No One Belongs to You

My name is Alexander. My nickname is Beastly. I write about sex.

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I have been dating this guy for over 6 months, known him for 1.5 years, and we recently became boyfriends 2 months ago (we are exclusive). I love him very much but we have been having some problems recently.

To make a long story short, I found on his computer that he had been texting someone else about having sex about a month back. I was really thrown and hurt and confronted him, he said he fucked up, did it for validation and that he was never going to do it again, and that I am the one he chooses. He gave me his word but said that he’s not gonna show me his texts b/c he considers that an invasion of privacy.

Since then I have had a lot of intrusive thoughts about the status of our relationship and whether I think I can fully trust him. He is 8 years older than me, has lived in the city for almost 15 years, and has a lot more experience in terms of life and sex. I want to trust him and make this work, but I am afraid of getting hurt/cheated on. 

One aspect that complicates things is that he does nude modeling on the side. I have never been a big fan or proponent of this “side-gig” that he has. Recently he did a photo shoot that depicted him and another guy embracing in skimpy underwear and it tugged at my nerves. He also recently posted a picture where you can see the outline of his penis (a picture he sent to me a week or so back that I took to be a cute moment for myself). Overall, he says that nudity is something that’s been a part of his content and these are just jobs that ask him to model and they don’t mean anything.

I still don’t feel totally comfortable seeing him with another man in such an intimate way. But these risqué photos that have been put out on the internet make me uncomfortable. I have a lot of vulnerability around nudity that he doesn’t have. I see all these guys post these thirsty comments and it makes me jealous and sad because I see his nudity as something that is a part of the intimacy of our sexual relationship, something I hold sacred, that I don’t really want the rest of the world to be in on. But now it kind of feels like what I hold sacred is out there for everyone else so I’m left with nothing. 

So I am not too sure what to do. I don’t like the nude work that he does. I tell him how I feel and he gets mad that I am not supporting him, that these are my insecurities that I am projecting onto him, and that he hopes I see things his way. It hurts b/c I don’t feel like we have an effective conversation about it & I don’t know how to just “be okay with it”.

My friend,

You are conservative and the guy you’re trying to date is not. I understand that he cheated on you, and that’s a hard thing for any couple to recover from. But that aside, you two simply sound incompatible.

I sympathize with your feelings, but none of this bodes well for the survivability of your relationship. Let’s analyze one thing you said. If you really feel you’re left with “nothing” after his modeling photos are out in the world, that means that all the stuff you get — the cuddling, the talking, the intimacy, the sex, and the full experience of being with him — amount to “nothing.” You’re getting him; the rest of the world just gets to look at him. But if others seeing his body cancels out all the good stuff that you get by being his boyfriend, it’s time to break up.

There’s judgment in the way you talk about his work. I don’t think you are intentionally judging him, but the judgment seeps out with words like “risqué” and “skimpy,” and writing “side gig” in quotation marks. They show that you see little integrity or validity in what he does for money, and that’s a problem. If this judgment is crystal-clear to me, someone who does not know you, it’s probably coming out in your face-to-face interactions with him, and that may be part of the reason why you’ve never had an effective talk about this. Good talks are two-way streets and require non-judgment and active listening from both parties. Think about how he might feel being judged for the work he does by someone he cares for — work he may depend on in order to pay rent.

The real issue here is not the modeling. The real issue here is that he cheated on you once, and it sounds like you’ve not regained trust following that experience. And that is valid! Cheating is a hard thing to bounce back from, and many couples who claim to have “worked past it” still feel deep, underlying resentment, hurt, and lack of trust. I think that’s what’s happening here.

At this point, you don’t have many options. It’s evident that you are not comfortable with his work. That sounds like a dealbreaker to me. If I were in your shoes, I would tell him that, emotionally, you’re at an impasse, and he needs to choose between dating you or continuing to model. For the sake of your comfort and happiness, it doesn’t sound like he can continue doing both.

And no, you can’t go through his texts or check his phone, and you shouldn’t have snooped through his computer, to begin with, if that’s what you were doing. Even if doing this revealed valuable information, you still invaded his privacy, which is abusive behavior. Everyone is entitled to some privacy, even the guy you’re dating — even when he cheated on you.

Here’s an important thing everyone needs to remember in relationships: you can’t trap someone into telling you the truth or trap someone into honesty. You’re not a prison warden, you’re a boyfriend. If you’re checking his phone and going through his computer, it’s the equivalent of holding a gun to his head and frisking his clothes: “If you’re lying, I’m going to find out!” That’s not love or trust. That’s control. And that’s abusive.

