Shortcuts: “My Boyfriend Employs His Ex-Girlfriend”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

My boyfriend of five years is a boat mechanic and a captain of boats as his own business. I found out five months that he has his ex-girlfriend working for him running parts and helping him move boats to and from other marinas all over. So she has quite the closeness going on with him. Also, she lives right around the block from him. She also hangs at the bar every night right down the street. How convenient. I’m not happy at all. He states there is nothing going on. And she makes his business a lot of money. They text and talk behind my back. He is very sneaky with his phone — it never leaves his side. I don’t trust either of them. And I hate him for this. What do I do? He will not talk to me about her. He gets too defensive. — Not Happy At All

You don’t trust him and you say you hate him. Honey, it’s time to captain your own boat here and in the words of Enya, sail away, sail away, sail away.

I have been sexting this guy I went to school with twenty years ago. Apparently we both used to have crushes on each other. Or so he says. I am really into him and have told him so. He says I’m hot. But after we had that good conversation, we didn’t talk for a couple days. He is in AZ and he says he is coming to visit me in a couple months, but I’m not sure if I believe this. What’s your input? Does he like me? He says he wants a job were I live. — Looking for Answers

So, you predominantly sext, and, when you confessed that you were into him, his response was not to tell you he was into you but to tell you you were “hot” (different, even, from “beautiful” or “lovely” or some other adjective that might suggest he appreciates anything other than your looks), and after that great conversation you haven’t heard from him again? My crystal ball says he’s probably just thinking about sex and is casting a wide net job-wise while lining up sex contacts wherever he thinks he is most likely to find work (or even just spend a few days interviewing for work). But, you know, my crystal ball has been known to be wrong on occasion.

I am engaged to a 35-year-old male. This would be a second marriage for us both. We both have kids. Both of our marriages ended badly. We have been best friends for about five years. Last night he told me that he likes to take “creeper pics” of random girls — like in yoga pants or with big boobs. He says sometimes he just deletes them or uses them to jerk off to and then deletes them. I feel it’s kinda creepy. He says it’s not like it’s a compulsion. I just don’t know what to think. He says he loves me and has no desire to cheat. He had a bad marriage and every reason to cheat and never did. I believe him about that but is this just too creepy? The reason I even question is because… well, my secret sexual fantasy would be to dress all hot and have guys want to take creeper pics of me, so how can I judge him? But, yet, I just don’t know. Help. — Into Creeper Pic Fantasy

Well, you might not feel like you can judge the guy, but I can: he is a CREEP. Big time creep. He is violating women, taking intimate photos of them without their knowledge or consent. This isn’t the kind of guy you want around your kids. Or yourself. And there’s a huge difference between fantasizing about something and engaging in it in reality. You can — and SHOULD — judge the hell out of your boyfriend. And then you should dump his ass because, creep. This is not good husband or stepfather material here.


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


  1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    LW1 has already admitted that she doesn’t trust her BF s there’s the answer there, but I hate how much blame she’s putting on the girl, as if it’s her fault. LW writes, “SHE has quite the closeness going on with him” and “SHE lives right around the block from him” and “SHE also hangs at the bar every night right down the street.” … How about “HE” has the closeness going on with her, and “HE” lives around the block from her, and “HE” also hangs at the bar … He’s the one not being honest with you and still involved (at least business-wise and socially and neighborly) with his ex. I just hate how the claws that come out are for “the other woman.” I want to start a support group for “the other woman.” They’re discriminated against in our society, haha.

    1. I’d support that support group.

    2. RedroverRedrover says:

      Ugh, do you remember when Sandra Bullock’s scumbag husband cheated on her? And ALL the press was pointed at the woman he slept with (Kat von whatever), and blaming her for it? Like, I agree that you shouldn’t sleep with married people. But you know what’s way worse? Cheating on your spouse! It’s one thing for the person being cheated on to blame the other woman, because yeah, otherwise they have to admit that their spouse is treating them like shit. That’s a hard thing to admit, I would think. But why is the rest of society blaming the other woman? They have the unbiased view, they should see that one “crime” is worse than the other. Betraying your spouse and breaking your marriage vows is just slightly worse than sleeping with a married man, when you’re free and haven’t promised anything to anyone. Jeez.

      1. RedroverRedrover says:

        And the more I think about it, actually, it seems like the woman is always in the wrong. Remember when Meg Ryan cheated on Dennis Quaid with Russell Crowe? Who got the blame on that one? Meg Ryan. Russell Crowe walked out of that completely unscathed. Meg Ryan never came back from it.
        And what about when they’re both in relationships? I’m thinking of Kristen Stewart and that director. I don’t even know his name, that’s how little he was mentioned. His wife was mentioned more than he was, from what I remember. It doesn’t matter that he was married, with kids, and was like 20 years older than her, she was a teenager, and he was effectively her boss! Oh no, that’s nothing compared to a 17-year-old cheating on her boyfriend. Not even a husband! A boyfriend! I get that he was super famous too, which made it worse, but still. Even adults blamed her. Whereas he comes off as kind of a predator, to me. No one ever described him that way though.

