body is irrelevant! And to imply that it is somehow relevant dismisses her (very valid) feelings and hints at some sexism, too (by attributing shame about her body when she never said that she felt any shame). Oy vey.

So, what do you do now? You tell her again how sorry you are, how terrible you feel for not putting more mental work into the planning of her party, and — this part is key — how you understand why she would feel the way she feels. Then ask her if there’s anything you can do to make it up to her. (It would be wise to have a few ideas you could propose: a weekend away; paying for a girls night out or weekend with a couple close friends that she can vent to; volunteering for a cause that’s important to her; doing her share of your household chores for a couple weeks). Respect whatever answer she gives, and don’t press her. She may need a few more weeks before she’s ready to move on. And, really, no sex for a month seems fair given the situation.

Hopefully, in time, this is something that you both can look back on and chuckle about. I mean, it IS kind of funny. But if it truly does ruin your relationship in a way that you as a couple never recover from, then this wasn’t a relationship that was going to last anyway. Yes, what happened was embarrassing and regretful, but it’s nowhere near the level of awful that a longterm couple faces over the course of forever together, you know? You gotta learn to roll with the punches, figure out how to communicate and support one another, and be able to recover from setbacks both big and small. This is an opportunity to do that. If you can’t — if your girlfriend decides that your being a human who makes mistakes that sometimes negatively affect her is a dealbreaker — then your relationship was doomed anyway and it was only a matter of time before something else put the nail in the coffin. At least you get a story out of this scenario, regardless what comes next.

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

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

83 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD July 13, 2018, 8:34 am

    Oh dear lord this isn’t a life altering, hate your boyfriend issue. She is being a drama queen. Crying for an hour in the laundry room. Grow up. Everyone had naked bodies and we’ve all seen them. For sure embarrassing but her continued grudge is so far over the top.

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    • avatar

      Ele4phant July 13, 2018, 10:10 am

      Oh come on.

      For a lot of people – being seen naked by everyone you know is their worst nightmare. For you it’s maybe not a big deal, but for many being around other people naked is being vulnerable in front of others – and that’s something you want control over when and with whom it happens.

      That’s totally reasonable and tracks for many, although perhaps not you.

      She had this moment thrust on her, and to add insult to injury, her boyfriend is a complete dolt about understanding why this is upsetting to her.

      Is this the “worst” moment of her life? No, probably not, but if it were me it’d definitely have been a pretty upsetting and embarrassing moment I’d rather not have had.

      He put her in this position in the first place, and then has further aggravated it by not understanding how it was upsetting to her, so yeah, he has a lot of making up to do to make this right.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros July 13, 2018, 12:41 pm

      Sure, we all have bodies, but the number of people who have had a room full of people they know (including their managers) unexpectedly see that naked body is extremely small. I don’t know anyone this has happened to. I doubt anyone here has either, honestly. It’s also not even just the fact that they saw her body (as I’m sure many of them empathized), but also just the feeling of terror she probably felt when it happened.

      Unless the LW usually does a lot of stupid and careless stuff, I imagine that she also is having a hard time wrapping her mind around how he would not remember that she strips down every single day after work. (Not to mention that HE apparently also does this every day.)

      I think for anyone to try to say how they think the LW should feel about something like that is ridiculous. And who knows how she would have reacted if her boyfriend had not responded the way he did?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 12:47 pm

      At least the LW is displaying more compassion than this. He isn’t belittling the reaction. He may not understand it but he isn’t putting it down.

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    • Cleopatra Jones

      Cleopatra Jones July 13, 2018, 1:03 pm

      Eh, I think you are being a little dispassionate about the entire situation, and acting like the girlfriend is a drama queen. Please stop invalidating her feelings by implying she should just get over the incident.
      .
      She didn’t decide to just be nude in front of everyone in her life, her boyfriend made that choice for her. I’d be pissed at him as well. Just because you’re cool with it, doesn’t mean it’s not a humiliating experience caused by someone that she trusted to always have her best interest at heart.
      .
      When I was in elementary school, my friend and I were practicing splits. She accidentally went down too fast and grabbed at my pants (it was the 70’s y’all, so elastic waist pants were a thing for little kids), and pulled down my pants in front of the boy that I had a huge crush on. I was so freaking humiliated. It took me years to get over that incident so I can imagine the hurt, shame, and anger the LW’s GF is experiencing. One day, she may look back on it and laugh but that day is way way way in the future.

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    • avatar

      Beachgal July 13, 2018, 1:48 pm

      Oh no big deal her boss saw her completely naked. Her parents. Her friends. Everyone she knows. What a drama queen for being mortified and embarrassed. What?

      No. I probably would end things with my boyfriend if he put me in this position. I wonder if he secretly wanted everyone to see her naked. Maybe he got off on humiliating her. Maybe it is part of his kink. The way way a partner may accidentally snap or post their partner’ s picture online. I just don’t buy it.

      There is no way he didn’t know she would come out naked if this is her routine every single day. He knew what was going to happen which is why he pretended to stop it at the very end. I’m not buying his story.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse July 13, 2018, 9:04 am

    Oh man, you fucked up big time.

    You should throw another party with all of those people and come out nude on a stage to make it even.

    But seriously… you need to do whatever she wants to feel better about this. You humiliated her in front of all your family, her family and friends. She has to see these people at work and is probably feeling super paranoid and the object of gossip, the butt of jokes. This is one of those things that can really have a lasting impact.

    You should spring for a therapist, if she’d like that, a trip…whatever. I’m not surprised she hasn’t felt in the mood for sex.

    Have you made sure no one took photos? That’s kind of a thing at surprise parties, getting an image of the honoree being surprised.

