Dear Nicole: How do I keep my ex from sharing my racy photos?

Dear Nicole,

I sent a few sexy images to my boyfriend via text message. We have now broken up and he’s threatening to send them all over school unless I give him $500. What should I do?

— Exposed But Not Overexposed (Yet)

I am assuming if you are talking about school that you’re a minor, in which case transmitting sexually explicit images of you equals child porn. You can tell him that and, if he isn’t smart enough to believe you, it might be worth having a letter written by a lawyer sent to him. Nothing like legal letterhead to make even the cockiest people wet their pants a little. I’d personally rather pay a couple hundred bucks to watch him squirm.

Also, think about the nature of the pictures. Are you clearly in them or is it body parts? If it’s just skin, you can tell him good luck proving that it’s you and move on with your life. When someone asks, you can shrug and say, “That could be anyone.” I bet that’ll fizzle quickly. (This is the only kind of picture I’d ever recommend sending for this reason.)

If you aren’t a minor, the law is not sure whether it’s on your side. There is a whole area of the Internet called “revenge porn” and perpetrators are being prosecuted in some places very successfully (and some places, much less so).

No matter what, don’t give this guy a dime. Because when you do, suddenly he’ll want $1,000 and it’ll escalate from there. And he may take your cash and share anyway.

If he goes through with his threat, you can take screenshots (evidence), hire a lawyer and contact the site(s) where it’s posted to request it be taken down. There are some helpful resources here: Let me know if I can do anything to help take down this weasel.


Dear Nicole,

No one is taking me seriously, so I thought I’d write to you.

I want to be a rapper. A well-known rapper. I’ve been writing songs for years and performing them when I can (school talent shows, parties, etc.) Next year, when I graduate high school, I want to move to a bigger city and pursue my dream. I’ve been working a part-time job and have about $10,000 saved up and could probably save another $5,000 by graduation. My family and friends think I’m talented but think this idea is crazy. What do you think?

— Downeast Beats

You’ve showed me two things here. 1) You’ve already been putting your work out there, which means you like the actual career and are willing to get feedback from others. 2) You’ve saved up money. What you’re about to do is risky and you’re minimizing it. A few things to consider:

Budget. Make a budget for your business and a budget for your personal life. Find out about expenses (rent, transport costs, etc.) where you want to live. If you can’t afford, adjust. Consider a nearby area, a roommate, commuting temporarily. Being self-employed means being a good money manager. Revise your budgets monthly.

Consider a part-time job at first. This will help you preserve those savings and also force you to manage time well at first. Trust me, if you have to be at a part-time job starting at 1 p.m., you’re going to use those morning hours more productively than you would otherwise.

Pick a quit date. “When I am making $2,000/month rapping, I’ll quit my job.” gives you an end in sight to your part-time job. Your budgets and goals will help figure out the exact figure for this milestone.

Take charge of your professional development. Whether it’s a weekly open mic night, reading one business book a month, joining an artist organization (or all three!), have a plan for how you are going to learn more. Think of yourself as a shark that needs to move constantly to stay alive.

Get up with online tools. From music streaming services to an online portfolio, the Internet is your friend. Take classes, watch YouTube videos, or work with friends to get yourself an online presence where people can book you to perform and buy your music.

Being self-employed means you have to look at it beyond rapping all day… and if you can, you’ll be fine. Congratulations on figuring out what you want way sooner than many.


Dear Nicole,

I’ve always believed a standing ovation was intended for outstanding performances only. These days, people rise as if on cue to give a standing ovation, even if it’s just good. If I don’t feel the performance merits such accolades, is it impolite of me to remain seated and clap?

— Signed, Not everyone’s a winner

I say you should stand always if 1) the person is under 18 or 2) the person is over 65. That’s my personal rule. Kids need encouragement and elders respect.

That said, in my church, many people stay seated and any reference to standing is “if you are able.” In this day and age, there are a variety of medical conditions that could make standing not so pleasant. So if you sit there, so long as you don’t do so with a scowl on your face, many will assume you’re arthritic or otherwise incapacitated and continue clapping.

We live in a gold star culture, but you don’t have to live your life doling them out.

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]
Nicole Ouellette

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