Advice

Miss Information: How do I keep my self-portraits off the internet?

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miss-info

Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I’m in a long-distance relationship, and I’ve been sending my girlfriend pictures that show off quite a bit of skin. I really enjoy taking the pictures and showing off my body. (I also like that I have photographic evidence of my body before time plays too many tricks on it.) Am I developing a fetish that I can’t name, or am I really not that weird at all? Also, is there a way for me to send explicit pictures safely, without having to worry about them getting out if our relationship goes south? — Amateur Photographer

Dear Amateur Photographer,

If you’ve got a fetish then so does half the internet. Look at Flickr or Google Image Search. Nude or semi-nude self-portraits are one of the internet’s central pillars, alongside idiotic diet solicitations and Japanese hamster blogs.

Exhibitionism is fun. Not everyone has the stones to get naked and say, “Wheeeee! Look at me!” Even when they do, they don’t have many forums to do so. Snapping pics provides an outlet. It’s also nice to be able to experiment and delete unflattering images of your body before someone gets an eyeful.

Having limited experience in this area, I talked to my photographer-friend Anya Garrett, who’s putting out her own book of some-racy-some-not self-portraits. She said, “It doesn’t seem like a fetish so much as an interest in the human body and/or photography. You might want to try taking some photos of yourself fully clothed and see if you get the same vibe. If the eroticism of it is the important part, don’t fret. It’s not that weird, and if it makes you happy by all means keep it up.”

The pre-internet rule of thumb was to keep the pictures and the negatives to avoid any problems. That doesn’t work very well long-distance or online. So if you can’t deal with the prospect of others seeing your privates, you have two options:

1. Show the whole fruit basket but don’t show your face.

2. Show your face but leave out the banana.

There are ways to up the level of kink without removing any additional items of clothing. Let her play photo director, sending you weekly assignments with themes and characters or lists of poses.

Dear Miss Information,

When I first met my current boyfriend, he was into me but I didn’t like him back. We ended up good friends, and after a couple of years, I decided to give us a chance. We’ve been together three years now and live together. We enjoy many of the same things, have great conversations and good sex.

There are a few things that keep nagging me, though. For example, I’m occasionally attracted to other guys. I think it’s normal to check out other people, but feeling crushy and looking forward to seeing them? Not so good. It bothers me a lot that I can get so emotionally interested in someone else.

I’ve grown to truly love and care for my boyfriend and I don’t want to throw out what is, in many ways, a great partnership. But I just don’t feel that pull to “be together forever.” Maybe his love for and attraction to me have carried me and I’ve be emotionally passive all along.

Should I not have feelings for someone else? Should I suppress these feelings or listen to them? Am I responsible for planning, tentatively, for the future of my relationship? — Aspiring to Rationality

Dear Aspiring to Rationality,

First, the good news:

1. You’re smart and level-headed: you consider all sides of an issue and think before taking action.

2. You’re patient: you put time and effort into your relationships. It’s not about immediate gratification.

3. You’re caring: you don’t want to hurt anyone, least of all your boyfriend. You hold yourself to a high moral standard.

Feeling flattered? Bueno. Now here’s the bad:

1. You’re not the best listener: whether it’s your crushes, your doubts about the future, or your initial lack of attraction, your instincts have been singing the same song for years. You are, as they say in the popular vernacular, not that into your boyfriend.

2. You’re afraid to be uncomfortable: you let this drive your decisions, then soothe your anxiety with weak reassurances. Not wanting to “throw out what is, in many ways, a great partnership” is a pretty sad justification to stay with someone.

3. You’re dismissive of your own desires: you already know the answer to all of your questions. No one who’s as self-aware as you are feels bad about a crush unless it’s a sign of something deeper. No one questions whether she should be thinking about the future unless she’s unhappy about her prospects.

You can rationalize just about anything. It’s much harder to figure out what you really want and then take action.

Readers, am I being too bleak in my diagnosis? What advice would you give Aspiring to Rationality?