BF Reads Writer GF's Stories Without Permission, And She Wants To Know If She's Overreacting
What should be a priority - self-consciousness, or trust? It's not easy to choose, and in this thread we have someone whose boyfriend read her secret stories, which were meant to be private. OP says she is self-conscious about her writing, and that her boyfriend reading her works without her permission has led to him trusting her less. The stories were old, and never meant for anyone else's eyes.
Shittywritersorry pinged Reddit to see if the community thinks she overreacted, even though she eventually apologized for blowing up at him.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
I've been dating my boyfriend "Leo" for almost three years. Our relationship for the most part is very loving and healthy. We talk about getting married one day and agreed on having one child a while from now. We don't live together but are planning to move together soon. Our plans completely match up and we both want the same things.
I've always liked to write stories, even though I'm really not good at it and I admit that they're kind of cheesy and even border iamverybadass territory. I'm not trying to publish anything, I just do it because it's very cathartic and I get this great feeling from it, it's hard to describe. I've told Leo about it and he's always been very supportive and reassured me that I'm probably a better writer than I think. Gradually, he's helped me open up to the idea that I could let him read them one day. I think I would prefer if I read them to him because that way I can decide which parts sound terrible and just skip those.
Anyway, a few weeks ago we were going to go out to dinner. I was in the bathroom straightening my hair and when I walked back into the bedroom, Leo was flipping through one of the books. I. Went. Off.
I screamed at him asking what the f*ck he thinks he's doing. I grabbed it out of his hands and threw it across the room. He happened to be reading a story I wrote years ago when I was in high school that I tried to rewrite, but I really ended up hating it and stopped. I cried because I didn't want anyone to see that. I just felt awful, I really hated that he was reading it. I was embarrassed by my writing. He apologized and tried to calm me down but told me I had an extreme overreaction and that the story wasn't that bad. I kept yelling "I WROTE THAT FIVE YEARS AGO WHY ARE YOU READING THAT SH*T" or something like that. Of course, he picked up the notebook and on the back it said "2018" so he thought he was catching me in a lie. Like I said I tried rewriting that story from an older notebook and stopped halfway through. I do feel really bad for the way I handled the situation. I shouldn't have yelled at him.
Anyway, after calming down we went to dinner and I just wanted to get it the f*ck over with so we could go to sleep. When we got back to my apartment, we had another discussion about it. Leo told me that he's been feeling uneasy throughout dinner because he thought I was hiding something in the stories because of how I "overreacted." I'm not hiding anything. I just hate how he picked up a notebook with a dumb story I wrote years ago and just started reading. He argued "I let you look at my sketchbook so this isn't anything different." But to me, it is. He gave me his permission. And his sketches are actually really good. I never gave him permission to read that sh*tty old story. I also hated that when I told him it was a really old story, he picked up the notebook and told me "it says 2018 on it." Yeah, I know that. It was rewritten. I also believe that the "I think you're hiding something" excuse is a bullsh*t way to blame his actions on me. We talked for a while and his point of view is that he wants to read these stories I always talk about writing, he wants me to open up to him more. I understand this. I know he wasn't trying to hurt me. But he did. He definitely apologized a dozen times. Ultimately, I forgave him. He had no idea how self conscious I am about my writing.
But still, I have all these feelings now like I can't trust him. What's worse, I don't get that urge to write anymore. Anytime I think about it my brain is like "NOPE not interested." Not even neutral about it, I actively avoid it now. I just want to know, am I overreacting? In every other sense, he's the perfect boyfriend for me. He's caring and kind, and always looks out for me first. I know this post makes him sound selfish, but the truth is, he's not. This is one of those weird things that are totally uncharacteristic of him and out of the blue, which is why I am still shocked about it.
TL;DR my boyfriend read one of my crappy stories that I wrote when I was in high school without my permission. I freaked the f*ck out and he acted like I was trying to hide something, when I'm actually just self conscious about my writing. Am I overreacting?
It's not unreasonable to want to keep some things private.
One of the reasons you have trouble trusting him is that he made excuses for him reading your note books. It doesn't matter when you wrote it or how good your writing is, because that changes nothing about you saying "please read none of my note books". Yet he's has invalidated your wish of not wanting your note books read. He could have asked you if he could read the note book he had just found instead of reading it. Takes a few minutes and shows respect, but he read without permission and then tried to justify it.
It would have been different if he had said something like: "Sorry, I gave in to my curiosity, but I shouldn't have. It won't happen again." Because that does not make your wish for privacy look wrong. You may have reacted strongly, but the original wish for privacy isn't wrong.
He may have been put on the defense by your strong reaction, but he should have addressed your behavior and not invalidated your wish for privacy. Even if you wrote it yesterday or 20 years ago and it's bad or the next Nobel prize winning piece of literature, if you don't want it read, you don't want it read.
You can apologize for the intensity of your reaction and your behavior, but it wasn't wrong for you to be upset. He did something of which you said it's something you don't want. You will start to trust your boyfriend when he has rebuild the trust you feel has been broken. So it's not something you can do, because he has to rebuild what he broke. You can continue to communicate about how you feel and what you do and don't want. A good partner will work with you. A bad one will invalidate your feelings, wants and needs.
