12/4/18
Dear Em & Lo: I’m Put Out About His Porn

There is a long-standing debate over whether porn is good for you or bad for you. We received two questions from straight women decidedly in the “bad for you” camp. So we “remixed” our Wise Guys’ thoughts on the topic with some of our own to come up with advice for straight women disturbed by their partners’ porn consumption:

Dear Em & Lo, I just learned my amazing college boyfriend uses porn to masturbate, at least twice a week. Understand, we’re not talking an unhealthy dependency on porn, and he remains very focused on me when we have sex. He says it’s just an old habit from high school. I consider myself very tolerant, and I am aware that most guys indulge in this kind of thing. However, I can’t understand why he needs the help of a girl he’s never met to satisfy himself. I realize there is high quality porn available that helps empower women, but that’s not the sort he described to me as his preference. I just can’t understand the appeal of what he’s watching. To a degree, I almost feel cheated on. I’m not ridiculous, and wouldn’t demand an ultimatum or anything silly like that. I just don’t understand.

Dear Em & Lo, My wonderful husband and I have a full and varied sex life, yet my husband insists on watching porn. I generally like porn for us to watch together. What he does however is watch porn during the day when I am not home. I have asked him several times to not do this and he either says he will stop or is non-committal. Now what he does is watch it anyway but deletes it from the history in the computer. My question is, am I wrong to ask this of him? Do I need to just get over this issue even though it really bothers me?

Dear Porn Patrol,

Let’s take your relationship with shoes or women’s magazines or whatever guilty pleasure you enjoy: imagine if your partner said he was viscerally opposed to it, thinks it is a horrible industry that exploits people and perpetuates sexism and misogyny, and suggested that it might be a deal breaker. Or imagine if he asked you to give up masturbation*, because he should be enough for you. You’d be bummed, because you know those things don’t impact the love you have for your partner. You might, out of generosity and kindness, give them up, but then you’d probably become bitter and resentful for being forced to change.

We understand how porn makes you feel uncomfortable and unloved and disrespected — we’ve been there — but really, from your partner’s perspective, it has nothing to do with you; you’re not in any competition with it; it’s a normal and almost unavoidable part of being a sexual being in this Internet age (and we’re not just talking men; plenty of women enjoy porn regularly, too). Honestly, you’ll have a hard time finding a man who doesn’t like porn; it’s hard enough to find one who doesn’t like sports!

This is not to say that all porn is harmless. Some studies (cited here) found that men’s porn use was associated with lower quality sex and lower levels of intimacy in their relationships. We think that the prevalence of porn can be blamed for a lot of the misconceptions young people (and plenty of adults) have today about pleasure and safety and what constitutes sex and what works for women’s bodies and what it means to treat people with decency and respect. Which is why it’s so important not only for decent, realistic sex education to be readily and widely available, but for people — especially women — to support the production of quality, feminist porn (like Erika Lust’s films), because porn ain’t going away.

Of course, you can’t dictate people’s sexual fantasies or tell them what they can and can’t watch, like some uptight Big Brother. Well, you can try if, you’re their partner, but it probably won’t go over so well. Which is why it’s better to tell them how you feel. Compromises can be made on both sides so everyone’s more at ease.

Maybe you try to find something that turns you on, that you find acceptable so you can see where he’s coming from, as it were. Maybe so you could even enjoy it together! At least two studies (cited here) showed that women’s use of porn correlated with higher quality sex lives.

And you can certainly encourage him to stay away from the more disturbing stuff, like, say, Brazilian fart porn — there is plenty of good, old-fashioned, healthy and responsible boot-knocking going on out there by consenting adults who aren’t on drugs. But if he’s compulsively watching porn instead of having sex with you, or his porn consumption is disrupting his work or school or social outings or daily living, then you’re in your rights to strongly recommend he seek professional help.

