Savage Love Letter of the Day: The Photo Play


Dan. You are so obviously Not a woman.
What a con. It's the bullshit that would get to me.
Oh honey. I don't do kinks. I'm so monogamous.
LW; Kick this lying piece of shit way over to the other curb. And go find yourself an honest man. Who is into the kinks you are into.
Oh my god was that long justification of the dude's shadiness utterly annoying. Bad Dan.

When I finished reading the letter, I laughed at dtmfa vs over reacting. This is a gold mine. She has been denying herself kink for years, but she's going to get it now with or without her husband. If she gets her kink on with others without touching them, he has absolutely no room to talk. I'd tell her to finally put her own needs on the table, now that there's more room to outsource what he doesn't want to handle himself. Use it to finally bring a good sex life to what seems to be a good relationship out-of-bed.
Absolutely right, LavaGirl. I'm floored that Dan thought it was no big deal that the dildo (her use/nonuse of it is irrelevant) ended up without her knowledge or consent in another vagina. Sure, maybe the "erotic" photography thing could have been added to their sex lives if this guy had bothered to talk about it with his girlfriend beforehand. The fact that he didn't discuss it with his gf ahead of time, promised (and failed) to stop when it bothered her, and helped himself to his gf's dildo without asking shows pretty clearly that he's a piece of shit. DTMFA.
Not to mention the fact that they were taking erotic photos themselves, but then that dried up around the same time that he started taking the pornographic photos. So she was trying to share that 'kink' with him, and he apparently got bored with it and/or her.

And I'm sorry, but taking your girlfriend's dildo and inviting some other chick to screw herself with it is just icky. I don't care if they only used it once or twice and it's been gathering dust. Just - ick.
Oh Danny boy, you're in for it now....
Not to mention that, while secretly indulging in his own kinks, he had 1) ignored her kinks, and 2) hid his despite her potentially enjoying them. Then there's the obvious hint of him guilt tripping her for years over an emotional relationship (one she insinuated wasn't physical).

Sounds like an insecure (I mean, he was hiding his kinks and getting jelly all the while indulging himself!), selfish dick.

If he doesn't start pulling his weight emotionally and physically, DTMFA.
Hmm is right, Mr Daniel Savage.
This strikes me as the guy looking for the life of a single guy while keeping the benefits of a long term relationship. He's going to be putting his dick in one of his models sooner or later.
I hate to pile on, but in subpart 3 Dan seems to ponder the possibility that the porno shoots are just good business. However the LW said this is her bf's hobby that he enjoys outside of work. So clearly not a business, or at least not a primary source of income. Anyway it's skeevy to do this while not endulging her kinks at home.

Maybe things can turn around and he can bring some of this kinkiness home and be more open and honest; but my guess is that this guy won't ever be able to get over the whole virgin-whore conundrum that's polluting his brain.
It's all about trust, he should have been up front about it, not doing so makes the whole thing seem shady...every part.
I second LavaGirl @1. Guy sounds like a manipulative asshole.

Also, AIO has every right to be pissed about the dildo, and yes, it is a big deal. Whether or not she had used it recently, or was going to use it anytime soon is irrelevant. Borrowing your partner's dildo without their permission and letting a stranger penetrate themselves with it is a total breach of trust, a breach of basic politeness and consideration, and possibly a breach of safer sex practices (Dan!), particularly if he failed to sterilize it afterwards.

Okay, if I type this fast enough, looks like I am commenter 12 or so before ANYBODY attempts to see it from the guy's side? Since we only have her side, I wonder:
1) Letter writer never mentions a word about the "kinks" she is into. I suspect the poor guy had no idea of anything specific
2) Does anyone think that over ten years the guy was exploring his own life a bit, dabbling in some things he was hoping to figure out and hoping his girlfriend might be interested in? Of course we all wish we could articulate our kind desires, accurately, honestly etc. to our partners. Reality is, it often takes years.
3) I know I am leaving myself open for relentless attack for what I am about to confess. I am a 48 year old gay guy and spent my college years dating and fucking women. I was "bi" then, of course. I became more comfortable identifying as gay, enjoying sex with men, dropping the guilt and fear, growing up a bit. What a relief to embrace a full on "gay" identity and never have to figure out, tip toe around the feelings of women who expect their men to be mind readers.
Dan, I think your instincts are correct here. Your responses are reasonable assuming the letter is accurately describing the TEN YEAR history. The guy is a bit of jerk, but something is telling me there is more to this story.
Very surprised by these comments. I was expecting a one sentence response from Dan. Something along the lines of "you're overreacting" or "get over it."
Very surprised by these comments. I was expecting a one sentence response from Dan. Something along the lines of "You're overreacting" or "Get over it."

As Dan said, the line between erotica and porno is so blury it's hard to really see he did anything that wrong.
Oops. Sorry for the double comment.
Dan--Like what every one else is saying. You got this wrong. And this comes from a longterm non-monogamous woman who is very tolerant of what the guys in my life do -- but my guys aren't jerks.We all may have issues from time to time--but I don't date jerks.. It takes consideration and a bit of sensitivity LONG TERM to keep a healthy relationship of any type on track-- and fuck yeah it feels like a huge violation that he took her dildo. And holy shit--he gives her hell for years for her emotional attachment to someone else then tries to twist the logic to justify himself?. It gets damn hard to live with selfish, inconsiderate hypocrisy in the long run. As an aside--women get so much of the rap for supposedly being less likely to want non-monogamy--but in my experience the guys I know (even the good and fair minded ones) have such a double standard on this. They want it for themselves but they are the ones with jealousy issues. They want it for themselves, but struggle facing the idea of the same freedom for their wives/girlfriends. Yeah--I know--not ALL guys. But that's my experience and that's what I hear from a lot of my friends. So...that's the twist on "guys are more into non-monogamy". For themselves they are, but they aren't always for their wives. Love you Dan. But consideration is just as important as someone having the freedom to get their kicks.
What's this "emotional attachment" with another man she's blowing off as no big deal? Isn't it the emotional attachments that hurt the most? But I guess it's all fine if she's the one who does it. And how far has she actually "cast aside" her baggage, I wonder. Not too far, if she's still diggin on other men and bemoaning the "small price" she had to pay to be with her guy, which she does a couple times in the letter. Small price my ass. Doesn't sound like she's let it go. Makes me wonder how often she harps on the sacrifice she made when she settled for him. That attitude is bound to lay a great foundation for their sex life.