Does Leo (the boyfriend) understand why you're so upset?
So, I completely get where you're coming from and I probably would have reacted similarly in your situation. Letting people read your writing can feel profoundly vulnerable, especially when the writing is personal and you aren't satisfied with it. You're fully entitled to your feelings of violation there.
For me, how to proceed would be based entirely on his responses. Does he understand now that his willingness to share his drawings with you doesn't mean you're required to let him read your writing? Does he seem to really get why you were embarrassed, or did he just apologize to end the conversation?
Throwing stuff doesn't solve anything.
If you told him you didn't want him to read your writing and he went rummaging through your things to find something you'd written, then yeah, I'd say this is a breach of trust.
Screaming and crying and throwing things does seem like an overreaction, though.
Leo violated trust.
I may be the outlier here but I don't think it was an over reaction at all and here is why...her initial gut reaction was very visceral. Go with your gut. He violated your trust big time, those were such personal stories and he of all people should of known that. How could he not know that?? So to go behind your back and read them is disrespectful.
Also the turning it around on you, I have a huge issue with this also. ( I came out of a very emotionally abusive relationship 2 years ago so sometimes I think I can see manipulation better than people whom have always been in healthy relationships.) This is deflecting the problem on you, which is sh*tty. Trying to make you feel bad for his indiscretion.
I don't want to sound crazy, if this was a one time event then ok, but otherwise process with caution. Watch for further issues where he tries to blame you for something he did. Watch for gaslighting.
It's natural to feel violated.
So if I give you permission to take my car to the grocery store, then that means I have permission to take yours out for a spin without asking? Permission does not work that way. He knows this. Then he blames you for objecting. Now it is like he wants to search your car because you objected. What you hiding in there? The only real difference is that a creative thing like writing is much more personal than a car. He violated your privacy and trust and now he is denying it and saying you are over reacting.
While your initial reaction was, shall we say, more explosive than one would usually encounter, your instincts as to the level of breach of trust are spot on.
My stepmom read my diary when I was in middle school, and it completely changed the way I saw my writing from that day forward. I wasn't just writing for myself, there was a new voice in the back of my head saying "how will this sound if someone else reads it," and it changed the way I wrote. She and I have a good relationship, but it really broke down that trust for me for a while.
I'd remove any discussion of why he did it, why you shouldn't care, etc. Tell him you trust him to respect that boundary, even if he doesn't agree with it. He doesn't have your permission to reach any of your notebooks, period. If he argues, etc. then he's a jerk.
He is prioritizing his feelings of wanting to see the stories, over your feelings of embarrassment and a need for privacy. If he doesn't stop, then I wouldn't feel comfortable with him anymore.
And what's up with the gaslighting?
Okay, so maybe he wasn't TRYING to hurt you (or maybe he was), but at best, he was so selfish that he thought it wouldn't hurt you if you didn't find out, which means he's sneaky and dishonest, or, even if wasn't trying to hurt you, he's so selfish that he just didn't CARE if he hurt you.
Now he's trying to gaslight you by saying you must be hiding something, all because you justifiably got upset when you busted him doing something that he KNEW you didn't want him to do. He violated your trust and your privacy, and he's trying to get you to believe that there must be something wrong with YOU for being upset about his bad behavior. He doesn't respect you as a person with your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. He's trying to manipulate you, and he's favor-sharking (using "I let you look at my stuff," when you never even asked for that, to justify why he should be able to look at your stuff). So many red flags. Run, run, run.
You're saying this is uncharacteristic of him, but maybe you've just never caught him in the act before?
Totally justifiable anger.
He invaded your privacy and is now trying to guilt you when he is the one who made a serious, serious mistake. Unless he apologizes, move on. He didn't respect you in the least, and it won't be the last boundary he crosses.
Edit: Your reaction was appropriate, imo.
Should there be secrecy in a relationship, however?
We weren't there for any of her conversations. There is a huge difference between someone saying "I don't want you to read it, it's too embarrassing" and "you do not have permission to read any of my work, and you can only read it in the future if I explicitly say so"
I guess it's a matter of perspective. If I were HIM, I would end the relationship after such an outburst from her. That type of secrecy is insane, at least to me. My husband and I share everything. Ate some things embarrassing? Absolutely! Do some things make me cringe? Yes! But I couldn't imagine living my life with a part of me sealed off from my significant other. To me, this shows that she doesn't feel comfortable with him. Sure, feeling completely comfortable with someone takes time, but for me, there reaches a point in a relationship where if both people aren't 100% in, I feel the relationship won't work.
Maybe not everyone feels the same way as me, and that's fine. I'm just giving my perspective. If her boyfriend wants a relationship that is completely open with no secrets, and she wants to keep a part of her life hidden from him, it won't ever work out.
Since he blamed you, maybe it's time to reconsider the relationship.
He violated a boundary of yours AND blamed you for it. I highly recommending removing yourself from this person.
Quitting a job can be a liberating feeling, but it can also be scary as hell... especially if you don't have another job waiting for you on the horizon.
Thanks to Redditor BurningDruid13, we have some answers to the following question: "Have you ever quit a job, without another lined up, for your mental health? How did it turn out?"