Assuming it’s not an actual problem for him, and you can’t find a way to get into it yourself, but you’re not willing to walk away from the relationship, then ask him to keep a private thing (and if he’s doing this already, consider it him being polite!). Don’t talk about it, definitely don’t watch it, don’t snoop for signs of it.  In this case, ignorance can be bliss.

Em & Lo

*Masturbation is something you should continue to do whether you’re in a relationship or not, married or not — it’s good for you to have some quality alone time!

This post has been updated. 

Let’s hear from a woman who “got over it”:
Porn Is No Biggie



42 Comments

  1. Well I don’t see how leaving him would help anything. Apparently every guy watches porn on a nearly daily basis. If they can keep up a masterbating and sex… Sounds like a sex,porn,love addiction of some sort. So obviously cheating is a justifiable action. I’ve been w this guy for four years. We love eachother, and he loves porn. I’m not sure what the difference between chatting on sites and watching sites such as motherless and home alone sluts isn’t well, cheating. He insists it’s fine and this is his right so cheating is mine. I enjoy sex at the basis of what it is, physical pleasure. And anyone I trust to give it to me doesn’t mean I need to be in love with them. So I guess I’ll imploy the help of an ex to get my sexual needs and attention met. He has his porn for his. My bf grew up with porn, it’s his first lover. It’s his sex life. Unfortunately porn makes his sex life much more different then mine. I rely on my partner to go with me threw our sexual experiences and discoveries together. As where he does the same boring sex thing over and over because hell, he’s got never ending amounts of porn for veriety. Frequent porn has made him a selfish and shallow lover. But hey, at least he’s not cheating right?! So for people that think porn is so great… Maybe you should check out the emotional side of a true intimate sexual relationship, if you have any self respect/esteem/intelligence, I’m sure you’ll find something
    Lacking in yours.

  2. My boyfriend doesn’t have much of a sex drive and yet he still can’t help but share what little he has w porn. I wasn’t getting enough sex and porn and masterbating isn’t much fun for me. Soo apparently as everyone on here seems to be saying, I can cheat. Kuz it’s either porn or cheating. I hate that he watches porn and I don’t even hate porn. I knew he watched it n I wasn’t worried about it. That was until our sex life vanished and I found what he watche and how often he watche it Underage webcam videos. So I worry about what he might turn to in 20 years if we get married. Frequent porn use is scientifically proven to ruin the natural brain chemistry in the reward zone. Men, and women, become desensitized and need more crazy porn to get excited. There are many sites out there supporting all of this. So as much as I dont mind porn, it does effect most relationships in some way. Even if it’s only the occasional ‘sry hunny I already watched porn so I can’t get it up for you’ to the pitty fuck n it takes obnoxiously long for him to get off, to erectile distinction and the loss (or lack) of emotional intamacy w a human sex partner. I don’t see how regular porn use has any positives. I now have to cheat I guess because that seems acceptable as long as I don’t infringe on his porn right.

  3. Okay you women need to grow a pair and ask your significant other to stop watching porn if you’re not comfortable with it, why is there no expectation of self control?

    A relationship is about making sacrifices and compromising, I’m sure you’ve made sacrifices for him

  4. 2 Things about a guy and Porn. 1]He watches Porn cause thats the only way he gets some loving or worse the kind of loving he really wants example is: I really love anal sex but my wife does not since I can not have it with her I will have it with my favorite Porn Star but believe there is not a million Porn Stars in this world that could take the place of my wife if she loved to have anal sex with me!!
    2]He is just a Porn Addict and no matter what you do for him he will never face to the fact he has a problem. If this is the case Dump the Bum faster than you can say See Ya Butthole.

  5. There is nothing wrong with porn. You just need to clean up your mind. why men watch porn? because they just need a fast and quick release, sometime we are just too tired to go through a long process of love making but horny enough to wank off a just a few min. there is no doubt that porn is not as good as making love but we have to admit that guys are more into imagination thinking of sex more often.