So she wants him to be more kinky, and he gets a tiny bit more kinky, but she doesn't want him to be that kind of kinky, not pornographic kinky, just erotic kinky, actually he can be pornographic kinky but not with other women, just with her, even though she likes non-traditional relationships, as long as she's the one being non-traditional, because otherwise it's a betrayal, even though monogamy is boring. Like him. Except that he's actually okay with her doing pornography with other men, which is a further outrage. Lady, do you even know what you want?
One more female here, who is not happy with Dan's "oh just get over it" response. This would appear to be something that offends women in general. Me, for sure.
Imagine sacrificing your kinks for all those years only to find your partner was indulging theirs behind your back. His actions are saying, "we don't decide what our sex life is together. I tell you what you can't do and then I do what I want." The cheating part is something most people could work through, but the dishonesty and neglect would make me feel pretty crushed and betrayed.
Well, I'm going to buck the crowd, and say they should break up because the relationship sounds like it's never been all that and is now completely rotted.

AIO "values" him for "being trusty, responsible and hard-working". Well, those certainly sound like fine qualities... in an employee. But if they're the first three things you think of in your romantic partner... If I overheard my (hypothetical) significant other bragging about how trusty, responsible, and hard-working I was to her friends, I'd seriously consider dumping her. It comes across like you're just using him. (Which is why I don't find it reprehensible that he's looking for his sex play with other people.)

If AIO was ever all that into him, there's no evidence of it in her letter. She never writes anything about affection, or respect, and the sex has never been what she wants, and I'm sure her body language has made that quite clear to him over the years. And if he ever was all that into her, he certainly hasn't been for the last two years.

I don't see how this incident can possibly improve things. Their communication and his trust in her were fucked and this is only going make that worse. I don't see any sign of either party having respect or even liking for the other. I don't see how this relationship is salvageable. And I have no idea why anyone would want to salvage it.

It sounds like they'd both rather be with other people.

AIO's just discovered he's been lying to her for the last two years, and when she picks three positive adjectives to describe him, she STILL picks "trustworthy" over "hot" or "affectionate" or "fun to be with" or "gives me what I want in bed". FFS, lady, listen to yourself.
@18 I think the kind of kinky she doesn't want is dishonest kinky. She knows exactly what she wants, and she's not getting it because her partner is lying and looking for it elsewhere. Why do you 'wonder' how often she 'harps on the sacrifice she made'? We haven't heard her partner's side, so we have no idea if she does this at all.
I think Dan really dropped the ball on this one. The problem isn't that he discovered his inner kinkiness, the problem is that he's sharing his kinkiness with everyone BUT his wife, leaving her high and dry while he goes out and does things he promised he wouldn't.

The double standard is a red flag for me. She gets years of hell for her emotional affair but his physical affair and downright betrayals are supposed to get a pass?

DTMFA. This is the typical type of man who acts more vanilla than vanilla beans because he's unwilling to process, accept and share his kinks, and sooner or later turns out to be indulging them elsewhere. It's not just the breach of faith that makes his behavior so hurtful - it's also the fact that this shows he is uninterested in an honest, intimate conversation with the LW.
Seems to me that the big (so to speak) piece Dan missed here is the whole taking-my-dildo-for-another-woman's-use thing. Total dealbreaker. Any experienced straight man would know that a specially made toy which was once inside your partner is absolutely her property. Letting another woman use it--and photographing the event! After promising not to!--is beyond the pale. The guy is either clueless, or a total asshole. Either way, DTMFA.
Dan blew it. This is a classic case of DTMFA. The husband doesn't care a whit for his wife's happiness.
Just another log on the "you missed here, Dan" fire. I am a woman in a long term monogamous heterosexual relationship, and I completely understand where LW is coming form (maybe there's a uniquely hetero dynamic at play here?)
1) Dildo situation, UNACCEPTABLE. He probably would have asked her if he could use it for a shoot if he didn't know it was outside of what their mutually agreed upon boundaries are. I would be really offended if my partner asked me to photograph another woman using one of my (even rejected) sex toys. If he did it without asking?!?!? I would feel extremely betrayed.
2) Yes, the line between erotic and pornographic is blurry, but it certainly seems like they agreed on a degree of other women's nudity that was acceptable to occur as a part of his hobby.
3) I think that when someone who is interested in non-monogamy pays "opportunity costs" because it's what would make their partner feel more secure, it is hard to help holding that partner to an extremely high standard of monogamous boundaries, particularly because they should know that you would be open to talking about changing those boundaries.

I think that there are lots of boundaries that are important within a relationship that don't make sense from outside looking in. Personally, I know that there are things that my partner could do that would seem mundane without knowing the whole entire backstory, but that would hurt me more than him cheating and immediately disclosing.

LW's SO was at best MEGA inconsiderate and at worst willfully destructive. Not sure this is a DTMFA, but it's definitely a "talk this shit out, probably with a professional third party".

Good luck, LW, I hope you both get what you need to be happy and fulfilled.
Just to add to my comment @25: I do think Dan's perspective as a gay man is almost always a tremendous asset in his advice, in so many ways. But every now and then, it works against him. If you date women with regularity, you know in your bones the dildo thing is an absolute no-go. Forget it. Inexcusable. AIO's partner really, really should of known this wasn't going to fly. At all.

He's either inexcusably clueless or a complete bastard.
actually, on further thought, I kind of think the dildo thing is worse than cheating. I can understand succumbing to desire in a moment of weakness and getting physical. Doing something he said he wouldn't do with other people, that she liked doing with him, that he stopped doing with her, with someone else, WITH HER SEX TOY didn't happen by accident. That kind of seems like a serious fuck you. Is anyone stupid enough to think that is okay (sorry dan..) because either he's UTTERLY incompetent or lashing out.... Maybe y'all need to talk about whether he IS getting his needs met in addition to how to make sure you get yours...
But that's only going to work if you are able to forgive him, which will be hard, but I think is worth doing if the rest of the relationship is everything you want it to be.

