My Overbearing Relationship

I just need some (cyber) space

by Grace Hunter; illustration by Kelsey Skordal

Dear Abby,

I met someone I really like at a party a while back. We hit it off immediately, mostly because he knew about all of my interests: tank girl; nasal myiasis; this really obscure poet who only wrote four poems in 2008. It was insane! He just understood so much about what I loved, and by the end of the night we were finishing each other’s sentences—well, he was finishing mine. It was such a beautiful thing to feel so comfortable with a stranger. We even went by nicknames, it was so cute! I chose GAH; he chose NSA. 

He was really interested in learning more about me so we decided to hang out again, and in no time at all we were seeing each other regularly. Everywhere I went, he was there. I’ve never had a lover care so much about protecting me. He showed such great interest in the mundane details of my life that no one before had bothered to notice. Unlike my ex, TSA, he wasn’t too touchy or intrusive.  

Our first anniversary (he’s been around for 61 years, but we really started dating in full swing in the fall of 2001) was amazing. He knew exactly what to get me. It was like he could read my mind, or at least the wish list that I kept in my Google Drive. Our first fight came about when he suggested I look into some strange diet pills. When I told him that it hurt my feelings, NSA responded by telling me that he was just trying to be helpful based off the email exchange he’d seen between me and Equinox gym. 

After our first fight, things progressed quickly and soon enough we were doing the long distance thing. While abroad in Italy, my roommate left for the night and I offered up some sexy cyber time. Much to my surprise, he said that there was no need to undress in front of the camera—he could spare me the trouble of doing it again as he had access to my Skype sessions from last year, specifically the one from September 16, 2013, initiated at 1:46 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. I’ll admit, I was a little weirded out by the fact that he was able to access seemingly private footage I had taken of myself while my ex-boyfriend was abroad, but then I decided not to let it bother me. I should see the positive in my darling NSA. He’s just crafty, and I do value creative minds. 

But Abby, things have really gotten out of hand. Now he’s questioning my recent credit card purchases. If I want to eat six It’s-Its and read some anarchist pamphlets on a Saturday night, I shouldn’t be made to look like a bad girlfriend. In no way have I been unfaithful. Talk about paranoid. Ugh!

 My honeypie NSA said it was suspect behavior and that my recent iTunes purchases only worsened the issue. I just don’t understand how he knew all of this. I comforted myself with the thought that we “knew each other so well.” But that’s when I realized it, Abby: I know nothing about him. This highly intimate relationship is one-sided. I tried asking more but all he would tell me was that he was here to protect me. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because I am very grateful, but I’ve never really understood why prying into my Facebook messages is beneficial to my safety. 

He told me that “preventing terrorism overrides protecting privacy” and that compromise is just part of being in a relationship. 

Am I being dramatic? I just want some space, but I feel like the boundaries have already been broken down. Is it too late?  

Looking for advice and a new username,


Grace Ann Hunter (I’ll have NSA forward you my address and email for response.) 

Dear Grace,

It sounds to me like you need to set some (geographical) boundaries between you and your beau.

That reminds me, the origin of “beau” is French. ◼️◼️◼️◼️  considered ◼️◼️◼️◼️ to Canada? Perhaps where ◼️◼️◼️◼️ a strong French influence, such as Quebec? There, your significant other ◼️◼️◼️ have no other choice ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️ space—2,854 km to be exact.

In French, the National Security Advisor is “Conseiller en matière de sécurité nationale auprès du Premier ministre.” Doesn’t that sound sexy?

I ◼️◼️◼️◼️ more some research and ◼️◼️◼️◼️ that in Canada, the ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️ is an option, provided you feel you are in a place of ◼️◼️◼️◼️ danger.

Pay attention, because what I’m about to say is very important. If you take anything away from this response, please remember: ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️

Good luck and please keep me out of this one next time,


*Cipher Staff