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Wise Guys: My Girlfriend Says Porn Is a Dealbreaker, Is She Right?

Tue, Jun 10, 2014

Advice, Wise Guys

photo via flickr

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: “What do you do if your girlfriend, whom you love very much, doesn’t understand why you like and watch porn occasionally: she’s intellectually and viscerally opposed to it, thinks it is a horrible industry that exploits people and perpetuates sexism and misogyny, and has suggested to me that it might be a deal breaker?”

Straight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): Well she has a point, but she doesn’t fully understand men if she makes that a deal breaker. (Good luck finding a man who doesn’t like porn; it’s hard enough to find one that doesn’t like sports!) Some porn is perfectly healthy, and if a guy can’t explain that convincingly, or is too afraid to put his foot down, then he should throw in the towel and throw away his stash. That’s not to say he can’t dabble now and again, but he should stay away from the Brazilian fart porn and Japanese girls exchanging bodily fluids just in case.

Straight Married Guy (Fred): Keep it a secret from her!¬† Okay, you could try to explain that it has nothing to do with her, that she’s not in any competition with it, that it’s a normal and unavoidable part of being a guy, and that she’ll never find any guy who doesn’t look at porn from time to time… or you could just make it a private thing.¬† Don’t talk about it and definitely don’t let her see any signs of it.¬† Ignorance is bliss. If you’re feeling lucky, you could also point out her relationship with shoes (or women’s magazines, or whatever) and say that you’re viscerally opposed to it, think it is a horrible industry that exploits people and perpetuates sexism and misogyny, and suggest that it might be a deal breaker.

Gay Commited Guy (Terence): First thing you do is hide. Hide everything. If you’ve got magazines, burn ‘em cause no one uses them anymore anyway. Then remember to clear your cache and history after you get your rocks off online. Don’t get rid of every site you visited that day, just the porn sites. She’ll never know… I say this because you should never change something about yourself for someone else. It’s like quitting smoking for someone else; it rings empty and isn’t terribly successful. Your question doesn’t even hint that you have a problem with porn. So if that’s the case, then I think your only option is to hide your porn and slowly, over the years, bring her to understand that your porn is not her problem.

MORE LIKE THIS ON EMandLO.com:

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week they’re all a little shy.

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8 Responses to “Wise Guys: My Girlfriend Says Porn Is a Dealbreaker, Is She Right?”

  1. Nikki Says:

    I’d like to open by saying this is a ridiculous demand for her to make. The hide it solution has the real possibility of blowing up in your face. Eventually she will probably find out you still watch porn, and then it will be this whole big dramatic thing about how you lied to her. I have no problem with porn per se, but I had a boyfriend whose particular taste in porn really squicked me out. Our solution was a don’t ask/don’t tell policy. You make it clear you’re not going to give it up, but you’re also going to take care that she isn’t exposed to something she isn’t comfortable with as long as she doesn’t go snooping.

    That worked for us because I rightly recognized I had no right to dictate his masturbation habits. Telling him to give up or change his taste in porn never even occurred to me as a viable option, and it shouldn’t be for your girlfriend either. All I asked was that he not watch it with or around me, not ask me to watch it with him, and not leave it up on his screen when I was likely to see it. Out of sight, out of mind. I told someone this story once and she said it made me “girlfriend of the year.” No it didn’t. It made me a rational, realistic adult, something your girlfriend is not behaving like if she’s giving you a “me or porn” ultimatum.

  2. Johnny Says:

    Hide the porn? Like you did from your mom when you were a teenager? Are you guys serious?

    First of all, once that Mom situation sets in – where she starts telling you what you can and can’t do, when you start living in fear of scoldings, when she punishes you for defying her – your relationship is doomed anyway. If she makes a grab for your balls and you just hand them right over, she’ll lose all respect for you. Women hate that shit. Why do they initiate it if they hate it? Well, that’s one of nature’s great mysteries. There are many opinions about that on the internet, and I’ll let you search them out for yourself.

    Also about hiding the porn – remember what happened when you lied to your mom? Remember how much worse that made it when she caught you on her own? That’s what you’re setting yourself up for. If you lie to your mom-girlfriend and she catches you, you’ll be in big trouble. You’ll get grounded indefinitely. You won’t be allowed to hang out with your friends or watch the shows you want to watch.

    Second of all, you’re a grown man. Nobody gets to tell you what you can and can’t whack off to. Your girlfriend is probably right in all her feelings about porn. With that in mind, you should respect her by never watching it on her computer, and by clearing it from your history. And by that I mean, clear your history in the sense of tidying up a room for a guest, not in the sense of destroying evidence. All this happens within the frame that you can watch whatever the hell you want.

    Third of all, she’s bluffing. This is a classic bluff. Tell her not only don’t you agree to her terms, but this isn’t up for a vote and you don’t want to hear about it again; and that if she keeps pestering you it will be you who dumps her.

