DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I stumbled upon a startling search history on my boyfriends computer… but let me give some background.
When the topic of physical sexual preferences has come up in our conversations over the last year of being together, he has mentioned the same few things he likes to see in a woman almost every time: skin-and-bone body type, short as possible, with super small tits and a decent ass, blonde/brown hair, bleach pale skin, no “trashy” tattoos or piercings… the typical millennial beauty standard. And I believe him, based on his previous love interests and partners.
The problem is, his porn searches vary between the unsurprising “young small emo blue hair girl gets finger blasted” to the extremely out-of-the-blue and unanticipated “big t—ty arab/ebony teens” — I wouldn’t think he was lying to me about his preferences if the latter was aimed towards MILFs and not teens, because MILFs could easily be explained as a simple fantasy, which everyone has. They’re not feasible or realistic, nor acted upon as often. Though now I’m worried that he’s just been telling me his “preferences” are conveniently all the traits that I seem to have… but he doesn’t search for porn with women that have those traits?
Every time I’ve mentioned considering dying my hair black (“goth girl”) or getting more tattoos, or wishing I had bigger breasts/could gain more weight, or wanting to go tanning…. he tells me I shouldn’t, AND his reason isn’t even for the sake of “preserving my body” but more because he likes another option/what I already have. But if he actually likes darker skin and bigger bodies, which apparently is his porn preference at least, why would he consistently and effectively convince me of the opposite this whole time? Honestly, I’m quite insecure and have gotten pretty persistent over the months, so this has been a well-versed subject.
Why do men have a certain taste in women that they date in real life, and another preference for what they actually prefer to get off to? Why don’t they just indulge in the type of women they fantasize about, in real life? most men are so indulgent when it comes to sex, especially this guy.. so why limit yourself from the thing you presumably idealize?
Anyway, now I’ve multiplied my fear of never being what he actually wants by a million.
All thoughts and suggestions are welcome!!
Not His Fantasy
DEAR NOT HIS FANTASY: Well if folks want another reason why “snooping means you find things you’d rather not know”, here’s a great one.
This is easy, NHF. If your question is “does he want me, or does he want women like the ones he searches for on PornHub?” then the answer is… yes. Both? Both. Both is good.
But I suspect that what you’re really asking is “does the fact that he’s jerking off to other women mean that he’d rather be with someone who looks like them?”, then the answer is no. There’s a temptation to assume that what we wank to is what we actually want, and that’s not really true. Certainly not in the way that people tend to think. In fact, people tend to twist themselves into knots about the difference between someone’s public facing life and what they do (to themselves) in private, especially in the privacy of their own heads.
One of the most frequent examples of this is “fierce, ask-no-man’s-pardon-take-no-man’s-s--t feminist is secretly a submissive/ likes to be spanked/ has ravishment fantasies”. None of those are terribly unusual kinks or fetishes – in fact, they’re fairly common – but they contrast so completely with the person’s stated lifestyle and values that it seems like an inherent contradiction. How could she be a ball-buster AND also like being tossed around like a toy or spanked like a naughty child? Well… because people are freaking complex and what makes are junk go “oooooh” isn’t always going to line up perfectly with the values we have outside the bedroom.
Hell, sometimes what gets us off does so precisely because it’s the opposite of our values in our everyday life. The sexual appeal of the taboo, the wrong and forbidden, of crossing over to the “dark side” if you will (for suitably variable definitions of “the dark side”) has long, long been understood. We understand that there’s a naughty thrill to be had in doing the things we’re not “supposed” to do, and occasionally that juxtaposition gets us off like literally nothing else. That doesn’t mean that we’re somehow lying about our stated values or that we don’t truly hold them. It just means that humans are basically electrified piles tapioca piloting meat mech suits so it shouldn’t be a surprise that sometimes the stuff that gets us off isn’t exactly the same as the stuff we do with our pants on.
Similarly, people will often have fantasies that may make them hornier than the human endocrine system can handle but that they don’t want to act out in real life. It may make ’em shoot off like a rocket when it’s just them and Rosie Palms, or Buzz All-in, but it’s stuff that would be an immediate boner kill if they were presented with the opportunity to do it in the flesh. Because hey, people are weird like that and isn’t it awesome?
However, another common example – one that comes up a lot in relationships – is when someone is masturbating to porn that doesn’t correspond to the sex they’re having or to porn stars that look nothing like their partners. This seeming dichotomy tends to send people in weird insecurity spirals, in no small part because… well, we tend to forget that humans are capable of holding more than one opinion at a time. And since we’re not AI who can be defeated by logical paradoxes, sometimes those opinions can seem to contradict one another. This is never more true than when it comes to what – or who – gets us off.
Think of it this way: lots of women will cheerfully oogle the cast of Magic Mike but also still love and get the screaming thigh-sweats for a dude with a dadbod, a KPop star or an UwU softboy. That doesn’t mean that they’re lying about being into one or the other. It just means that their capacity for attraction and arousal is broader than folks will give them credit for.
