AA Gill On... Inappropriate Behaviour

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Dear Uncle Dysfunctional,

My fiancée — my ex-fiancée — got hold of my phone and went through all my texts and emails. She discovered what she calls "inappropriate messages and behaviour": a bit of harmless flirting and some bloke had re-sent me a pic of his mate's mate's girlfriend wearing a Queen mask with her tits out.

You couldn't ever rattle one off the wrist over Her Maj, no matter how perky her top bollocks were. A bit of banter with mates about rows we'd had and a great weekend getting drunk with bum sex. You know, all the stuff blokes talk about.

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Well, she hit the Artex, accused me of not being straight and open and, of course, out of a clear blue Sunday, apropos of nada, taken off guard, I went on the offensive.

I pointed out how bloody dare she go through my personal stuff and she'd crossed a line and it was deceitful and underhand, and by this time we were both yelling and simultaneously shouted, "If there's no trust in this relationship we'd better call it a fucking day!" Then there was a stunned silence and we haven't spoken for a week.

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I've let it be known that if she says sorry I'll forgive and forget: clean sheet. She sent a message that if I apologise on my knees in tears in front of all her mates she'll think about having me back. I'm right though, aren't I?

Tony, London

Well, Tony, up to a point. That is, actually, in practical terms, no you're not. Let's look at where you stand. At this precise moment you're engaged to your right hand and a mobile phone. How right does that feel to you? What we have here is a very fine example of double standards. Double like apartheid; that is, parallel and different.

Men and women understand different things about personal boundaries. What men call privacy, women know as secrecy. So while you think of your phone as being the modern equivalent of a gent's study or a shed — a sacrosanct place where you can mooch about with one hand down your trackies collecting things in old tobacco tins and writing dribbly memoirs — you imagine that it's a space that is yours alone.

What you look at or giggle over is fine as long as it stays in the shed. Women, on the other hand, will think that that's self-serving bollocks. They're right. That doesn't make it wrong, it just makes it self-serving bollocks. It's a thought crime, you see. Men think the action is what's wrong. Women think it's the intent.

If you want to get legal about this, they're both crimes. You imagine privacy as a vital part of a relationship. What happens in the bathroom and on the internet stays in the bathroom and on the internet. She thinks it's duplicitous, secretive and humiliating. But here's the thing: if you said, "I'm just going upstairs to describe the sex we had last night to my mate Ron, and then Skype my ex in the bath," she'd say, "Don't forget to mention that I came three times and tell me if Shirley still has one tit lower than the other."

But if in return she said, "I'm going out to have a drink with the girls and will be mentioning your cute ickle-wickle cock, then I'm gonna have dinner with a bloke who once asked me out before I met you but I wasn't interested," you'd sulk for a week.

For men, privacy means not being told stuff that would hurt. For women, secrecy is having stuff go on behind your back.

So call all her mates, make a date, get down on your knees and snivel. Because whilst you're both right, she's righter than you. And always will be.

What do you think?

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