    She’s not offering you a reasonable compromise, and if you want to win this one, you need to be similarly unyielding. Whenever a woman insists on her way or the highway, you have to insist, no, MY way or the highway. She’ll cave. You’ll see. She’s only pulling this because she senses that it’ll rock your boat, and sure enough, here you are fretting over it.

  3. Johnny Says:

    … oh, except kid porn. People get to tell you not to whack off to kid porn. Animals too, sort of. But not poo. Poo is the grossest fetish I can think of, yet not morally wrong.

  4. Em and Lo Says:

    Johnny, we love your distinction between something that is merely gross, and something that is morally wrong. But what if this girlfriend in question does, in fact, find the kind of porn her boyfriend watches morally wrong? What if she finds the kind of porn he watches to be deeply misogynist in a way that offends her to the moral core? Just playing devil’s advocate here, but we’re wondering if there’s any porn besides the illegal kind that you would classify as “immoral”?

  5. Johnny Says:

    I think the girlfriend is right – there’s some immorality to be found in almost all porn. All of it is exploitative. Some of it is overtly misogynistic. Many of us can dissociate ourselves from the fact that what the young woman is doing on screen is pretty fucked up, in reality, and just have a wank. I get that not everyone feels that way. I’m not arguing against her personal feelings, I’m arguing against her course of action.

    Here’s what she can do about it:

    1. Not consume porn
    2. Not date a guy who consumes porn (good luck with that one).

    I’ve got 2 main points for the bro who wrote in:

    1. This is probably about a power struggle more than it’s about the porn. Porn itself is just the strategic high ground from which she’s launching her offensive. I say he needs to stand strong and face the charge.

    2. Maybe it’s not purely a power grab – maybe she really just takes porn that seriously, even though it has nothing to do with her, she doesn’t have to be in it, she doesn’t have to pay for it, she doesn’t have to watch it, etc. Such a person is a pain in the ass to be in a relationship with. They’ll sit astride their high horse and buffet you with demands and accusations and criticism and tears and insults. If she’s really that offended by things that don’t concern her, I think he’s better off without her anyway.

    I get it. Her feelings are valid. But there are women out there who don’t feel that way, and they’re better partners for a guy who likes porn.

  6. Johnny Says:

    I guess I just feel that the best relationships are the ones where there are no “deal breakers” of a mundane nature. Sure, I’d dump my girl if she murdered someone; I might or might not dump her if she cheated on me, depending on the circumstances. But short of that? She can do whatever she wants and so can I.

  7. Tony Says:

    I like Nikki’s answer best.

    Frankly, I don’t believe that your girlfriend should be able to dictate whether or not you watch porn. Most men watch porn. If it’s affecting your sex life with her, or you’re addicted, then that’s where the problem is and you discuss it like equal adults. As it stands, however, her request is completely unreasonable in my opinion.

    Let’s flip her demand around – what if you told her that vibrators were something that you “intellectually and viscerally” opposed and that it was a potential deal breaker? I realize that vibrators lack the misogyny/exploitation/objectification points, but it’s the closest analogy that I can think of off the top of my head. You could also substitute anything that she finds erotic which she would indulge in privately.

    I can’t tell if she’s trying to unreasonably control your life or not. As someone who has gone through a very controlling relationship (she tried to control me), it sucks. If she is actually trying to control your life, I’d find someone else.

    I strongly disagree with the “hide it” advice. If you feel that you need to hide part of who you are from a partner, then I think that down the road this will ultimately make your relationship less than what it could be.

    I’d sit down and have a talk with her. Explain that, as above, this isn’t a competition, and that you do love and care for her. There are various websites focusing on “feminist porn” or pornography which isn’t misogynistic or exploitative. Violet Blue has a website with various links.

    In any healthy relationship, each partner needs to respect the other and to not make unreasonable demands. If this is a hot button issue for her, you can sit down and discuss what options the two of you have and work towards a “win-win” solution. Keep in mind that her, and your, ability to negotiate conflicts and disagreements is a critical skill and that this will only become more important over time. Check out “Crucial Conversations”, or for something more relationship focused, “The Relationship Cure” for resources. If this is only one of several ways in which she is trying to control your life, that’s not love. You deserve better.

  8. misspiggy Says:

    I think the guy should talk it through with his girlfriend and find out if her issue is with the ethics of porn production, or the whole concept of porn itself.

    If it’s the former, she needs to educate herself, starting with a thorough read of Stoya’s Tumblr. There is plenty of porn, and plenty of areas of the porn industry, which are not misogynistic. It may be possible for the boyfriend and girlfriend to agree some parameters for porn which does actually meet her feminist standards.

    If it’s the latter – she’s grossed out by the idea of porn – he needs to make it clear that her negative view of male sexuality is a deal breaker for him.


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