I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Questions and discussions about relationships: girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, partners, friends, family or other intimate relationships in your lives.
rahrah300
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I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

So the reason on how I found this out was because I was logged into his drive and then I went through his files and saw his porn files. He previously told me that he stopped watching porn and looking at pictures after we started having sex but he told me that so I didn’t feel bad about myself and I never established that I wasn’t okay with it. I then found out that there was picture of his ex gf’s sister and I confronted him about it and he hesitantly admitted that he did masturbate to her 4 months into our relationship ( we have been dating for 9 months). He said he felt horrible and at first he just viewed it as porn and nothing else because he didn’t want to actively pursue her or want a sexual relationship with her and he uploaded that photo into his file long before we got together. But after he did it another time he felt horrible and felt like he couldn’t bring himself to do it because he felt “deplorable”. He told me when he masturbated to his porn file it wasn’t exclusively just to her because he would scroll through other images of porn stars and she happened to come up since he put her picture in there so long ago, so he didn’t pick her photo and decide to do it to only her, it was more so her photo came up after he would scroll through images. After that time he never did it again because he felt disgusted and didn’t want to tell me out of the fear I would feel insecure and didn’t want to hinder our relationship. When we started dating he did not talk to her and although they knew each other because of his ex she was really rude to him after they broke up so he just stopped talking to her also a long time before we started dating, and he never made plans to meet up with her or had any desire to do these things it was more of “in the moment” thing that he felt horrible about. We talked about it and he still feels ashamed and doesn’t expect anything from me but he deleted his porn files (which I did not ask him to do) because he didn’t want to lose me. I asked him why he lied to me about him still watching porn and looking at photos and he told me he was embarrassed and felt that it would make me feel insecure (which he didn’t want to unnecessarily cause). We talked about it and he seems very apologetic and says it had nothing to do with me and that he just used this in conjunction with my nudes as a substitute when we couldn’t have sex and sometimes would think of me even when he would be doing it as well. He didn’t understand at the time that it would potentially hurt me and he feels very ashamed about what he did and viewed the porn as just pictures so he didn’t think it would ever hurt me because in his previous relationships this topic wasn’t addressed. I never flat out told him that I was uncomfortable about porn pictures before so it was a gray area but now that we talked about it and after he deleted all of his porn files he swore he never to do it again and he would not have done it if he knew it would hurt me. Is it right for me to still stay with him after this?
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Emily N »

Hi rahrah300,

It’s definitely understandable how your boyfriend masturbating to a picture of someone you may both know could cause you to feel hurt. You ask if it’s still “right” for you to date him, but I don’t think there’s an explicit “right” or “wrong” here. It depends a lot more on how you are feeling. How are you feeling right now? It sounds like he has apologized for this and said that he understands why his actions hurt you. Are there other things that you want to talk about or need from the relationship in order to feel trust?

You say that you “never established that I wasn’t okay with it” - it would be worth having a conversation with him about both of your views/wants/needs surrounding porn now. This will likely clear up a bit of the confusion both of you seem to be feeling. It sounds like he is making some assumptions about how you feel about him watching porn - how do you actually feel about it?

You also mentioned masturbation “as a substitute when we couldn’t have sex”. Masturbation can serve a very different purpose from sex, and can be an important part of someone’s life regardless of if they are having sex with a partner! I say this mostly because I want to dispel the idea that masturbation is a second choice to partnered sex - it’s just as important!
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

