Dear Readers, the following question was not sent to me directly – reminder that you are more than welcome to send your queries to email@example.com – but was found on a local online forum and simply too delicious to resist. Enjoy!
“I recently found my ex’s OnlyFans because she was creeping on my Instagram with her OF account. A lot of the photos are in my house, my bedroom, and my bed. She used photos that she shared with me that were intimate and I thought private. How bothered should I be by the invasion of privacy and my home being on her account?”
HOOOBOY. While the emotions and conflicts within this question are timeless, what a perfectly 2021 snapshot.
Speaking frankly: The pandemic has pushed record numbers of people into online sex work, but very few have the space or resources to set up shoots every week in exotic locales, so naturally she’s gonna dip into the archives. On one level, this is purely practical.
That said, it’s entirely understandable that you have a reaction to this series of events. First: The fluttering red flag that she appears to have set in motion the discovery of these photos – by drawing your attention to her account. That could just as easily be thoughtlessness as it is intentional, though. It prompts questions for me about the nature of your breakup and what kind of residual relationship you have.
On the scale of boundary violations, it hovers above having your picture taken while awkwardly eating a salad in public, but well below having your dick pics shared.
I’m imagining many potential narratives: Maybe she’s trying unsubtly to make you jealous, or prompt you to contact her. Or maybe this is part and parcel of the dynamic – and lack of concern for each other’s feelings – that you had while together.
Then there is the issue of your personal space being made public without your permission. On the scale of boundary violations, it hovers above having your picture taken while awkwardly eating a salad in public, but well below having your dick pics shared. In most buildings, a photographer would need to get expressed written approval to do a commercial shoot. Since she’s making money from these images, you could have a potential legal concern here – but that’s way outside my expertise.
It probably feels weird to see your private sanctuary – a room that’s especially intimate in the lockdown era – made available for public consumption. But what I imagine is more unsettling is having communications that were sent to you in an intimate context turned into Content™.
I once stumbled upon a Twitter thread where a guy posted about the crappy feeling he had upon having a girlfriend send him a selfie, only to see she had also posted an identical image on social media. Most commenters downplayed his frustration, referring to the direct message as the “premiere” of a post and suggesting he should feel lucky to get it.
That’s reasonable reframing, especially since he gets access to so much more of her than pics – but he is allowed a sensation of disappointment if he’s feeling like just another audience member. For sex workers in relationships, there is often a delicate balance of what is shared and what is retained for partners, hopefully negotiated openly by the individuals.
For sex workers in relationships, there is often a delicate balance of what is shared and what is retained for partners, hopefully negotiated openly by the individuals.
One compromise is to send a partner one of the series of images taken – so it’s not the exact same shot that will be posted publicly. It’s a way of showing “this is for YOU” even though the shoot itself may have broader utility. But given that you’re no longer together, everything shifts in terms of obligations to make each other feel special.
Regardless of your status, ultimately, her body and depictions of it are hers to control. She has every right to share her nudes with whomever she damn well pleases – within the bounds of their consent, of course. You never had the right to dictate what she did with naked pictures she took of herself, even when you were together.
Feelings aren’t facts, though. You can logically know that what she does now – including who sees her naked – no longer concerns you, and still feel some type of way about it. You can move on, date and sleep with other people, and still have an emotional reaction to the realization that things she used to do with you she now does with others. The key is to acknowledge emotions, name them for what they are and actively decide what to do with that information.
If you communicate with her at all or are trying to maintain a friendly connection, it might be something to mention in passing – that it’s funny to see those throwbacks make it to the highlight reel. But if you’re done with this relationship, you have little to gain from making this into an issue for her or yourself.
Have a question for Timaree? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.