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Relationships My partner's sister posted an unflattering photo of me and won't take it down. What do I do?

The question

Several months ago, my partner's sister took several very unflattering photos of me without my knowledge, then posted them publicly on Facebook. I didn't have her cellphone number or e-mail address, so I clicked the "can you please take it down?" button on Facebook. She refused until several days later, then promptly had her 20-year-old daughter send me a nasty FB message calling me "neurotic" and "psycho," saying nobody likes me, etc. I was tempted, but did not reply. My partner's response? She was just "sticking up" for her mother. I should point out I've barely had more than a two-minute conversation with these obnoxious and abusive people in the nine years I've known them. My partner's sister, by the way, is overweight and unattractive (I'm a size two, former model and a well-paid executive), hence my kids' belief that she is jealous of me and was purposely trying to post ugly pics. My issue now is that my partner has invited his family, including them, for a pool party. I really don't care to see them or be bullied (I am a quiet introvert and non-confrontational), let alone spend the evening serving them and cleaning up their mess the next day. My partner says he doesn't want to deal with this issue. Advice?

The answer

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Okay, there's quite a lot going on here. Let's tackle the issues one by one.

But first, you should know you're talking to a guy who hates having his picture taken and will hold his hand in front of his face when someone points a phone or camera at me. Why? Some mixture of self-loathing and vanity. I'm not a former model, but I was thin and tanned and handsome in my 20s, with long, flowing hair. Guess I can't handle what time hath wrought on my hairline and waistline and looks.

So that may inform my feeling that everyone has the right to their own image and if someone takes your picture and posts it on social media – especially without your permission – and you ask them to take it down, they should do so, immediately and politely.

One man's opinion? I don't think so. I've seen at least one friendship go down the toilet, like a struggling spider, when one party steadfastly refused to un-post (or whatever the kids call it these days) someone else's picture. "Hey, it's just a picture, get over yourself," it begins, and escalates from there.

The fact your partner's sister refuses, with maximum (by proxy of her daughter) belligerence and provocation is a problem – but as I say, I see a few other problems here.

Let's look at those.

First: your "partner." What kind of a "partner" is this who doesn't stick up for you when a niece-type figure is hurling insults and epithets at you and saying no one likes you? He should be circling the wagons and firing back. Instead, he invites them to a pool party? Without consulting you?

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If I invited a bunch of people over who had recently been insulting my wife, Pam, without consulting her first? Ye gods, I'd be sleeping on the couch before you could say, "Where do we keep the spare sheets?"

Finally, what's the difference if your partner's sister is fat and ugly – or as you put it "overweight and unattractive" – and you're a former model, size two, and well-paid? I get that you're setting the scene for the sister's envy, but you might want to look into that, or past it, really, and focus on the content of people's characters.

On to the advice. Vis-à-vis the "unflattering" pictures. You know what I'd do? Inhale, exhale and let it go. Partly because it doesn't seem as if you're going to get far on that front anyway. And what does "unflattering" mean, really? If you were snapped while, say, caught in the act of shoplifting or licking doughnuts in a bakeshop, I'd understand. Otherwise, if you're as good-looking as you're hinting, they're probably not that bad.

I'd focus on your "partner." Say something like: "You call yourself a partner? Why not act like one and tell your sister and her rudenik of a daughter you don't appreciate their attitude and you expect everyone in her household to keep a civil tongue in their heads when addressing me, or they can forget about any future forays into our nice, refreshing pool."

He doesn't want to deal with this issue? Tough nuts. That's the least you should expect from a "partner."

If he refuses, or balks – well, if you have a couch, maybe a few nights tossing and turning on that will sort him out.

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