‘I deleted pics of naked girls on my boyfriend’s phone – including my best friend – and he blamed me’ – Lalala Letmeexplain

In Lalalaletmeexplain 's hit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.

With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

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Dear Lala,

I'm going through a bad breakup. I had a bad feeling in my stomach for days about my boyfriend as he was being off with me, so I did a bad thing and went through his phone when he was away. I found pictures he took with his old phone of his ex when she was sending him Snapchats. He'd taken the photo with an old phone so that it didn't show that he'd screenshotted as snapchat notifies you when somebody screenshots. He had loads of photos of other girls naked all from Snapchat hidden away in this folder too.

What made it worse is that he had numerous screenshots of my best friend’s pole dancing Instagram page. He had taken screenshots of her bending down and in sexualised positions. When I raised it with him, he said it's my fault and I'm the one in the wrong for looking through his phone. He said I'm also in the wrong for deleting all the pictures. He said it was not my place to delete. Am I the one in the wrong for looking at his phone and deleting the images? He says I'm just as bad as him because I went through his private chats without his permission. I'm absolutely heartbroken and now I feel like I'm not good enough.

Lala Says,

This story shows us how important it is to trust your gut, you knew something was off, your intuition was correct and it’s good that you followed it. The question of whether it’s ever OK to go through a partner’s phone is an age-old debate. Some people feel that there are no circumstances whatsoever that give you the right to search a partner’s phone behind their back, whereas others believe that if you’re being given enough to be suspicious about then it’s reasonable to check.

It’s a tough one because I do think it’s wrong and unacceptable for your partner to sneak around looking through your personal things. There are many conversations in my phone that I wouldn’t want other people to see, and that isn’t always going to be something shady. I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to see my friends telling me their deepest thoughts and secrets, or my plans for surprising him on his birthday for example. However, if your gut is going wild and you’ve got a strong feeling that something is going on and the only way of being able to find out is by going through their phone, then I don’t think it makes you an unhinged maniac to go through it.

But this is where it gets a bit complicated – because if we all agree that it’s OK to go through phones if we have suspicions, then that gives licence to abusive partner to use their unfounded paranoia and insecurities to justify monitoring and spying on us, and that is not OK. So, I guess my view is this – if you feel like you need to go through a phone in the first place then there are clearly some issues within the relationship, and you should consider leaving. If you go through a phone and you don’t find anything then you’re in the wrong. But if you go through and you do find something then your wrongness is overridden by the fact that they have in fact been hiding something bad from you.

You may well have breached boundaries by looking but you found something. Technically you shouldn’t have done it, but if you hadn’t then you’d never have known that he had been screenshotting pictures of your best friend pole dancing. I’m unclear about whether the Snapchats were old. I don’t think you have a right to be mad about him storing old pictures, however, that’s a whole other debate about what to do with ex’s nudes. Essentially, if any of the screenshots happened whilst you were together then it’s a problem, but it’s not your issue if they didn’t. The best friend thing is certainly an issue though, and so is the fact that he responded by basically gaslighting you into feeling like you’re the one in the wrong. Going through a phone is nowhere near as disrespectful as sneaking sexual pictures of your best friend or exchanging nudes with random women outside of the boundaries of your monogamous relationship.

The important thing for you to remember is that none of that happened because of you, it has nothing to do with you being ‘good enough’, it is no reflection of your sexual desirability or your ability to keep a man interested. Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce and that wasn’t because she’s not good enough. It doesn’t mean he finds your best friend more attractive than you or that he’d rather be with her or anyone else, it just means he’s a pretty gross guy who has been sexually objectifying your mate in a sneaky and weird way. He wanted to add some new material to his masturbation collection – that is not a reflection on you or your worth whatsoever.

Dealing with a break-up is painful, there is no real way of avoiding the hurt and grief so look after yourself, get support around you, see a counsellor if you need to, and try to keep your focus on self- acceptance, self-love and self-care. Ultimately, he betrayed your trust and then blamed you when you found out, so you’ve done yourself a favour by exiting this relationship, this is not someone who was keeping you safe and held. You will get through it with time and work, and you will always be OK because your gut instinct is working very well, and you know when to listen to it.

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