Dear Prudence: I kicked my husband out for masturbating to a friend’s photo.

Help! I Kicked My Husband Out for Masturbating to a Friend’s Photo.

Help! I Kicked My Husband Out for Masturbating to a Friend’s Photo.

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Advice on manners and morals.
April 25 2016 5:15 PM

Lost to Lust

Prudie advises a woman who kicked her husband out for masturbating to a friend’s photo.

Mallory Ortberg
Mallory Ortberg.

Photo by Sam Breach

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at

husband masturbates facebook.

Photo illustration by Sofya Levina. Image by lofilolo/Thinkstock

Mallory Ortberg: Hi, everyone! Let’s chat.


Q. Is it cheating or not?: I came home last night after a girls’ night out and noticed that my husband’s phone was not plugged in. I picked it up, plugged it into the charger and took a peek to see what’s happening on Facebook. I open it up and there I see a picture of one of his friends in a bikini, zoomed into her body and chest. I woke him and asked him about it, and he, in a sleepy daze, admitted that he used it earlier in the night to masturbate to. I can honestly say I lost it. My husband cheated on me over a year ago by kissing one of his co-workers after work. It was a one-time indiscretion, after which I agreed to work on our relationship. I don’t know why, but this feels the same to me. I feel like he cheated all over again. I gave him three days to move out, and said that if he does not comply, I’m taking my daughter on a mommy-daughter trip to give him more time. I don’t see myself getting over this or ever being intimate again. I don’t know if I’m overreacting here, but I honestly feel broken about this.

A: To go through your husband’s phone, wake him up to fight about a picture you saw there, then throw him out of your house: That sounds like an overreaction to me. There’s nothing wrong, necessarily, with what you felt—even if it’s not the picture of fairness, I can understand feeling jealous, hurt, insecure, or betrayed about a spouse’s masturbatory habits, particularly if they involve a mutual friend. What I can’t understand is what you did with those feelings. No, you should not have asked your husband, the father of your child, to move out of your house because you snooped through his phone and interrogated him about his sexual fantasies. Your breach of trust was worse than his by several orders of magnitude.

You need to get into couples counseling immediately, because even if you two can’t make it as a couple, you’re going to need to find a way to relate to him as a co-parent that doesn’t involve flying off the handle whenever you feel jealous. Figure out a way to express your insecurity and fear of betrayal that doesn’t involve going through his phone (and be honest! You did not “notice it was not plugged in,” you wanted to snoop and you wanted to justify it) or threatening divorce because he’s thought about someone he knows while masturbating. You’re clearly in a highly defensive state of emotional emergency; whatever issues were raised with his brief affair last year have obviously not gone away. You need to address them for his sake as well as your own.

Q. How should I break up with my dentist?: I enjoy going to my dentist because he is very personable, speaks my native language, and can do great work. However, he tries to juggle a couple of patients at a time, as I assume is common practice, and the quality of his services deteriorates. He changed my two dental crowns about three years ago and both of them came off in the past few months. I asked him: What could be the reason for it? He replied that the grinding of my teeth while sleeping may have loosen them up. My previous crowns lasted more than 10 years, without using my mouth guards. I told my husband I am going to start looking for another dentist, and he suggested that I talk to my dentist first. I was originally inclined to not bring up my discontent and just get a new dentist, but I am afraid that a new dentist may not be any better. Another option is to send him an email, but I would prefer to speak to him face-to-face, so I can read his facial expressions and not feel like a coward, but there are always patients and staff members around us when I visit him for scheduled appointments. Please tell me: What would be the best way to approach the quality/financial issue?


A: It may be that your teeth-grinding has gotten worse, or it may be that your dentist is being less-than-scrupulously-honest (or less-than-entirely-competent). You don’t have to tell your dentist why or if you leave his practice. Cowardice isn’t really a factor here. If you do look for a new office, tell them that your last dentist replaced your crowns at an ever-increasing rate and you were concerned he was distracted by having too many patients at a time, and you’re looking for someone who can spend more one-on-one time with you and answer any questions you may have. Also, start using your mouth guards.

Q. Getting Genghis Khan–ed: My husband and I are both LGBT supporters. A few days ago, he showed me the video for Miike Snow’s “Genghis Khan” with the comment, “Isn’t this great!” The protagonist realizes he is in love with his (male) captive and leaves his wife for him. My reaction was, “No!” This led to a big argument. My husband believes that it is always a good thing when someone leaves a marriage to be true to their sexuality. I think being true to one’s sexuality is a wonderful thing, but empathize with the pain and disruption caused to the left-behind partner, who must feel betrayed at the deepest level. (This has happened to several friends of mine; I do have a large social network.) The topic came up again when I mentioned that the same thing had happened to a distant relative, and his comment was, “That’s great! Right?” NO! It blew her whole life up! “But everyone is happier now?” he says. Well, maybe, after dealing with the upheaval of everything in her life. I’m having trouble getting past this, and can’t hear that stupid song (which is misogynistic, anyway) without getting angry.

A: It’s good when someone can come out of the closet. It’s sad when someone finds out their marriage was not what they believed it to be. Both of those things can true at the same time, and neither one cancels out the other. This is why word bittersweet (and the Straight Spouse Network) was invented.

