Dear Em & Lo,
My ex and I were in a relationship for just over 2 years. We broke up recently as he preferred to masturbate to his friends Facebook photos than have sex with me. I had known about it all throughout the relationship and tried to get him to stop. It really killed my self esteem and now he’s trying to tell me it’s normal for guys to do this, but wont confess his “habit” to anyone else. It hurts because I know he is playing the victim card to all his family and friends without telling them the whole story and now I feel like I’m the one with the problem.
Is this normal? Am I overreacting? How do you deal with something like this? HELP!
— Exed Out
Two years is a long time, so of course you’re feeling a lot of pain from this breakup. Especially when he’s trying to make you feel like you’re the bad guy for having certain sexual standards and then advertising you as such to friends and family without, shall we say, coming clean. There’s no way around it: it’s a total bummer.
We can’t really speak to what is “normal.” Proclivities and preferences vary so greatly that it’s not only unfair, but damn near impossible, to categorize sexual activities into two distinct boxes labeled “normal” and “abnormal.” But the fact that he won’t admit this habit to others seems to undermine his claim that all guys do it. We would not begrudge you feeling a little vindication over that.
What we can speak to is what is right for you. Obviously, you were hurt by his particular habit. It’s okay to want a partner who prefers sex with you over porn. It’s okay to hope a partner’s masturbatory habits involve more anonymous fantasies rather than actual friends and neighbors (which can make dinner parties mighty awkward). While we acknowledge that many successful relationships include compromise, it’s okay to have certain red lines that you don’t want crossed (e.g. Facebook being a masturbation-free zone). In other words, what worked for him clearly didn’t work for you — and, again, that’s okay. You had the self-awareness to know this relationship was not good for your own self-esteem and got out. That is to be commended.
As far as “how to deal with something like this” goes: You can’t control his behavior, only your own. So feel good about ending a relationship that clearly wasn’t right for you, be confident in your own sexual preferences, and then get out there and find someone who shares them!
— Em & Lo