I have been having an affair with a close family friend for three years.
Recently, my "girlfriend" went on vacation with her family. We had been exchanging racy Gmail chats and some rated-R pictures while she was away.
(you are accountable to your family, but the girlfriend isn't)
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Don't move out without talking to your family first though. You're not being offered a free ride to do as you please. You have responsibilities to your family that you really just need to man up and accept.
Yeah, if the mom wants to assign some sort of moral of the story, then that's her call.
One would hope the daughter would have been more considerate of the woman's children, at the very least. Hurt the woman by sending the pictures to the husband- even her parents, fine. But to HER children? That's her lashing out and trying to hurt this woman and her family as much as she perceives this woman hurt her (the teen) and her family.
I don't think the mother may be the most impartial judge of how to apply consequences here, either. Dad is definitely not. What's a logical consequence here? She did invade someone else's privacy and posed as her father online.
Really, though, I think all this may be punishment enough. This kid is going to be very angry with her father for a very long time. Dad should be more concerned at getting the family into counseling for damage control than with throwing the book at his daughter, who is hurting and lashed out- all because of his affair & carelessness.
Trying to "punish" her now, especially since you're still harboring fantasies of not losing your family will only do one thing-- insure that the next time she speaks to you is 20 years from now at her wedding, and you'll be lucky if it's that early.
Seriously, move out, start damage control, and realize that your "higher sex drive" just torpedoed your relationship with your family.
And there is nothing teenagers hate worse than a hypocrite. So here's what you say: I did something wrong in concealing pertinent info from my wife, and the consequence to this is that I am moving out, your mother and I are going to counseling, and in general my life is a mess. You did something wrong too, in revealing sensitive information to far too many people. The natural consequence of that is that your dad is going to move out, your family is most likely going to be a subject of discussion at your school, and you will probably have trust issues with both of your parents for a while. In general, your life will be more of a mess than it could have been. You'll live, and you'll learn."
Repeat: "That your mom and I are having issues is not your fault. That it blew up this badly kinda is. So sorry that that will suck for you to deal with."
All punishment decisions SHOULD be made by the wife in this situation, there's no doubt about that. However, there is also no doubt that the daughter should indeed be punished. The danger here is that the wife may be rewarding the child for behavior that in any other circumstance would be considered abhorrent. That shouldn't be allowed to stand simply because she was essentially the beneficiary in this situation (although I cringe at using that word to describe what happened to her).
Teenagers are an elemental force when it comes to information distribution. Be grateful the photos didn't end up as a youtube slideshow.
fubard is a complete ass for even asking.
Community work is a good place to start. Separating her from her friend might not be a bad idea, but is unlikely to work and likely to backfire. She needs to understand the gravity of her actions, and that things in the world of adults are not as black and white as they appear at 15. I think that, while the wife should have input on any punishment, the dad should also have a say. Parents, even when they make bad decisions (with a few notable exceptions), still need to have the ultimate authority. Doing this sort of thing to her father with little to no consequences now will make her think that this is an acceptable way to handle morally fraught situations in the future. She needs to know that while yes, she and many others were hurt by her dad's actions, her behavior was completely unacceptable.
There's a trope that says that people who let themselves get caught as easily as you did meant, at some subconscious level, to get caught. Perhaps this will clarify some issues about how to live your life for you. But give your kid a break; all she's done is to act according to the same set of morals you probably had at her age.
I'd go with, "people who do things we don't like deserve to be forgiven, because we love them." Forgiveness brings people together; punishment drives them apart. Which do you want?
Only thing you can do is emphasize that your daughter didn't merely take this information and go to your wife, and your girlfriend's husband, or something along those lines, but she aired the dirty laundry in a very public and humiliating way. She didn't even let your wife/your girlfriend's husband decide if and how they wanted to tell mutual friends, so the embarrassment, I would think, is not limited to you and your girlfriend.
You can say it would be one thing if the only issue were that she violated your privacy and exposed the affair - you wouldn't have an argument about that. What she did went way beyond that, and she didn't even consider the feelings of the (other) people who were wronged and hurt by your affair.
I would agree some punishment is in order, but grounding her for a year, sending her to her grandparents and disallowing her from seeing her best friend? Sorry, but that's just you being angry about getting caught, and not about what she did, and is way disproportional. Your wife's punishment sounds much more reasonable. What I said above is, I think, the best case you can make to your wife for a harsher punishment, but don't be surprised if what your wife decides on isn't any worse than what she originally proposed.