Hello Emily,

We recently talked about our boundaries surrounding porn, and for me, pictures were not okay but videos were fine since sometimes I watched it as well. He agreed and said if something made me uncomfortable he would stop doing it. The main thing I was upset about and kind of damaged my trust was that he lied about it- but he told me that it was more because he felt ashamed and did not want to make me feel insecure about it ( which I did feel insecure about when I first found out). I felt like I was not enough or didn’t please him sexually enough, but he said it wasn’t any of those things and that I had nothing to be threatened about because he never thought any of them were more attractive and never compared me to them. As cheesy as it sounds he told me that to him “I was the most beautiful woman in the world to him”- but what if he’s just saying that to make me feel better? This part is probably mainly out of my own insecurities because he always reminded me of how beautiful he found me. Another thing that was upsetting was that he masturbated to someone he used to know. This is mainly where most of my anxious thoughts are coming from. Like what if he actually wanted to do it with her? I asked him this and I told him how I felt and he told me that he never fantasized about being sexually with her but just viewed for a second and imagined it as visual stimuli and moved on to the next porn photo. He said after the second time he felt horrible because, at first, he justified it as another photo and then, later, he felt too gross to even look at the photo even if it was just a photo and not real. I was scared that he was more attracted to her than me when I found out and I was also scared he wanted to do things with her- but he told me that although it was wrong that was never his intention and he would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. He told me that he understands if it takes me time to trust him and he told me that if I wanted to he would give me access to his drive and files if it made me feel better. The main thing that was bothering me before is that he lied about masturbating, but should I work on forgiving him since he said it was because he felt shameful about it or hold him accountable?
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Emily N »

I’m glad you were able to have that conversation with him! It’s good that you identified the part about it that damaged your trust most - do you feel like he understands now how important transparency is for building trust in your relationship? Do you want to work on forgiving him? If you are still excited about this relationship, then go for it! If you feel like it would be very difficult/impossible to build your trust again, you can listen to that voice too.
About his compliments and reassurances, you asked “if he’s just saying that to make me feel better?” Do you have any indication or feeling that he’s not being truthful? I think you just have to trust your gut - if what he’s saying does make you feel good, that’s okay! It’s also important that you recognize that your own insecurities play a role. Insecurities can make it hard to accept even the most heartfelt of compliments.
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

I think after this he understands how important it is to be transparent, I feel like he feels very regretful and understands that although it was a white lie for my own sake that it was still harmful and this is the first time he ever white lied about something big ( he has white lied before but it was little things which I think is normal). When he compliments me I know he genuinely means it, I just think my own insecurities get in the way of compliments he gives me. I still know I love him and if I end it over this I know I would regret it because the time we had together so far is amazing and this was the only “big” thing from the 9 months we’ve been together. Should I just view this as a momentary lapse of judgement and not something he was trying to do to be deceitful towards me? He told me when he would look at photos it was just visual stimuli rather than imagining him being with them physically, and he would never think of any photos while having sex with me, or day to day basis, is that true for men? Like should I really treat it as no big deal and something that didn’t mean anything?
Emily N
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Emily N »

What you don’t need to do is “treat it as no big deal and something that didn’t mean anything”. Your feelings are valid - it hurts to be lied to and the situation is particularly painful!

But it sounds like there was some good progress made for both of you. It doesn’t sound like there was intentional deceit in this situation, and it’s good to hear that he has apologized, understands why his actions hurt you, and that you have worked together to think of what you both need going forward.

As a side note - We really can’t generalize any behaviors as being “true for men”, Identifying with a certain gender doesn’t tell us how we should interact with sexual media, fantasize during sex, treat our partners, etc. Does that make sense?
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

Yes thank you for that last part- I posted the same question on Reddit and other forums and they were just telling me it was weird and wrong and to just leave, but my close friend agreed that although my feelings are valid, it shouldn’t be the ultimate decision to keave him since there were no other problems besides this. The Reddit post answers were really what made me confused and made me think maybe I made the wrong decision in still being with him. I kind of meant to ask is porn or that picture of his ex gf’s sister considered a red flag for potential cheating? Or is it something that is not related to how much he loves me and I please him sexually at all?
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Carly »

Hi rahrah300 -- it sounds like this situation has been really confusing for you. Having your trust broken is very difficult and it can throw us for a loop to say the very least. Now, I may be totally off the mark here, but... reading that you posted in a few different places and also talked to friends is making me wonder if you are trying to ask others how you should feel. I want to emphasize that - though it's totally fine to sort out your feelings with someone or ask for advice - ultimately you will know what's best for you here. I bring this up only because I have the tendency to seek a lot of input from others in situations like this, and only recently have I realized that it can disconnect me from what I want because I feel pressure to do what others think I should. I do not know if this is case for you, but for me it was because for a long time I believed everyone just somehow knew better than I did. Just in case you needed to hear this the way I needed to hear it - you can trust yourself. <3