I hope you will write Dan back and let us know how the dust settles.
@13; take your point. I do feel I expected my husband to be a mind reader. To know that the insensitive things he did, were like, insensitive. And I waited, cause surely he would see.
But he never really did.
Learnt the lesson. Way too late I guess. But now, no more expecting anyone to know if they have stepped on my toes. Now I Iouldly say ouch.
The thing is, the dildo wasn't "their" sex toy. It was HER sex toy. There's no way it was appropriate for him to lend out her dildo, any more than if a friend and stopped by and used it without asking. Married or not, some things are not "shared" property.

Also, I get Dan's point at the end, that he's coming around to being flexible on monogamy, so maybe it's a good thing. But I bet you dollars to donuts that this new found flexibility doesn't extend both ways, regardless of what he says.
She settled for bad sex. She shouldn't have. Now she's regretting it.

That's what this entire letter is about.

Dan's response was right on.
If his hobby is being the photographer for couples who want quality erotic shots, I question the feasibility of telling your clients, mid-shoot, "Oh, I'm sorry, I can't take _that_ kind of shot. My wife won't let me." The same thing applies even if it isn't a couple present, so long as the model is also the paying client, who therefore gets to call the shots. So that particular point I think she needs to let go of.

And yeah, #18, nice how she kind of casually tosses off an actual attachment on her part, as if "and believe me, it was purely emotional" somehow makes it all okay. Purely emotional attachments are the ones you end up leaving your partner for, dumb LW. Nobody leaves their wife over a fuck buddy. So if anything your "purely emotional" affair was a bigger problem than him taking crotch shots made under purely financial terms. Whether the model was the paying client, or he was paying the model to follow his directions, this was not a case of him fooling around with a side squeeze. Unlike the person who was toying with your heart.

The dildo, on the other hand, inexcusable.
Jeez, she's more jealous of the dildo than of her husband's dick, which she claims she IS willing to share. I can see why, with her support for nonmonogamy, he supposed it was all right to use the dildo if it apparently never made it inside her, and she hadn't tried to use it for years. Clueless of him and he needs to learn not to do that, but hardly dumpworthy.

Is this a real business? If so, and it's providing money for the two of them, it could be tough to refuse a request from the clients to take any photos they wanted. If that is the case (rather than his paying people to let him take erotic pictures for himself), then I can see why he'd take the forbidden photos (and money) and just not show them to her. I don't understand why she thinks he's having the equivalent of sex if she believes it's all business for him and he was not aroused.
An "emotional affair" can absolutely be more devastating than a physical one; it's certainly not something for her to dismiss so casually. She apparently feels guilty enough to bring it up to Dan, even though she claims it's not relevant to the present situation.
She sounds a bit controlling, he sounds uncommunicative, passive, and sullen; they both need to open up to each other a lot more, or break it off.
@29 "Doing something he said he wouldn't do with other people, that she liked doing with him, that he stopped doing with her, with someone else, WITH HER SEX TOY didn't happen by accident. That kind of seems like a serious fuck you."

I agree, and I think that's a good summation of why this letter is setting off a lot of people's DTMFA alarms. In my mind, the "just get over it" advice would actually apply more if, say, there was a drunken cheating episode for which AIO's partner was totally repentant.
Doesn't sound like this is a business. It is extra to his work, a hobby, one could say.
The LWs emotional attachment happened at the beginning of their relationship, like 10 yrs ago.
Everyone here seems to be jumping to a lot of wildly unfounded conclusions. Several people have said it was inexcusable for him to let another woman use her personal dildo. One even added the parenthetical qualifier "once it had been inside of her." AIO never says the glass dildo was ever inside of her--just that it's too big. That sounds like a toy that likely WASN'T inside of her--ever. The attachment to an unusable sex toy makes no sense to me. I'm guessing the photographer had the same idea. It's too big for heretic use, it's just taking up space in her underwear drawer. Let's stop trying to blow this little molehill up to mountain-size. Apologize and buy her a new dildo.

As for the rest of her letter, the while tale is a bit one-sided and full of holes. Big holes that the commenters seem more than willing to fill with assumptions. Take the original pornographic picture she complained about: the forklift. She says that she expressed the opinion that such pictures were pornographic rather than just erotic. She never says he promised to stop taking such pictures or that he lied about whether he was still shooting pornographic shots. She also never explains why they stopped taking their own porno shots--just that they stopped. She downplays her "emotional transgression," but seems to think it worth mentioning. She says she wanted more kink and a more fluid monogamy, but again gives no details. Several commenters seem to have decided this means he is a hypocrite--refusing to indulge her kinks while hiding his own, but he claimed he wasn't getting off on taking these pictures. I think most of you are unfounded in the assumption that he was denying her sexual outlets while secretly enjoying an outlet he had agree to eschew. Most telling of all, the LW signs off with "Am I Overreacting?" I don't know whether she is or not. She doesn't provide enough detail. But the commenters here certainly are overreacting. She doesn't need to DTMFA. She needs to sit and have a long heart-to-heart with her SO. Maybe they should go back to their own intimate photography. Maybe--assuming her kinks aren't too extreme--he'll be ready to reconsider some more interesting sex play. Theses guys don't need to burn bridges--just to cross them.
I think dan is seeing the bigger picture here, ten years is a lot to throw away when a conversation could bring them closer together and a more fulfilling sex life. Him using her dildo is the most fucked up part, and even that isn't too bad since they shelved it. They can get past it. Talk it out then spend time apart. Reflect on yourself and what you want in life. Come back ready to talk about what you want from here on out, and also be ready to listen to him. You'll get a feeling if you are still on the same path together or if this is where the road splits. Trust your gut after you give it time, other people's advice can only help you so far but your subconscious already knows what to do. I'd say mostly perfect is hard to come by, so if you really only have this one problem it'd be worth working through for me, provided he's working it out with me. Partnership really is just that, working like a team.
I'm a woman, and still, I think Dan got it right. Chaucer59, Biologist in the stix, and LateBloomer all make some good additional points.
Jesus Christ you're all terrible and they are terrible and this is stupid and everything about this is so insufferable barf.
I'm still not clear-was he making money from this? Also "anus and clitoris in full view" made me laugh for some reason.

in full view.


