Is it okay to not read his novel?

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    My boyfriend will soon be finishing his novel about his adventures in Australia that he experienced six years ago. It’s a well written book (based on the few pages I’ve read) and it’s not entirely possible that he will be published.

    However, his story is a real biography about his year as a single man travelling around a big country. He has already let me read some of it and both times it has involved girls. In one of his texts he’s admiring and eventually seducing a beautiful Australian girl. In another text he describes the body of a beautiful German girl in details.

    I’ve told him that I don’t really appreciate reading his “braggin stories” and he was honestly surprised, because to him this is his past and he never meant to hurt me. I believe him, ’cause he can be thoughtless sometimes, but he’s never intentionally mean. He really just wanted to show me his piece of art.

    So… I don’t think I want to read his book at all, now when it’s almost done. I fear that his family and our friends will question this. “Why are you not being supportive?” “It’s just the past, it’s no big deal.” “That’s what you gotta expect when you’re with a writer.” “It’s not as if he picked those girls.”

    I can already hear them.

    I really want to honour my feelings. I know I will be anxious and suspicious everytime he mentions a girl in the book, so I don’t think I will enjoy it. At the same time I want to support him, but without reading it.

    What do you guys think? Is it okay to refuse to read it?



    Dear Ylva:

    I think that it is okay to not read his novel. On the other hand, the issue of your distress over other women and your boyfriend has been ongoing (“Jealousy is my major weakness. He might point out the attractiveness of another girl (completely innocently), and I will somehow feel threatened by this”, you wrote May 2017)-

    -and so even if you don’t read the novel, the same distress will continue, attaching itself to the next time an attractive woman is in his vision, capturing his attention for a moment.

    Maybe reading his novel is an opportunity for you to reduce your sensitivity to the issue, maybe you can read about his experiences with other women (not very sexually detailed, I hope!), women who are now in far away lands,  and say to yourself: it is natural for a (heterosexual) man to be attracted to women, he was born that way and this attraction is not going anywhere.

    He will continue to look at women. I can’t prevent it any more than I can prevent him from ever being hungry again. It makes as much sense to expect him to not desire food ever again as it is to expect him to experience no attraction or no appreciation of a woman ever again.

    You can say to yourself, if it is true: he has proven to me that he is loyal to me. I trust him.

    And as you read and come across the next description, take a moment, breathe deeply, talk sense to yourself and continue.

    What do you think?




    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply and read my entire story. It is true that this is an ongoing pattern. My tummy twist upon reading your advice, which means that you’re probably right. At the moment I don’t feel mature enough to appreciate that it’s natural for  men to be attracted to other women. I suppose I need to grow a little more, but to be honest, ever since the me too movement I’ve had a hard time with that. I can’t really feel comfortable in my relationship when I know that all other attractive women around me are a potential subject of desire.

    I certainly don’t feel that way about other men. I dont find so-called attractive men interesting. They’re just a pretty face in the crowd.

    I do also feel that he can consider my emotions and since he haven’t done so in the past, I feel like I can’t trust him. How can I trust him even when he’s attracted to others? How can I navigate myself in such a shallow concept?


    Dear Ylva:

    You are welcome. I didn’t understand parts of your recent post and would like to understand, therefore I ask:

    1. “ever since the me too movement I’ve had a hard time with that”- what do you mean by the me-too movement?

    2. “How can I navigate myself in such a shallow concept”- can you define the “shallow concept” you are referring to?

    3. “I do also feel that he can consider my emotions and since he haven’t done so in the past”- how did he not consider your emotions in the past, what did he do or say that was inconsiderate?



    Hi Anita,

    1. Sorry, I think I’m being consciously cryptic because it’s hard to admit that after the #metoo movement I feel that mens’ attraction to women is somewhat tainted. Suddenly it doesn’t seem just as “pure”. That’s not really a good explanation, but it’s what I feel.

    2. “Shallow concept”: Personally I’m not fascinated with beautiful people. I don’t feel the need to look at them, comment on them or give them any kind of attention. It hurts to feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t think it’s natural to look at attractive people. I don’t see the big deal. To me, it would be so much more understandable if people where attracted to personality and brains.

    3. Well, long story short, my boyfriend did stay in touch with one of the girls in his book and even planned to meet her alone for a cup of coffee. It never happened, but I’m still disappointed that he never even considered this to be a little off. I would never meet up with a person I had written passionately about and then shown the text to him. It just doesn’t sit well with me.

    I can absolutely accept that there are attractive women in the public spaces and he is absolutely allowed to appreciate their beauty. But the women in his book are not just a beautiful passerby, they are women he fell in love with, however short it lasted. I mean, I would never tell him about my previous one night stands, so I don’t really feel like reading about his.

    And thank you for being so committed to understanding 🙂


    Dear Ylva:

    You are welcome. I still do not understand #1 but maybe I don’t have to.

    “It hurts to feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t think it’s natural to look at attractive people. I don’t see the big deal. To me, it would be so much more understandable if people were attracted to personality traits”-

    – you are not the only one. I too do not see the big deal in appearances. Cleanliness, yes, I care about that, but otherwise, not much. But you and I are women. Men are different in that most are very visual, they are simply… bamboozled by the sight of a physically attractive woman. It has to do with the biological mating instincts of a man, nature saw to it that males (of many species) will be so attracted, so excited by the sight of a female, that they will work very hard to gain access and mate with her.

    In nature, the female wates as the males compete, the one who works the hardest, tries the hardest wins access to her. What motivates the males to work so hard (doing those complex mating rituals and fighting competition) is the excitement that they feel. Nature sees to it that emotions motivate animals to perform activities that promote survival of the individual and the species.

    Regarding your boyfriend having kept in touch with a former girlfriend and  arranged to meet her, that would distress me too, absolutely. Hopefully it was a one time attempt on his part and he learned to not repeat it. Did he?



    I’m late to this, but hope I can make a useful contribution.

    I don’t know your history with this man but, from what I’ve read above, this is a man who has been careless of your feelings on more than one occasion. Noticing another woman’s beauty is one thing, deliberately pointing it out to his girlfriend is quite another. Now, he has written a ‘novel’ that includes pornographic passages. He can describe, in detail, the body of a woman he slept with six years ago? Then the encounter is not history, it is still very fresh in his mind. And he not only writes about her (and others), but expects his girlfriend to read what he’s written? I doubt it is coincidence that the two parts he let you read both involved descriptions of the bodies of other women and/or his having sex with them. Good grief, this man is goading you, deliberately making your jealous and deliberately hurting your feelings.

    There is a strong possibility that your boyfriend is a narcissist. This kind of behaviour is quite common among narcissistic people. Please do some internet searching if this term is not familiar to you.

    I strongly recommend that you at least consider ending your relationship with this man. It sounds to me like he is emotionally abusing you and enjoying it.

    all the best



    The best thing would be for you to like the novel first. I think it’s not necessary to read it but the most important thing is that you are convinced that you like it enough to read it.

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