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    • avatar

      JD July 13, 2018, 9:07 am

      If someone needs therapy over people accidentally seeing her nude, for what I bet was a few seconds before she ran off, then she has far bigger mental issues.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star July 13, 2018, 9:12 am

        Oh, please. This was an absolutely humiliating experience. You could get over a few of your dumb friends or your parents catching you naked. But your boss? Coworkers? EVERYONE in your life, all at once?

        If this girl is at all a private person, it was the most embarrassing moment of her life so far. Belittling that is just stupid.

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      • avatar

        JD July 13, 2018, 9:13 am

        I just don’t agree. If this is the worst moment in her life she has a lot of shocks coming her way as time passes.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star July 13, 2018, 9:23 am

        Did I say “worst moment?” No. Most humiliating.

        And to her, since she has the SAME DAMN ROUTINE each day, it feels like her boyfriend specifically set her up to be embarrassed in front of everyone. And he kinda did. Because he’s a total moron.

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      • avatar

        Britta July 13, 2018, 10:05 am

        Your lack of empathy is truly astounding. Do you leap from thread to thread like BGM just to be an asshole?

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      • avatar

        anonymousse July 13, 2018, 11:09 am

        How is discussing this with a therapist a bad idea? Many, many people talk to therapists about much less invasive and exposing events and moments. You seem to have a very negative, narrow view of what therapy is. Clearly, she’s having a problem with it.

        Why do you even comment on an advice site, if you have zero empathy or compassion for anyone’s situation? It truly boggles the mind.

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      • avatar

        JD July 13, 2018, 11:55 am

        Ya I never said therapy was a bad idea nor do I have incorrect assumptions about it. I said if someone needs therapy over people seeing them naked then they have far larger issues going on mentally. This is NOT devastating. It’s embarassing. There’s a huge difference.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros July 13, 2018, 1:08 pm

        It blows my mind the confidence that people here have in telling other people how to feel. “No, you can’t feel devastated. You must only feel embarrassed. Because that’s the feeling associated with this action, as decreed by me.”

        If we’re really going to get into the semantics here, “embarrassing” is walking around with food stuck in your teeth or spilling a drink all over someone or tripping in front of a bunch of people. Not being seen naked unexpectedly by tons of people you know is not the same as those things.

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    • avatar

      JD July 13, 2018, 11:47 am

      Mainly just to piss people like you off Britta. Empathy for being naked. Pullleessse. This is why our society of filled with babies who can’t handle anything. People need to learn some tough love and to suck it up.

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    • avatar

      Ale July 13, 2018, 11:56 am

      I kind of think that she is making a huge deal out of something that is big, but not that huge. Makes me think that maybe he is just as inconsiderate planning everything about their lives. Like maybe this is not the first time he didn’t think about the basics. Maybe she has to keep saving him from his lack of attention to details

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  • avatar

    Fyodor July 13, 2018, 9:19 am

    This situation sounds so TV show contrived that I am a little skeptical that it’s real.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 12:50 pm

      I think that’s why you have to wonder if it was intentional if it did happen or is this a letter from a troll.

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  • avatar

    Moe July 13, 2018, 9:35 am

    I really feel that unless it is something you KNOW she would LOVE, most folks HATE surprise parties! To come home form a long day of work, arrive home where you can finally rest and let your guard down (even extroverts do this and THEN get ready and go out!) and then to suddenly be surrounded by everyone you know without getting to decide if it is a good time/day is most people’s nightmare. It might be a little better it is was hosted at a restaurant or other public place, but I agree this was either just some guy making up this story, or someone with a pretty thick skull, even if she had NOT been naked.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse July 13, 2018, 11:11 am

      I have to agree.

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  • avatar

    peggy July 13, 2018, 9:40 am

    I totally disagree with J.D. I hate surprise parties anyway,but he was so utterly thoughtless and stupid as to her habits. I would find this extremely hard to get over. He just seems clueless about her. It is not just that people saw her naked but that he did not seem to calculate that it could happen and figure out a way to avoid that when he planned the party. This is a deeper issue than nudity to me.
    Marriage therapy ASAP!

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    • avatar

      anonymousse July 13, 2018, 11:11 am

      Not to mention he has the same routine after work to. This has to be a troll.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark July 13, 2018, 10:05 am

    Eh.., time for an even bigger surpise. Dump her whiney ass.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 10:08 am

    There is such a tone deaf quality to this letter. You expose her naked to the world and sum it up by saying you haven’t gotten to have sex for three weeks.

    She is looking at you and not even knowing who you are. She is wondering how you could be so stupid or if you actually tried to humiliate her. She has to worry about whether people took pictures and what her coworkers are saying and you worry that you haven’t had sex in three weeks.

    You shared her naked body with her world and think it shouldn’t matter because she has a beautiful body. I hope you can begin to understand that you humiliated her in front of everyone.

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    • CurlyQue

      CurlyQue July 13, 2018, 11:13 am

      THIS!

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  • avatar

    Bacon Mistress July 13, 2018, 10:13 am

    I agree with JD. While it may have been horrifying at first, since she didnt come through the door naked, I feel like this is something that should have been laughed off. If not at that time a little later. I dont see that any real harm came from it. And in no way should it be a relationship killer…. no matter how much of a bonehead you must be for not thinking about your everyday habits.

    I would be laughing about it now. I would have ducked back in, asked for some clothes, came through the door blushing and laughing and making jokes about how its my birthday and I showed up in my birthday suit. HAHAHAHA!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 10:21 am

      Some people are way more inhibited and private than others. She cried for an hour so obviously not the type to throw on some clothes and then come out making a joke about her birthday suit. Just because you are less inhibited doesn’t mean that she isn’t.

