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An ex-girlfriend whom I used to date around two years ago is in town. We had broken up amicably and have kept in touch somewhat. We are planning to meet this week to catch up.

Back when we were dating, one day when we were together at her flat, she took out her phone and started taking nude pictures of us. It was a bit abrupt and I wasn't sure how I felt about it but I went along with it anyway. I asked her to share the photos with me which she did. (Though, I lost my copies in a phone crash about a year ago. I didn't tell her about it.)

Two months ago she posted a suggestive cropped photo on social media which I instantly recognized as one of ours. It probably wouldn't be recognizable to others. I still felt rather violated because she didn't ask me if I was okay with the photo being shared on social media, even if intended as "art". At that time I didn't bring it up because I wasn't sure how to, after all this while - plus I wanted to avoid a conflict over the phone.

What makes this more complicated:

A month after she posted the photo online, she told me she is going through some intense mental health issues which periodically render her temporarily amnesiac. At those times she doesn't remember anything about her life (including who I am and that we used to date). She is struggling a lot and is in town to seek medical help. So far the doctors don't know how long it will take for her to get better.

I don't want to add to her troubles or upset her by bringing this up, but I still need to ask her to delete the nude photos of us that she has because I am not comfortable with it.

Importantly, I do not want to come across as if I'm asking this because of her mental health issues - that is simply not the case. I had become uncomfortable with the existence of the photos long before that.

I doubt she will do anything malicious with the photos, but it still bothers me, because I'm normally super conscious about data security and I don't want it to come and bite me in the posterior several years later.


TL; DR: Ex-girlfriend from two years ago has nude pictures, how to ask her to delete them without upsetting her, as she is also facing some intense mental health problems right now.

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A technique I've used is similar reasons - not about nude pictures, but about social situations that have bothered me - is not making the whole situation about me, but as a general advice. So I would talk to her like that

Hey, I saw in [insert social media] a picture of us you posted some days ago. I'm sure nobody can recognizes me but (you can omit this part if you don't want even white little lies, to make the point clearer) even though I'm not mad about it you should'nt post intimate pictures of someone or with someone, without their consent.

This is a general rule to everyone. My wife posted several pictures of our son with the daughter of some friends of mine, only to be told to delete them because they were against publishing anything about their daughter in social media. So you can phrase your requirement not as a personal problem of yours - or not only that - but a general rule she should be following with everybody.

EDIT: I'm adding this since realizing I never addressed the question of her removing the pictures she owns, like other answers do. I didn't because simply, I don't think you can ask her that - I mean, you can always ask, but she does not have to comply with.

You can ask her to remove the pictures from public social media, since you appear in them, but she has every right to keep them for personal use. Those pictures are a testament of your past relationship, just as any gift you gave her or any memory she has of the time you were together, and while she may be open to delete them she's on her right to keep them. The moment to object to those pictures being taken it's long past.

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You don't have much aside a request to ask her to remove the pictures from her phone altogether. I think your main concern is having them publicly posted.

What causes the most harm and damage is having photos like that exposed to a large audience. It can be damaging to your reputation and I personally know people who have been impacted by similar situations. Because of this, requesting that posts be removed and not posted in the future is what I'll be focusing on.

Start by politely and firmly telling her you don't want her posting nonconsensual photos, like:

Hey (friend), I recently saw your posting of us. Could you please stop showing photos like that of us publicly? Thanks.

The main idea is not to make it initially sound too demanding. Just a firm request so she understands your position but doesn't feel threatened. I don't think you'll want to make her feel this way because it'll make a potentially bad situation even worse. If later in the future she does it again, and you have a legal edge, you can then mention that to her directly and take it from there.

If you really can't live with the idea of those photos still being on her phone, you can come up with a request like this:

Hey (friend)! Since we've been apart for so long, I was wondering if we could mutually remove those old (explicit) photos we took.

Just keep it simple and polite and don't sound demanding. It isn't something she's really obliged to do and would be more so of a favor. It would be extremely nice and considerate if she did that, so reciprocate that mentality when asking for it. :)


Further reading: I would check this excellent article I'm sourcing from which discusses the legal repercussions in the US for revenge porn.

  • Not the downvoter, but I'd remove the first section about legal considerations. This site isn't a legal help site. – gparyani Apr 18 at 4:15
  • @gparyani I've removed that altogether and instead included a direct link which references legal considerations the OP may want to look at. Whoever did DV I would appreciate an explanation so I might improve things further :) – Anilla Apr 18 at 4:24

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