  6. I HATE PORN… It makes me feel as if Im not good enough for him. And the only reason why I let him watch it is so he can fill my needs. After sex I feel like FUCKIN SHIT. Im sorry but I have no idea how any girl can say oh Im ok with it. DEEP Down I believe that no girl is ok with it. LIKE REALLY yah man if doin ya thinkin of someone else Kinda like cheating.
    Im ment to be a lesbooo I cant deal with anymore after 5 years with him and a child. Hes got to go It plays in my mind all the time Im not good enough

  7. I finally told my fiancee about my addiction to porn wanting to actually change for good this time. I felt as though this was a way to clear the air before we got married so that I went into this marriage only wanting my wife. I am a very devout Christian and believe that porn is a life ruining addiction/habit. My problem now is that she says she is scared to have sex with me because of my past addiction. I still have the temptation to look at porn but have steered away from it for 4 months. I am sincerely worried that when we have sex when we’re married, that it won’t last long into our marriage. We have all but stopped making out after 5 years of dating. Is it going to be the same with our marriage and sex?

  8. Plehay said: “I’ve had very serious conversations with my boyfriend about why I am against the use of porn in lieu of human contact or communication, and the content that is out there, the people involved etc, but still he continued to use it behind my back knowing that it was very disrespectful to me and what I heartily believe in”

    First of all, I am sad you feel so bad about all this. But, there are some things that need to be addressed, (which obviously were not in the “Biology” class you took) You said “bout why I am against the use of porn in lieu of human contact or communication” YES, IN LIEU OF, that is an addiction. IN ADDITION to is normal. Meaning a LOT of people, men and women view some porn IN ADDITION TO human contact and communication.

    If is is indeed “in lieu of” (meaning you two have little human contact or communication with each other, and he watches porn all the time instead of talking to you ever) That is a huge problem, one which most likely wasn’t CAUSED by the porn, but the porn is one of the symptoms of some deeper seated problem.

    “He continued to use it behind my back.” (then some stuff about how he is “disrespecting” you by not Obeying your Orders.) Hmmm. Do you really have the right to dictate what he can and cannot watch, read or view? I think not. The reason he “continued to use it behind your back” is that it is somewhat important to him,(and he obviously didn’t want to hurt your feelings) and YOU decreed he NOT have anything to do with it. Imagine if he told you, “No more Chick Flicks. If I see you watching ANYTHING with Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Allisa Silverstone, Drew Barrymore etc there will be trouble.” Would that be FAIR? If you did go out and see a Chick Flick would it really be “disrespecting him?” or simply doing what YOU like, and ignoring what only seems to be a form of Control Freakism by him?

    A lot of guys think silly, “romantic comedies” are as detrimental or more to their relationships as some women think porn is to theirs, as Romantic Comedy is about as realistic in terms of how Relationships work as some women think Hard Core is to theirs.

    I happen to agree with the guys. NOBODY “gets the Fairy Tale.” EVER! Nobody lives happily ever after, and movies which promote this idea can indeed be seen as “harmful” if one thinks REAL relationships work like the ones in these movies do, but one certainly has the right to watch them. BUT, people have the right to watch it, and a woman’s partner has NO right to tell her not to.

    If you don’t care for these movies, insert something you DO like that he doesn’t care for (shoe shopping, internet shopping, mall shopping, searching high and low for “just the right duvet cover,” Girls Night Out, Whatever, and imagine him demanding YOU give it up, because he claims he “doesn’t get it or like it” or “it is against what he heartily believes in” therefor you have no right to it. Doesn’t seem fair does it?

    I think “Demanding” one’s partner “immediately stop” just about anything (this side of cooking meth in the basement) is being Controlling and really not their business to tell other people, (partner or not) what they are allowed to enjoy. Not to mention acting in such a Controlling manner is Poison to most relationships.

