Savage Love Letter of the Day: Help! My Boyfriend's Son Saw My Sexy Vacation Pics!

Comments

1
Great response. But it's "don't tell your boyfriend's son you're sorry," not "your sorry."
2
Jesus. Yes Dan, she should do nothing. Show no indication she knows he saw them or tell his father. The boys response is promising, he didn't start leering at her.
I had a friend who found his mother's racy, nude photos. It happens.
He's fifteen. Lots of stiff socks hanging round his bedroom.
Keep your distance LW, and be appropriate in how you are around him. It'll pass.
3
She should not give the "keep your eyes off people's stuff" message. The dad could, I guess, but no reason to do it right now and associate it with this incident. In fact after this it may not be necessary.
4
Dan, step back a bit and remember that teenagers are not adults. They have diminished executive function and hormones running on overdrive.
I'd like to offer an alternative hypothesis: the kid is deeply ashamed not simply over seeing the photos, but because he was turned on by them. Remember, the westermark effect doesn't apply to dad's girlfriend, and nothing stops you from feeling sick to your stomach over the quasi-incestuous sexual thrill you get from seeing the sexy pics of the woman dad is fucking.
5
CLICKED should mention something to her boyfriend. Like, "Hey, don't put our homemade porn where anyone else can find it!" Maybe this was Mr. CLICKED's computer, but it might be a family computer, which means CLICKED Jr. is going to be on that machine from time-to-time. If so, Mr. CLICKED should have a word with his son after it has been pointed out that he carelessly left that folder on the desk top. CLICKED Jr. won't necessarily assume CLICKED asked Mr. CLICKED to say anything.

Also, now might be a good time for Mr. CLICKED to learn how to password protect those kind of files.
6
Yeah, the response is great and all, but who the hell keeps porn and porn like stuff on their fucking desktop??

Maybe I'm a relic from the "family computer" days but I still keep my stuff in a somewhat hidden folder. I keep my porn in a password protected folder on my phone, despite my phone needing a password to unlock it.
7
Pretend it never happened. You walked in on your parents (or in my case, grandparents) having sex at some point, or you walked in on someone else. Kid is 15, he has all types of awkward feelings about sex. In a few years he'll realize that essentially 100% of all people have sex and it's not weird or awkward and he'll feel silly. We all realize that adults aren't special at some point.
8
Agree with @5: What if it's a family computer? It's a tad socio-economic-classist (if you'll allow a ridiculous expression) to assume that the 15-year-old kid also has his own computer. There may just be the one for the family. If that's the case, the conversation needs to be with the boyfriend, and include a discussion about thumb drives and useful naming algorithms (e.g. don't name sexy pics 'sexy pics' when you live with someone else who ought not see them). In fact, that conversation should probably happen even if the kid has his own computer.
9
I’m with unknown @ 4 re the confused boy and think the issue needs to be addressed in a short, supportive, general manner.
First, is there a way to make sure thE file was indeed opened at the assumed time? If yes, then gf should share this information with dad as it seems like it has already reshaped the family dynamic.

Saying something short and simple to the boy can put things in perspective and also assure him he did nothing wrong. What’s the family dynamic like? Is it something the father can convey easier and more effectively?
“Hey young man, as I’m sure you know me and gf relationship include sex. This may be expressed in different ways. I promise your privacy will always be respected.”

The boy just saw stepmom’s sexy pics. He is confused and possibly resentful for several reasons. Leaving the subject untouched, hoping it “will go away on its own,” will only enhance his confusion and possibly send the wrong message regarding how to deal with sexual issues.

10
I thought Dan’s response — the carelessness and/or intoxication is evident in the rampant typos — was both unjustifiably harsh and completely off-base. For unspecified, idiotic reasons, Dan’s response assumes that this boy has his own computer and/or tablet — even though, were that the case, it would be unclear why he would need to use his father’s in the first place. Finding fault with this adolescent boy for violating the LW’s privacy is completely absurd — it’s a position that LW herself explicitly rejects. Here’s what happened: BF was irresponsible with his private photos (was this the first time his son needed access to the computer?), and a confused and horny 15-year-old clicked on some provocative file names and regretted it. That is all.