You should do all of the same with the wife, but the daughter has her own separate and distinct trauma to work through, and you owe it to her to recognize that.
Punish her? Fuck you.
But to answer the original question: you can't punish her for a lack of respect, cruelty, disregard for basic humanity, when absolutely nothing you have done was ANY different. You used your "higher sex drive" to rationalize fucking around, it destroyed 2 families, and in her pain and shock and betrayal your daughter lashed out. What she did was way less than what you did, and it was age appropriate to boot. Let your wife handle it and walk off with your tail between your legs.
The internet can be used to wreck lives. Is she going to do this to her frienemies at school? Will she be on the same slut-shaming kick as the kids who forward around private photos that leak out?
Time to learn right from wrong.
What your daughter did had hurtful, cruel consequences and it might be wise to emphasize to her, although I don't know how effective any argument will be coming from you since your credibility with her has been severely damaged, but somebody should talk to her about consequences, as in, how must that woman's children feel seeing the pictures and would she want to be ambushed by pictures like that of her parents, and that while she was right that this was an affair and you were cheating on her mom, that's not an assumption she should automatically make. What if it had been a consensual affair and your wife and the woman's husband knew about it and no one was doing anything wrong? Then it would have been cruel and uncalled for for her to send the pictures to that woman's friends, kids, and folks. Maybe it would have been better to talk to her mother before taking any actions, especially since the harm was being done to her mother, so it was her mother's place, and not hers, to punish the offenders.
Not that I'm saying you or the woman deserved to be punished. I'm not touching that. But I don't think you'll make any impact if you try to convince your daughter that you and the woman are wronged parties in this situation.
It might be appropriate to point out that if this were another family only that was affected by this affair (even if it was someone close to the family, and so the daughter felt she had to speak up), what she did would be a horrible way to go about it. And she would deserve punishment in that case.
In this case, your whole family's lives are messed up by what you did, and how she exposed it. As others have pointed out, she's not going to be happy in the meantime anyway. You and your wife should clearly express why what she did was awful (and exposing your affair in and of itself is not the issue), with emphasis on how it affected people *besides* you and your girlfriend. So maybe it's enough to explain that she would be punished, if not for the fact that you are more concerned about how you can all best resolve this situation (whether that entails you and your wife staying together or not).
That said, any punishment administered by the father will be seen, correctly or incorrectly, as revenge. He cannot administer anything even vaguely resembling punishment himself.
If, beyond all the effort the family is going to expend recovering from this scorched earth incident, there is any energy left for them to pay attention to the daughter individually, they need to make sure their reactions to her are guided in such a way as to help her process WHY what SHE did was wrong. We're not talking punishment as much as education.
Her behavior was insensitive, cruel, irresponsible, and hurtful. Not as bad as her father's ridiculous idiocy, for sure, but definitely in the same vein. What an incredibly bad plan.
Good luck with that.
This will only ruin his daughter's whole life if she lets it and there is no need for that at all.
And really, lying about an affair that isn't hurting anyone (until its inevitable discovery) is worse than trying to provoke people to assassinate the President or sending us into a war that costs tens of thousands of lives?
Everyone in this family could probably use some therapy at this point, and since no one in this situation is going to be able to be an impartial observer in any sort of way, I think the mom should consult the therapist about appropriate punishment.
I don't know... grounded for the weekend maybe? Tell her she wouldn't like it if someone did that to her. That she should respect other people's privacy like she'd want her own privacy respected.
Teens do impulsive stuff, hopefully she'll get it and not do stuff like that again, but it may take a couple times.
To punish her for failing to stand up to a certain level of behavior in this situation is cruel in the extreme and would be the absolute end of FUBARs relationship with the girl. If mom participates, she's abedding an abuser, in my opinion.
You can't say it was dad's private business for a girl at this age. There's too much going on in the daughter/dad relationship at this age that makes this a complete and total violation. Yes, raping her would have been worse, but not much.