Also: "We special ordered it from a glassmaker in the States, to our specifications." Is the bit about the glassmaker being in the states some subtext about dildos I don't know? Are US glass dildos higher quality? Does the LW just support US business and want us to know?

Bigger picture? This guy played this woman. Presented pictures to her that were" Arty" and hid his other pictures from her. He is a sneak and a liar .
Great basis for an intimacy.
Yes. Registered user. In full view/ her pussy and her arse! And no, it doesn't look like he was making money out of it, but that part not really clear.
LW; move on. This man is a dishonest piece of work.
@22 yesterday -- The reason I "wonder" is because her resentment at what she gave up shows through the letter. She downplays the "small price" she paid, but then keeps harping on it. He's certainly not blameless, but I agree with all the posters who picked up on her damning him with faint praise--she totally sounds like she's describing an employee, not a partner. Imagine being together with someone who thinks about you in such lukewarm terms. You don't think it would be obvious?

She made a bad choice ten years ago. It was more of a problem than she thought it would be, getting together with a vanilla guy, and now she wants everything to be his fault. I'm not buying it.
Lava, the first picture he presented to her was one of the pornographic ones, so obviously in his mind what he did he wasn't cheating, otherwise he wouldn't have shown it to her. She's the one who clipped his wings at that point, which must have been confusing for him, because apparently she's the one who's been wanting more kink and a non-standard relationship. At that point he should have respected her insecurities, but if I were getting that many mixed messages from my partner I'd be giving the whole thing a rethink. Sounds like she's determined to resent him no matter what he does.
Late, She compromised. That a sin?
He has become a weird and deceitful person. How could one trust him into the future?
Late; So. Your wife takes pornographic photos, you gonna say, fine honey, or you going to say: excuse me. I'm not happy with the direction your hobby is going in?
At that point. He needed to stand up to her. Not pretend he accepted the limits she asked for, then proceed to take the pornographic pictures again.
Trust is gone.
@33: Thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only person who pictured the ridiculousness of a situation where the naked woman turned around to bare her arse and the photographer responded, "No, not that position, my wife won't allow it." Come on.

And am I the only one (besides Dan) who thinks getting some use out of an object which has been lying around for YEARS in a drawer, which will never be used again, wasn't necessarily so bad?

Yes, he told her he'd stop shooting porn, and he didn't, and he didn't fess up about it. She's right to be pissed off. But it sounds like she can use this as a springboard to get him to be more kinky with her, in other words, to her advantage.

Could she ask to be present at shoots? That might be a hot experience for both of them.
Fan; he probably directed the pose. These women are models. He designs the way they present themselves. As I understand it.
This is a ten year monogamous Union. And he says he hasn't fucked them. Would you believe him? I wouldn't. He lies. He covers his tracks/ though not well enough.
I don't know much about pornographic or erotic picture taking, but I was under the asumption that the photographer is the one directing the models to take this or that pose. And that he's the one paying the models to take pictures of them. On the other side, many of you guys say that the poses are imposed by the model, who pays the photographer. Which is more likely ?
Oh, I crossed posts with LavaGirl. I think Dan's advice is good in the mean term. But the guy also seems less than honest with his wife. So I would advise her to go along with it for the time being, but to get out of there if he still refuses to indulge anything kinky or not strictly monogamous benefitting her.
Aasking to join in the picture taking sessions could be a good test of his true interest in the relationship with his wife. My bet is he won't agree to it, though I could be mistaken.
Am I the only woman who thinks that women in general are a little bit weird when it comes to a sex toy never being put anywhere ever again in anyone ever except the specific person's specific orifice for which it was originally purchased and sanctified? I will admit that I have never shared a sex toy or used a hand-me-down (other than furtively humping my mom's non-penetrative back massager, covered in a towel, when I was a teenager) . . . but I think I could make my peace with using a sterilized sex toy that is not fresh out of the box (I mean, I wouldn't buy it off of eBay, but something that a partner has already as part of a collection? sure). I'm willing to allow penises in my vagina, and they have been in other vaginas. Ladies who only get with ladies, those fingers (and that tongue) -- guess what! -- have been inside other ladies, too. And as for this particular dildo being made of glass? Pffffft! You can honest-to-god sterilize the hell out of glass -- no worries whatsoever about porosity.

So OK, I can see having problems with the husband not asking to use her dildo, but all of these comments about "No, never again, dildos are pair-bonded for life with the original purchase" seem silly to me.
As everyone's saying, he probably directed the pose, but even if the model did it spontaneously, the idea it would have rendered him helpless to do anything but break his word to his wife is stupid. "BUT MY WIFE WOULDN'T LIKE IT" is not the only way of telling someone no.

"Hmm -- try facing me instead/ not quite so low/put your knee on the stool" [otherwise directs her into a different pose]

"That's a little more extreme than I want to go for this shoot."
@47 -- My tastes are irrelevant. The LW has a previously stated liking for kink and non-traditional relationships, and has a vaguely martyred attitude about putting up with her parnter's vanilla tastes, which is why I find her reaction confusing. She's finally getting what she wants: he starts the whole thing off by bringing his kinks to her, to share them with her--and she pushes him away. That tells me she is resentful and controlling to some degree, and inconsistent. He's no angel, but she has to own her share of the problem.
This is a classic "Break the fuck up already" situation. 21 and 24 are correct; she doesn't love him, and never has; his value to her is only as an employee. He may or may not love her, but it doesn't matter because he's still a really shitty partner.

Reading between the lines: She cheated, then spent ten years constantly accusing him of cheating and/or of wanting to cheat, including pretending that taking pictures is sex. So that's the kind of person she is. Now, let's talk about her peach of a partner, because 24 says it all:
"DTMFA. This is the typical type of man who acts more vanilla than vanilla beans because he's unwilling to process, accept and share his kinks, and sooner or later turns out to be indulging them elsewhere. It's not just the breach of faith that makes his behavior so hurtful - it's also the fact that this shows he is uninterested in an honest, intimate conversation with the LW."