LW should chastise the BF (not rake him over the coals, we all make mistakes), and then the boy’s father should apologize to him (“I think maybe you saw something you weren’t supposed to. Sorry I wasn’t more careful. It’s not LW’s fault”), and then, if possible, offer to buy him a new computer for the reasons Dan gives — he’s at that age. (“I was thinking that with your school assignments [or some other bullshit reason] you should probably have your own computer.”)
11
@4/unknown_entity does make a good point, if CLICKED Jr. is 15, Mr. CLICKED could be 42 or 43, and CLICKED could be 35 or 36. Its very easy to imagine that CLICKED Jr. was turned on by seeing CLICKED in a state of semi-dress.

However, I'm not sure that I agree with @9/CMDwannabe that CLICKED Jr. did nothing wrong. He did snoop into a file that even at 15 he knew that his father and his father's girlfriend would not have wanted him to see. That's not a high crime, and neither Mr. CLICKED or CLICKED should treat it as such, but it was a knowing violation of their privacy, and CLICKED Jr. would have known that when he snooped.

In any event, this is a good time for Mr. CLICKED to open a discussion about sex, porn, dating, and his relationship with CLICKED, and some other things that CLICKED Jr. should start hearing about at age 15.

I would add one other reason that Mr. CLICKED should mention something to CLICKED Jr. The Mr. CLICKED's ex-wife might hear about these photos from CLICKED Jr.
12
Yes! Tell Dad to keep shit like that buried deep in the files with an innocuous folder name like "Broccoli Recipes" or something. Imagine this scenario, which is VERY LIKELY to happen. A) Kid finds sexy photos. B) Kid posts sexy photos to the web where they multiply and spread like bunnies. C) Your photos are now shared with every perv and pimple-faced dweeb between Moscow and Kalamazoo. This isn't Kid's responsibility, it's Dad's.
13
I can see two possible options. No matter which one the LW does, she and her boyfriend should immediately rename the file something boring and innocuous that is unlikely to be clicked on (I like "Broccoli Recipes"). They should learn from this and keep anything they don't want seen more discretely. Even if everyone has his/her own computer, sometimes people borrow others.

Option 1 is the say-nothing-and-ignore-it option. Chances are the kid is both embarrassed and maybe turned on--which also embarrasses him. Give it time to cool down and blow over. Just act as if everything's normal. Sooner or later, it will be. It doesn't sound like the kid was actively snooping; the LW calls the file clickbait and she said the kid had to use the dad's computer, implying that he doesn't generally use it.

Option 2: Dad has a talk with the kid: "Hey, I think you might have seen some photos that were supposed to be private when you borrowed my computer last week. I bet you're embarrassed right now. Janet is embarrassed, too. In the future, don't open files that clearly aren't meant for you. But also, I certainly hope you didn't post those photos anywhere or share them with anyone, because that's a serious invasion of Janet's privacy."

In either case, depending on the nature of his relationship with his son's mom, the dad should do a preemptive disclosure before mom gets a story about how slutty dad's girlfriend is and how inappropriately she and dad flaunt their sex life around the kid.

And in either case, Janet and dad should not apologize for anything and shouldn't act guilty of anything.

14
Yeah, I'm with @5 and others, Upbraid the damn boyfriend for being so careless with the saucy photos! Christ. WTthefuckF, dad?

Why does his son have access to dad's login anyway? Family computer sure, but different users get different logins. Make a separate account for the son so that there's no accidental viewing of anything parental. Why doesn't dad have an "admin" level login, and "the family" or son have a "guest" level login?

Lord knows if the son hasn't already gone through dad's web browsing history...

And one word of caution against "deeply buried" (but not password protected) folders. Once a kid learns how to do searches, or gets curious about command-line access to a computer (budding geek, perhaps?), "deeply buried" means nothing at all when you can simply search the entire hard drive for *.jpg ...