Back to your question -- no, I don't think having porn is an explicit red flag for potential cheating. I think it's possible to love someone and enjoy sex with them and also have a private sexual life that may not be as focused on them. It's hard to say what would be a red flag; relationships and boundaries come in all shapes and sizes, and something that may be a point of tension in one may not be in another. It sounds like you and your boyfriend had a really good and productive conversation: you shared your feelings, your boyfriend explained his feelings and apologized, and you've communicated what you're not okay with. It sounds like he was very receptive to your feelings as well. I think continuing to listen to each other and being forthcoming with your feelings will keep this in green flag territory. Be a Blabbermouth! is a great resource for having potentially hard or anxiety-inducing conversations. Though it's more focused on talking about sex with a partner, I think a lot of those tips can be applied to a lot of different conversations.

I was also wondering about how you found the stash of porn. It looks like you said you were logged into his drive and looked through the files, found it, and then went through the folder. This may be a hard question to answer, but how were you feeling when you did this? What made you want to look through his files?
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

Hello Carly,

Thanks for your reply, yes I think what you explained is what I’m going through right now. For some reason it’s like I am seeking others input in order to know how to act and you actually opened my eyes that I’m doing it with that comment. At this point, I think since we both had productive conversations about it and he was also being very apologetic and remorseful I feel better about the situation. When I went through his drive I felt I shouldn’t have and I knew I was not in the right by snooping without asking first but I couldn’t help it out of curiosity. I apologized to him for that. What made me look through his files was that previous to this a couple of days ago I asked him what kind of porn he used to look at when he did (this was previously when I believed that he didn’t watch it anymore) and he told me it was pornstars he would find around the Internet or social media. I was again very emotional and I cried because I felt insecure, and he told me that he doesn’t look at it anymore after we started having sex (as I stated in my original post) because he wanted me to feel better. This conversation stuck in my mind for a bit and I wanted to check if he actually did and that’s when I went through his drive and found it.
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

Also although, I know it’s wrong what he did and he knows it too and it’s valid to feel hurt. Should I also view the sister’s picture as nothing else but the same as those other photos? Since he didn’t upload the picture while we were together and didn’t pre-meditate this thing but rather came across it by accident while he was scrolling through his file and didn’t intentionally pick her photo? Even though he and I both know it’s wrong, it makes it feel like it’s less about him planning about it and knowing he did wrong and doing it anyway because he doesn’t care and more like a lapse of judgment that I can work on forgiving. Also- he told me to him it was just like those other porn photos and that he didn’t view it more as that or have emotional connection like thinking about them while having sex with me or when he doing day to day activities. Should I also view it as that? Because sometimes I overthink and I go back to thinking that I’m not enough or he would want to be with them more than me.
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi rahrah300,

Unless you have a strong reason to suspect otherwise, I would do what you can to view the picture as being in the same category as all the others you found; something he sometimes uses as sexual media during masturbation. I think that may also help you sort through your own feelings about it; the more you think of it as something he uses during masturbation that he has no interest in acting on, the less threatening it might feel to you. It may also help to unpack how you feel about sexual media in general; there are a lot of cultural messages about how it's "proof" that a partner isn't interested in you, or that you're not satisfying them, and other nasty things like that. But in reality, lots of people use sexual media as a way of introducing novelty or additional mental stimulation into masturbation in a way that has nothing to do with their partner. Does that make sense?

Can I ask why your instinct was the go looking for evidence of whether he was still using porn? Is there a pattern of him not being truthful that meant you felt like you couldn't trust what he told you?

You've mentioned feeling insecure a few times, and I'd like to dig into that a little bit. Are there particular things that you're insecure about? Where does it feel like these insecurities come from (messages from family or friends? Media of some kind? Your boyfriend? Someone else entirely?)?
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

He has never lied to me about anything this big before, and despite this he didn’t have a history of lying to me either. I guess I just checked out of anxiety? I’m a pretty anxious person in general because I overthink many things so sometimes I like to look for “evidence” their telling me the truth- which I have been working on.
I guess my feelings around sexual media was mainly derived from media telling me “nasty” things about it and from that I got insecure that maybe I was doing something wrong. And I guess, in a way, it made me feel like I had to do more to keep his attention.
He never made me feel this way, though, and we have a great sex life and tells me it is very satisfying for him as well. I have always had insecurities about my looks, how lovable I am, or my abilities, so when I found the media most of my insecurities were playing a big role in how I reacted because I thought because of what I was insecure about and that I’m not enough that he had to go out and find sexual media. My insecurities mainly derived from how I feel about myself as well as what society tells you if your partner consumes sexual media as well.
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Sam W »

That's all really helpful detail, thank you!