      This guy should know his girlfriend well enough to know that she is much more private. He should know her well enough to know that she would take her clothes off when she got home. If he can’t throw a surprise birthday without it being a disaster you have to wonder if he is at all reliable.

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      • avatar

        JD July 13, 2018, 10:32 am

        Oh the horror. He must be a thoughtless asshole because in all his planning he forgot one part of her daily routine. Burn him at the stake, or, according to Wendy, throw some money at the problem with a spa day or trip. I really don’t care how people here explain it, she is being a brat and needs to get over it. If I was dating someone who held a grudge for this long over something like this, well, I wouldn’t be dating them anymore. Immature and a waste of energy.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 13, 2018, 10:37 am

        Yeah – he forgot one part of her routine that lead to a pretty huge humiliation for her, and weeks later doesn’t fully understand why it was a more upsetting moment for her.

        Honestly at this point I would imagine she’s less upset about the being naked part, and more upset and how is continues to be so totally unaware and dismissive of why this was upsetting to her in the first place.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant July 13, 2018, 11:13 am

        Also I don’t know how you forget about one “minor” detail that includes your partner’s regular nudity when thinking about inviting people over.

        Not to beat him over the head, but my husband cycles to work and regularly strips down in the garage when he gets home. In the winter he’s often been rained on, in the summer he’s sweaty, so he doesn’t want to bring that into the house. Once he’s home he likes to wander around naked for awhile before getting dressed. Sometimes, not even every time.

        But often enough that I know if I come home with a friend or have a friend at home with me when he gets home – I reflexively call out “hey FYI so and so is here”, so he has a chance to put pants on, if he needs to.

        I’m kind of baffled how this one detail got overlooked. Seems like an important one.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse July 13, 2018, 11:14 am

        Exactly this. No clue.

        What’s worse is he seemingly has the same exact routine after work.

        Who would like a surprise party right after a twelve hour shift?

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      • avatar

        Phoenix Rising July 13, 2018, 6:18 pm

        One thing people seem to be glossing over is that this wasn’t just a bunch of pals that saw her naked. HER MANAGER WAS THERE. HER CO-WORKERS WERE THERE. FROM. WORK.

        THAT’S where I think the deep humiliation comes from. How do you show up at work after that? How do you know what your manager is thinking when you are being evaluated?

        This is much bigger than just people seeing her naked. It impacts her livelihood, and LW is completely oblivious to that and her feelings. That would be a deal breaker for me. I might even consider moving and changing my name. 🙂

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    • avatar

      Ele4phant July 13, 2018, 10:23 am

      I think your and JD’s attitude towards nakedness is fine and reasonable, for you. If you would’ve been able to laugh it off, great on you.

      But that for many other people – most specifically the LW’s girlfriend- it’s more upsetting and having a different mindset about it doesn’t make you a drama queen or unreasonable.

      And the LW isn’t dating you or JD, he is dating you. So he needs to recognize her feelings on the incident and work to make them right, not dismiss them because there are other people in the world that have different levels of comfort than she does.

      This was a big deal for her. She’s entitled to feel that way. He was and continues to be thoughtless towards her. How other people might feel if in her shoes is irrelevant.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 11:00 am

      I think the way he seems to be clueless and oblivious is sinking the relationship. It isn’t so much that he appears to be trying to be cruel but the fact that he so doesn’t understand the situation that he can’t even have empathy for what happened to her. This might show her that there is such a gulf between them that he will never know her or understand her and that could end the relationship. Either that or she will decide he did it on purpose because she won’t believe he could be that clueless.

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    • CurlyQue

      CurlyQue July 13, 2018, 11:18 am

      I agree that this is probably not the first time the LW has been incredibly thoughtless when it comes to his gf and their relationship. He obviously thought he’d plan this party, gain huge points from all their family/friends and he’d get super laid that night. When his expectations weren’t met he tried to move the conversation back to her body in hopes that would get him laid. It’s all really gross. Also, how could she have left the mudroom if she was still in her panties? He doesn’t mention rushing to bring her clothes or telling everyone their he’s a dalt. It really comes across almost purposeful to expose her to everyone.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark July 13, 2018, 11:41 am

      Right… it has been WEEKS.

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    • avatar

      JD July 13, 2018, 11:55 am

      Purposefully exposing her. That’s a freaking reach.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse July 13, 2018, 12:18 pm

      Don’t feed the JD troll.

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    • avatar

      MMR July 13, 2018, 1:14 pm

      If you’re the kind of person who would laugh off everyone you know seeing you naked, that’s fine. But that’s not something you can just expect of anyone. Also, she’s a nurse, who just got off a shift – I think it’s fair to assume that she’s tired. Perhaps, even, this was a particularly long day? Maybe she’s typically a quiet person and big parties – though fun – can be exhausting in any case, so perhaps dealing with this embarrassment, on top of already having worked a shift, she just really didn’t want to be there.

      I think Wendy got this one right on – “it’s the thought that counts” doesn’t excuse his lapse of judgement in forgetting she should be naked. If anything, it reenforces how thoughtless he was, on top of the comment about her body, on top of “did she really want a party in the first place”.

      Also, if she was SO upset, why didn’t he ask everyone to leave? If someone is that upset for an hour, why would you continue to try to coax them out? At that point, it wasn’t about doing something nice for her at all! It was about trying to save face for himself. She clearly didn’t want to have to look everyone in the eye and wasn’t going to enjoy herself. Has he apologized for that?

      Sure, this totally started with the best intentions, but he handled everything about it very wrong. That’s why she’s upset.

      So ya, he should apologize for ALL OF THE THINGS he’s done wrong, and then he just has to wait and see.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant July 13, 2018, 1:36 pm

        Also, if she was SO upset, why didn’t he ask everyone to leave? If someone is that upset for an hour, why would you continue to try to coax them out?

