DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I would like to get some advice on the following topic: pornography in a relationship.
I’ve been in a 1 year relationship, I told him I have seen porn plenty of times before, but I don’t agree with the use of porn in a monogamous relationship. I live with him and I’m always available to take care of his sexual needs. I never say no to sex or any fantasies he might want to try. I told him about my view on porn in a relationship and he said he would stop. I later found it he hadn’t.
Of course, he’d lied and I freaked out. He said he did not realize it was that big of a deal and then assured me he actually wouldn’t watch it again. As a result, I have a hard time believing him. I still think he’ll do it once in a while if I’m not around. I’m not sure where to go from here, if I can let go of this issue, if there is a guy out there who would actually stop watching porn, or if I have to give up my ideals because of the way this society is set.
No Porn Please
DEAR NO PORN PLEASE: I feel that in the spirit of honesty, I need to preface this with the fact that I’m very unabashedly pro-porn. So with that in mind:
It wasn’t cool of him to lie about quitting watching porn. And you’re right, NPP: he’s probably going to watch porn when you’re not around. He’ll just be better at covering his tracks next time and making sure you’re not in the house when he does.
But here’s the question I have for you: are you willing to pretend to believe him when he pretends that he doesn’t watch porn? Because quite frankly, he’s not going to stop any time soon, if at all. And, to be perfectly blunt, you’re going to have a hard time finding someone who DOESN’T watch porn.
Porn consumption is almost universal amongst men; it’s not completely accurate to say that there are two types of men – those who watch porn and liars — but it’s pretty damn close.
(The number of men who don’t is so small that they’re statistically insignificant.)
And porn has always been with us – as soon as we developed abstract reasoning and could interpret lines as humans, somebody was drawing people banging. Those nudes in art museums weren’t just artistic appreciations of the human form; most of them were scandalous at the time. Some, such as Manet’s Olympia caused major uproars within the public.
Now everyone has their right to have their opinions and feelings about porn. You’re well within your rights to dislike it and prefer to date men who (allegedly) don’t watch porn. I’m curious, however, as to what your objections are. The way you phrase your objections – that you don’t agree with it’s use in a monogamous relationship – makes me wonder if that you see it as being tantamount to infidelity or somehow affecting his attraction to you.
Here’s the cold hard truth about men and porn: while there’re some dudes who’re compulsive about porn and have issues with human intimacy, for most men porn is fantasy fodder. It’s something that gets as aroused and helps us get off. Most of the time, we stop thinking about it the minute we orgasm; it’s wham, bam, thank-you-glans and we’re back to business as usual.
The fact that you’re available to him at will doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s not going to want to just masturbate to something on PornHub. Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a comment about you or how he feels about you and everything to do with men’s relationship with getting off. Masturbation isn’t (always) a barely-sufficient substitute for sex. Most of the time, we just want a no-fuss, no-muss orgasm, as quickly as possible without any preamble or post-petite-mort shenanigans. Porn helps make it quicker; we very, very rarely watch porn for the plot after all.
(Axel Braun’s parodies are the exception… dude puts a shocking amount of effort into them.)
The other thing is that people – men and women alike – like variety and novelty when it comes to sex and sexual partners; the Coolidge effect is a real thing, after all. For a lot of people, porn is a quick and easy to get that thrill of the new – the fantasy of sleeping with somebody else without actually going out and actually committing adultery. And if the idea that your boyfriend is attracted to other people is what bothers you… well, unfortunately your only two choices are to get over it or pretend to not know. Being in a monogamous relationship means that you’re choosing to not have sex with other people; it doesn’t mean that you don’t WANT to. That attraction doesn’t have anything to do with the strength of your relationship or how much you care for one another, it’s just how humans are wired. The fact that you both choose to not ACT on that attraction is the critical part. Otherwise you may as well be angry that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
I’ll be the first to admit: porn can be insanely problematic. It can be incredibly exploitive and objectifying of women, it reinforces awful gender stereotypes, and the less said about the treatment of people of color the better. It also gives many younger men completely absurd and unrealistic ideas about sex in general. But that doesn’t mean that your boyfriend’s porn-viewing is necessarily a problem. Unless he’s prioritizing porn and masturbation over you and neglecting you for Gianna Michaels, then he’s one of the 99.999% of men who just like to get off watching other people screw on occasion.