Can you say a little more about how you've been working on your anxiety? Are you finding things that seem to help with it?

Since you mention that you feel insecure about your body and your worth in general, have you ever looked into any resources that come from the body positive movement? If not, that's something we're happy to help you find.
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

I have found that just talking about it to friends and family and finding out how irrational my anxieties are helps. During that time I kind of had a mini anxiety attack because I thought all of my feelings and thoughts that were anxious were true-however talking about it helped because it made me realize how a lot of them are unfounded and don’t have any truth or meaning, but rather are irrational thoughts that stem from my insecurities.
I had body insecurities since middle school and I suffered from an e.d. Then too. It took me many years to accept my body and love it. Recently I found that exercising helped with my confidence because not only do I feel stronger but I also felt more attractive and comfortable in my own skin. My boyfriend also commented how he sees how all the hard work is showing which makes me feel very good as well for someone else to notice my progress ( just to clarify he never told me to start working out or never said he loved my body any less before I started working out he always reassured he always loved the way my body looked). I’ve been also looking at more body positive youtubers to help with that as well and it has. Although sometimes the insecurities pop back up it is nowhere nearly as bad.

The main thing right now is that I’m working on trusting him again. Is there any tips or ways I could further mend this trust?
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Sam W »

I'm glad to hear that you're getting support from friends and family, and that you're making big steps in terms of getting comfortable in your own skin!

In terms of trust, it can be helpful to start out by asking: what do you feel you'd need--for yourself, to see happen, etc--in order to trust him?
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

I think I need to be shown progress in him changing and not telling me white lies like this anymore- even if it’s to make me feel better. We talked about this and he admits it’s something he does just to make the situation better or not to hurt someone’s feelings but ultimately it hurts more, and he understands now how it’s important to be transparent no matter how embarrassing the topic is. He deleted all of his files (which I didn’t tell him to do) in front of me because I told him how pictures made me uncomfortable but videos were okay. He said multiple times he’s very sorry and since he deleted the files without me asking it seems like he is willing to listen to me when I say something is uncomfortable. I guess when I found out at the time I couldn’t grasp at how he could masturbate to just photos and I thought it was him imagining himself with other girls, but what made me feel better and less insecure is that it was more just more mental stimulation for him and he viewed it as that. I’m a bit more comfortable with coping with what he said and not to overthink it now, and since we had a long discussion about how he hurt me by lying, I don’t think he was lying about that.
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Sofi »

That makes sense, and trust takes time to build back up after you feel it's been broken. What he did does sound like a mistake he acknowledges and wants to be better at being honest with you, so that's good. I would say here you have to think about what is more valuable, this situation or your relationship? If your relationship is the answer, then you're already on a good path. Hold him accountable and also make sure you communicate with him clearly YOUR needs and wants, and as Carly mentioned, trust yourself!
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

Hello Sofi,

Thank you for your reply. Although he made a mistake, I feel like I still want to be with him and our relationship is more important. I don’t see him as being deceitful on purpose and I’m more willing to forgive him for it since he hasn’t done anything like this before and he is a pretty loyal,supporting, and loving boyfriend. I’m beginning to trust him again because we’ve had countless discussions on what I am okay with and what I am not and I communicated to him that I’m order to build my trust he needs to be transparent and I expect him to be in line with my boundaries as well- which he admitted he will do and has no problem with. He knows I will hold him accountable, and I communicated if he breaks my trust again I will leave and not be a doormat. I think he understands that just by me giving him a second chance that doesn’t mean I’m letting him make the same mistakes and I will stick around with him. However, I value him and this relationship, and I’m willing to look over this mistake as he has never made a mistake like this before and didn’t have a pattern of lying to me about other things ( he usually tells me what is going on even if he is hesitant). But this part was particularly shameful for him, I told him I understood but communicated to still have an open discussion about it even if it is hard and he agreed to suck it up and tell me even if it is embarrassing for him, especially not that he has seen how lying causes me even more hurt.
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Sofi »