      2. I think that’s because of deeply held societal beliefs that women are the fairer sex and we are more susceptible to evil-doing (garden of Eden, anyone?) and that we should know better. Men just can’t help themselves – it’s just part of their nature. Or some bullshit like that.

      3. It’s total bullshit! Ugh, double standards make me mad…

      4. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        More susceptible *AND* should know better.

        I’m not arguing with you, it’s absolutely true. But I’d never thought of it that way and it’s such an absurd thing.

      5. Well, we all know men can’t help themselves, so it’s always the woman’s fault, because she’s the one who let him.

      6. I read that as “she’s the one who let him IN” which totally makes sense but made me giggle until I realized there was no “in” at the end. Oh boy.

      7. RedroverRedrover says:

        I agree. I think it all comes down to the fact that women are the ones who have the babies. Think about it. We all know who our children are. Automatically and with no question. Men don’t. It could be there baby, it could be someone else’s. Only recently did we get paternity tests. Before that, for the vast majority of human history, there was absolutely no way for a man to tell if the baby was theirs.
        So how could men avoid being tricked into raising a baby that wasn’t theirs? Easiest answer: own the woman. Have your own personal uterus. Make it so that she’s absolutely not allowed to have sex with anyone else. If she does, punish her harshly as an example to other women (maybe even kill her). If she has sex when she’s single, assume she can’t be trusted to be monogamous. Treat women like that as “lesser” women. Don’t marry them, just use them for fun. Only marry the ones who have shown themselves to be able to protect their uterus from other men.
        That sounds crazy when you read it like that, but look at our society. Look at how women who cheat are treated. Look how women who “sleep around” are treated. Look at the value placed on women’s virginity. Look how women who get raped are blamed. I really think it all evolved from men trying to ensure that they knew which babies were theirs.

      8. Women who cheat are “whores and sluts” men who cheat are “players”… doesn’t make sense.

      9. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        Oh that’s absolutely how it happened. Read ‘Sex at Dawn’ which kind of goes into the subject. Basically what happened is that for a long time, no one had any ideas how babies were made, no idea that it had anything to do with sex. So everyone raised any children. The entire tribe was a family unit.
        When people settled down and started farming, a couple things changed.
        1) They started watching how animals mated, and how that related to the offspring of those animals. So now they knew where babies came from and realized that there was a commonality between father and son/daughter
        2) Suddenly, people had property. They were staying more in one place and they had land and animals to protect for themselves, and you can’t just leave that shit to anyone, you wanna make sure it’s *your* family. So suddenly a lot of value was being placed on the sanctity of the uterus, and making sure that it was only being used by one man. Thus a lot of cultural expectations of purity and chastity grew up around a desire to control the sexuality of women.

      10. I’ve been hearing a lot about that book lately, definitely going on my to-read list…

      11. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        god you’re right. i’m even pisseder than i was!

  2. RedroverRedrover says:

    I feel for LW3. She’s about to get married and she finds this out. I don’t know what I would do, honestly. It’s not at the same level as cheating. But still, ew. It is so disgusting. And it shows lack of respect for women as human beings. I don’t know if I could come back from that. I hope she doesn’t have a daughter, because what if she found out? How would you ever explain that you married a guy who thinks this is ok? He doesn’t even seem to think it’s wrong. Ew, ew, ew.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I wholeheartedly agree! Also, re: the lack of respect for women as human beings, I wonder if that quality comes out in other ways. Like, I’d be shocked if someone who likes to do that hasn’t also shown his lack of respect in other, more public ways that the LW3 would have noticed? So maybe it’s not SUCH a surprise to her? I’m not saying that makes it ok I just always wonder when people find out about these big dark secrets, whatever they may be, if it truly came out of left field or if there were signs.

    2. You are completly right. It is so icky.

      A couple of years ago I was with a patient, and his grandson (must have been all of 7 or 8)pointed his cell at me and I heard a distinct click of the pic being taken. I just felt so gross! And I was in scrubs FFS. And he was just a kid. I don´t even want to imagine what it would feel like to be violated in that way by a guy specifically for his spank bank.

    3. I agree with all these things.
      At the same time, maybe they could be a matched set – she could dress all hot or whatever and he could take creeper shots only of her, so he wouldn’t be violating anyone else. Win win! If not, then definitely he gets off on violating others and is gross and she should dump his ass.

      1. (This was my attempt to apply logic to an illogical situation.)