So what do you do about all of this? Well, it all depends. How much is the likelihood that your boyfriend is almost certainly lying about not watching porn going to bother you? Are you willing to turn a blind eye, to be willfully ignorant about his porn habit as long as he’s discreet and it doesn’t affect his sexual life with you? Because this is going to be the price of entry to the relationship with him. If it’s not a price you’re willing to pay then fair do’s… but you have to realize that your next boyfriend and the ones after him will likely also be watching porn and lying about it. They’ll just be better at hiding it.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: First, just want to say I’ve been a fan for years, and I’ve applied some of your lessons with great success in my social life. You’re awesome and your success is an inspiration to all of us nerdlings.
Here’s my problem. My one of my best friends, A, has moved back to town. We were really close in high school, even went to senior prom together but at that point there were no romantic feelings, just friendship.
We drifted apart in college a bit but every time we ran into each other we still had lots of personal chemistry. As you can probably guess where this is going, I fell for her during our time apart. Doesn’t exactly help that she’s gorgeous, does it? I eventually started to resent her some, thinking I’d somehow been replaced by her new friends. I complained about how selfish she was to all my new friends (cough hypocrisy cough) and built a narrative in my head about what a rotten person she was.
Strangely, every time that we reconnected, the cycle was knocked back to square one: best of friends, not talk for a while, longing, bitterness, gradual apathy. I was proud of myself because last year I thought I had really gotten past my dumb feelings and for the most part I still think I have. She’s bi and in a pretty strong relationship with a good girl.
Here’s something you’re probably not used to hearing in these letters: I’ll never be with this girl, I accept that and I want to go back to being the friends we were. My life is worse for not talking to her and since she’s been back we’ve had lots of fun the times we’ve hung out. But apparently, no one told my emotions about this newfound maturity. I crave her attention. I need her to text me back and I want to hang out every day. Oddly, there’s not a sexual/romantic component to these needs, just an urge to spend time with her. I don’t want the cycle to repeat itself, but I also want to stay in contact with her.
Hate to ask this of you, but how can I have it both ways?
Thanks for your help.
Oneitis In Recovery
DEAR ONEITIS IN RECOVERY: Things are never going to be the way they used to be, OIR, romantic feelings or no. You’ve both grown and changed. You’re not the same people that you were in high-school. You’ve had these shared experiences that were part of your life together while you were in high-school and then your lives diverged in college. You’ve both had all of these different experiences and lived different lives, made different choices and found different priorities in life. As a result, you’ve drifted apart. That tends to happen after high-school; it’s very rare that you stay tight with the exact same group of friends all of your life.
(Of course, I say that while still having a fairly close relationship with people I knew in kindergarten…)
Now, some people can pick up a friendship after years apart like no time has passed; some people can’t. This is one of those latter times. The problem that you’re having is that you’re still attached to this old, nostalgic version of A in your head, and the real A is stubbornly refusing to conform to that fantasy.
It’s understandable that you’re envious of A’s new friends; you miss her and want her back in your life again, like the good old days. But therein lies the conflict: you’re expecting things to be exactly the way they were in high-school with the two of you being close as Dipper and Mabel but that can’t happen. She’s not the same person she was; she has a new life, new interests and new friends. The more you try to force your relationship into that mold, the more that you’re both going to be unhappy with one another. You’re expecting her to follow the same script that you had in high-school but you’ve both left high-school behind.
You have to quit expecting your friendship to be exactly the same as it was back in the day. You’re a new OIR, she’s a new A and if you want this friendship to have a chance you have to start getting to know this new A.
Will treating A as the new person she is instead of your old friend mean that you’ll eventually go back to the same level of closeness that you had before? Well… I’d be lying if I said yes. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have that same level of intimacy that you had. People drift apart as they grow up; that’s just part of life unfortunately. But you won’t be able to have any kind of friendship with her if you don’t let go of the past and meet her on new terms and see where life takes you both. Accept that things are different and your friendship is going to be on new terms and you’ll be much happier than you are now.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)