• Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

‘My boyfriend takes creepy photos of women without them knowing and I’m sickened’

Oct 24, 2022

InLalalaletmeexplain'shit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.

With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping wmankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

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Dear Lala,

My boyfriend recently went on a stag do and I had serious anxiety about it after finding out that some of his ‘friends’ have been known to go to brothels when away. All married and with kids, might I add.

I got drunk and decided to look at his phone. I checked the stag group chat and was horrified when I found that my boyfriend had been taking unsolicited pictures of attractive women, wearing predominantly tight dresses and with large breasts, and sent them on this group chat saying things like, “a solid 9” and “how’s the Irish bar?” (Seemingly to some of the guys who had gone to another bar). It was mostly my boyfriend sending these pictures and with not much of a response from the other guys.

To make matters worse, my boyfriend also took a picture of a topless women whilst on a beach on Spain (again, unsolicited) – WITH OUR 6-MONTH-OLD SON AND MYSELF SITTING NEXT TO HIM AT THE TIME!!! I not only am disgusted that he has taken pictures of women without their consent, but I also feel like he has totally disrespected me.

He has said how he’s very sorry and knows that he’s messed up and will never do it again. I’m just not sure I believe him or if I’ll ever be fully comfortable with him going away with his mates. I have outright called him a creep and said that I’m disgusted in him. How can I tell whether he is just saying what I want to hear, or can he genuinely learn from his mistakes and never do it again?

Lala says…

This is 12-year-old boy behaviour. Except, when it comes from a 12-year-old it’s slightly less bizarre, because at that stage they’re still working out their sexuality and starting to get excited about sex. They are full of hormones and naivety, and they might think it’s funny to take and send pictures of boobs. If a kid was caught doing this it would still be wrong, but it would be a learning opportunity, an important time to ensure that he understood how violating and humiliating his behaviour was; and it would be important to educate him about women’s rights, feminism, and how not to sexually objectify girls.

I’m assuming that this guy is way beyond 13, so his behaviour is just absolutely pathetic, and he should know better. Not only is it disrespectful to you and the boundaries of your monogamous relationship but it clearly shows that there are some significant issues in his attitude towards women, and unless that changes, there will always be a risk of him subjecting women to these behaviours when he is out drinking with his mates.

It's slightly embarrassing that his mates weren’t encouraging and egging him on. He was met with virtual silence, but he continued. Though his married friends visiting brothels when they’re away, coupled with his behaviour, makes me think that their holidays together are probably full of misogyny. And I don’t think there is any hope for change unless you get to the crux of the issue. Him stating that he’s sorry and won’t do it again holds no substance. He has to change the thing that made him think it was OK to do that in the first place – and that thing is a massive lack of respect for women.

If he’s really sorry then he will do the work to show you that he understands how deeply disturbing his actions have been. Taking unsolicited pictures of women’s bodies, especially whilst sat next to you and your child is just vile. He needs to understand why. I would ask him to start reading books that will help him to get a better perspective on how the world feels for women, books like: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, Fix The System, Not The Women, also by Laura Bates and Everyone’s Invited by Soma Sara. They all have first-hand narratives from women who have experienced sexual harassment that might help him to understand the error of his ways.

I would also recommend that he talks to a therapist. There is something very odd about his need to show off to his mates in this way. What is he trying to prove? Why is he trying to impress them? What does he get from taking and sending these pictures? He is dehumanising and violating women in his pursuit of something – what is that something? Kudos from the lads? A boost to his masculinity? Nothing will change until he can have a deep, raw, and open exploration of this.

If you suggest these things and he tells you it’s not that deep, then ask him how he would feel if he found out that a man was taking pictures of your child on the beach and sending the pictures in a group chat to other men. Would he think that wasn’t that deep or would he see how incredibly gross and violating it is to take and send unsolicited pictures of strangers? Especially when you’re also sexualising them. It is that deep.

If he’s an inherently decent guy who just got a bit lost in his pursuit of impressing his mates and he is willing to learn and educate himself on this subject, then I think you can move forward and begin to rebuild trust. If he is unwilling to do any work to change then I don’t have much hope for future stag dos. If it’s a healthy relationship aside from this then put the work in, have discussions, be willing to hear him out non-judgementally to get to the root of it, get him to embrace feminism and understand what he’s done. But taking pictures of women’s boobs really is quite mad behaviour, so if it’s a flailing relationship already, I’d see this as a final straw, especially if he is resistant to reading at least a little bit about what women go through.

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