Relationships need trust. Since he cheated on you once before and lied about it by omission, he already broke that trust, so you only have two options. You can believe him fully and trust his word going forward, or you can’t. If you can’t, there’s nowhere to go from here. Without trust, you have no foundation upon which to build anything. If you cannot fully forgive and trust him completely going forward, it’s time to break up.

And since we’re using words like “sacred,” which stinks of the pulpit, let me say this: trust is the only sacred thing in a healthy relationship, not bodies or skin or even sex. Trust is the oil that keeps all happy relationships running smoothly. If you truly trusted him, his modeling gig wouldn’t be so threatening to you. But you don’t.

Here’s why “sacred” is a dirty word, one that prickles my skin whenever it’s used in talks of love and sex. When my father found out I was gay, he told me that the union between a man and a woman was “sacred,” something anointed by god. Therefore, he said, “unnatural” unions like mine were worse than wrong — they were a mockery, a disfiguration of god. Gay relationships were, in his mind, the inverse of something good — its gross deformity.

The same cruel charge has been used to decry all kinds of nontraditional relationships, and by extension, nontraditional people. For centuries, fidelity and sexual exclusivity have been seen as sacred, so the whores and harlots and people who wear skimpy clothes and unmarried women have long been demonized, charged with witchcraft, and burned at the stake.

You describe his body as “sacred” — something that exists for your eyes only. But you don’t own him. The implication your words draw is that his nude modeling, skimpy underwear, and normal human sex drive — which will invariably extend beyond an attraction to only you, and may, heaven forbid, inspire lust and desire in other people — are evil things, so by extension, he must be evil.

That implication may not have been your intention, but such is the power of words. Using that word betrays an underlying belief that the privacies between people in love are elevated and inaccessible to others. Inversely, I imagine you see the world outside your relationship as a minefield of threats and temptations. That is a very stressful — and ultimately ruinous and self-defeating — way to approach love.

Here’s something to think about: His body isn’t yours. No one’s body is yours, in fact. No one belongs to you. He shared his body with others before you and he’s sharing it with you now. Appreciate it, please it, but know that you’re one of many people who will see it, touch it, and fuck it. Some people can’t face that fact and are driven crazy with jealousy by it, but it’s the truth. He has a timeline that existed before and will exist after you. He has a private life you will never fully see. You can never know everything there is to know about a person. You can’t have a magical hidden camera watching someone when you’re not around. Again, that’s not love — that’s control.

Why is trust so important? Because of this inner life we all have, you can never completely check someone’s word. If you check his phone and social media chats going forward, if he’s smart, he’ll delete messages, rename contacts, and slip quietly away to cheat in person. It’s easy to not get caught. So you can be the ultimate “prison warden” boyfriend and he will still slip through your fingers if he wants to. You simply have to trust him that he won’t.

And you don’t.

You can never fully know what someone does when you’re not looking, and if that lack of knowledge makes you wary and fearful, then your relationship is doomed — along with all future relationships you might wish to have, because the thing you’re most afraid of is someone else’s autonomy. You have to make peace with everything about him you don’t know and will never know and trust that when he speaks, he’s telling you the truth. If you can’t do that, break up.

Love, Beastly 

Above Image: After Dark male model Jim O’Donnel, 13 x 19″ by Jack Mitchell. This photograph was from a session for After Dark magazine and was selected and signed by Jack Mitchell as one of his favorites. Jack’s artist statement on his work for the magazine: “After Dark was a magazine of entertainment, theater, and the arts. It was a popular magazine, with a gay slant, enjoyed by many gay men, and some broadminded women and men, as well as (I learned years later) many closeted male youngsters. The magazine was ahead of its time, as advertisers were reluctant to place ads in an essentially gay magazine at that time. Today they swarm like bees to place their own hot ads in gay publications. I had been photographing on assignment for Dance Magazine well before After Dark was created. Being a friend of William (Bill) Como, the editor, and being gay, I was called into service, for the life of the publication, to photograph many of the handsome young men and women who were featured in After Dark. Needless to say, this was enjoyable work for me, Because, mixed in with the hot-looking young guys and gals sent to my studio were some famed performers like Debbie Reynolds, Giancarlo Giannini, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalie Wood, Placido Domingo, Sergio Franco, Leonard Bernstein, etc., all at the top of their careers. And there were the Warhol people, Ultra Violet, Sylvia Myles, Joe Dallesandro, Jane Forth, Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and Andy Warhol himself. Some days in my studio seemed like I was working in a candy factory, or a lunatic asylum filled with the most beautiful people in the world.”


  1. Great advice!!
    Even if your unadorned & absolute use of the term ‘dealbreaker’ sounds sometimes too harsh.
    Thanks you!!


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