Scenario: You borrowed your girlfriend's smartphone because you wanted to copy the photos of your recent getaway. She handed you her mobile without hesitation. Much to your surprise, you found her naked selfie while you're browsing through the gallery. You're dumbfounded because you've always thought she's the Maria Clara-type of gal.
What should you do? Should you let her know that you saw her revealing snap? Is it even appropriate for you to forward it to your phone just because you're dating?
Before you give in to your naughty thoughts, hear this.
"Regardless of the content, it is never acceptable to breach privacy of information," Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS, a Cebu-based psychologist, says. "It does not matter if that person is your significant other, family member, or very close friend. One person's information—including nude photos—is none of your business. If you still think otherwise, you better take time to assess if you think of your girlfriend as property or as a person."
Dr. Ong's message is loud and clear: resist temptation always. Instead, stop and imagine if the tables were turned. "Would you be okay if your girlfriend sends out critical information you are keeping secret to others without your permission? It does not even have to be your nude photos, it could be any important information. Would you feel fine?"
Understand that your significant other probably has a reason for taking such a picture, adds Dr. Ong. "It is not appropriate to think that these women have low self-esteem or are inherently insecure. We must remember that the current mindset of the times (zeitgeist) incorporates more Westernized and globalized attitudes toward our bodies and human interactions."
If her nude selfie bothers you terribly, though, the psychologist suggests it'd be best for you to process your own feelings and thoughts first before talking about the matter with her. What did seeing her picture make you feel? Does this change the way you regard your girlfriend? Dr. Ong says it's wise to let go of your assumptions, because they're wrong most of the time.
If you're ready, have a conversation with her. Admit that you saw her revealing pic and let her know how you truly feel about it. By being honest and sincere, you'll find how easy and quick it will be to defuse any potentially explosive situation that may arise later in the future.
"Context matters a lot," says Dr. Ong. "Clarify and explicitly communicate without judgment. If you are a hot-tempered person, maybe talk it over with a third-party, maybe someone who's a friend to both you and your girlfriend who's known to have a cool-headed. Having a friend to facilitate the conversation can help prevent the situation from escalating into conflict.
"Remember, how you found out about the photo is also important. If you went through her stuff without her permission, the whole conversation could easily end up in a huge fight."
If your suspicions become too distressing for you that you're unable to think clearly, seeking the help of a couple therapist is recommended.
Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS is a clinical psychologist, and family and marriage therapist. For consultation, you can visit his clinic at 317 Medalle Bldg. Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City.