Q. I’m his first girlfriend: I’m 27 and, about four months ago, a friend introduced me to a guy my age who has since become my boyfriend. Things have been going great so far with us. He’s a great guy, just a little quiet and reserved. We were out together and we ran into my ex-boyfriend. It was a little awkward, but we got through it fine. It was after that he told me something that I found shocking: He’s 27 and I’m the first girl he’s ever dated. He explained that during his teen years, he didn’t date because his family didn’t believe in teens dating. During college, he said girls weren’t interested in him because he wasn’t a party person, and he had a hard time meeting people after moving to a new town and having to work long hours. I asked my friend if she knew this. She said she did, and that it was why she introduced us—to help him and because she thought we’d hit it off. He’s a great guy I like being with, but knowing this about him just feels weird. I’m not sure how to get past it, and I don’t like that my friend didn’t tell me before we started dating. Not sure what I should do.


A: Relax, mostly. Not having dated as a teenager or in college isn’t especially unusual; he’s an outlier, but not an extreme one. You don’t mention any specific concerns you have about him, and there’s nothing in your letter that suggests he’s been a less-than-satisfactory boyfriend, so I’m inclined to think you’re just embarrassed by the idea of his being “weird.” Release yourself from that burden! There’s nothing wrong with him, and there’s nothing for you to “get past.” He hasn’t dated anyone before; now he’s dating you. Focus on the latter half of that sentence, rather than the former.

Q. Should I respond?: I’m in college and I met a guy at a social event. I talked to him for a few minutes to be nice but I didn’t really like him, so I politely excused myself. The next day, I ran into him at a club meeting, and he asked me to go get coffee. I said no, but then he asked for my phone number and I gave it to him. (I couldn’t think of a reason to say no). Now he is texting me asking to hang out. Do I owe him a response? I probably won’t see him again, as the semester is over soon.

A: “No, sorry!” is a perfectly acceptable response. You don’t owe it to him, but it would certainly clear up any confusion he may have experienced after you gave him your number. Then set his number to “Do Not Disturb” so you can’t see any more of his texts and move on with your life.

Q. Harmless texts: My boyfriend of two years is sweet, smart, funny, and we have what I would consider to be a great relationship. We are open with each other about any problems that arise and understand that both of us have been in a couple serious, long-term relationships in the past, which we can easily talk about. However, a few months ago I glimpsed a text thread on his phone with his ex-girlfriend from high school, and, upon further investigation, realized that they’ve spoken every few days for what seems to be months. Additionally, my boyfriend had “silenced” the text thread so that it does not appear on his notifications. The texts seemed relatively harmless, but from what I saw he never mentioned the fact that he has a girlfriend, and there were several times in which they would talk about seeing each other in their dreams and so forth. I’m not sure how to handle this. It seems relatively harmless, but the fact that he seems to be at least somewhat trying to hide it is off-putting. Should I bring it up to him or let him have this little secret?


A: I’m inclined to say let it go. You shouldn’t have looked through his phone (I understand that you’re only human, and sometimes seeing an ex’s name on a partner’s phone temporarily overrides the part of the brain that respects other people’s boundaries), and you didn’t find anything incriminating beyond the fact that he sometimes talks to his exes about things other than you. (I have an ex who texts me about her dreams all the time. They’re wild!) Forget what you saw, which shouldn’t be too difficult, because what you saw wasn’t much. And the next time you glimpse something on your boyfriend’s phone, look away.

Q. Bathroom boundaries: I am a semi-new employee (seven months) at small nonprofit. Our department is located in what used to be a large three-story house that was redone to serve as an office space. On the first two floors, there are bathrooms that have multiple stalls and are separated from the work area. On the third floor, where I am located, there is a private bathroom unit located literally less than three feet away from my desk. My question is twofold: 1) Is it reasonable for me to expect people to take their “business” to the public bathrooms only one floor below us when it is going to be less than pleasant smelling? There is Oust provided in the bathroom and I have a diffuser at my desk, but honestly multiple times a day it is truly unbearable (I promise I’m not exaggerating); 2) Is there any way I can somehow subtly encourage people to use the other bathrooms? Thank you so much! My nose will be forever grateful.

A: There is not a professional way to tell people that you want them to leave work in order to use the bathroom. It is an unfortunate part of life, and one that I’m afraid you will have to learn to cope with. You’d have better luck asking to move your desk than trying to start a conversation with your co-workers as they head into the stalls about whether they’re going No. 1 or No. 2.

Q. Dinner party debacle: I have a relative who recently married a Muslim man. Now, every time the family gets together for dinner, there is always the task of having to track down the kind of food he is allowed to eat and then having to cook it separately from everyone else’s food. We recently decided to throw a dinner party and have invited our extended family. My husband said that instead of going through all that kind of trouble to feed my relative’s spouse, we should just serve him a run-of-the-mill steak like everyone else’s and lie and say it’s kosher and was cooked separately. My husband insists the man will not know the difference and that the religious dietary restrictions are a ridiculous hassle. I am not sure it is a good idea, but he isn’t budging. What say you?


A: I say two things: One is that the Muslim dietary code is halal, not kosher. The other is that it’s common courtesy to make a good-faith effort to accommodate special diets when you have a guest. If it’s an extraordinary burden on the rest of the family, you could always ask your relative and their husband for help preparing the meal. It’s my understanding that most vegetarian food is also halal, so I believe that with a minimum of research you’ll find that there are plenty of halal-conforming options. It shouldn’t be difficult for at least one dish on the table to be cooked without meat, gelatin, or alcohol. (I can think of several offhand, and they’re not even all salads.)

I do not recommend lying to your new in-law about the nature of the food you’re serving him. Don’t do that to anyone, whether they keep kosher or eat vegan or any other diet, no matter what you personally think of their decision. If you’re unwilling or unable to accommodate them, be pleasant but honest, so they can make the necessary arrangements to make sure they can eat.

And there’s more ...

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