You are here

So, Your Boyfriend Watches Porn. What Now?

+ enlarge

I remember the day I discovered that my boyfriend watches porn pretty vividly. I was innocently looking for Christmas present ideas on his computer. Literally, I was typing in “fireplace tools” in Google. And, as he turned to me and said hey, let’s watch this show together, I knew I had to quit. Me, being the Web geek that I am, immediately went to his Web history to erase my clues. That’s when I found it: a full history of porn sites. How did I know? Well, let’s just say the terms were a bit revealing. Shocked, I clicked on one. Password protected. Wow, not even just porn history, but registered porn history, credit-card-paid-subscription porn history. My stomach sank.

We have been together now for a year and a half. I recall casual conversations about this in the early days, and I’m pretty sure I asked and I’m pretty sure he denied. I remember having the “have you ever watched it with another boyfriend/girlfriend” conversation and I recall him saying yes and me saying no. I know I asked about it because my last boyfriend hid it from me, and I also discovered it, at which point he got angry, defensive, and accused me of being inadequate. So, you can see where my baggage begins

Cut to this relationship: much more open, much healthier, happier, and I dare say, great in the sex department. Great, meaning traditionally great—nothing too non-traditional, no costumes, no toys, no role-playing, and until this moment, no porn. So, my first thought was—why? Should I have initiated a costume? A toy? Am I not enough? I looked over him, his image on the couch with my dog starkly opposing the names I was seeing in his history (and not just the names but the amount of sites—I mean how long does it take to get horny on a Friday night when your girlfriend is out of town?). In my last relationship I would have just closed the browser, silently freaked out, and waited until my next bottle of wine to unleash irrationally on the topic. I am slowly learning that this is not always the best way to open a can of worms. I couldn’t take it. So, I just called it out. “Hey, I was searching for your Christmas present online and found all of your porn sites.”<fast turn around, big blush>

We talked about it. And, it reigns up there as one of the most uncomfortable conversations I think we both have ever had. He was not defensive, nor was he angry. In fact most of the time he was blushing, like a little kid whose mom found Playboy under his bed (note: I do NOT want to be anyone’s mom, but this was the emotion I felt). After a while a few things came out of him and of me:

Me first:

  • Are you doing this because you are unhappy sexually with us?
  • Are there things you watch here that you want to do, but have been unable to initiate with me, don’t want to do with me, or that I do not inspire in you?
  • Do you see me as your “wife type” and these are your “vixens” and the two are totally separate?
  • Are you looking at young girls that would be considered illegal?
  • Are you looking at gay sex with two men? (Let it be known, I have nothing against gay sex. My issue here is that if my boyfriend is struggling with his sexuality I would rather he do it outside a monogamous heterosexual relationship).
  • Are you looking at anything that involves any kind of violence? Animals?

I gave a disclaimer before I asked these. I said, look, I know you are a good person. But my sister had a friend whose husband was caught online chatting with an illegally young girl, and no one would have ever guessed, including the wife. These stories are out there. There are people who look at porn in an unhealthy way. I need to know that this is not what we are talking about here and you need to be honest with me.

He said:

  • Every one does it. It is normal.
  • He does it every once in a while. It goes through stages.
  • He loves our sex life and is not doing this because he is unhappy with us.
  • He does not look at anything scary, illegal, or gay.
  • He has never watched porn with another girlfriend, but he has watched it prior to being with me. (He later admitted that he might not have been totally honest with me in the beginning due to embarrassment.)
  • He said he thought I was sexy and I had a hot body (Ok, honestly, I almost stopped here. Will we ever tire of hearing this?)
  • He admitted this was an embarrassing conversation that he had never had with another girl, and, more importantly, he said he was actually glad after we had it.
  • He said this would be a good time to tell me: he has caught me masturbating in my sleep. Several times.

Whoa. Ok, so the doors flew wide open at that point—masturbating while asleep? Talk about embarrassing. And remember, this has been for a year and a half. Oh boy.

So, after a few days I started thinking about all of this. And it comes down to a few things. We’re all sexual, and to be honest, we have many sides to this sexuality. We have our past, which really, only we know about. Someone else might piece it together with some serious detective work across years, partners, cities, and doctors, but it’s unlikely. We have the time we spend alone, which unless there are hidden cameras in the bedroom or in the mind, no one really knows that story either. And, we have the sexuality we share with a partner (yes, sadly this comes and goes and we are back to that alone time again). The partner part is only a slice of that sexuality.

The challenge is allowing that partner to have that slice without being intimidated or threatened by it. I believe that only comes with honesty and discussion. I realized that sex was a really hard thing to talk about with someone. But I also realized that by doing it, I unveiled some of my own baggage. I was raised with all girls whose only exposure to porn in any sense was accidentally finding my Dad’s Playboy stash. I was raised in a home where sex was to be avoided until marriage, and then it was something you figured out on your own. After stumbling my way past virginity and a few partners, I carried those ideas and thoughts with me. The years exposed me to the topics of abortion and diseases, which only made me want to avoid it altogether. My last boyfriend cheated on me—twice—while we were long distance. He was also the one who also told me I was sexually inadequate to him. That’s a lot to bring in to a porn history list on a computer on a Sunday afternoon. But without this event, my current partner and I would have just delayed or never had these discussions.

He too, admitted a few things. He said he is at heart traditional—his favorite position is missionary. He said he feels completely fulfilled. He said to him, when we have sex he sees me and us and our relationship as part of the act and because of that it is a deep emotional experience for him. He said the porn was a quick way to deal with being horny, and it was not anything to compare.

Later that week I was talking to my friend about the chain of events. She said “Oh God, that’s no big deal, everyone does it. Did you not have brothers?” She talked of her conversations with her husband (who does it too). I asked her if she felt threatened by it, and she replied, “Seriously? Threatened by a guy who watches two girls getting each other off with one hand on the laptop mouse and the other on his crotch? No way.”

She had a point.

But, my point was—can sex always be as he sees it now? Will it always be this deep emotional connection (with orgasm of course)? And when it isn’t, what then? I brought this up too, and if nothing else, I’m glad I found the porn so that we could have this conversation. I said at some point, the sex might get dull. And I need to know that my partner is someone who can talk about this and not reach out to his computer or another woman to solve it. I want to know that if I want to us to try tantric sex (which I read about in my yoga magazine and actually do want to try at some point) or ask him to do something for me that I won’t feel wrong or awkward.

I still cringe at the thought of those site names and the picture of the whole scenario. But who likes thinking about their monogamous partner in that light? I have started to come to the conclusion that the last thing I want to do in a relationship is stifle someone. And I have to admit to my own sexual baggage, which colors every sexual experience as I face it. So, I have to let that image go. There are some things in an open relationship you don’t need to know in detail. I am glad to know he does it because I don’t want any secrets. I don’t, however, need to know his favorite site, character, or image. We as individuals need to have our private time—without it we are solely relying on someone else to define our sexuality, which cannot be healthy. Exploring sexuality in a committed relationship should not mean cheating. To me that’s just a continuum of identifying sexually through someone else. It does mean talking, and trying, and respecting, and always making time to do it together (as well as alone).

Comments

Loading comments...