Permissions-separated logins will prevent those types of comprehensive searches also.
15
Not sure about the kid posting any of the pictures, but my guess is that a need to revisit the file is very likely in order to figure out what is going on, maybe also admitting the pictures are way too sexy despite the confusion.
Please hide it for everyone’s sake and also talk to him.
Despite of what we think we know about 15 yo’s in the information age there can still be lots of confusion and wrong assumptions.

Sadly, I should also echo pythag3 @ 10 in regards to the uncharacteristic typos, double words and possible carelessness.
16
I agree that the kid was probably aroused by the photos and now feels uncomfortable. But that's just another reason to let it go, not one to have a "talk" with him about it. Because if he's uncomfortable now, how uncomfortable is he going to be when he's forced to talk about it? Other discussions that have been going on all along, one would hope, have already told him that his response would be natural, and that while we don't necessarily want to think about the adults we know having sexual lives, they all do.

Discussions about, and accommodations for, privacy should also have been happening all along. this kid needs his own privacy, and he needs to learn how to respect that of other people. It's his parents' job to make this happen.

If all this hasn't been ongoing since he was three years old and was being taught to give other people bathroom privacy, and not to masturbate in public, well, it's probably too late now - he's officially a mess, anyway. And if it has been being taught all along, it's fine, it's just an awkward incident.
17
Shame on the dad for allowing unencrypted sleaze in a child's reach.
18
It's not sleaze raindrop. It's a few pictures of a woman in lingerie. Like you'd see in adverts for lingerie.. it's just these pictures are of the boy's dad's gf.
I'm conflicted re saying anything to the father. Once he knows, the boy will be doubly embarrassed. Perhaps the LW could casually check that her bf has secured any racy photos, etc.
19
But but ...... aren’t we disregarding the fact that the kid lives in todays day and age.... I’ll bet the young lad has been actively viewing porn for at least three years now. So, compared to what he can find out there. The saucy photos in question are nothing.

Just a thought to spur further thinking and comment
20
Those folders are supposed to be labeled WORK STUFF. C'mon people.
21
It's not really snooping of someone reads the diary you have left open on the living room coffee table.

And it isn't snooping if you leave a folder labeled "Sexy Vacation Pics" on a shared computer.

All blame for this rests with the boyfriend.

LW's best course of action is to confront the boyfriend and say, "Why on earth did you leave those photos on the desktop like that? What if your son had seen them?!" and not mention that she thinks the son may have seen them lest the boyfriend do something to make it even more awkward.

For all we know, the kid opened the folder, saw one picture and rushed to close it, and is still just weirded out.
22
@18 - Yeah, @21 has a better take on it than me.
23
How many years is it now that your bog-standard personal computer has user-level security? Go yell at Boyfriend to make a user account for his son (without admin privileges!), make sure all his own data is stored in his own account folders, not public places, and change his damn password. Problem solved.
24
If he's 15 he's seen porn before. Best to have that conversation about privacy, asap.
25
Woops, re @2, now I've read Dan's response thru, rather than mindlessly skimming.
The boy is showing signs of being freaked out, and how would talking to him about privacy right now, be of any benefit.
Dan's post is too coherent for him to be intoxicated.
26
Ok, it's also very likely that the kid didn't click the links and has something else going on entirely. Maybe he's just angsty about his favorite band breaking up or something - teens are like that. Since the folder was so clearly labeled, he probably saw it and went "nooooope, not clicking." Also, no, he doesn't need a talk about "maybe you saw some sexy pictures." He's old enough to understand that if Daddy has a girlfriend they're probably sexually active and no more needs to be said on that subject.

Tell Dad to have an admin account for himself and a guest account for the kid, and also to not leave the photo folder right out in plain view - wtf, Dude?
27
Yup, agree with those who say, say nothing to the son. Tell boyfriend that he's violated your privacy by basically inviting his teenage son to look at sexy photos of you. Either buy the kid his own computer, or (I mean "and"), hide that shit better.