LW: You made a couple of really bad decisions a little while ago. Break up, and stop trying to blame your bad decisions on other people. You won't lose anything you haven't already lost. Next time, look for a partner you actually like, instead of just a good employee.
Since the Glass Menagerie angle has been adequately discussed here, I will say it's interesting that this was not a "snooping" case. There is the entire prologue of "the document," and him letting her use the computer. Which means that part of him didn't care if she found that particular file folder or not. It would seem he left Mr. Chekov's gun out in plain sight with a box of ammunition sitting right next to it. How much of this was an intentional (albeit stupid) way of starting dialogue, as are many letters actually written to Dan in the hopes the Other Significant ("who is a long-time reader") sees it?

Or if he is really that dumb then the LW is better off with someone else. Either which way, there is a novel's worth of material here and we're only seeing a brief synopsis.
I'm going to guess that Mr Savage thought LW was looking to be told to stay, though I could also opine that his response sounds along a similar line to his telling people whose loved ones have clearly been in the wrong to presume the absolute least-bad-case scenario ("they had inadvertently fallen deeply in love, the marriage was on the verge of breaking up anyway and they just jumped the gun a bit" instead of "Linnet never admitted it, but she did deliberately set out to lure Simon away from Jackie").
In retrospect, I think Dan was correct to tell her to get over it. After all, that's the only way to keep these jerks safely away from the dating market.
The longer the story - the shorter the truth. The LW went to such lengths to position herself as the victim here, but of what? She doesn't mind "boudoir photography", but pornography is over the line. What line is that, anyway? Is she, unlike Justice Potter Stewart, actually able to define pornography? And what are these kinks she wanted to explore that her man was too "vanilla" to engage? We are never told. I'd suggest DTMFA, but I'd be suggesting that the shutterbug be the one dumping his controlling partner!
I'm just curious where the chorus of "She was horrible to have snooped in the first place even if she found something" folks are. Because she did snoop. Sorry, the story that she was innocently just opening an old word document and suddenly, out of the blue, with no intent on her part, her husbands cache of homemade erotic photographs just jumped out and startled her by opening up right in front of her unsuspecting nose is absolute BS.

I thinks she has a right to be mad, but typically snooping brings down a rabid condemnation even when it turns out the person being snooped on really was hiding something they shouldn't have been. But oddly not this time.

Oh, and your hobby can be a business too, that you actually get paid for. I have a 9-5 job that ensures I can pay my rent and have health coverage steadily. But my hobby, which is tough as a full time career, still makes me a nice bit of money as a part time occupation on the side, involves clients who sometimes have very specific requests and needs, and uses contracts and deposits and all that fun legal stuff. It's a hobby, in that I do it because I enjoy it outside of my "bread and butter" job, but it is still a business.
1) You can't give away your partner's things. Certainly not intimate items. "Honey, you haven't worn that lingerie in forever! In fact, it doesn't even fit! But it does fit this other lady soo..." If straight men think that would fly, they're in for a world of hurt. Zero to furious, pretty much any woman.
2) Fucking yourself with a dildo is a sex act. For one thing, that's clearly NOT boudior photography. Not a blurry line, and I say this as a model -fetish, pinup, etc. it's always clear when you are modeling. For another, it's a sex act, and most monogamous women would not do that and kid themselves that they're honoring their word. Witnessing it doesn't excuse the man. He's violating their monogamy, and any arguments to the contrary are letter vs spirit debates.
3) If he honestly thought she'd be cool with it, she would know about both the dildo and the photos. If this happened yesterday, we'd be having a different debate. He hid it because he knew he was being an asshole.
4) When you've already crossed the "stole my wife's dildo and encouraged someone else to fuck herself with it" line, there's really not a lot of reason to believe you haven't gone all the way. This isn't some "she flashed me and I didn't know what to do". He provided the toy. He's clearly complicit if not the instigator.
5) I'm kinky. My partner isn't (yet). I'd be hell of furious if he wasn't sharing any emerging kinks with me. You like to cook? I like to eat! What the fuck are you doing hiding your cooking and cooking for someone else?
6) He's a fool. Having been the open, kinky partner, I can tell you that nothing chaps your ass more than the partner who you would allow damn-near anything to going behind your back. It's stupid, and worse, it's selfish. He wants his cake but for her not to have hers. This is super common unfortunately, and really shitty behavior. We're equal or we're not - you don't get to decide to indulge yourself, lie about it, while knowing I'm not and keep your "good partner" card.
Last, this is really infuriating as a woman who's willing to go anywhere with you. It hurts, badly, that someone can take advantage of your perks and then go off and do something with someone else who doesn't see the whole picture. Of course it's fun - who doesn't like escapism? Real intimacy is figuring out your kinks with someone who matters. Being vulnerable. It's a cop-out when men hide their kinks from their wags. It's intimacy-killing and cowardly.
DTMFA. And he can see if any of those models wants to wash his dirty underwear for him.
#61 has it in the first line. You don't just give away your partner's intimate items. As I said before, I'm hugely tolerant and have far less issues with jealously than the men in my life have had--so I'm not coming from a narrow perspective. But there is a balance involving context and consideration that makes it all work. I'm monogamish and have never had a problem with my partners have sex or being in love with someone else. But if my husband took my favorite dress (and I don't have but one) and gave it to his girlfriend, or a pair of earrings...that would feel as if I was being taken advantage of and my feelings were secondary to pleasing someone else. If he had asked and there was a level on which I knew my feelings were being considered in the matter, I would probably let her borrow it. All about the sense of consideration. So the dildo? It was about them as a couple, and he should have known it. He should have known it. She sounds as if she is pretty tolerant within the agreement of their marriage--sounds as if he was taking advantage of that tolerance. Maybe he isn't a wholesale jerk--people make mistakes--but now start being nicer to your partner. And her emotional connection in the past that some here are referring to as if it's the same? You can't help who you get crushes on, just as you can't help who you lust after. In my opinion there is no point in blaming your partner for such things. It's how you handle yourself that matters, Yeah I called him a jerk, above. But maybe he isn't. Maybe he is a normally good guy who took advantage of what he perceived is his wife's fairly broad minded attitude (she would have been open to less traditional relationship--he was the one that wasn't). So considering that, of course she feels hurt. And I've nothing against porn--but there truly is a difference between erotic dress up photography and the hard core stuff described. Not a blurry line. Talk about it first, dude. Maybe you crossed a line but that normally you are a thoughtful guy. Just talk about it--and don't hold your partner to standards you yourself don't want to keep (I have a hard time believing him asserting he wouldn't mind if she was the model in similar photography, given what she said about him being closed to many of her early suggestions)

Context and sensitivity. Grow those muscles and you might earn yourself a lot more latitude. As a woman, those things make all the difference to me. Not much is out of bounds if I trust my partner to use a developed emotional IQ.
She broke their sexual, monogamous agreement 10 years ago and accepted years of punishment to stay with him. She should have known that falling in love with another would kill their relationship. It was wrong of her to hide that she was falling in love with another, or to pursue another relationship before breaking off the current one.

