Q. I am 25 and I have been dating my 35-year-old boyfriend for six months. I recently discovered six videos of me naked, made without my consent, on his computer: one of me getting changed in the morning; me in the shower and others of me lying in bed asleep.
This discovery left me shocked, since he is so kind, respectful and seemingly normal. There have been no red flags or strange behaviour; in fact it is the best relationship I have ever been in. I don’t believe he intends to share these videos, but I find it very confusing and worrying that he did not ask me, and clearly indulges in voyeuristic behaviour. I am unsure how to confront him. Name supplied
A. Your trust has been shaken, understandably, and you will need to know more before you decide whether or not you want to stay in the relationship.
Let’s start with the assumption that you want to stay, if possible. Try saying: ‘Could we make a time to talk about something that is bothering me?’ The conversation needs to happen in a neutral space, not at home, but somewhere you both feel comfortable.
Describe what you’ve seen, and how you feel – all of it from your point of view, not making any assumptions or accusations. Then invite him to describe things from his point of view. Please pay close attention to your safety – the key issue being whether he has shared these videos with anyone else.
If he has, then I’m afraid there is a potential legal case against him. I say this not to alarm you, but remind you that you have a right to feel safe, and there is support from the police available.
The most benign explanation is that he has a fetish for voyeurism, and he felt too ashamed to talk about it with you – or perhaps with anyone. Then it becomes a question for you: what’s your attitude to sexual preferences that might be outside the norm? Is this something you can live with, or might even find fun to explore? The key is that you will be in a position to give informed consent, or not.
Lorraine McGinlay, a trustee of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists, says fetishes are quite common, but you should be aware that voyeurism is often linked to a regular use of porn.
She says: ‘If I was working with a couple in this situation, I’d be looking at porn use, fetish and trust. If she wants to stay, what boundaries does she want to put in place?’
You’ll be exploring new levels of honesty, and even vocabulary, in your relationship. It can still be your best yet; it can even get better. It will take courage and commitment from both of you to stay safe and have fun together.
Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email email@example.com, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.