Cautionary tale: I once hid self-porn so well I forgot it was in a folder named "work stuff" and deleted it. D'oh!
28
@26: His favorite band breaking up wouldn't result in a heretofore "very affectionate" kid suddenly acting weird and avoiding his dad's girlfriend. And there's probably no 15-year-old boy on the planet who could resist clicking on something labeled "Janet's Sexy Vacation Pics." And the weirdness started right after he used Dad's computer.

It is interesting that the LW doesn't seem to blame Dad at all. But chalk this up to "lesson learned: hide your private stuff better, whether through encryption, password protection, boring misdirection, or whatever you like." And as far as embarrassment goes, finding your dad's girlfriend's provocative lingerie photos or knowing your boyfriend's son has seen your provocative lingerie photos is pretty benign. Someday, they'll both laugh about it.
29
BDF @ 27 - I deleted ALL the self-porn photos I took with my ex the same way, We used to have orgies at home and all that, there were thousands of them (photos). I still hate myself for that.

Naming the folder "Broccoli recipes" is not good. It's my favourite vegetable since I was a kid, and at 15, I sometimes cooked for my family (my mom wanted me to be ready to face the world when I left home, so she taught me early). I would most definitely have opened a folder called "Broccoli recipes".
30
Ugh, no, LW. Don't tell him anything. It's not your computer, you aren't his mom, and you don't even know for sure that he looked. Just continue to be appropriately friendly and the whole thing will blow over. If anything needs to be said, let his dad do the saying.
31
Odds are very high teenage son was jerking off thinking about Dad's gf anyway pre-pics, seeing the photos makes it awkward but that's on him, this changes nothing in the gf-teenage son's relationship. Yell at the bf/Dad, on a shared computer that's a dumbass thing to do unless he wants his teenage son to see his gf in lingerie, in which case it's an abusive thing to do, but probably not rare. Ick though.
32
Basically we are back to a maxim everyone should have fully internalized by now: if you make your own digital porn, someone else will get their hands on it and then it belongs to the world. The only guarantee you have for yourself is not to create your own porn.
33
You know what? Since pictures can be forever and can so easily get into the wrong hands, my advice is don't pose for cheesecake pictures ever.
34
I’m a bit baffled by the prevailing sentiment that nothing needs to be done, that a 15 yo has already seen it all on his own computer, hence versed in life.
Lots of unknown as to his relationship with dad’s gf: how long has she been around, what kind of relationship they have, and so on.
I still think that a short, general, non-accusing remark will help diffuse the situation, maybe even set the stage for a mutual laugh about the subject some 10 years down the road.


35
CMD, this boy is showing he is not comfortable around her, why would she do anything to make him feel worse, more confused. Make sure the computer files are secure, without alerting dad, and let it go. Time and conventional interactions between LW and the boy, all will just blend into the past.
He's fifteen, his sexuality is his to sort.
If he opened the file, he'll know what he did was intrusive. He might learn to keep his eyes out of his parents business. If the pictures had been more racy and pornographic, then yes, might need to help the kid get past those images.
36
WTF was the father thinking. In age of identity theft, he has he no concept of basic computer security? He doesn't know what a flash drive is (it takes all 5 seconds to plug one in)? or a detachable external hard drive? Any device (smart phone, lap top, iPad, etc) that is hackable and anything on the device compromised/accessed/downloaded. He does not know how to password protect a folder? He doesn't know that you always use innocuous name for a folder containing sensitive materials, preferably a nested set of password protected folders. Does he have nude pics of her stored somewhere on his computer? Anyone who has children knows that parents have to monitor their children's access to and use of the internet (safety trumps privacy every time where children are involved).
37
Any device (smart phone, lap top, iPad, etc) that is attached to the internet is hackable and anything on the device compromised/accessed/downloaded. CLICKED should be more concerned about the carelessness of the father. The situation with the son can be resolved relatively easily compared to dealing with identity theft.
38
Lavagirl @ 35 I disagree. For her own safety she has to talk to father about his carelessness. There is no way she can secure the files without the father knowing. As soon as he tries to access the file and is asked for the password he will know what she did. She needs to find out if son actually did access and importantly more copied the pics (what male 15 year old would not access he file and what average 15 year old doesn't know how to copy and download a file). Is he jacking off while looking at them. Has shared the pics with any of his friends. (Think about the video of Rod Stewart's Stacy's Mom).
39
Sooner or later (if hasn't already) the son will see her in a bikini. Depends on what type of lingerie and her poses. Maybe not nude or pornographic, but definitely explicitly sexual in nature. She does call them provocative.
40
Sorry about the tirade and any redundant comments. I read the letter and posted my first two comments without reading any others. I responded to such stupidity (on the father's) and naivety on both their parts.
41
I'm all for naming folders what they are so that people know exactly what they're getting into and there's no surprises. If they were named "Janet's Sexy Vacation Pics" the kid went in there expecting Janet's Sexy Vacation Pics; which in my book is the equivalent of looking in Janet's underwear drawer after getting permission to grab a book out of the bedroom. The adults shouldn't be expected to hide Janet's underwear in the back of a pajama drawer nor put a label on the underwear drawer that says "vegetable crisper." The only one at fault here is the kid, who violated an (unspoken, but shouldn't need to be spoken by his age) boundary.