The same goes for men. Guys across the gender and sexuality spectrum are perfectly capable – and frequently do – get turned on by different “types”, whether that type is “big-t—ty goth GF”, “rail-thin blonde teen”, “curvy MILF”, BIPOC, MENA, southeast Asian or whatever category you want to consider. While there are some folks – regardless of gender – who are very rigid in their attraction and only get turned on by a specific type, most folks tend to vary. They may have a type that they prefer, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not attracted to others. It just means that their type often rolls with advantage on Charisma checks, that’s all. And as any seasoned gamer can tell you, rolling with advantage doesn’t mean that you’re gonna succeed every time.
Now I could just end things here, but I doubt this is going to answer your question in a satisfying way. After all, you’ve made comments about how, when you’ve made noises about changing something of your look, your boyfriend has said “nah, don’t.” And yet here he is, searching for… I dunno, Mia Khalifa or Osa Lovely. So what does that mean?
Well, if we’re being honest? It means he’s a primate with a sex drive. That’s really it. It would be one thing if, for example, he was saying he was into you, but the sex you’ve been having has been sporadic and not terribly involved and then you found that his porn search was mostly bi men. In that case, you might have reason to believe that your boyfriend’s sexuality is more fluid than he’s either willing to cop to publicly or to himself. But – assuming that the sex has been good, he’s been physically affectionate, clearly enjoys your body and so on – the fact that he’s searching for women who don’t look like you is actually pretty normal.
Here’s what’s going on: humans as a whole are a novelty-seeking species. We are capable of getting used to anything, no matter how exotic or outré. At some point, the new, unusual or different becomes the known and normal and doesn’t kick off the same chemical cascade in our brains that novelty does. This is true about just about everything in life, but especially when it comes to sex. People – guys, gals, non-binary pals – tend to like variety when it comes to our sex partners. This is known as “The Coolidge Effect”, named so after an apocryphal story involving President Coolidge and his wife.
The story goes that President Coolidge and Mrs. Coolidge were visiting a government facility that was experimenting with new and more efficient farming techniques. As they were taken on separate tours, Mrs. Coolidge came upon the chicken run, where a rooster was very vigorously copulating with one of the hens.
“How often does this happen?” asked Mrs. Coolidge. “Oh,” said the tour-guide, a little embarrassed. “Well, many times a day. Dozens, really.” “I see,” she replied. “Be sure to tell the President this.”
Later on, President Coolidge was brought to the chicken run where, once again, the rooster was pounding away at a hen. When the tour guide conveyed Mrs. Coolidge’s message, the president paused for a moment and asked: “is it with the same hen every time?”
“No, Mr. President,” replied the guide. “It’s a different hen every time.”
“Well,” said the President, “please convey this to Mrs. Coolidge.”
The story is apocryphal, but the effect is real, and well documented in males and females of multiple species, including humans. Having sex with a new partner creates a veritable waterfall of dopamine and oxytocin that goes straight to the pleasure centers of our brains. But over time, the amount of those hormones taper off; we don’t get the same “ooomph” from the sex with that same partner. But once we have sex with a new partner, the amount of hormones ramp right back up again.
Now, I bring this up because, while we have an instinctual desire for novelty and new sex partners, that doesn’t mean that our long-term partners are bored and waiting for the opportunity to bang someone else. Sometimes the way we fulfill that desire for novelty or different partners is through porn. A quick five-finger shuffle with a browser window open or the phone propped up somewhere fulfills that desire for variety, but in a way that doesn’t break promises to our partners if we made a monogamous commitment. In fact, that desire for novelty is also why people don’t tend to only ever masturbate to one particular porn star or one video. Were that the case, then really, porn stars wouldn’t have as long and varied credits as they often do.
So to bring it back to your boyfriend: no, I don’t think he’s lying when he says he loves your body or that you match the type of woman he’s into and has dated before. Again, unless it seems like the sex has fallen off a cliff or his interest in you had high highs before dropping to incredible lows, it seems safe to say that you’re what he’s into or who he prefers to date or have relationships with. He likes you as you are, and to him, changing that (beyond the way that time changes us all) may well be like painting a Groucho mustache onto the Mona Lisa.
(That being said: if you want to dye your hair or feel like you’d prefer to put on some weight, go for it. I’m a big believer in trying new and different looks and seeing if the new one fits well or not. It may mean you no longer look like his type, but if it’s a look that makes you feel good, he may well like the results.)
The porn he’s watching involves women who look different from you is almost certainly because they look different from you. It’s getting that desire for novelty and variety fulfilled, but in a way that’s ultimately just between his ears. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you or your body or wants someone else. It’s not that he prefers other people, it’s that these are things that turn him on in addition to you doing so as well. It’s a “yes, and“, not an “instead of” situation.
This is very much a “deeds, not words” kind of thing; if his behavior with you is saying that he’s still warm for your form? Then hey, take “yes, yes, YES!” for an answer. And tell him to wipe his browser history or use an incognito window when he’s going on the tube sites.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org