When You Breakup, Who Gets To Keep The Naked Pictures?

who keeps the picsWhen You Break Up, Who Gets To Keep The Naked Pictures?

In this world of Facebook, Twitter, texting and especially SEXTING, it seems like there are quite a few unspoken protocols to master.

While I have had the exciting opportunity to have been gifted with a few incredibly sexy photos of some incredible women in my past, I have always been a gentleman about keeping them secure and private and would never even consider exploiting any of them or misusing them.  That consciousness might be part of why I received these pics in the first place.

However, having recently returned to the dating scene, I find that the unspoken rules have perhaps changed or are at least being verbalized differently.  The blonde goddess who wouldn’t share food, DID share a few anatomically correct pics with me (for more about this, see my article, Do YOU Have Control Issues, I KNOW I Do!).

In fact, for the first time in my life, and at a not-so-tender age, I shared a few of myself with her as well.  I was surprised that she wanted them, as I was always under the assumption that women weren’t that into the nude male physique in the way that men were into the female anatomy.  She quickly corrected my misinformation.

Now that it appears we are no longer dating, she sent me an email asking that I delete the pictures of her and that she would delete the pictures of me as well.  Interesting dilemma, don’t you think?  Is this something that should have been pre-negotiated prior to distribution?  Our only discussion was that these were “for your eyes only” and wouldn’t be shared.

What’s my obligation at this point?  Should naked pictures only be “rented” and only available for the lifetime of the relationship?  Shouldn’t those memories be allowed to linger?  After all, in my perspective, I EARNED the right to those pics and they should be mine in perpetuity as long as I honor the “for your eyes only” clause?

There’s what I want (my ego) and what the “right” or ethical thing to do.  Which angel on which shoulder gets to decide the matter?

Here’s MY personal opinion.  I think it applies to pics as well as to videos (Kim Kardashian, et. al., take note).  If you take a nude shot of yourself and you don’t delete it immediately and securely, you MUST consider the possibility that it will fall into the hands of someone else.  AND, you must consider that it might find its way onto the Internet and therefore fall into the hands of EVERYONE!

That is what I considered when I sent MY naked shots to my blonde goddess.  There were no faces attached, only bodies and after careful consideration, I felt that I could live with the whole world seeing them.

I’m not an exhibitionist, it wouldn’t be my preference to share myself with the entire world, yet I could stand behind the shots and be proud.  To contextualize this, you also have to consider that I was raised by nudists and while I’d like to lose ten pounds, I honestly carry no shame around my body.

However, while we all do tend to project our values onto others, I know this isn’t always the case.  Though it could appear that my blonde goddess no longer wants MY pics and is projecting that I no longer want HERS.

She DID ask for me to delete them though.  She doesn’t want me to have them or perhaps to see her in that way any longer.  I told her I would comply with her wishes, though I imagine I shall ALWAYS see her in that way.

Just because she was a goddess to ME, doesn’t mean that every other man sees her that way.  Wouldn’t she want to keep that alive?

And aren’t nude pictures emailed or texted kind of like virginity?  Once it’s been given, you REALLY can’t get it back, even though you might ask nicely.

I expect that I will give her what she wants, yet as with most areas of my life, I write about it first, to clarify for myself first and foremost.  And sometimes the topics do make for interesting and stimulating conversation on my blog.

So, what do YOU think?  Caveat emptor?  Or do the “right” thing?  She certainly knew what she was getting into and I don’t believe she had a large expectation for this relationship lasting long term.  What would YOU want?  What would YOU do?

Tell me what and why,

Dr. Adam Sheck

FYI, the pixelated shot in this blog is NOT the woman in question, just to be clear.


  1. Jennifer Hillman says

    I am like you… think of the human form as art. I have little trouble taking and sharing photos of myself. I am selective on who and when I do it. In fact, in the process of writing a book about Embracing the Goddess within and letting her express herself fully. Photos will be included, so I am breaking that taboo for myself.

    I have shared with a few boyfriends and did, after we break up, that they delete the images off their computer, flashdrives or where ever they may have them. I do the same for them. Do I feel they really did as I requested? Not sure I can say yes. Each man has later came back wondering for a little bit more fun… not the relationship, just the sex. Flattering yet… Really Dude? Do you think I am going there again? You had your chance and decided to walk away from this. I am not a revolving bed. I do politely say… huh… no. they drop the subject and apologize for the way they treated me. It is all good and mature. I generally don’t hear from them again. And it is all good.

    • Jennifer,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts so openly on this topic. Yes, you NEVER really know, do you? Once it’s out there, it is out there and from my perspective, best to recognize this up front and surrender it into the Universe (or the Internet?).

      True though, the letting go process. I think in many relationships, including some of mine, the sex is the last thing to go, so perhaps makes sense then that your exes still crave that connection. Good for you in keeping whatever boundaries you need to keep.

      Thanks again,

  2. I hope whoever picture that is with her face blanked out knows that this picture of her was posted here.

    I think if someone requests you delete pictures of themselves, then you should. Their ownership over their own body is more important then your ownership of their pictures. You will always have whatever memories you had with them and even the visual of those pictures in your head. Do you really need those pictures to go back and think of those memories? It seems like one may be keeping them more out of an idea of having a trophy.

    I also wonder how many men stockpile pictures of naked women on their computers. Whether they are girlfriends, random women he has talked to or porn. At some point, men need to ask themselves why they need to stockpile picture of women on their computers.

    In closing, if someone asks you to delete their picture, you should delete their picture. If they gave you the awesoem gift of having a nake picture of themselves for you for whatever time you were allowed to have it, appreciate the gift but move on.

    • Erin,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this charged topic. There definitely seems to be a split in opinion on what is appropriate. The moral of the story is to consider these issues PRIOR to acting upon them, then everyone is crystal clear.

  3. My solution – just don’t give anything that I may not want floating around if it doesn’t work out. Hence there have been no photos of me out there, except for a few taken without my knowing (and, yes, that did make me very angry.)
    But if it were me in your situation, I would just delete the photos and move on, but that could be just because I don’t like headaches and drama, and not necessarily because it’s the right thing to do. 🙂

    • Karen,
      A very wise policy. Proactive and mindful is always better than reactive and blaming later. I’m into the drama-free zone as well.

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