Maybe the embarrassment he's feeling right now is enough to stop him from doing that again. Maybe not.
42
This is a solid example of why _any_ computer that is going to have multiple regular users should have accounts for each of those users set up. That way, when junior needs it to do homework he sees his desktop and his files rather than having access to his father's stuff.
43
There's an underlying problem here in that CLICKED is asking, 'what do I do?'. It isn't really for her to do anything. It’s for her boyfriend.

The situation could be more uncomfortable than she's letting on, in that she was maybe not wearing the underwear.... Her partner's child may well have confused and ambivalent feelings about adult sexuality. His parents split up (I don't think we know when); many teens in that situation, without having experienced the give-and-take, the cross-purposes and the disappointments of their own relationships, put their parents' marriage/partnership failing down to something irresponsible or selfish in one parent's sexuality. I did this even though my parents' marriage had faltered before I had the roughest knowledge of sex.

First and most readily , the sex pics should not have not been placed on her partner's desktop; they should not have carried her name; her stepson or partner's child should have his own computer, or his computer should have all the programs his father's machine has.... But more fundamentally, I get the impression the father is not pulling his weight.... How does his son feel about his new partnership? What's his relationship like with his own mother? Where does he live most of the time? What girlfriends/boyfriends does he have? Is he easily expressive and extrovert in his sexual interest in people, or constrained? These issues are the wider background to the shaming and unfortunate incident with the holiday pics; and a father (and stepmother) properly solicitous of their child's welfare will try to get across them. She would not have been distracting us or flinching from the issue had she told us more about the boy's life.
44
@41. Blazn. In some families, 'Janet's sexy vacation pics' could be Janet laughing as an elephant pulls a sunhat off her head. Or Janet paddling in the shallows in an all-in-one. There's no single standard for how informed the children of one parent are about their new sex life.
45
@44 and in some families the underwear drawer could be full of granny panties while in others it could be filled with lingerie and vibrators. You don't look in someone's underwear drawer and you don't look at someone's "sexy vacation pics" unless you're curious to see which it is.
46
@45. Blazn. Maybe you're right but I wouldn't be too much on the boy's case in this instance. You could have queasy or conflicted feelings in that situation and still look. You could have messy, impermissibly sexual feelings for your stepmother, laced with all kinds of recrimination and desire and ambivalence, and be absolutely compelled to look.

It's also possible the family is relatively poor and only has one computer. Incidentally, the only area where I would find Dan's answers tendentially questionable is in his not readily imagining how different things can be for the middle-class and those on lower incomes. There was a response a few weeks back when he implied that those having to grift at the bottom of society could (or should?) take morally dubious handouts because they couldn't afford their integrity. Some commenters (women) have found that, as a man, he can't be entirely abreast of their concerns; and the more obvious canard is that as a gay guy, he won't be on the page with straights. I've never seen anything like that--never had that reaction (I'm also gay/queer/genderqueer). Only ever thought the moneyed / comfortably-off worldview thing.