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Home / Articles / Health / Sophisticated Sex /  The porn predicament
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Thursday, March 3,2011

The porn predicament

By Dr. Jenni Skyler

Dear Dr. Jenni,

My girlfriend found out I watch porn from time to time, and she feels it is only for someone who is single. She herself has watched it but only when she was single. She feels that she should fulfill all aspects of my fantasy life, and feels that I am replacing her with porn. I’m not, but once in a while it’s a nice relief without any work. Am I out of line for wanting to watch it occasionally?

—Problems with Porn

Dear PWP,

The splendor of fantasy is in the eye of the beholder and how we prefer to use fantasy differs from person to person. But fantasy doesn’t cease just because we enter or exit relationships. In fact, many people claim that fantasy, shared or secret, enacted or watched, prevents the monotony of monogamy. It’s a safe way to obtain variety without breaking the sacred contract of a committed relationship.

While I do not think you are out of line, try to understand her fears. Perhaps there is a bigger theme in the relationship that is being played out with your disagreement over porn. She mentioned feeling replaced; perhaps she fears this. If her fears are substantiated, and she is indeed at risk of being replaced, then you may want to look at your behavior in general and your satisfaction in the relationship. If her fears are unfounded, you may want to discuss with her why she feels this way, and offer her reassurance that you aren’t going anywhere.

In sum, the issue seems to be less about porn, and more about concerns in the relationship.

Dear Dr. Jenni,

I am totally OK with my husband masturbating. We have a good sex life, though I’d be happy with more! He says he’s very attracted to me, but he’s not a particularly “horny” guy. However, he refuses to give up pornography, even though I have expressed to him that it makes me feel awful, unattractive and upset. I think it’s unfair that he looks at it, and he thinks it’s unfair of me to suggest that he not. Who’s right?

—Prettier than Porn Stars?

Dear PTPS,

If you are right, then he loses. If he is right, then you lose. If either one of you lose, then ultimately, the relationship loses.

The real question is how can you find a compromise that feels acceptable to both of you?

Since you have a good sex life, it doesn’t sound like he’s using porn as a substitute to your relationship.

However, if he’s using it as a frequent supplement where he prefers porn to initiating sex with you, then this is a different conversation. Many men masturbate (and often with porn) because it’s a safe and easy outlet. When alone, no one is rejecting you and there is no pressure to perform.

However, if he watches porn only periodically, you may want to deconstruct why this makes you feel upset.

Many feel anger at the porn industry because of the presumed poor treatment and/or objectification of women. This is a very understandable position, and if so, communicate it to your husband. But if you ask him to restrict his support of the porn industry, consider offering other visual alternatives for fantasy outlets.

You also mentioned that you feel unattractive compared to porn actors. This is a natural feeling. However, comparing yourself to a fantasy is unfair to do to yourself. You may think Hugh Jackman is a stud unparalleled by any other. Your husband may never measure up to the fantasy of Hugh, but you wouldn’t expect him to.

Again, the solution is compromise.

But first dig deeper as to why you both hold the positions you do. Talking on that more vulnerable level may lead you to a natural solution.

Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to drjenni@theintimacyinstitute.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.

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PWP

Thanks for the advice!

 

-PWP

 

 
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