        Good point – he let these people mill about for an HOUR trying to get her to come out? I hope he sent them home, and she was just so upset she wouldn’t face *him* for an hour.

        How terribly cruel if he had kept all those guests there and tried to get her to come out. After a few minutes it should’ve been clear that she just wasn’t in the mood to have this party, and everyone should’ve been sent home. If he instead he left her to cower in the laundry room (still undressed?!) for AN HOUR trying to cajole her into getting over her extreme discomfort and facing a roomful of people she had just been mortified in front of – Jesus, how horrible.

        And how terribly awkward for the guests? Obviously she was upset, I would’ve felt very uncomfortable and guilty, I wouldn’t have wanted to stick around if it was clear she so did not want this party.

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    • avatar

      JD July 13, 2018, 9:46 pm

      I love that I’m a troll for having opposing views. Hysterical. God forbid someone doesn’t agree with the liberal, everyone is a snowflake viewpoint. I keep my politics quiet on here but frankly i could care less if strangers online don’t agree with me.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse July 13, 2018, 10:07 pm

      In Internet slang, a troll (/troʊl, trɒl/) is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community.

      You are behaving like a troll, all you do is comment to insult and degrade posters and any empathetic responses to them.

      And to bring politics into it! So Mature with a capital M.

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    • Lucidity

      Lucidity July 13, 2018, 10:24 pm

      Everyone is allowed to feel their feelings. Suggesting otherwise makes you sound like you’re either obtuse or a sociopath with zero empathy. How you personally would have experienced this is irrelevant, because it didn’t happen to you. It happened to someone for whom it was clearly traumatic. Mocking her for feeling that way only reflects poorly on you, not her.

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  • avatar

    Rebecca July 13, 2018, 10:35 am

    *wince* I’m an always nude, and that’s way too much for me to even contemplate being comfortable with…

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  • Guy Friday

    Guy Friday July 13, 2018, 10:37 am

    Ok, first of all, I think people are being WAY too harsh to the LW here. You don’t have to tell him (and I’m assuming it’s a him, though the gender isn’t mentioned in the letter, so that may be an incorrect assumption) he screwed up; he KNOWS he screwed up. He KNOWS he made it worse by trying to say “But you have a nice body!” to her; he acknowledges that too. And while you’re piling on with “Oh, 3 weeks without sex? Poor baby!” sarcasm, it should be noted that (1) it was one sentence in the context of a greater paragraph describing a disconnect between the two people; (2) he never said that it was undeserved, but rather that he didn’t want it to be a sign of the end of a relationship; and (3) “intimacy” can mean more than just “sex”, and I think we can all agree that there’s a big difference between “no sex for 3 weeks” versus “no welcome home kiss/cuddling/emotional affection for 3 weeks.”

    Second, LW, I agree with Wendy. I think you ride this out. If you break up over this, it wasn’t going to last anyway, because even the most staunch advocates of the “You done messed up!” camp wouldn’t necessarily justify calling time of death on your relationship. There’s nothing wrong with begging forgiveness and groveling and offering her the moon and back in repentance. Having said that, if this keeps going for several weeks more and she refuses to forgive you or even soften the Cold War being thrown down I might go “Ok, look, I appreciate that what I did was humiliating and terrible, and I will always apologize for that, but we DO have to move forward here, either together or not.” This isn’t a lifetime transgression.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 13, 2018, 11:16 am

      I don’t think we *are* being too harsh on the LW. He may know that he screwed up, but I’m not sure he understands WHY the screw-up is such a bad one. Mental work is something women in heterosexual relationships take the brunt off, BY FAR. By far. Planning a surprise party – or, really, planning anything — requires mental work. Doing the mental work is part of the gift, part of showing thoughtfulness. The complete and utter lack of thoughtfulness in this scenario is such a glaring symbolism of the kind of frustration women in general, and I’m sure, this woman specifically, feel all the time as a result of taking on like 97% of the mental work in a relationship. It’s fucking exhausting. And most men don’t have a clue. The “don’t feel shamed- your body is great” line is just so insulting. Who said anything about feeling ashamed of her body?! Any shame she was feeling was likely the result of having such a clueless boyfriend.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 12:34 pm

        Wendy is right that it is incredibly embarrassing to have the world see your boyfriend treat you in such a thoughtless way. It is humiliating to be naked in front of your world and embarrassing to have that world see your boyfriend be the one that treated you that way. Most of them probably assume he did it on purpose because who forgets that their girlfriend strips naked when she gets home. That isn’t a trivial little detail. It was a big enough detail to ruin the party and maybe the relationship.

        If it was a mistake I can’t imagine living my life with someone who makes mistakes on that scale. This chips away at trust. Not the trust of whether or not they lie or cheat but the ability to trust that they can get something done without you having to check over and over that they aren’t messing it up. If you want an equal adult partner you want one that is competent and this is pure incompetence.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star July 13, 2018, 11:21 am

      I think people are focusing on the question of “How stupid ARE you?” because nobody really knows what to do to fix the problem.

      The problem is him (or her) publicly humiliating the girlfriend in front of all the people in her life, in a way that is so obvious it verges on deliberate. I don’t know how the girlfriend just “gets over it,” since I don’t know how I would get over it myself. So what kind of advice is to be given, really?

      Break up and find a new girlfriend who doesn’t care if you’re a total fucking thoughtless idiot is one approach (JD and BGM’s advice).