I'm not defending his actions, but say this guy's wife refused to put out and his sexual frustration was beginning to interfere with his ability to maintain his marriage. Of course what he did totally undermined his marriage anyway, but it's not like he just up and left his family for the sake of his own sexual satisfaction. Yes, yes, cheating is the worst thing you can ever do, blah blah blah. I'm sure none of you have ever or would ever cheat on a spouse. But even parents have sexual needs - shocking, I know! - and 15-year-olds, especially in this day and age, aren't exactly innocent children.Yes, the dad's a CPOS, but the daughter is a POS too. Parents are human and sometimes fuck up, and 15 is not too young to understand that.
My mother once set me on fire. And then she had me watch while she did my little brother. To this day I have absolutely no recollection of what the crime was. Just the punishment. It's all the same to me. You can say "she went too far" but really how is it not all part of the same thing?
Some people need help in order to behave themselves in society. Love and compassion and help. They don't need to suffer.
I am a parent. I have never punished my 12 year old son. He is among the best behaved people you will ever meet. There are other ways to have a positive influence on your kids. Maybe if you had done that from the start you wouldn't have a daughter capable of such things.
In other words, while you were fucking around because of your higher sex drive, you should have been teaching your kid morality and 'how things stay on the internet forever'.
Ground her, but not for a year. Send her to her grandparents for half the summer (with a dumb phone and no internet access, since grandma won't be able to supervise her using it), and make her do community service.
As to teaching her that actions have consequences, I would say the punishment is not really for you to decide at this point, as you yourself are learning about consequences. In her mother's place, I would be inclined to put a very serious kibosh on the girl's access to the Internet, social media, texting, etc., until she better understands the consequences of sharing this kind of information.
If you just want revenge, you're an asshole, and sorry, you don't get revenge. You've ruined your relationship with your family because you're too much of a CPOS to have a frank discussion with your wife about your sexual needs and about opening up your marriage, and because you're too damn dumb to secure your computer. Same to your girlfriend, although why her children and parents needed to be traumatized in such a manner is beyond me. It's that bit of cruelty that makes me inclined toward recommending that your daughter be gotten into counseling. Showing that little empathy for ruining other people's lives - that would be a psychological red flag to me.
You're an idiot. And your daughter is spiteful and cruel. All this could have been avoided so easily. *sigh*
Dude, unless you want to lose your daughter entirely, get the fuck out of the way. You an apology to her WAY more than she does to you.
I don't think the daughter should be given a concrete punishment by FUBARD, but she needs to be reprimanded in some way. He should sit down with her and say something to the effect of:
"I know I've forfeited the moral high-ground here, I lied to our family and I understand that you feel betrayed. That said, I am still your farther and it's still my job to make sure you grow up into a decent human being. What you did was excessively cruel and horrifyingly mean-spirited. Maybe that says something about how I've raised you; I'm incredibly disappointed that I raised a daughter who would do such a thing instead of confronting me or your mother discreetly. I'm still the bad guy here; maybe one day you'll understand why I did what I did - even if it wasn't right - but you need to understand *today* that what you did was wrong."
15 or not, I find her utter lack of empathy disturbing. She deliberately set out to hurt not only you and the woman (understandable) but other children and generally wreak as much havoc as possible. You did fuck up, big time. You may even deserve most of what's coming to you (I would personally need more details to know), but your daughter lashed out and hurt a whole host of people with absolutely no regard for the innoccent bystanders. That is not OK:
However I don't see punishing her as being workable. Punishment? Well, she found out daddy's a cheater and her family may be about to break apart forever. Seems like quite a lot of punishment already. I would say that she needs therapy, both to normalize possible future relationships with men and also for a professional to address any destructive tendencies she may have.
I'm sure that your obvious and misguided sense of self-righteousness will cause you to disregard comments of this ilk. For your family's sake, I do hope that you can take a step back and recognize how completed deluded and selfish your behavior- from your affair to your reaction upon being caught- really is.
I don't think she should be punished. She's already furious with you, and trying to punish her at this point will pretty much guarantee that she won't talk to you again until she's at least 30.
The poor thing was in shock, furious and devastated, and reacted in the heat of the moment. Yes it was a nasty, juvenile way to handle it, but what do you expect from a 15 year old?
Even if you do have good reasons for cheating, no teenager is going to be mature enough to understand the subtleties of that moral debate. As far as she's concerned, cheating is 100% wrong, and you've betrayed her mother.
