Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, time to hop in the anonymous mailbag.

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Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Okay, here we go:

“My friends and I are in a weird spot, and we’ve decided you are the only person that might have a good solution to this situation.
We’re all in our late 20s now, and one of our good friends from college has been seemingly happily married for several years. They started dating in college, and she broke up with him several times before they ultimately got married (it’s a beautiful love story). The last time she broke up with him, we all came clean with some pretty honest feelings about her, which made it pretty awkward when they got back together again, and even more awkward when we were at their wedding. He always seemed totally unfazed by the whole thing, but I have to think that deep down he still has some trust issues.
Anyway, earlier this week, a few of us were back at our old school for a basketball game. One guy was scrolling Instagram, and started looking at the hashtag for our college town. On the very first row of pictures, there is a bare ass photo of a girl that looks an awful lot like our friend’s wife. We looked closer, and sure enough it was a photo of her from about 10 years ago, posing nude for this random photographer. For some reason, this dude had recently posted the photo as a #tbt, and hashtagged our college town.
We scrolled back through several years of this guy’s pictures, and found close to 10 mostly-naked pictures of our buddy’s wife from when she was in college. It wasn’t just her — the guy apparently did a bunch of nude photography at some point, and 10 years later is posting the pictures on Instagram. I’m talking 100% naked, just covering her nipples with her arm, and kind of sticking a leg out at an angle to cover her crotch.
We don’t know exactly when the pictures were taken, but it was most likely from her first two years of college, before they started dating. I’m not remotely judging her for posing for the pictures, especially if it was before she started dating our friend; it’s college, and if you want to do nude photography, go do some nude photography. My concern is that he’ll get pissed and it’ll bring out some of those underlying trust issues from the past. We don’t want to cause a rift in their marriage because of something relatively harmless she did before they started dating.
So, my question is… Do we tell our friend that there are naked pictures of his wife on a public Instagram account? Do we bring it up to her directly? Do we pretend it never happened, hope he never sees the pics, and swear to never talk about it again?
He may already know that she used to pose nude for a photographer (I doubt it), but I feel like I’d want to know if those pictures were readily available online. I’d also definitely rather know now than find out later that my friends have all seen these pictures. But, ignorance is bliss.”
Well, first of all, she’s not actually naked, right? She has her nipples and crotch covered so it’s kind of like artful nudity as opposed to full on nudity.
So I think that matters here.
Most women would think there’s a pretty big difference between, say, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shot topless rolling in the ocean waves and a Playboy centerfold spread.
The bigger question, to me, anyway, is who is running this Instagram account and why is he suddenly posting naked photos of college girls from a decade ago online? (Also, what’s his account? I kid, I kid…kind of.)
Because in all honesty, I’d wonder if he has the rights to these photos and also wonder if he has the right to distribute them in this fashion. But that’s a legal issue that could be determined in the future.
For right now the bigger question you’re asking is this, what to do about the photos?
So let’s break that down.
There are two scenarios at play here for her: she knows the photos are up online or she doesn’t know they’re up online.
(While I understand your focus is your buddy, his impact here really isn’t that important. Sure, it’s possible she knows the photos are up online and hasn’t told her husband, but would she 100% have to tell him if she thought it would just upset him and otherwise he wouldn’t find out? Put it this way, do you think every wife confesses to every sex video or sexy pictures she sent to past boyfriends when she gets married? No way. Do you think every husband confesses to every dick pic he sent? No way too. So I’m not sure why he’d need to know this information unless it was to notify his wife about it.)
The real question here is does she know these photos are up and being distributed on social media where some others may see them? After all, if she posed for these photos a decade ago, I doubt she anticipated they’d be on social media since sites like Instagram and Twitter didn’t even exist back then. Even Facebook was still relatively new.
Furthermore, she may have had hopes of being a model or an actress and paid for these photos to be in her personal possession, not to be distributed by the photographer as he sees fit to advertise his work.
So the only reason you’d bring this up with her is if you think the photos are up online and she doesn’t know about them.
Given all these parameters, let’s assume that’s the case here.
If that’s the case you have two options — say nothing or let her know.
I think letting her know is the best choice here because I think most of us would want to know if there were nearly naked photos like this of us being posted on social media.
So how do you let her know?
The best option here, I think, is for one of you — and only one of you — to tell her best girlfriend about the photos. Request anonymity when you tell the best friend — and claim you are the only person who knows about it — and let the best friend tell your friend’s wife.
This is much less threatening for the wife because hearing another woman you know has seen you (nearly) naked is much less troubling than hearing your husband’s friends have all seen the photos.
So that’s what I’d counsel here if one of you has a relationship with the maid of honor or one of her bridesmaids, for instance, from the wedding.
The second best option is to create an anonymous Instagram account and DM the link to the pictures to her.
In the message say, “Just thought you’d want to know that these pictures are out there on Instagram. I also got photos taken back in college and had no idea they were public. I’m letting everyone else I can track down know about them too.”
This is the perfect message because it makes it seem like you are also one of the other girls in the photos and you’re providing the information to your buddy’s wife in a non-accusatory fashion.
The third best option is for one of you to tell her directly.
But that can be awkward to pull off and I wouldn’t advise it because you already said you don’t have a good relationship with her.
The worst option is to tell your buddy — unless your wife is a porn star or a former centerfold no one wants to be told that his wife is naked online and everyone but him knew about it.
Honestly, the way you wrote this question makes it pretty clear you don’t like the wife, but she’s potentially the victim here, not him.
You shouldn’t use your knowledge of these photos to try and sabotage their relationship.
“I am in my mid-30’s and take a guys’ trip every year with five friends from high school.  Last year, a good friend from work, who I have known for 8+ years, invited himself on the trip.  I didn’t really think anything of it at the time because I thought it would be fun having him with us. 