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      • avatar

        anonymousse July 13, 2018, 11:29 am

        I feel so bad for this woman. It’s many, many people’s worst nightmare. And it’s true that it’s so obvious it sounds deliberate is spot on.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star July 13, 2018, 11:58 am

        And they just moved in together, so she can’t easily dump his stupid, thoughtless ass (if that’s the conclusion she comes to) without considering their combined lease/mortgage or whatever. She just made a major commitment, only to have it backfire big-time.

        I wouldn’t be with someone who thought publicly humiliating me was shrug-worthy. Why sign up for more of that behavior?

        It really sucks for her. She might be spending these three weeks planning the best way to extricate herself from the relationship anyway.

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      • Guy Friday

        Guy Friday July 13, 2018, 7:54 pm

        I wouldn’t be with someone who thought publicly humiliating me was shrug-worthy.

        You’re proving my point here, though. He’s not saying it’s shrug-worthy. Nowhere in the letter is he even giving the faintest impression that her feelings are invalid. He’s just not sure how to show her how terrible he feels and how he doesn’t want to lose her, so he turned here for advice on that. Calling him a “total fucking thoughtless idiot” is ridiculous. He already feels crappy about it, and even if we accept Wendy’s premise that he doesn’t fully understand WHY what he did is wrong the fact that he’s not trying to justify his actions and you’re still taking a verbal sledgehammer to his head is uncalled for.

        Really, it’s the assigning of motives to him that aren’t anywhere in the letter that bother me. I mean, damn, I’ve made some big mistakes in my marriage. Nothing of this style, but I’ve done things that my wife has HATED me for. And I was in the dog house for a while, and I apologized, and I made it up to my wife, and eventually my wife forgave me. Not because it wasn’t a big deal to her, but because she understood that no matter what I do I would never INTENTIONALLY harm her. And maybe they’re not at that stage in the relationship yet. But either this LW is pulling the world’s greatest long con in this letter, or he actually didn’t mean to do it. And, yeah, all signs point to the fact that he SHOULD have thought about this, but to say there’s no difference between someone not thinking ahead and someone thinking ahead and not caring is disingenuous, and I’d like someone to show me where he proved the second one.

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        ron July 13, 2018, 8:17 pm

        He may not actually believe it was shrug worthy, but he has discussed it with her as if it were shrug worthy. Saying she has a nice body and shouldn’t be ashamed of it is psychological gas-lighting. He has transferred the blame for this situation to her. It’s not really his fault; if she weren’t unreasonably ashamed of her body this wouldn’t have been much of a problem. Everyone is happy being surprised, naked by their, probably including opposite sex, bosses. LW would feel perfectly at ease in the situation, because he isn’t ashamed of his body as he claims his gf is. His whole letter is about how his actions effect him and tending in the direction of how badly she over-reacted and how unforgiving she is. Imagine how she felt going to work the next day, knowing all her bosses and coworkers had seen her naked the night before and had witnessed her melt-down — a melt-down which wasn’t at all unreasonable under the circumstances.

        Not only she, but also he, always shuck their clothes into the washer immediately after work and enter the main part of the house naked. He didn’t consider this? Really? How obtuse can a person be.

        There is a difference between agreeing to be naked around other people, having chosen who those people are going to be, and knowing in advance that it’s going to happen. To be ambushed like that must be very traumatic and it has absolutely nothing to do with sense of body image and level of comfort in your own skin, as the bf tried to gaslight her into believing. If she wanted to show off her beautiful body she could make money as an exotic dancer. She hasn’t chosen to do that. Of all the people she might feel comfortable being naked in front of, I’m sure her bosses weren’t on that list, even if she had great pride in her body.

        I think there are a lot of hypocritical posters criticizing this woman. How many of you would happily appear naked in front of your bosses. I’m guessing zero. How many would react well to their SO having invited their bosses into a room in which they were about to appear naked? How many would believe their SO just made an accidental, forgetful mistake.? I’m guessing zero.

        I’m guessing he did this on purpose for some reason of his own. Perhaps he wanted her to quit the job they both work at. I’m also guessing that this relationship is toast.

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        ron July 13, 2018, 8:27 pm

        The other thing about this letter, which really jumps out, is the total lack of empathy for his gf. It’s all about how this effects him. No mention of how her first day back at work went, or if she was even able to return. No mention of whether she has recovered from this trauma, anything he has done to help her — just how can he make her forgive him, faster. Apart from telling us how angry and unaffectionate she is towards him, there is zero mention here of how she feels. How does she behave at work? How do her bosses and co-workers treat her now? What have her parents said to her? Is she at all happy; still crying, in a shell at home and work; emotionally dead? In short, we know how unhappy LW is with this situation, but we’ve been told not a word about how well gf is coping generally in her life. That’s a HUGE omission and a clear indication of how self-centered LW is. It sounds like he really doesn’t care much about her.

        I’m really hoping the guy is a troll.

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        ron July 13, 2018, 9:55 pm

        When you think half a second about it, his story doesn’t even make sense. He heard the garage door and then realized his dumb error, but was to reach the door to the mudroom before she entered in just her panties? Let’s see: the door opens, she drives into the garage, puts the car in park, grabs her purse and other things, exits the car, closes the car door, walks to mudroom door, opens door, walks to washer, takes of blouse, pants, bra, stockings(?), throws clothes in washer or laundry basket, walks to door into house, opens door and steps through door into main part of house. He can’t make it to mudroom door in that length of time? I don’t think so!

        Either he’s a troll or else this was deliberate.

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      ele4phant July 13, 2018, 12:03 pm

      I would be quite upset with my husband if he did this. This would be hugely uncomfortable situation for me to be put in.

      End my marriage over it, no of course not. But, it would also be very out of character for him to be so thoughtless, before and after. Usually he’s very considerate.

