Dear John: Daughter’s Nude Photos Not Welcome in Family Album

A daughter’s photography choices, a friend who wants credit for an idea, and a boyfriend who lied about a pot pipe.

This article originally appeared at

Dear John,

I’m very close to my daughter. She is in college on the West Coast, so we talk a couple of times a week – her entire life, she has been such a joy to me and my husband. Other than a couple of normal youthful missteps, she has shown remarkably sound judgment.

Until now. In the course of a conversation about something else, she revealed to me that she has allowed her boyfriend to take nude photographs of her. He is an avid photographer and she has assured me the pictures weren’t sexual, and they’re for their private enjoyment, but nude is nude. And he is just a boyfriend she’s had for a few months – not a husband, not even a likely fiancé.

I am truly worried about what might happen to these photographs if they were to break up. She, on the other hand, seems completely unconcerned. When I raise the possibility of, say, the photos being shared with this guy’s friends, she says, “Well, then, they’ll all know what I look like with my clothes off. So what?” Are my concerns here misplaced?

Not a Pretty Picture

Dear Not a Pretty Picture,

I think your concerns are very understandable, so I wouldn’t call them misplaced. But I think this is one of those difficult situations in which you have to trust your daughter to exercise the good judgment you raised her to have.

As I said, I completely understand where you’re coming from. With digital photography, immediate distribution, and a culture saturated with hard-core pornography, you’re envisioning a spurned boyfriend exacting revenge on your daughter by humiliating and debasing her in front of, almost literally, the entire world.

But these pictures sound more like artistic nudes than something overtly sexual, and apparently, your daughter didn’t pose impulsively. She accepts what she sees as a fairly unthreatening risk in order to have these photographs. Would you have the same reaction if she were posing for an art class?

There’s also the likelihood that her good judgment led her to choose a boyfriend with some integrity. Should their relationship end, you can hope that he won’t lash out by sharing these personal photos with others.

The bottom line, though, is that this discussion is all somewhat beside the point: your daughter is an adult who doesn’t seem to regret the choice she made to pose for these photos. Which means you can share your reservations with her, but ultimately, all you can really do is respect her choice, trust her judgment, and hope for the best.

DearJohnImage22Dear John,

I have a friend who is unintentionally (I assume!) testing our friendship. Basically, a couple of years ago, I gave her an idea that has proven to be enormously profitable. I don’t want to get specific, but she was casting about aimlessly (and unsuccessfully) for ways she could work for herself, and I said, “You know what you’d be great at?” And she took my idea, ran with it, and has done very, very well for herself.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not the most un-envious person in the world. I know myself well enough to say that I don’t begrudge anyone anything they have – as long as I have just a tiny bit more! I say this a little tongue-in-cheek, but it’s essentially true. But it’s not my friend’s success that is getting to me – it’s this whole story she’s developed in her head as to where this idea came from! I am given ZERO credit, and instead, I can’t count how many times I’ve had to sit with a fake smile on my face while she tells a third party of the eureka moment when she came up with this great idea. I don’t want much – just a simple acknowledgement! That’s all! Is that too much to expect?

She Has Cash, I Want Credit

Dear Credit,

No, it’s not too much to expect. But you’re not getting it, so what can you do? You can accept it and continue to fake-grin and bear it, or you can talk to her about it. If you choose the latter course, though, don’t be surprised if she is as committed to her version of events as you are to yours. There’s a chance your complaint, no matter how gently made, will be dismissed as jealously. And it could permanently undermine your friendship.

Only you can decide if all that is worth it. Personally, I’d let it go. Even if everyone knows it was you who said, “You know what you should do? Knit potholders!” she still had to knit the potholders. And people are still going to think, “Sue knits a heck of a potholder,” not, “Tammy sure has some great ideas.”

Dear John, 

Got a little situation I wouldn’t mind your opinion on. I’ve been dating a lady for about a year now. Things are good in general but she does have some… let’s call them trust issues. She’s been cheated on more than once, so she’s a little on the suspicious side, guilty until proven innocent, etc.

I have never cheated on her, nor would I. I haven’t given her any legitimate reason to doubt me, but I have several friends who are girls and this causes some friction. So recently, she was going through my dresser to see what she could find. She didn’t find any evidence of infidelity, obviously, because there was none, but she did find evidence of something I have flat out lied to her about: a marijuana pipe. I will indulge occasionally, but she is very much opposed to it as something only “loser stoners” do, according to her. So she didn’t find exactly what she was looking for, but I’m being punished as if she had. To her, if you lie about one thing, you’ll lie about anything. She says she has serious doubts our relationship can continue. Problem is, I’m crazy about her. What should I do? Can this be salvaged?

Faithful Stoner

Dear Stoner,

I don’t know if it can be salvaged, but the larger question is, why would you want to?

Why would you want to stay with someone who conducts routine searches just to see what turns up? If you’re crazy about her, I’m sure she has some appealing qualities, but exactly what those are we are left to guess.

And why would you want to be in a relationship that requires you to lie to be in it?

I would write this one off and start over. And when you do, two very important things to keep in mind: your girlfriend shouldn’t invade your privacy without an excellent reason for doing so. And you shouldn’t lie about yourself in the hope that someone will find you more attractive or desirable. Disregarding either of these will result in another unhappy relationship; disregarding both (again!) is a sign that you need help discerning what separates a healthy relationship from an unhealthy one.


You may also enjoy: Dear John: My Boyfriend Overshares Our Intimate Details

Photo credit: Flickr / potzuyoko

About John Simpson,

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. His column runs regularly on


  1. Tom Brechlin says:

    Being who I am and how my kids didn’t have mates that they lived with without being married, I can’t relate to the daughter BUT what I can relate to is this. I went to the Chicago Art Institute and nude photography, painting, sketching etc, is nothing unusual. I would suggest mom look up nude art to get a better understanding of what daughter is talking about. I believe the daughter when she says they aren’t sexual in nature but the fact that they live together adds another dimension. Models who are used for art generally sign a contract in that the photos become the property of the artist. Business is business and although she may be in love with this guy, there are no guarantees and I would suggest that she or he come up with some kind of contract which would protect the both of them in the future.


  1. […] You may also enjoy: Dear John: Daughter’s Nude Photos Not Welcome in Family Album […]

Speak Your Mind