I was scrolling through my boyfriend’s Mac and I found a large video file in his Photos. I opened it and saw that it was a sex tape starring him and his ex. I didn’t watch all of it, but I saw enough to freak me out.
I asked a friend for advice and she said I should confront him about it. I did, and I tried to be calm about it at first. He was shocked. He said he didn’t know it was there, and forgot it even existed. He deleted it immediately.
Should I be angry? It’s not like he is cheating on me. And he has every right to keep photos and videos of his past relationships. But I feel betrayed. He was incredibly apologetic about it, but deep down, it still doesn’t satisfy me. I’m not sure what I need, but I’m just really angry. And it makes me even angrier to know that my feelings are probably unjustified.
Terry R. - San Jose, California
Youfeel betrayed? Let me see if I got this right…
You broke his trust and violated his privacy by snooping through his computer. You found a sexy video—something he had every right to both make and have and that you had no business seeing—watched it, and somehow now you feel betrayed and he’s the one in trouble.
Just like you feared, your anger and frustration over this are unjustified.
Being angry and unable to express what you need from the situation is not an acceptable burden to place on other people. Let’s move you past this so that you have a shot at happiness, okay?
And look, I totally understand why you feel shitty and dissatisfied, and I’m going to help you rise above that, too, so here we go.
Let me break down what’s happening to you: Your instinctual creature (the human animal inside all of us) needs to feel like she’s everything to him. The most attractive, the most desired, the most wanted, loveable, important, and the best lover he’s ever had in his whole life. That’s your instincts fucking with you. (Our instincts and egos sometimes act like self-centered assholes—it happens to the best of us.) But here’s the rub. After viewing part of that video, you (and your ego) were witness to a hard, cold truth—one that is difficult for even the strongest of us to swallow. Yes, he loved his other girlfriend(s), too. And they had a hot time in bed. It was so steamy, in fact, that he was compelled to preserve it on tape.
So that’s the explanation of the biological mechanisms running in the background driving you a bit crazy over there. Explaining it still probably doesn’t help you much though, right? Don’t worry, there’s more.
Let’s at least get you back to “pretty good” instead of miserable. This isn’t fool-proof, but it’s a place to start—and ultimately, you’re going to have to decide to get over it. That’s the magic bullet here, your willpower and capacity for choice. But we got to start somewhere, so let’s start with shaking it loose from your mind, body, and soul a little bit.
You can start to shake it off by recognizing he’s with you now. Look at what the two of you have together and be grateful for that. Ease your mind by talking to someone safe (like a therapist). Take care of your body through massage, exercise, and/or a nice relaxing bubble bath. Shake it out of your soul by dancing, hiking, or running, and then feed your soul by spending time appreciating beauty in the world, whatever beautiful is to you (a garden, art, birdwatching?)
After that, see if you’re feeling more like your old self. If you need more, keep looking for what might be the next (healthy) thing that helps. Whatever that thing is, you need to go get it for yourself. You can’t get it from him. He’s not going to know what you need, and it’s not his job to help you recover from this.
Please understand that he didn’t betray you—it’s a hard pill to swallow, but you betrayed him. You might want to ask for his forgiveness and then apologize for breaking his trust, invading his privacy, and then for copping an attitude about it all. Also, you’re 100% right: he didn’t need to delete it! That was none of your business, and that was a generous and kind thing that he did for you there. We are all entitled to our private thoughts, strolls down memory lane, fantasies, and the like—that’s not cheating. We all get to keep our own experiences, memories, mementos, etc. You need to come to grips with the fact that he lived as a sexual being before he met you, and that that’s okay. If it’s helpful, think about that really amazing thing he does to you in bed that you love. Someone had to teach him that, and you can thank her for it! Just do the thanking in your head.
Okay, good luck moving through this. You can do it!
PS: Your friend gave you bad advice. Get a better advisor for the next time you hit a rocky patch.