‘The last naked photo he had was from three years ago’

Dear Meredith,

I have been with my boyfriend for more than five years. We recently moved in together. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but despite everything we have been through, we decided to stay together. In the very beginning of our relationship, we took some time apart and he ended up sleeping with someone during that break. I found out, asked him about it, and he said that he was talking to her while he and I were still together but only slept with her after we broke up.

Fast forward to two weeks ago: I was using the computer in our house and I saw a folder in his email called "photos." I clicked on it and found a bunch of naked photos of another woman. They were very explicit. The last photo on his folder was from 2015; we were dating then, and it was after the incident where he slept with someone else. This was not the woman he slept with.

I confronted him about it and he told me that he was still following this particular woman on Instagram and occasionally talking to her through private messages. When I asked him about the content of their conversation, he said that they were only talking as friends, and that sometimes he would tell her when he and I had problems in the relationship. He, of course, had deleted all of these conversations so I had to take his word for it.

I didn't believe him because the last naked photo he had was from three years ago. He keeps claiming that he wasn't trying to sleep with her. He also told me to ask her, which I did. I sent her a polite message asking about her relationship with my boyfriend. She confirmed that the last photo she sent him was in 2015, and that they have been talking as friends since then. Meredith, I feel very betrayed. If they were just friends, why was he still receiving naked photos three years ago? Why not tell me about this friend? Why delete their conversations as soon as I confront him about it? I don't know what to believe anymore or if I want to make this relationship work.

– Skeptic

You know, I'm stuck on one sentence in this letter. " … he said that they were only talking as friends, and that sometimes he would tell her when he and I had problems in the relationship."

Every relationship has turbulence, but it sounds like yours has had a lot of ups and downs. That seems like the most relevant piece of information here. If this woman didn't exist, would things be OK? Would you still be dealing with major relationship conflicts? Is she simply the latest – and most naked – problem the two of you face?

I'm not saying that this woman and her connection to your boyfriend isn't a big deal. He kept their friendship secret for a reason; his relationship with her was a real betrayal, even if she did become a more platonic social media sounding board.

Still, it might be more productive to talk about why you moved in together and what's changed since he received that picture years ago. When he talks to this Instagram woman about your problems as a couple, how does he explain his feelings? You're the one who needs to know.

As you get honest with him about the evolution of your relationship, think about whether you should be in the same house. If you need time to think, figure out a way to live separately. That's what friend's couches are for.

– Meredith

Readers? What do you make of a naked picture sent three years ago?