Dear Ellie: I’m a 31-year-old female who has been with my boyfriend for five months. We dated exclusively for just a month before moving in together due to COVID-19.
I could work from home, but he lost his job and was bored, so he picked up his photography hobby. He already had a lot of equipment at home. He constantly takes pictures of me — when I’m just waking up, even when I’m asleep.
He snaps me in different sitting or lying-down positions when I least expect it. He even tries to pose me when I’m in the midst of doing my work.
I’m glad that he got busy with an interest, but I’m a little uncomfortable as to what he’s done or is planning to do with all those pictures. I’m often complimented on my figure, so I’m not being conceited when I say that I wonder if some of those wake-up or sleeping shots of me are suggestive.
If I’d been asked and agreed to that kind of photography, that would be one thing. But he just shot whatever he wanted while I was focused on work.
I think I can trust him fully, but something’s niggling the back of my mind. I don’t want to accuse him of anything and cause a big fight. How do I ask if he’s used me for selling soft porn?
Am I His Girlfriend or Model?
Just ask. What’s niggling you is doubt. You haven’t mentioned whether he was eligible for government assistance during the pandemic. If he’s not, and yet seems to have an income, it could be troubling you.
You moved in together during very early dating. Your unasked questions about something so personal show that trust isn’t a firm factor in this still-new relationship during unusual circumstances. Maybe he just finds you a delightful subject for photography. Or maybe there’s more to it.
But, as partners in a relationship, if you can’t inquire what he’s done, or plans to do, with so many close-up camera portraits of you, then trust is missing.
Dear Ellie: I’m 38. I moved here from Europe and am happy now. My siblings and I grew up with verbal/psychological abuse from our alcoholic father.
Our mother helped us survive. My sister has also moved here.
My brother (married with two kids) lives with my parents in Europe. He’s abusive to his wife and has a violent relationship with my father.
He won’t move out, won’t get therapy, won’t admit to any wrongdoing. He blames everyone for the failings in his life, especially my parents. I told him to seek therapy. He shamed me.
His explosions occur frequently. I fear for my mom’s life (she’s 71), wondering how long she can take it. I fear my brother harming himself or someone else. I fear the terrifying hate between him and my father.
How to Help My Brother?
Try to help those caught in the middle of this terrifying hatred.
Contact the mental-health resources in the country and area where your parents’ home is located. Explain the volatile situation facing everyone there, including two children.
Ask for confidentiality assurances regarding the authorities not informing the women and kids, who would be at further risk if suspected of reporting the situation. Seek whatever help is available, plus learn the laws regarding when authorities can intervene. Stay in close, private contact with your mother.
If things worsen, try to convince her to find safety elsewhere (quickly and also privately) along with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
Dear Ellie: My boyfriend and I have been “partners” for many years, living apart.
We were both independent people, with our own apartments.
Since neither of us wanted children, we decided to keep our own places and spend weekend sleepovers together whenever possible.
Sometimes, it was every weekend. But when one of us travelled for work, there would be longer periods apart.
However, during the pandemic, we stayed apart because my boyfriend’s work sometimes requires him to be inside hospitals (wearing protective gear).
I’m unsure whether in Stage 2 we should consider spending weekends together again, even if it’s allowed.
You two clearly have a very strong connection. You’ve remained “partners” by intention, despite having to stay apart for months.
Now, closely follow all the experts’ advice and political decisions related to a second stage, since COVID-19 remains a serious threat until a safe vaccine is discovered.
As restrictions lift, wear masks, and mutually decide when to get together again.
Ellie’s tip of the day
In a relationship, it’s the questions you don’t ask that indicate fear of the answer, also known as distrust.
Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.