    4. Avatar photo JenjaRose says:

      I worked as a personal trainer at a gym a few years back and we had this incredibly hot-tempered client who frequented the cardio machines. He’s a wealthy, powerful dude in the community, apparently having his hand in local politics. Well, I was at the front desk, and I had two women come up within minutes of each other to tell me that they were sure that this guy and his buddy were flanking them on the ellipticals and snapping pictures of them on their phones! If only you could have seen how unsafe and disrespected they felt… they both quit working out for the day and went home.
      I told our manager but she was afraid to do anything because of this guy’s notorious temper and high status. I was fuming… I wanted to get his phone and search it! She said we would have to catch him in the act in order to do anything. I spent the rest of the night standing directly behind him wherever he went with my arms crossed, glaring. Every time he touched his phone I would bark, “NO PHONES ON THE GYM FLOOR.” He knew he must have been busted. He left after not long of this, and I never saw him again. I wish I could have come down on him, but I did the best I could without having actually caught him!

    5. I think she needs to get out of it for the sake of her kids, be they sons or daughters. You don’t want to teach your daughter that you married a guy who thinks it’s okay, and you don’t want your son around a man who might say that it’s okay to treat women this way.
      A few weeks back, I was out with a large group of friends. One of my was sitting across the table from me, and my back was to a group of guys in the booth behind me. Apparently the guy directly behind me started talking ‘selfies’ that were at completely the wrong angle, and in reality were angled in such a way to capture my friend (and mostly her cleavage). Luckily, my friend was onto him, and flipped him off mid snap. The guy turned around, sheepishly apologized, and quickly left. But my friend sure as hell felt violated the rest of the meal (it didn’t help that her husband, who was sitting next to her, was completely unaware of the whole situation).

    6. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

      I had a guy directly point his huge camera at me and take a multitude of photos when I was walking down the street. I mean he fucking trailed me with that thing and it was the most disturbing and just grossest thing ever— I booked it out of there and was crying and shaking because I just felt so violated. It is like an accelerated form of street harassment. It is just sick.

  3. Sunshine Brite says:

    There’s no reason for LW1 to keep dating him if she hates him, but geez, why all the contempt for someone making a living. I’m from a small town and all those things would happen if they don’t live in a big area. Like why should she have to drive all the way across town to drink at a different bar? And in some professions, aren’t there like blocks of people who end up living near each other out of word of mouth? I found out indicates that this may be a new employer/employee but it doesn’t automatically mean something hincky is going on. He’s probably hiding his phone because he’s sick of talking about it with you. Or he could be sleeping with her again, does it really matter? You hate the guy anyway?

    1. RedroverRedrover says:

      I agree. If it was totally innocent and she’s been accusatory with him, it would explain why he hides his phone and doesn’t want to talk about it with her. Of course it could also be that he’s cheating. There’s no way for her to tell, really.
      But the long and the short of it is, she doesn’t trust him. That’s enough to end a relationship right there. I don’t know what caused the distrust, but whatever it was, they have to get past it. And if it can’t be repaired, they should break up.

  4. “It’s not like it’s a compulsion”? I don’t think that makes it any better, do you? “Yeah, I could totally NOT do it, but I actively choose to take creeper photos of random women. No big deal, just casually violating women in public.”

    1. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

      You’re right. Honestly, it might be better if it *were* a compulsion.

    2. Ugh, guys who do shit like this just piss me off so much! You can’t even fucking leave your house and go to fucking WORK, or get some groceries, walk the dog, pick up your kid from daycare, and just live your fucking life without having some jackass get his jollies from harassing/catcalling/taking creeper photos of you wearing GODDAMN YOGA PANTS, so he can jerk off to your image later on. And this is what so many people don’t get – you can’t be a woman in public without worrying about this stuff. (The nerve we have, to go outside with a vagina, and breasts! Harrumph!!)

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        YES this so much. I am so tired of walking while female and having to deal with all of the fcking creeps and dicks that they just by virtue of me being in a public space, and being a woman, I am somehow now public property.

        There have been times when I have gotten to the point where the next person who looked at me/said something I was just going to scream ” STOP FUCKING LOOKING AT ME”.

      2. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        that think* just by virtue–ugh too heated to type properly.

      3. Yes! I was walking with my son to the convenience store once, & I heard someone yelling at me. You know how you just know what its about? So I didn’t turn my head, because I don’t like to acknowledge that stuff, its uncomfortable, & my son was right there with me. When we came out, My BF was waiting there in the parking lot, he happened to be at the store across the street, & he was just puzzled as to why I wouldn’t look when someone (Him!) was hollering at me…. guys just dont “get it” …what it feels like to have that happen…..

  5. Avatar photo SixtyFour says:

    LW3, you can totally judge him, even if this kind of thing is a fantasy for you. Because for you, it is just a fantasy. You are not going out into the world and sexually violating men and forcing them to take pictures of you against their will. Your husband actually is violating women in the real world. Big, huge difference.
    It doesn’t matter what the sex act is, minus consent, it is a violation. If you were into strictly missionary position sex, and your fiancé went out and had missionary sex with a girl against his will, you wouldn’t be questioning yourself whether or not that was okay simply because you liked that kind of sex too.

  6. wobster109 says:

    If you need to write an advice columnist about your relationship, chances are you already know the answer.

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