      Is this out of character for this LW? If so, hopefully he can be contrite and extremely considerate from here on out, and eventually she’ll come around.

      If the LW is regularly thoughtless and inconsiderate, and this is one extreme example of it, maybe she does have things to think about long-term.

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      • Guy Friday

        Guy Friday July 13, 2018, 7:44 pm

        I don’t want to make it sound like I feel that the girlfriend is wrong for being humiliated and upset. I don’t even think she’s wrong for being humiliated and upset for this long. My last comment about maybe taking a harder line after a few more weeks is simply that at some point it stops being about the act itself and starts being about holding the grudge. If she refuses to speak to him for over two straight months and refuses to accept all his apologies, then that’s her right, but there IS a line — and I admit that I can’t specifically define it here, but I think we can agree that it exists — where I think he’s entitled to say, “Ok. enough is enough. I’ve been heartfelt and sincere, and you don’t want to forgive me, so we can’t move on.” Again, it’s a ways away, but my advice was simply not to make this an ad infinitum thing.

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      dinoceros July 13, 2018, 1:01 pm

      People comment on the actions of LWs all the time, though. I don’t know why this is different.

      But I think that even though he understands he made it worse with his comment, the fact that he made it all shows that at some point he didn’t fully understand why she was upset. Also, there’s a wide range of opinions a person could have in regard to how much at fault they are. A person could say, “I didn’t think of this, so it’s OK because it wasn’t on purpose,” or they could say, “I should have thought of this! It’s not OK that I didn’t.” And it’s not really clear where he falls, and it’s OK for people to convey to him that seeing himself as the former isn’t really going to help the situation.

      Additionally, he wrote this in the frame of “this is what is being withheld from me” and “this is what makes me sad about our relationship” and “this is what I want/don’t want.” I think if he’d been asking how he could make her feel better and less humiliated, then it would have been received better.

      I don’t think it’s really necessary to try to regulate whether people tell him it was dumb or not, unless we’re planning to do that every time an LW write about something dumb they did. (Like when an LW moves in with someone too early or something.)

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      • Guy Friday

        Guy Friday July 13, 2018, 7:36 pm

        I don’t think it’s really necessary to try to regulate whether people tell him it was dumb or not.

        Let’s not mis-assign intent to my comment that wasn’t there. I never suggested my moral judgments should be the ones guiding other people here. I said I personally think some of the commenters here are going overboard. It’s my personal opinion, not a mandate. I’m seeing things differently than some; I’m seeing a LW who, yeah, could work on his writing style a bit, but ultimately is expressing regret for his actions and a desire to repair things but is totally clueless as to how to do it. I prefer to believe, absent further evidence to the contrary, that it’s communication problems and not a deliberate choice to be selfish here given the context in the whole letter.

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        anonymousse July 13, 2018, 9:33 pm

        The is no expression of regret that relates to her personal experience though, especially the most traumatizing…aftermath of having to face your coworkers, bosses, etc afterwards. Everyday she goes to work, I’m sure the thought of what happened goes through her mind. Have they talked about my body? Am I the object of ridicule? Even the more compassionate, “do they feel shame for me having such a daft boyfriend?”
        The only regret he seemingly has and States is that she hasn’t wanted to fuck him in three weeks.

        No wonder. He exposed and humiliated her in front of most of the people they interact with. The way this party (if real) was contrived completely comes off as intentional, he has the same job, the same routine when coming home in scrubs at the end of the day. At worst, he has serious issues and has knowingly planne dher humiliation. At best, he’s a totally thoughtless idiot that she can’t, in good conscience, trust at all.

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      Unhappy Surprise July 14, 2018, 1:49 am

      This is my letter. I appreciate most all the comments. I’ve learned A LOT here.
      I would like to clear some things up tho. 1) This WAS NOT intentional. 2) Her mother was the one that started this whole thing. “We” planned this in a weeks’ time. And that weekend, was the ONLY time her mother could come up for the party (I’m sure you know what that’s like) 3) She was not supposed to work that day. She was On Call, I knew that, but the last 5 times she was On Call, she wasn’t called in. She doesn’t drink alcohol (wine occasionally) so that didn’t factor into having the party on a night she was On Call. I thought about cancelling it when she got called in to work, not knowing how long her case would last, but her mother and I agreed we’d just go ahead and hold the party anyway and take our chances.

      I feel horrible about this. I’m not a bad guy. I was trying to pull all this together while keeping it from her and still living my life. It was just something that, yes, Stupidly, I didn’t consider when pulling this together. And I’m not just talking about sex when I’m talking about intimacy. I’m talking about talking to each other, confiding in each other, a kiss before bed, holding her hand while walking with her. She’s just so hurt and I fully understand that, but I don’t know how to get thru it. That’s why I posted. I hate this. I’ll try and do anything to make it up to her.
      And Wendy, I did ask if she’d like to get away for a long weekend with me. “No” was all i got back from her. I didn’t think about a GF trip, but I did ask her best friend to console her, talk to her and offer me any advice she may have. She told me to wait it out too, but I have this whole nervous/ anxiety chest pain feeling when I’m home right now around her. That’s why this is so important to me. She means so much to me!

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 14, 2018, 6:56 am

        A long weekend away with you doesn’t work because you are the problem. Taking you along takes the problem along. She doesn’t want to be around you or interact with you and she especially doesn’t want to get close enough to be intimate.

        The problem is that she doesn’t trust you right now. How can you trust someone who publicly humiliated you in front of everyone you know. She can’t like you and she can’t respect you.