Kudos to you for being so mature about this, you're handling this really well, truly! I hope you are able to continue down this road of trust building and healthy communication. If you need to ask anything, vent/update us, you can always post in this thread again <3
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

Thank you so much for everyone who contributed to this. It really helped me by making me realize I should trust more in myself and also made me realize what steps We both needed to take. I feel a lot better about this situation, and in a way, also made us talk about our boundaries which was a very important discussion. Thank you for all you help!
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Sofi »

I'm SO glad to hear that!! And I will pass the message along to everyone who contributed to this thread :)
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

Thank you again to everyone who helped me through this. However, I have an update on the situation as after talking about it extensively to him I now have more info on what had happened. So apparently when I confronted him about everything at first we had very different ideas on what “masturbating to” meant. After some time I explicitly asked him if he was actually masturbating when he scrolled upon the photo and he said that he did not. So what happened is that when he came across that photo while scrolling through his porn file when he realized it was her photo he had intrusive thoughts- things that just popped into his head and when he had those he stopped because he felt horrible that he had those ( he also remembered how his friend at the time made fun of him because he told him about it before we started dating which also contributed to him stopping), the second time he saw the photo he also felt gross when the thoughts came and just scrolled past it ( so both times he clarified that he did not touch himself when coming across the photo). He said that when I confronted him about lying about the porn he just felt guilty and nervous ( he had really bad anxiety as well) and he thought that those intrusive thoughts counted as masturbating to it because he felt like a horrible person and just shut down. Obviously after our feelings settled around the situation we were able to talk about it calmly and that lead me to dig deeper on if we were both on the same page about what I asked and meant. We also had a discussion about how lying hurts me even if it is small or anything and that I would rather have the band aid be ripped off then finding out he was lying and he understood. I kind of also “interrogated” him to make sure what he was saying was true, I told him that all I wanted was the truth and I wouldn’t care either way, and he was pretty adamant that what he said was the truth and his story did not change. He also said there was no point in him lying because he knows it hurts me a lot and he would never try to do that even if it was hard to admit. I feel what he is saying is truthful but am I being naive in believing him?
rahrah300
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by rahrah300 »

I also wanted to add he has an anxiety disorder as well- so when he would explain things it would often be a mess while he is nervous so that is another why it is kind of more believable for me that we didn’t have the same meaning. During that time he was also very emotional ( we talked in person) and I was very emotional and his anxiety was at an all time high and he was telling me how guilty and deplorable he felt- which I felt also may have been why there was some miscommunication. I never asked him if he explicitly touched himself still while viewing the photo because I assumed he did.
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Elise »

Hi there rahrah300, with regards to this update, thank you for sharing that both you and your boyfriend have anxiety disorders that you are working through, as this is good to keep in mind as you navigate this situation together.

How would you feel about, rather than ruminating on details of this incident further (which can feed anxiety a lot with all the "what ifs" rather than letting us move forward with a resolution), instead focusing on how you both can move forward together in terms of building trust, and thinking about the way you communicate in your relationship, and perhaps talking about how you both would like to see your relationship grow and be in this way? Here are some articles about this, it'd be great to hear about the ideas/questions/thoughts that arise to you after reading them, if you would be comfortable sharing them:
It might also be useful to speak to a therapist together, as they could assist with facilitating a discussion about how you can support each other in managing your anxiety disorders together, and also better understand how this manifests differently for both of you. Does that sound of interest? Also, is how anxiety manifests in your relationships something that you speak to a therapist about?
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Re: I recently found out that my boyfriend had masturbated to a photo of his ex gf’s sister what do I do?

Unread post by Imveryconfused »

How did this situation turn out in your relationship? I am currently going through something very similar with my partner.
Seeking advice on how to “fix” things and get back to normal, if that’s possible.
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