I'm not condoning her behaviour, but I don't see how punishing her could do anything but devastate your relationship with her even further. The aftermath will certainly be more than enough "punishment".
The best thing you can do now is focus on how you're going to salvage your relationship with her.
Adults may have a nuanced understanding of the morality of cheating, just as we may have a nuanced understanding of the morality of lying, etc.
Children, on the other hand, haven't learned all of that nuance yet, and are absolutely justified in believing that a parent who is cheating on and lying to their mother or father deserves to be exposed.
You're not in a position to legitimately try to talk about morality with your daughter, or impose punishment on her. In her eyes, you have lost all moral authority, and someone who attempts to punish someone without the authority to do so is a bully.
Your wife should be the one to handle this, and hopefully explain to your daughter that while she was not wrong in telling her mother that her father was cheating, the way in which she handled it has caused a lot of innocent people (her mother, your cheating partner's husband, the children on both sides and the mutual friends) extra pain in what would already have been a painful revelation.
You're right, he's not as bad as Dick Cheney, but that's not exactly saying a lot.
No one's going to comment on this? The motherfucker cheated with a close family friend, the very definition of shitting where you eat. The only thing worse would've been fucking an in law. Had he done the (slightly) less shitty and the (slightly) more responsible thing, he would have found a woman completely removed from his personal life to get his needs met. Had that happened, odds are the daughter would have had less opportunity and motivation to share those pics with all and sundry.
The woman couldn't separate herself from her boyfriend for one fucking family vacation? Yeah, that's so not an emotional affair.
So teach her about computer etiquette: explain about how impersonating someone else is very, very, wrong; explain to her how to go directly to someone with whom you have a problem, instead of allowing your anger to ruin someone else's (the girlfriend's) life (not yours, since this is a standard consequence for cheating (you are accountable to your family, but the girlfriend isn't)).
She needs to apologize to the children and parents she sent the pictures to; it's one thing to expose an affair, it's quite another to humiliate someone and cause trauma to their family members.
But before that, you need to apologize to her - big time. Not for the affair, but for leaving your emails accessible to her and making her a witness to those pictures and for putting her such a terrible position that she would feel justified in lashing out as she did.
What you owe your daughter is a frank, honest talk, in which you offer both an explanation of the consequences of her decision and a sincere apology for everything you did, and, when she's ready for it, therapy so that one day she'll be able to trust men. And don't you DARE fuck up the therapy by framing it as punishment, either; you make damn sure she knows that you're doing it for her to make up for your mistakes. The parental model of betrayal you were careless enough to foist off on her will fuck her up for life if you don't handle it well.
If you treat your daughter well and do your best to make this right, one day she'll understand that her overreaction was hurtful and not the best way to react to the situation. You cannot - nor do you have any right to - teach her that lesson at this time, however. She's a teenager and not ready to learn it, and you don't have the authority to instruct her even if you had the ability.
If you can't swallow all that and act like a man, at least have the decency to walk away and get out of her life. She's better off with child support than with you taking out your guilt and resentment on her.
What she did sucks. She did it and she can't take it back. I hope you want a relationship with her the rest of your life. Then reach out to her and help rebuild the family relationship. You might actually provide her with a a great example of fucking up (you) and fixing it (you).
She's going to be living in the wake of this, just like the LR will, for a long damn time. And both of them should. Punishment seems redundant and pointless, and forgiveness premature. Live with it. Try to learn from it.
And sorry, but...explicit chatting online with your illicit partner on a computer you share with your family is NOT being discreet...
I normally agree with this. The cheater is responsible to the person he/she made a commitment to, but, in this case, the girlfriend is a close family friend, meaning that she's been fucking over her friends for THREE years. She doesn't get a pass.
Mom, in order to be a responsible parent, shouldn't condone what her daughter did and should explain what privacy means and the inherent fucked-upedness of sending nude photos of a woman to her own children. I'm not sure what punishment would be appropriate for that since there really isn't any way to make it up to the "girlfriend's" children, but perhaps Mom and the mother of Daughter's friend should take it upon themselves to have a sit-down chat about relationships and respect with the two girls.
What she did was sad, and doesn't speak well for her - or her upbringing. But that it was able to happen at all is squarely FUBAR's fault, both for the original affair and for *leaving it out there for her to find*. She's 15, and still fully entitled to her lack of judgment. That's why they can't vote, or drink, or enlist, right.