        You sound oblivious to how this impacted her. What was the response at work? Have you thought about whether anyone was taking pictures?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 14, 2018, 7:22 am

        Part of the problem here is that work is directly involved. Normally if you are upset or angry at home you go to work and can completely leave home behind and interact with your coworkers and by the time you go home you are in a much better mood. Your girlfriend goes to work and is even more humiliated than she is thinking about it at home because she has all of these people at work who saw her naked so going to work makes her feel worse instead of better. She has no place to escape what happened and so it isn’t getting better. Being at home is a reminder, being around you is a reminder, being at work is a reminder, talking to her mom is a reminder. She has no place to get away from what happened.

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        ron July 14, 2018, 9:50 am

        Really, a ton of questions have been asked of you and a lot of comments have been made about how this likely affected her, and yet…. this is all more blah, blah, blah you feel bad, you miss her, etc. You have yet to talk about how she feels. It sounds like you are all about you. How is she doing at work? How have her bosses and co-workers treated her? What have her parents said? You hurt and traumatized her and then you gaslighted her with that bs that the problem was her body shame and that she should be proud of her body. It’s not about that! It’s about you presenting her naked in front of her co-workers and bosses. You don’t even say if she has been back to work since this happened. You left her crying in the mudroom for an hour, apparently with the guests still present, and your concern remains ‘what about me’. You’ve never said that you worry if she’ll ever feel comfortable at work again. Why isn’t that a bigger concern for you? You hurt her! Your obligation now is to help her heal and get her life/confidence back together, not to pressure her to accept your apology and go back to how things were. It is very unlikely that things will every go back to how they were.

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        ron July 14, 2018, 10:06 am

        This is all just more blah, blah, blah about how much you want your old relationship back and how this hurts you and how she won’t forgive you. You have shown zero empathy for the woman, whom you claim to love, but whom you gaslighted after humiliating her. To even suggest that the problem wouldn’t be so big except for her own sense of body shame is beyond nasty and manipulative.

        Even if your relationship is toast, and I think it probably is, you owe a debt to a woman you humiliated, then gaslighted. Your primary concern should be whether she can be comfortable and confident again at work and around her friends. You’ve never mentioned a word about this. You write as if the impact on her is very far down your list of concerns. You just want your intimacy back and her struggle is her struggle.

        I also don’t believe that from the moment you heard the garage door open that you didn’t have more than enough time to prevent her from walking into the house naked.

        You write zilch about how she is getting on in her life. It’s all how you feel and your sense that she has stayed distant and angry with you for too long You sound like an entitled ass.

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        Rebecca July 14, 2018, 10:50 am

        …dude, on call means on call. Even if she hadn’t been called in before the party, she could have been called in during it. WTEAF.

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        Ele4phant July 14, 2018, 2:12 pm

        I think at this point, there’s not really anything you can do to “fix” this and your continued attempts to do so are just making it worse. If you haven’t already, apologize without with qualification for being so thoughtless, and then kind of stay out of her way. Be kind, considerate, and patient at home. Maybe she’ll forgive, maybe the damage is done. But give her some time her, and stop flailing around trying to get her to feel better. Just let her be. Maybe at a certain point, she, or you, will decide things are too damaged and unsalvagable. Maybe not. But you need to give her the time to be angry here, and stop searching for the magic words or actions to wave all this away.

        And I really do hope this is a lesson learned here. All of this was done with so little thought to what she might actually want.

        Notwithstanding the naked part, was it a really a good idea to plan a party when she was potentially going to be called into work, or might be called out during it? Do you really think she would’ve found that enjoyable? Once she was actually called into work, did you put any thought into whether she would enjoy coming back to a household of people? I mean, I guess you and your mother in law know her and know where she stands on things like surprise parties, but honestly, it seems like the two of you didn’t think at all about whether or not this was a good idea. You got it into your heads this was a good idea, and you weren’t being sensible or considerate to how it might be received in reality.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 10:56 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if she is trying to figure out his motive here and hasn’t come to a conclusion. He is either completely, thoughtlessly stupid or he set her up to be naked to everyone she knows. She is going back and forth trying to decide which it is. Could he have set this up so that the coworkers could see how hot she is so they can see what he is getting at home? In three weeks time the thought must have crossed her mind that he did this on purpose and what could that purpose be or he is thoughtlessly stupid. Was this on purpose or an accident. Does she want to be with someone who would do this on purpose. Does she want to be with someone who could do something this humiliating by accident.

    Sometimes people get over things and they later laugh about it and it is a big story going forward. Sometimes it changes the way they see their partner and they can’t come back from it. I think it will come down to whether she settles on he was well intentioned but stupid, that she could forgive, or he was purposely exposing her naked body to the world. That she can’t forgive.

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  • avatar

    Betty July 13, 2018, 11:17 am

    A similar thing happened when I planned a surprise party for my boyfriend (now husband)’s birthday when we were in college. To get him out of his dorm room I told him to go to the student lounge and watch a certain channel for a birthday announcement. While he was gone I got decorations set up and our friends came over, then I walked to the student lounge and he was not there. We searched and after a bit he came strolling in with a little hand towel wrapped around his waist. Apparently he had gotten bored watching TV, figured that I would tape it if it was important, and decided to go take a shower.
    We all had a good laugh and he has gotten better at following instructions since then!

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    • CurlyQue

      CurlyQue July 13, 2018, 11:26 am

      That’s a fun story Betty. The difference though is that you didn’t set up the party to happen right after he was taking a shower. Any embarrassment happened because he didn’t follow your instructions.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros July 13, 2018, 12:52 pm

      Must have been a really big hand towel or really thin boyfriend.

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  • avatar

    Essie July 13, 2018, 11:47 am

    Dude, all you can do is wait it out. Maybe she’ll come around, maybe she won’t. There’s nothing you can do to fix it retroactively, and the apologies really don’t matter. I know you didn’t intend for it to happen the way it did, and you meant well, but it’s now a painful memory for her.

