Everyone has their own boundaries, and they should absolutely be respected.
But for those with more relaxed boundaries, it can be hard to remember that other people have more urgent boundaries for a good reason.
A woman learned this when her boyfriend asked her to post on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit when they couldn’t settle a disagreement.
Redditor Critical_Resolve_536 discovered, however, there was a reason behind their difference of opinion.
The Original Poster (OP) asked the subReddit:
“AITA for not caring if my sister saw me without a shirt on?”
The OP has always had a very open and casual relationship with her sister.
“I 23[Female] live in a two bedroom apartment with my sister 24[Female]. My sister and I have always been close and I would say she’s my best friend!”
“Growing up my sister and I shared a room our entire lives. I didn’t have my own room until she left for college. We also shared a tiny bathroom so inevitably I would see her naked while getting ready and vice versa.”
“I never thought anything about it growing up because what else were we supposed to do?”
But the OP’s boyfriend was not comfortable with the idea.
“The other day my boyfriend 25[male] was over and we were in my room getting ready to go somewhere. I needed to change my shirt and my boyfriend went to close the door.”
“I asked him why and he said, ‘Well your sister could walk by.’ She was in the living room and would have to pass my room to go to her room.”
“In response, I said ‘that doesn’t matter. Everyone in this apartment right now has seen me naked before.'”
“I said it in kind of a joking manner but my BF did not take it that way.”
“This led to a huge argument about how it’s completely inappropriate and disgusting.”
“He started asking if we just walk around naked around each other, which we don’t, but we have been known to change with our bedroom doors open, or one time I saw my sister run from the bathroom to her room when she forgot her towel…?”
“My boyfriend is now saying he needs some time because he’s not sure he can look at me the same.”
“I really was not seeing the big deal at first, but after talking to a friend, I’m starting to think that maybe it is weird.”
“My boyfriend suggested I post here.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP’s boyfriend either was controlling or had a fragile ego.
“NTA – That is a massively huge fragile ego. He has to be deeply insecure. That is absolutely a huge red flag and extremely abnormal.”
“You are not in the wrong whatsoever. I hope you screenshot this and send it to him, he needs to grow up. It is normal to have that kind of relationship with your sister, don’t worry about it.” – lethalislethal
“Yep. Same gender family members and very close friends are all normal. Acquaintances or opposite gender, BF would have a point.” – MamboPoa123
“The instinct to sexualise a woman’s body, especially his girlfriend’s, is probably pretty deep. I’m guessing from ‘conservative’ there is a lot of shame linked to that, as well.” – jessie_monster
“Maybe but really this sounds like he’s tried to control your body or he’s homophobic and thinks there’s something sexual about it. Maybe ask him if he thinks it’s okay for women to get changed in a shared locker room, it’s the same thing.” – soccer_trekkie
“Learning to recognize red flags saves you time. This dude is so conservative he is freaked you sister sees you topless sometimes yet no so much that he can’t sleep with you?”
“Throw the whole man away.” – SwiggyBloodlust
Some, however, pointed out there may be a darker reason for the boyfriend’s reaction.
“If he doesn’t have any siblings, I can understand this dynamic being strange to him. But his saying ‘he needs some time because he’s not sure he can look at [OP] the same’ is what makes him the unequivocal AH in my opinion.”
“I would say this is a yellow flag ONLY because it makes me seriously wonder what underlying beliefs make this such a huge issue for him that he would see you in a whole new light because of it.”
“Does he think that seeing the naked body of someone of the same sex automatically gives you The Gay? Does he think that having seen your sister, who you grew up with, naked, is indicative of an incestuous relationship or desire? Like what is the actual issue here?”
“Obviously (and hopefully) those are some pretty big leaps of logic to make off of the limited info here.”
“But he clearly has some underlying beliefs/issues regarding you not being bothered by the idea of your same-sex sibling seeing your titties, and the fact that those beliefs/issues are strong enough to make him see you differently and potentially question your relationship/his love for you is incredibly suspicious and strange to me.” – DumpstahKat
“This still makes no sense to me. Is he an only child? Did he never play sports in school? Like I know [the pandemic] has been going on for what feels like decades, but he knows that locker rooms were once a thing right?”
“It just seems like such a weird projection – especially if he can’t look at you the same because your sister has seen you naked. I mean you grew up with her and most likely because of the closeness in age took baths with her at some point, which is why I ask if he is an only child.”
“I mean you’re definitely NTA, but his hang up is just so strange that I really want to know more about where it came from.” – PaganCHICK720
“I know a lot of people are going straight to ‘dump his a**’, but I would urge you to seriously reflect on this. (You’re so NTA btw, he’s being super weird about this).”
“If his reaction to this tiny conflict is to separate and need a break / not talk to you / and try to shame you – that is not normal and is something to be seriously wary of. This is not a healthy or mature method of conflict resolution.”
“‘When someone shows you their true colors, believe them.'” – msbelle13
“You’ve been dating for 5 years and him finding out that you’ve seen your sister (who is a year older than you, who you’ve shared a room with for decades, and now live with) has seen you naked before makes him ‘look at you differently’ and he needs time?”
“This is such an extreme overreaction. Does he have any past history of abuse growing up? I’m struggling to understand how this could be such a big deal to him.” – theboootydiaries
“Your bf has major hang-ups. He probably needs some sort of counseling or something.”
“Family members (especially family members of the same gender close in age who grew up together) seeing each other naked is a nonissue. The fact that he jumped to this as being sexual and inappropriate is indicative of some sort of issue.”
“I’m not saying it’s trauma necessarily, but it’s sure something.”
“Question: IS there any trauma you know of? Does he have siblings? Was he raised in an ultra-conservative family?”
“Is it only inappropriate between girls or would he be uncomfortable to have a sibling/ his dad see him in underwear for .2 seconds while getting dressed too? (this last one is an issue either way. I’m just trying to gauge which kind of issue it is)” – Silver-Things2724
After receiving these comments, the OP followed up with a heartbreaking update.
“I went to my boyfriends’ apartment last night prepared to show this thread as proof that this was really not a big deal and have an honest conversation about if our relationship could come back from this massive overreaction.”
“Well like most things in my life these days things did not go as planned.”
The conversation did not go in the direction the OP expected.
“When I arrived my boyfriend was acting pretty erratically and pacing back and forth. He also looked like someone who hadn’t slept in three days. He wouldn’t look at me and kept jumping up every few seconds, couldn’t sit still.”
“He kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry’.”
“At this point I am freaking the f’k out because this was all so out of character from my boyfriend.”
Her boyfriend finally told her where this was coming from.
“Eventually, he sits on the opposite side of the room still can’t look at me and the entire story starts spilling out. For those who said there might be past trauma, you were absolutely right.”
“Without going into too much detail, my boyfriend was molested by two family members for about 4 years when he was younger and his parents were no help in stopping it. Making him share rooms with these family members on family vacations etc…”
“So the event with my sister was just one giant trigger.”
“The big deal wasn’t about being naked in front of people, like a lot of you had mentioned, but more about who it was in front of (family).”
“And he said the line about ‘needing time’ because he thought I was going to break up with him once I found out this bit of his past. So that was all just projection, I guess.”
The OP is trying to figure out what to do next.
“Seeing my lumberjack of a boyfriend breakdown in that way was one of the most jarring things for me to see and my 23 years of life really did not prepare me on the best way to be there for someone you love in a situation like this but I’m hopeful we can move forward together.”
It’s terrible that the couple even had to have a conversation like this, but hopefully having it was therapeutic for the boyfriend, as well as an opportunity for them to grow in their relationship while he receives the help he needs.