Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Secret hobby: I’m a 30-year-old man who’s been in a long-term relationship for about nine years. I love my girlfriend with everything I have. We make each other laugh, we enjoy each other’s company, and I see no reason why things would change. In recent years I’ve developed a hobby in my alone time. I’ve been getting into 3D graphic design and modeling. In my practice I started making erotic artwork and sharing it in an online forum. I have a lot of fun with it and I feel like I’m getting better at it. It’s been maybe a couple years now that I’ve been practicing it in secret. It is kind of a turn-on but I mostly enjoy the gratification of people online seeing and liking my art. My question is, am I obligated to share this hobby? Is this deceiving my girlfriend’s trust if I’m doing it and not saying anything?
A: You’re not obligated to share your hobbies with your partner; you’re not obligated to share either sexual fantasies or drawn or written erotica; everyone is entitled to a private sexual life, even if they also have a partner. That said, I realize you’re not asking merely about what you’re “allowed” to do but how this might affect the levels of closeness and trust between you and your fun, lovely girlfriend. It sounds like this hobby has reached a point where it takes up a not-insignificant amount of your time and energy, it brings you a great deal of artistic pride and personal fulfillment, and you sort of wish you could share this fun, sexy hobby with the woman you love. I hope you can! Please don’t feel like you have to frame it as a confession or something that’s detracting from your shared sex life, if you ever do tell her. Whether you share this with your girlfriend or not, I hope you keep doing it, and keep enjoying the feedback you get, for years to come.