DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Here are the facts: – long distance relationship for five years – had a shared Google drive where we saved nudes, lewds, love letters, etc. – the ex pays for it, but we both uploaded stuff to it and had the password – we broke up over a year ago – I got a new phone right after the breakup and didn’t add our shared account and didn’t think much about it – I didn’t ask him to delete anything when we broke up – we don’t talk now – I had to wipe my old phone and opened the Google drive folder and can see that he’s accessing our videos and photos often
Do I just delete anything I uploaded? Delete the whole thing? Ask him to delete it?
I trust him not to distribute any of it, but like. Privatize your spank bank so it’s at least not hanging out in a place where I can see that you’re still getting off to me.
Thanks for any insight, G Drive Spy
DEAR G DRIVE SPY: I’m going to be honest, GDS, the question of “what does one do about shared nudes after a breakup” can be a thorny one.
Every relationship ever has… let’s call them mementos, it sounds so much better than “leftovers” or something - that need to be dealt with. Because I’m Gen-X, the more common post break-up challenges involved things like splitting up the record collection or doing a sort of hostage exchange of various belongings that ended up at your exes place and their stuff at yours. Sometimes it may have involved things like “so how do we split custody of the dog?”
The nice thing about these was that it was fairly cut and dry. You could argue about who got to keep the copy of Dolittle or accept that your favorite hoodie was now the exit tax for the relationship, but that’s more or less where it ended. Losing some of your stuff in the break up could sting, but (barring custody of said dog) it was more or less a cut-and-dry situation. You accept the loss, mourn the missing sentimental value of some of those keepsakes, but it was a rare occasion indeed that anything from the relationship itself was likely to come back to haunt you.
(Well… besides your ex, that is).
While the saga of Pamela and Tommy Lee became a national story during this period (and hideous invasion of privacy besides), the likelihood of things like nude photos or videos of you and your partner re-emerging and biting you in the ass was vanishingly unlikely.
(Plus, unless you had a darkroom in your spare bathroom or REALLY had a thing for Polaroids, the barrier to entry for having nude photos meant accepting that the pimply teenagers working the Fotomat were gonna make extras.)
But as sexting becomes an increasingly common part of dating and relationships, cheap digital storage and the ubiquity of camera phones, the odds of your pics never going away – or worse, escaping into the wild – are much higher. And along with the sex-negative bullshit stigma that comes with the possibility of pics getting out, it’s lead to new and unexpected post-break up etiquette questions. Is it ethical to keep them after the break up? If they’re in a shared drive, who do they technically belong to? What about if your ex doesn’t ask you to get rid of them? And what do you do if you find out your ex is still cranking it to them?
Now, for you, GDS I think the big question comes down to “what aspect of this situation is bothering you?”, which will ultimately decide the best approach. Is it a matter of knowing that he still has a sort of lingering sexual connection to you by proxy? Is it the mere existence of the photos themselves? Or just “dude, I don’t need to know what you’re up to with my pics?”
If its the latter, then the easiest thing to do is just, y’know… not log into the drive. Unless there’s a really compelling reason to keep having regular access to the drive, you should be able to remove yourself from the People With Access list without much fuss. Just right click on the drive on your “shared with me” page, hit share, find our name and select “remove access”. Now you never have to worry about seeing just how often he’s viewing your pics or videos and he can keep making withdrawals from the spank bank without involving you.
However, if it’s more an issue that he has the pictures at all, then you’re likely going to have some sort of communication with your ex. The question is “how much contact are you willing to have”.
You don’t say if the break up was particularly acrimonious or if you and he are on good or bad terms. The complete lack of contact would suggest that you’re at least neutral towards one another. If that’s the case, I think an email or text saying “hey, I saw my pics were still on the cloud drive, I’d really prefer that you delete them” would be in order.
However, it’s ultimately going to depend on whether you trust him to actually delete them. After all, there’s no way to know for sure that he doesn’t just move the files instead of deleting them permanently, or doesn’t make a show of deleting them but recovering them later. If you do reach out and the files disappear from the drive, you’ll have to weigh the possibility that they’ll still exist, just in a place that you don’t know about. If you’re ok with that possibility, then I’d suggest sending that email.
Deleting them yourself is an option, but it’s a potentially aggressive one that could backfire, depending on circumstances. If you just up and delete the pictures and videos yourself, then odds are good you’re going to end up getting a call or email. If he’s accessing them often, he’s going to notice that they’re gone and it won’t exactly take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happened.
Plus, there’s a non-zero chance that he has copies elsewhere, which would mean that this an notable but ultimately futile gesture.
(And if he’s an especially tricksy hobbitses, he may well have noticed that you’d logged in recently. He could very well lock the permissions on those files and prevent you from deleting them before you have a chance.)
Of course, if you’re feeling slightly puckish, you could log back in, upload a text file titled “Dude, I can tell you’re still getting off to these, maybe move ’em elsewhere” before removing yourself from the drive. It wouldn’t mean he’s going to delete them, but at least you’d get some satisfaction of tweaking his nose slightly before you go.
But at the end of the day, if you two ended things on decent enough terms, I’d suggest a quick email. As a general rule, I’m in favor of making your wishes known, clearly and directly. It won’t ensure that he deletes them for good, but at the very least you will make it clear where you stand.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com