He broke two sexual, monogamous agreements. He should have known that her description of the line between pornish shots and art, that the ability to distinguish genital details and asshole that made her uncomfortable, was her monogamous boundary (and he did know since he saved them! for himself but hid them from her). And he should have known not to touch her toys without permission, or involve them in activities she disapproved of. It was wrong of him to hide that he was continuing to take pornish shots and to hide what he did to her dildo.

I can see where the guys are coming from, to wonder if she turned her back on raw attraction for material needs, by giving up on the first affair. It doesn't seem wise to me either, she may have chosen companionate love over sex, but there's no accounting for taste.
Since I wasn't rabidly on the man's side, I was able to notice shit like this:
The fact that he doesn’t feel like he’s done anything wrong in taking those pictures (other than the permission aspect)
The only thing that makes anything "right" or "wrong" in a relationship is the permission aspect. You are either following the mutual agreement or not following it. Right or wrong. This was no miscommunication of the fine print, this is systematic disrespect. It seems like Dan and the dude are trying to wheedle out of that conclusion, but that just makes the burn worse. But maybe she can live with what he needs, and he can be happy doing it above board, if she's getting her needs met too --> and they get happy enough to forgive each other.
I hate it when I hit post by accident.
@52, I really don't think that the LW's dildo issue is about it having been inside another woman the way her husband's penis probably once touched another woman. Her problem is that he used that dildo in a way that violated their monogamous agreement, the same way using his penis in another woman since their monogamous commitment would have been a betrayal.

This isn't really an issue of "you endangered my health by touching someone else's business with a fully sterilizable object", this is a "you enabled someone to commit a sex act in front of you, using an object that was part of our private intimate life".

and, at all of the people who say she's controlling for caring what kind of photos he's taking, I don't think it's ridiculous for someone to feel threatened by their partner doing something that involves them so intimately in someone else's sexual expression if they are choosing to be monogamous. It is fine that she is uncomfortable with anything, and it's not controlling for her to voice that. He could have said "it is really important to me to be able to express my creativity however I see fit, and if you're not comfortable with that then this won't work".
@65: "using an object that was part of our private intimate life".

There's no indication that he sees it that way, which seems to be a common problem here: Agreements aren't agreements until both people agree. "Our private intimate life" isn't just a label that the woman gets to use; for it to be unobjectionably true, they'd both have to think that, and her shitforbrains husband apparently doesn't.

Given that she cheated, then spent ten years accusing him of being a cheater and being resentful of his lack of interest in nonmonogamy, I can kind of see why they haven't had any open conversations about this.
@phil: It's cool how you lie about stuff like this: "Since I wasn't rabidly on the man's side..."

Quote one person who was "rabidly on the man's side." One single person. You're freaking out that not quite everyone was rabidly on the woman's side, the same way everyone with an entitlement complex always does.
This couple has longstanding problems: she settled for someone who wasn’t interested in the kind of sex she likes, and she feels that for years he didn’t forgive her for her extramarital adventure. Now he’s hiding his activities from her, and she’s snooping.

I think Chaucer59 @37 is right: “These guys don't need to burn bridges--just to cross them.” (If they can, together) And honeybunny @38 is right that they should start here:
>> Talk it out then spend time apart. Reflect on yourself and what you want in life. Come back ready to talk about what you want from here on out, and also be ready to listen to him. You'll get a feeling if you are still on the same path together or if this is where the road splits >>

Counseling might help too, since they seem to have a history of not communicating well.
@68 She didn't have an extramarital affair. She became emotionally intimate with someone else. I hate the term "emotional affiar" because it's fuzzily defined (as opposed to cheating in a sexually monogamous relationship, which does have a pretty clear definition even if there are a few grey areas), and because it can easily slide into policing the other person's emotional attachments. I think it's valid to be upset about an "emotional affair" because it's a threat to your relationship, but it is not cheating the way having sexual behaviour with someone else is cheating.
@69: If having an emotional affair isn't cheating because there was no sex, taking pictures of people also isn't cheating because there was no sex. It's reasonable to say "no fudging the definition!" but then you should not fudge the definition.

I'd be surprised if there was no "sexual behavior" in her affair, given that she spent the next ten years trying to find ways to call her husband a cheater. She clearly got caught cheating, or almost cheating. She's more of a cheater than he is, and she's rounding him up to "cheater," so...
@66 I take your point about it being critical that both parties must understand the boundaries for them to be respected, but I think it's pretty charitable to say that he didn't think it was crossing a boundary because he didn't ask to use it (common courtesy for giving someone else a shared object to use), and hid the resulting work from her (which he doesn't do with photos he knows she wouldn't be threatened by).

Also, I'm not sure where you are getting "spent ten years accusing him of being a cheater" from - is that the case? All I see here is that a few years ago (many years into their relationship), she asked him not to continue a particular element of his new hobby, to which he agreed (when later continued to do deceitfully).

Obviously she is carrying some resentment about being non-manogamous (I think there are very few LTRs that are ENTIRELY free of resentment), but seeing as she paid the price for years for stepping outside the fuzzy lines, I can understand how hurt she is by him stepping outside the (IMO) less fuzzy lines..
@69, right, that's why I called it an extramarital adventure, not an affair. "Adventure," because it seems like the outside attachment was stimulating on some level for some time, and "extramarital" because it seems like her husband was not welcome to share in the adventure.
I'd dump his ass.
This person is incredibly unlikable. The guy should get the hell out of there.
I thought this was a slam-dunk DTMFA. Add me to the list of people who get why another woman using your own dildo is a shitty thing to do. And while yes, I agree with the handful of people who say his side might add some light, unless the LW is outright making stuff up, this to me is a story rife with hypocrisy.
@71: "but I think it's pretty charitable to say that he didn't think it was crossing a boundary... "

Granted. I'll quibble that Mr. Shitforbrains doesn't seem like the kind of person who thinks very well, but yes; it's being charitable, though it's amusing that when I called him "shitforbrains," someone said I was being pretty charitable.