Dad is completely without any such excuse, and that he's all focused on what a mess *she* created just doubles up his douchery.
Make her apologize (sincerely and in person) to the children, parents and mutual friends. This should include a description of what she should have done when she discovered the first emails. She should have told her mother (end of story), not dug more and certainly not sent pictures to innocent parties that would only be hurt by her actions.
I don't understand the comments that she should not be punished because now her life is gonna be all messed up. What about what SHE did to those kids? Or the woman's parents?
It's one thing to know your mom/child had an affair, it's far different to see explicit pictures.
For the record - how can anyone (up thread) not think that his affair was wrong? I'm totally cool with negotiated openness in a relationship. I am on board with Dan giving the go-ahead to the people in sexless marriages (when they are really sexless). But I don't see how having a lower sex drive than your spouse entitles you to seek sex outside the marriage, when you know the other person thinks it's monogamous. I think Dan really over-estimates the "devastation" of divorce. My father left my mother, for a man, and I'm okay. If, however, my father had stayed with my mother and lied to her about fucking other men on the side, I would have two HIV positive parents instead of one, and absolutely NO faith in men to uphold the promises they made to their wives. (The phrasing here should not indicate that I did not find my father's diagnosis devastating. I did. He's doing really well now, all things considered.) But my father is a good man, who didn't let fear stop him from having a tough conversation. My mother never said a word against him and my siblings and I were raised by two loving parents who lived apart.
We never really know when the next big STI thing is going to happen, and if people can't trust that the people they love the most will tell them the truth about what they are exposing them to, people can't trust anything. You might not believe in monogamy - that is FINE! - but don't be with someone who does and then think you have the right to lie to them. You don't.
I agree that any discipline the letter writer would devise would have a rotten stench of revenge to it.
Your daughter's behavior was unacceptable, but not for the reasons you're citing. As much as you have "suffered," by publicizing your indiscretions to such a wide circle (including other children) your daughter has effectively taken what should have been a private concern between the four adults and made it into at the minimum a family scandal; it is her mother she hurt most by her actions, not you.
Your daughter needs to understand that turning her mother's life into something akin to Reality TV Drama / an episode of Jerry Springer is not proper behavior. She needs to learn that when you suddenly come across something that will destroy someone close to them the responsible thing to do it approach those hurt by it and let them decide how to handle it best for them -- not go putting it online for all and sundry.
Where I do agree with the crowd is that the discipline should be coming from her mother. Similarly, your wife should be made aware that one of the unforeseen consequences of her daughter's actions is that now pretty much everyone who reads Savage Love and/or Slog is now aware of the pain that was caused to her mother.
You made no attempt to obfuscate your situation from anyone familiar with it, which means, FUBAR, that you need to *not* keep another secret but tell your wife about your letter to Mr. Savage, point her to this thread, and apologize to your wife (again) for violating her trust before your daughter or one of her friends stumbles onto Slog and finds out about it the hard way...again.
He and his wife are still parents, and his immaturity and moral lapses do not absolve him of that responsibility. That being said, leave it up to the wife for any discipline issues. In reality, his daughter did him a favor. Looks like he has been scared straight.
He needs to beg some forgiveness from his wife. And accept the possible divorce if she doesn't forgive him.
He needs to stop seeing (completely) the girlfriend and her family. That relationship is absolutely over.
But I got over it. If anything, I learned a good lesson about humanity and humility. I learned my parents were human. I also learned that the situation was far more complex then I had understood at 14.
What I never did was try and make others miserable as well. I never would have tried to hurt innocents, no matter how much I was in pain myself. Sending these photos to your gf's kids was a truly ugly, hurtful, almost sociopathic act. Did she really want them to suffer like she was suffering? Because that's just fucked up.
As far as punishment goes, forget about it. Your daughter either has a moral sense, and will one day be deeply embarrassed for her actions (I'm embarrassed for some of the things I did to my dad in my anger, including once punching him in the face) or she really doesn't have much of a moral sense and is too self-centered to realize what she did. But that process will take time, and in the blender of adolescent emotions, punishing her now will me the equivalent of hitting the puree button.