    You also said: “I have yet to find any article mentioning a woman in a relationship that has her views about porn being clearly disrespected by a significant other.” UM, no. I know plenty of married women who take umbrage with their husband’s fondness for porn. I know DOZENS of guys who hide their porn from their wives, and tolerance on her part and honesty on his would be a better solution.

    He’s GONNA watch it, “your views being disrespected” are simply not part of the issue to him. You can’t dictate that even “in a relationship” your partner do or not do otherwise normal things. Well, you CAN, but often the relationship simply doesn’t survive.

    And good luck finding a man who doesn’t watch porn. (My Man works with two strange dudes who claim they NEVER watch porn…..they also don’t have adult sexual relationships with women or men, in fact, they don’t have sex at all, they also both live in their mother’s basements, and go on vacation with her, alone with her, in their 40s and 50s. That’s about all I have seen of this variety of men.)

    I’m a married woman, and I USED TO BE one of these women. (I never told my Man he “couldn’t” watch porn, I just didn’t like that he did.) I was brainwashed by 2nd wave feminism it it’s worst incarnation, BUT I worked on it, looked at if from a man’s POV, and learned to overcome such prudery and intolerance, to the betterment of myself and my marriage.

    But, I still know some married women who have issues with their husband’s porn watching. There are three solutions. 1)Dissolve the relationship, 2)or find something you can watch together, 3)or just pretend he isn’t doing it. I don”t know about “articles” I am going on real human relationships here. And IMO, if you don’t like porn and he does, it should be one of those things that you “pick your battles about” and leave the porn OUT of your battles. (because if your relationship survives you two are going to have a LOT more important things to Battle about, believe me.

    (Of course, a real live addiction is a different story. But, people addicted to porn do little else, cannot engage in normal sexual activities without porn, or simply have given up sex altogether to watch others do it. It is not as common as FOX NEWS would have you believe, but nearly ALL men watch and own porn, and only a small percentage are actually “addicted” to it. Chances are, if he’s hiding it, it is NOT an addiction, because he would need nearly non stop access to it.

    In recent studies it was shown that 97% of female population, and 99% of the male admitted to masturbating. The other 3% and 1% were lying…..

    My guess, (I am thinking you wouldn’t have posted here if you didn’t want advice from Sex Positive people, so here goes) is that either you DO masturbate (which is normal and healthy and helps one to actually ENJOY sex with a partner MORE) or you are so detached from your own body that you CAN’T touch yourself “there.”

    THAT needs to be addressed, seriously, more than your bf’s occasional, discreet porn watching. Maybe if you either masturbated (or admitted that you did) your sex life would blossom and grow, and perhaps your Tolerance for what other people like would, too.

    Good luck to you.

    1. Just wanted to say that there ARE men who don’t watch porn- my husband is one of them. He actively *dislikes* porn (and strippers too, for that matter). It was never anything I was not accepting of, I actually suggested it together once and that’s when I learned he hadn’t watched it, nor wanted to watch it, since he was in high school. We’ve been together almost 11 years now (married for 6), so it’s not just some short term thing. He has no reason to lie about it.

      Weird thing is, if he DID start watching porn now, now I might feel shitty about it. I don’t tell him that though, because I’d rather him behonest about it. But, my major point here is that there ARE some guys who aren’t into porn and don’t really care about it, although I admit it that it’s a minority. And he’s definitely not a-sexual by any means, we have a very active sex life, and he did before he met me as well (he actually had a startingly high number of partners, which was something I had to work through when we started dating).

      So… there is some hope, I guess? Even though I’m not anti-porn, I don’t see how it can be compared to buying shoes, that’s just fucking stupid. At least in the aspect of feeeling disrespected/not enough for your partner.

      1. Trust me – many man say they don’t watch porn, but do it when they are safe and alone. Don’t know your man, but it’s possible he watch on different places. In our smartphone eara it’s no problem to watch porn everywhere anytime!

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