True, but still amusing.

"Also, I'm not sure where you are getting "spent ten years accusing him of being a cheater" from - is that the case? "

While I mentioned in 55 that this was reading between the lines a bit, consider this line:
"I feel like I’ve been replaced and cheated on."

She--the one who had the affair--literally used the word "cheating" to describe non-cheating conduct from a partner who hasn't had an affair. What a shithead.

"All I see here is that a few years ago (many years into their relationship), she asked him not to continue a particular element of his new hobby"

Who's being too generous now? You also seem to leave out that the person whose fidelity is being questioned is the partner who got cheated on, not the partner who had the affair.

What matters is this: Be wary of people who define "cheating" very narrowly when it comes to something they did, and very broadly when it comes to their spouse's behavior. Especially when their own episode came first.

It's disgusting for the person who cheats to cast aspersions on the one who doesn't. Common, but disgusting. We should stop encouraging it. Once you cheat, your right to accuse a non-cheating spouse of cheating is gone forever.

Cheating while accusing the non-cheater of cheating is textbook abusive behavior.
I'll go against the tide here as it seems to me that this relationship is not hopelessly doomed. I think it would be a good idea for this lady to get more dramatically angry at her husband, who needs to understand the damage he did, to feel genuinely sorry for it and to start behaving differently. I also feel that it's one of those cases where having the husband's point of view would be very informative. I wouldn't be surprised that unlike what she claims here, he always got signals from here that she was not the GGG type at all - that he would have to do these little photo sessions on the side in order to have some kind of interesting sex life. We don't have his view on all this so we can't know.
Anyhow, I think this is totally salvageable (is that a word?). And for you ladies who, every time Dan has this kind of tolerant advice for this kind of cheating-by-hubby problem, rush in the comments section like a hoard of angry bulls to demand that the lady dumps his man while insulting Dan, I would say this: obviously you never have long-term relationship if you are that drastic and intolerant. And obviously, you are the type of person to ignore your own failures while harshly judging the failures of these men.
@76 She's not cheating. She is being VERY broad with the word cheating for herself. Humans sometimes get emotional attachments outside of our power. She never did anything physical and she's owned up to it and even called herself a "cheater" which I think is a bit of a leap. But that is over with and done. You cannot keep calling her a "cheater". That isn't how LTRs work.

He was the one doing things on the sly. Hiding photos, using her things without asking. Even if it was her curling iron that is NOT right. He didn't ask her not because he didn't think she didn't care about the dildo, but because he KNEW he was doing something SNEAKY with it.

Your dislike of women is leaking through again.
I'll go against the tide here as it seems to me that this relationship is not hopelessly doomed. I think it would be a good idea for this lady to get more dramatically angry at her husband, who needs to understand the damage he did, to feel genuinely sorry for it and to start behaving differently. I also feel that it's one of those cases where having the husband's point of view would be very informative. I wouldn't be surprised that unlike what she claims here, he always got signals from here that she was not the GGG type at all - that he would have to do these little photo sessions on the side in order to have some kind of interesting sex life. We don't have his view on all this so we can't know.
Anyhow, I think this is totally salvageable (is that a word?). And for you ladies who, every time Dan has this kind of tolerant advice for this kind of cheating-by-hubby problem, rush in the comments section like a hoard of angry bulls to insult Dan and demand that the lady immediately dumps his man, I would say this: obviously you never have long-term relationships if you are that drastic and intolerant. And obviously, you are the type of person to ignore your own failures while harshly judging the failures of others.
A. Dump anyone who snoops. On The Spot.

B. Making up patently ridiculous rules for your partner to follow means you don't care about them. Go fuck yourself.
@77 I agree. This isn't a doomed relationship at all. But like you said, he needs to own up to what he did and they need to renegotiate their ideas of monogamy.
I'm less focused on the details of what he did. She doesn't seem so worried about that.

What she's upset about is that he can't see/admit that he did something wrong. My focus was there, because what she is upset about isn't what happened as much as the fact that it broke rules she felt were understood, and he agrees it broke rules but isn't communicating to her satisfaction either his remorse or his commitment to make things better.

And that's where a lot of long term relationships start to fray, is in the "here's how I'll fix things" category.

So I think that's where they need help. I think she can easily forgive him, but they need to establish both where communication broke down and how they can prevent the same thing from happening over and over.

Dumping someone after 10 years because they took dirty pictures would be silly. Dumping someone after 10 years because they did something that hurt you and seemed unconcerned about it seems like a good life choice.
I work in the photography industry as an actual paid professional photographer I also run a lab for developing film. If he does Boudoir photography as his wife stated then there is a massive difference between that and soft porn which the dildo shots are. There is NO blurry line there. Boudoir should be tasteful shots tending to be more beauty shots but with less clothing. As for art nude shots well the majority of what most GWC's (guy with camera) do are not art and frankly I'm sick of them calling their dodgy shit art. Art requires an actual thought process, even the people who take really explicit photographs of women or men for their art have meaning behind what they do. You don't have to agree with it or like it but when there is real intent behind the work it becomes art. This reeks of the sort of shit most of us as photographers have to fight against. The bullshit hobby dude calling himself professional pretending he has actual clients taking dodgy pictures. The rest of the industry is rolling their eyes at him.

If he is completely above board in what he does then he should take his wife with him to a shoot as an assistant to watch the process or even just to be there when shoots like this happen. This is what all professional photographers do in this situation. Maybe not their wife but there should be other witnesses so that you can always be sure you are protected as well as your client from any accusations and to keep things in a professional environment.

Also when looking at this sort of photographers portfolio you can usually tell if they are legit immediately by looking for them men. Are their men in the portfolio? NO then probably not a professional photographer but a GWC.