Tell your daughter you love her, you will be there for her if she wants to talk, and then leave her the hell alone. She doesn't want to see you now. I tore up the letter my father wrote trying to explain himself, without ever reading it. I didn't want to hear his excuses. She doesn't either. When the bones knit, hopefully the skeleton of your relationship will be intact, and you will once more be able to talk. But for god's sake, give her her space.
As to all the victim fetishists on this site who talk about how the girl will never be the same, never trust men, etc, get real. You do get over things. I certainly did. We're about 51% biology and 49% lessons learned, people. If this girl can't sort her shit and separate other men from her father, she was screwed long before she saw those pix. Stop making excuses for those who wish nothing more then to wallow in their past as an excuse for their fucked up lives. You pick yourself up of the mat and take responsibility for your own life. No one else is to blame, in the end.
You only have yourself to blame. And the fact that you're trying to punish your daughter for your mistake makes me think maybe your wife didn't want to have sex with you because you're an asshole.
That said, let mom punish her how she sees fit, agreeing with others, and judging from your letter, you have no real interest in punishing her for snooping, so much as punishing her for exposing you, which makes a big difference.
Also, as someone said earlier, leaving a record of such sensitive information on a computer easily accessed by ANYONE else is kind of saying that you don't really care about being caught. You slipped, and stopped being careful, either because you thought you never would get caught, or you didn't care if you did. Maybe you thought your wife would find it, I'm pretty sure you thought it wouldn't happen like this, but it did, so now you actually have to deal with the consequences.
Anyhoodle, you all need therapy. Lots of it. And FUBAR should probably take some serious groveling/responsibility acceptance lessons and apply the learnings to each person affected by his stupidity, including his daughter. Sure, groveling may feed her short-term teenage entitlement issues, but her long-term trust in men and family might have a shot at repair.
Most people get over traumas like this without much help. The ones who don't end up adults with no confidence and no ability to form trusting, supportive relationships. Being smug about "victim fetishists" won't change the reality of that, and assuring yourself that they deserve to suffer, and to destabilize other people's lives, makes you an ignorant prick, not the gruff father figure you seem to fancy yourself. Needing a hand "up off the mat" makes people human, and looking down on them for needing that hand makes you... less.
I only wish I'd had the balls to out my hypocrite dad the way she did.
I loved my father very, very much and respected him a great deal. I loved my mom too, but I knew that she was a very difficult woman to get along with. I suspected that she rejected him a lot and they barely had a sex life due to her many physical and mental illnesses (this was confirmed years later by my mom).
Despite all of this, I STILL might have behaved just like this child if this had happened to me. I would have felt hurt and angry, and would have immediately felt that everyone needed to know what was going on. At that age, you don't see shades of gray when it comes to your family and friends. You just see black and white, fair and unfair, betrayal and loyalty. If my dad had cheated, I wouldn't have dispassionately thought, "Well, this is between him and my mom, and the other woman and her husband." I would have felt very personally betrayed, and felt that these two cheating awful people were betraying both of our families. Although my parents were pretty liberal and sex-positive, it would have NEVER occurred to me that they might be having an open relationship.
Fifteen-year olds don't do discretion or subtlety. I guarantee you she didn't think, "Maybe I shouldn't send these pics to the other kids because it will hurt them." She thought, "Wow, my dad and this woman have been sneaking around behind our families' backs - the other kids deserve to know what their mom has been doing to them!"
My point is, the MOM should talk to the girl, possibly somtime in the future, about how she might have handled it more discreetly, and ask her how she thought the other kids might have felt in seeing those pics. But punish her? That is about the STUPIDEST thing the father could do. He's already caused serious damage to his daughter's development and ability to have good relationships with men - no way should he compound it by punishing her because he got caught (and that's exactly what any 15-year old would feel was going on).
If he punishes her, she may even see it as him defending his girlfriend's honor without regard for his daughter's feelings - again choosing his mistress over his family.
If he wants to eventually heal this rift he's caused with his daughter, he needs to just apologize over and over to her right now. Not a word about her actions from him.
The question FUBAR asked was so self-absorbed and in denial about his responsibility to his daughter that I feel like he needs to hear in no uncertain terms that he should not punish her. He should stop any fantasies about this being her fault and gather the strength to accept his full responsibility to everyone who has been harmed.
You are absolutely right about the girl growing older and more mature - in time. Hopefully they can have a relationship at some point.