ASK AUNTIE QUESTIONS

My boyfriend has paintings of naked (or almost naked) pictures over his entire house.

My boyfriend has paintings of naked (or almost naked) pictures over his entire house, a playboy calender on his wall. When I was on his computer the other day I saw that he had 20+ pictures of naked on his computer. How can I tell him they make me hurt?

Hello.

This seems like a challenging thing for you, and I can understand how your partner having sexualized images of people can hurt your feelings. It is hard for many of us to talk to our partners about things they do that hurt our feelings, but in healthy relationships we need to be able to communicate to our partners about our feelings and how their behaviors affect us.

A few pointers on how to talk about hard things. I suggest that you talk to your partner about your feelings and how this is hurting you. It might be helpful to write down your thoughts and practice talking with a friend or caring adult before talking to your partner, just for practice.

Most importantly, start by being affirming. Let your boyfriend know how much you value the relationship, and that this is why you’re sharing your concerns. Rather than being accusatory, simply tell him how his behavior makes you feel. Avoid saying things like, “You always…” or “You never…” Likewise, it’s not a good idea to engage in name-calling. Remember, confrontation is supposed to resolve a problem; not to create another one.

It is also important to choose an appropriate time and place where you can have a meaningful conversation without any distractions, and where your boyfriend isn’t likely to get embarrassed or become defensive; that is, don’t do it in front of other people.

Then, be quiet and pay attention to your boyfriend’s reaction. How he responds will provide you with useful information. If you approach him in a kind, respectful way, he should respond similarly. If he doesn’t, consider what your boundaries are. Take time to think about what you’re okay living with and what you’re not. If this is something that is nonnegotiable, consider what your options are.

Sending you good thoughts.

Take care,
Auntie Manda

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