The trip turned out to be very stressful.  Think George Costanza when his worlds collide. My work friend did not fit in very well and while my high school friends thought he was okay, they balked when he tried to include himself on our yearly trip going forward.

So this year, I told my work friend that he was not invited on our trip.  He initially acted cool and said he understood that the trip was special for us and respected our decision.  I could tell his feelings were hurt so I offered to take another weekend guys’ trip with him as a goodwill gesture (we never ended up making plans for another trip).

I thought the issue was resolved, but then after asking me about our plans for the trip this year, my work friend planned a parallel trip with his wife in the same city on the same weekend!  He will even miraculously be at some of the same events that we plan to go to.

Needless to say, we are not happy.  I have received many text messages with “#stalker” at the end of them from my high school friends.

My question is how should I deal with this issue?  I am hanging out less and less with my work friend (I have really lost a lot of respect for him quite frankly), but I have not directly challenged him on his “passive-aggressive bullshit” as one of my friends puts it.  We work together, including on some of the same projects, so having a blowout would be counterproductive I think.” 

 I don’t understand how you could be friends with a grown man who would make a decision like this.

I mean, this is just such a cringe-worthy socially awkward move that it makes me feel bad for the guy and actually cringe when I’m reading this story.

It makes me think he went and told his wife about not being invited on this year’s guy trip and she said, “Well, let’s just take our own trip together to the same place then! That will show them!”

Maybe that’s not what happened — and the wife is totally innocent of this — but I’m not even sure which is more socially awkward — him bring his wife to the same place as your guy’s trip without her knowing or him bringing his wife after the two of them planned this as a way to get back at you for leaving him out.

Either is just awful.

So how do you handle it going forward?

I wouldn’t ever bring up the guy’s trip with him again and I’d slowly phase him out of your life. I also wouldn’t react to his decision to go to the same city. He’s clearly making this trip because he hopes you’re going to react, but if you refuse to give him the reaction he wants you are refusing to acknowledge the absurdly awkward nature of his action.

The best way to handle this is to treat his actions like they are no big deal and have had no impact on you.

Next year, if you want to have some fun, you can make up a city that you and your friends aren’t actually going to as the guy trip destination and see if he and his wife plan another trip to that city thinking they’ll upstage you once more.

When you return from the guy’s trip, if you really want to drive him crazy, you can post a photo of your group together in a different city on social media.

If he ever asks you about the change in destinations you can just say, “Oh, you know what, at the last minute our hotel got overbooked and we had to change locations. Sucked, but we still had a good time.”

“Why is it that vegetarians get to impose their preferences on others? Background: My company was planning to hold a team lunch for about 15-16 people working on a project. The organizer asked for suggestions and set up a vote to decide where to go. I suggested a local churrascaria (basically a Brazilian BBQ joint where they keep bringing you different kinds of meat until you tap out), and it won the vote. 
Afterwards, he announced that a few of the team members who are vegetarians said they wouldn’t go there, so he decided to change it to some Italian place (that wasn’t even one of the suggestions up for the vote) instead. So basically, a few people got to prevent the majority from going to the place they wanted, even though the place has a huge salad bar.  
Call me crazy, but if a group of co-workers decide to hold an event at a place where you don’t want to go because of the food options, or the time of day or whatever other reason, shouldn’t your solution be to not go rather than try to force everyone to choose another option that suits you? Now if they’re ordering food in for everyone, I’m fully on board with making sure there are some vegetarian options available. But if you’re going out to eat, the majority should rule and any one person or small group of people’s preferences shouldn’t be elevated above the group’s. What say you, oh wise gay Muslim?”
Here’s the deal — if you have unique dietary restrictions — which are entirely voluntary — you shouldn’t expect everyone else to adjust their behavior because of your choice.
Everyone chose to be vegetarian just like you chose to eat meat, why should their dietary choice take precedence over the rest of the group?
Put it this way, what if someone else had a diet that required them to only eat meat and the group had picked a vegetarian restaurant? I doubt the person who only eats meat would be able to complain and get the restaurant choice changed. He’d either have to adjust his diet for that meal or not attend.
And, guess what, there’s nothing wrong with that.
I feel the same way for people who complain about there not being a veggie option at a wedding. Then eat the vegetables yourself or bring your own goddamn carrot and eat it in the bathroom stall while you cry for all I care. It’s not my job to make you happy.
Plus, as you said, there’s a salad bar at the restaurant you all picked, the vegetarians could eat there. So it’s not like they didn’t have an option to eat at all.
Having said that, I totally get why your boss made the decision he or she did — why fight a battle like this when you can just pick the Italian restaurant and be done with it?
I guarantee his thought process was, “Okay, we’ll just fucking eat Italian then.”
He probably feels like every parent does when you try to do something nice for your kids and you’re driving on the interstate and you say, “Okay, where do you guys want to go to eat, you guys pick?” and instead of picking a place your kids end up fighting instead. Then the parent just picks himself or herself. (The solution here, by the way, is to rotate the picks among the kids while providing veto power for yourself when one of your kids picks the gas station hot dogs).
The boss could have just made a choice on the restaurant, but he thought he was rewarding his employees by letting you pick where to go.
Instead that turned into an issue and he saw it wasn’t likely to be resolved with everyone being happy so he just made the choice.
Personally, I would have just told the vegetarians they were out of luck, but he was probably worried about their anger so he overruled the majority to placate the minority.
That sucks, but welcome to most of life in 2019.
Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.
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