If he can't tell his wife what he does then he's aware that it's not ok ... PERIOD!

He shouldn't have taken her dildo whether she uses it or not its her intimate property and clearly has sentimental value for her.

You are so off on this one Dan it's not funny.
@13 Gotta love a guy who pretended to be bi and dated women for years calling out women for not being forthcoming enough.
And as for where the communication broke down, ask him why he chose to continue taking the pictures when she asked him to stop, and what went through his mind when that was happening.

Did he feel her rule was unreasonable but not know how to assert himself with her?

Did he feel her rule was reasonable but couldn't assert himself with the clients?

Did he feeel her rule was reasonable but kind of enjoyed breaking it?

So many options here.
Epic letter. Epic comment thread. What I haven't seen discussed is the problematic nature of erotic photography as a hobby/side business.

Should an alcoholic work in a bar? Should an newly ex-smoker go to an all-guys poker game where there is smoking? Should an unrepentant speeder buy a sports car? Should a straight dude be photographing naked women unsupervised? What could possibly go wrong?!? Of god-damn-fucking course, there is going to be mission creep. She can either be all non-monogamously cool with some lines getting crossed and corrections being required, or she can "trust but verify" more actively than snooping after several years.

He did lots of minor things wrong (loaning out dildo = tone deaf and wrong; versus fucking your sister = much more wronger), but she's on this weird high&mighty horse about these transgressions.

But 21 got to the punchline first - she's not in love or in lust with him anymore (sounds like she never was) and they each should be with someone else.

He gave her a tactical nuclear button to slam. She's treating it as a full-on strategic launch of all ICBMs and wants Dan's permission to slam that button. She has my permission. For both their sakes.
I used to be a photographer. I did plenty of model portfolios and plenty of nudes. Other guys were really jealous of my work. But I was never aroused once because I was so focused on lighting, composition, shadow, f-stop, speed, background, depth-of-field, the mother/boyfriend breathing down my neck, that there was nothing at all sexy about the projects from my end. I was in "creation mode" and definitely not "let's get it on mode." I have some great images I can look at, but they are not what you think they are no matter how naked and sexy the model might have been.
And since I see a lot of pretty negative reactions, I just want to point out that she is OK with his taking boudoir photos of other women. Most of us just wouldn't be OK with that. She didn't like the porn, but she didn't seem completely horrified by it either, just by the fact that he didn't stop when she asked him to.

Which, you know, most of the time we ask our spouses/SOs to stop doing things, they don't. Not to be a relationship party pooper, but that's just reality. The image that our wants are going to make our SOs give up porn, or masturbation, or gambling, or expensive wine, or whatever is just our fantasy of relationships. The reality is that we just drive them underground. People don't tend to change because we ask them tom
Lots of thoughtful comments here already - they both sound unhappy and resentful to me. I get why she's upset about the dildo thing, but I can also see why he has been hiding things. She is so sure of herself and her opinion - is there room for anything else? She made a mistake in paying the "small price"For whatever reason, she stopped putting her needs on the table years ago, and she is pissed about it. Now that he's finding his own kink, her anger comes up and she can't deal. But that's not so much about him and his passive-aggressive bullshit, as much as her own failure to take proper care of herself and stop putting herself at the mercy of his passive-aggressive bullshit.
Anyone who hides something, is hiding it for a reason. Plain and simple. If he was so "relaxed" about his job and had nothing to hide, he would have been open and honest from the start.
#90 he had it because she told him she didn't want him to do it.

He didn't hide it at first.
Dan is right.
Dan, #1 was one of those things that seems perfectly fine to a man and is clearly a violation of intimacy to a woman.
Maybe she simply neglected to mention the lighting intern who is always with her husband during the shoots? ;)

Seems the issue has been beaten to death already...but i'll add my voice to the chorus of "a penetrative sex toy belongs to the hole its been in,...and no other..."

LW - you sound like a typical busy body. Your husband probably decided that the risk of this causing a fight was worth it...just to avoid "negotiating" with you. Not excusing him... but you know the saying..."its easier to ask for forgiveness than permission". And maybe he simply doesn't care if you grant him either anymore. The letter defines some very specific grievances.... but your relationship is floundering for some very general reasons.

Dan- wish you'd tell use country of origin on some of these letters. Naturally, i always assume USA for obvious reasons... but... this letter came from elsewhere.... so.... where?
Anemone is right, and so is David in Kenai. She should dump him--before he dumps her, unless he's financially dependent on her, in which case he'lll go back to the original tactic of lying.
93, that doesn't mean the woman is correct by default. Both parties own equal shares in a relationship. Equal doesn't mean one of you gets to decide what matters and the other doesn't.
@2 there's a line between shady and trying to be protective. If he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong but knows his wife doesn't like it, it's less shady than it would otherwise be. I suspect he actively sought out these clients (its possible he gained a reputation, but it seems unlikely) for what I would agree are fundamentally porn (my definition: designed to deliver sexual pleasure to the viewer, rather than the subject)
Like almost every man-woman conflict, this is really about Control. AIO wants exclusive control over her partners sexual output. This is a societally agreed upon ideal. As I argued on another thread, this is in conflict with a male's basic desire to have an unlimited number of sex partners. Just like porn, this is a watered down substitute - he gets to imagine unlimited sex partners instead of have them. I think it's a fair compromise.

All that being said, he should not have allowed anyone to use his wife's dildo. Strangers should not share dildos, needles, condoms, whatever.
@96 A violation of intimacy is a subjective thing and there is no right or wrong about it. My vibrators and dildos go in MY holes only. Just as my toothbrush goes in my mouth only. A person is perfectly entitled to make those decisions and there is LITERALLY no argument against it.
You get what you settle for.
Can we talk about the REAL gold in this letter? I want to see that picture.... squatting on forklift forks and taken from below? damn.

Seems a lot of comments this week are conveniently ignoring the fact that the letters states it wasnt just her husband and the model in the room....

"though he claims he was not aroused and that it was all business, not pleasure, and that her husband was present (which I do believe, but doesn’t make a difference in my mind)."

Its not uncommon at all for couples to have erotic photos taken by someone else. Do some of you seriously suppose that the photographer of said pics is by default cheating on his wife?