    But please, if you take any lesson away from this, never throw a surprise party again for the rest of your life. They’re usually done for the pleasure of the party-giver more than the recipient, and unless the person has explicitly said to you, “I *love* surprise parties! I’d be so happy if someone threw one for me,” just don’t.

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    dinoceros July 13, 2018, 12:51 pm

    I’ve never been to a surprise party where the guest of honor wasn’t either prepared to attend an event of similar dress code (like “let’s go to dinner with a friend” and it turns out there are 20 friends) or escorted in by the planner or something they asked to help. There’s a reason for this.

    There’s not really a good solution to this. You can give a real apology, one where you don’t try to convince her not to be upset. But I assume that when she looks at you or thinks about you, she just thinks about what happened. I also think it’s tough for us to really understand the situation because we know nothing about the rest of your relationship dynamics. A lot of people who are defending you are writing as though this is a one-off thing, but we really don’t know how careless you normally are.

    I assume the underlying message of your letter is that you don’t feel that this should affect your relationship since it was an “honest” mistake, but unfortunately when a person makes a mistake, it can ruin relationships. That’s life. Nobody is owed a good outcome just because they think they couldn’t help doing something stupid.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 13, 2018, 1:11 pm

      The reality is that even a mistake can change the way a person perceives you. I think apologizing without trying to trivialize what happened, which saying she shouldn’t be ashamed of her body so it was no big deal does, is the way to go. Be contrite. Ask if there is anything you can do that would help. Ask if there are other times you have been as thoughtless. Apologize and give her space. Don’t try to have sex. See if she begins to close the intimacy gap. Does she smile at you at all. Can you figure out how she is feeling. Is it more sad or angry or hurt or humiliated but don’t name it out loud. Just try to be compassionate.

      Make it all about the apology and nothing about trivializing it or making excuses. Something like the following in your own words without anger or any other negative tone in your voice. It must be contrite.

      “I am sorry. I messed up. I hurt you and humiliated you. I was thoughtless and rude. Is there anything I can do that will help?”

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  • avatar

    saneinca July 13, 2018, 6:56 pm

    I think this is a troll. No one is so f’ing stupid.

    But just want to say that surprise birthdays and proposals are so overrated. I don’t really know anyone who actually enjoys caught unprepared.

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    • avatar

      Purpose July 16, 2018, 11:10 am

      Thank you. I didn’t enjoy mine, nor have I ever attended a surprise party (thankfully few) were the guest of honor seemed to enjoy the element of surprise. Surprise parties seem fun in theory I guess, but they’re essentially a bad idea waiting to happen.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse July 13, 2018, 7:27 pm

    I think it’s easy to say “I’d get over this, it’s no big deal,” but we don’t know her history. She could have a history rife with assaults, abuse and partners who trampled her boundaries.
    This is no small event, like one friend or coworker seeing her nude. This is her coworkers, her bosses, her family, and his. That sounds like a ton of people. And the structure of this event (right after what I assume is a long, gross, bodily fluid filled shift) who would want to be surprised with a party after working a day as a nurse?! I’m lean toward introversion and I would be aghast to find myself thrust into a giant party after a long shift even in the best of circumstances when I wasn’t exposed and humiliated in front of practically everyone I interact with.
    It’s clear he had absolutely no forethought, put no emotional labor into this at all, even though this person is also a nurse. No mental walkthrough of the party? It doesn’t seem as though it was for her benefits tall, in that case.

    Yes, god willing this is a troll.

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    • Lucidity

      Lucidity July 13, 2018, 8:01 pm

      At every single surprise party that I can remember attending over the past decade, multiple people were videotaping the big reveal. I’d be surprised if this party was any different. Even worse than the humiliation of being unexpectedly exposed in person would be the violation of knowing that video footage very likely exists, which she has zero control over. LW’s creepy friends could be sharing it with each other, her pervy uncle could be jacking off to it, it could end up online, who knows. I can’t even imagine the helplessness and humiliation she must be feeling. She is absolutely allowed to feel whatever emotions this experience has triggered and to suggest otherwise is mind-bogglingly callous.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse July 13, 2018, 9:27 pm

        Exactly. If this is real, I really feel SO terrible for her.

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    Purpose July 16, 2018, 11:08 am

    I’m suspicious that this letter is even real. I understand overlooking a minor detail, but how could the LW fail to note the routine of taking clothing off immediately upon entering the house?

    On the other hand, if this is a real letter, I understand, empathize and respect all the feelings, but really…….the giant overlook wasn’t intentionally committed, and consistently holding anger and resentment for 3+ weeks is very unhealthy.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 16, 2018, 12:24 pm

      He said the surprise party was the idea the girlfriend’s mother. My guess, and it is just a guess, is that her mom did most or all of the planning and he mainly ran around picking things up. He said he had to live his life that week. Her mom didn’t know about the stripping naked bit when coming through the door and he put no thought into it at all because he put no thought into the party.

      Then when she had to work he and the mom decided to hold the party anyway. Apparently this was the only time the mom could be there and her presence was more important than her daughter’s presence at the surprise party for the daughter. There is a lot going on her beside the nakedness.

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  • avatar

    Kate July 16, 2018, 11:48 am

    I haven’t read through all the comments with JD monopolizing the thread with her super helpful comments, but has anyone (probably Ron has) suggested the LW actually talk to the girlfriend and show some kind of serious interest in understanding her feelings and making her feel heard? Figuring out exactly what’s wrong and apologizing from the bottom of his heart for making her feel that way? Working with her to make plans going forward so that she never again has to feel unsafe or misunderstood or humiliated in this relationship?

    Reply Link

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