Lovehacker: Should I Quit Porn For My Girlfriend?

Image: Voltage Pictures

Dear Lovehacker, I'm in a relationship with a really awesome girl. Everything is amazing, buuuut... She recently spotted the existence of porn on my computer (under my chrome "frequently visited sites" page) while we were surfing for air tickets, and she looked very, very disturbed by it. She told me that it doesn't bother her, but it definitely does. To be clear, this is a girl that I'm sleeping with and who has literally seen me taking a dump, so I don't think this is a boundaries/personal space issue. She's just very disturbed by me looking at other people having sex.

Is there a good way to have this conversation? What do you think about going porn-free for a partner? I want to promise her I'll scourge my computer of porn and never touch any of it again, but, let's be honest, odds are good I'll backslide and hurt the trust between us. Thanks, Internet Explorer

Dear IE,

Here's the thing about porn: pretty much everyone uses it, men and women. The biggest difference between men's porn consumption and women's porn consumption is generally the medium; men edge out on videos while women tend to consume more stories, although that's changing.

Porn is, quite literally, one of our oldest art forms. As soon as humans developed abstract reasoning and symbolic representation, we promptly started drawing dicks, boobs and couples pounding it on every flat surface we could find.

Cave drawings, statuary, pottery, tapestries, and paintings have all been part of the great history of humanity's quest to get off by watching other people bone. People were taking nude daguerreotypes almost as soon as the process was developed and one of the first movies ever shown was the nudie cutie "What The Butler Saw" on Edison's Kinetoscopes.

Porn has also almost single-handedly shaped the direction of technology in the 20th and 21st century. If you enjoy watching Let's Plays on YouTube, chatting with your friends on Skype and buying things from Amazon, then you can thank porn for pioneering plug-in free video streaming, secure credit card transactions via the web and two-way video conferencing.

Porn has also been a great source of contention in many a relationship, as it may well be in yours. Right now, all we have is speculation; you're pretty sure that your girlfriend isn't cool with your watching porn but you don't know for sure. This is why you should, y'know, use your words.

Sit down with your girlfriend and talk about it with her. Before you make any grand gestures like swearing off porn forever (and likely sneaking it on the side) you should find out how she actually feels. She seemed bothered, so ask her what it is that disturbed her instead of assuming she just default hates porn.

It could be that she has some legitimate gripes with porn: many porn companies exploit their performers, much of it is almost absurdly sexist and racist and, frankly, watching too much of it tends to make you a lousy lover.

Or it could be that she's bothered by some of what she saw that you get off to. We tend to assume that en masturbation, veritas and assume that what people fantasise about is their "real" selves instead of just something that happens to get their engines going. If you were watching some gonzo facial abuse porn or hardcore BDSM, she might well think that this is what you actually want and worry that you're about to ask her for something she's uncomfortable with. Similarly, she may see a difference between her and the actresses and feel as though you're not satisfied with her.

Or it could be that she's upset that you're watching it instead of being with her, which could well be a simple exercise in miscommunication. For many people, masturbation and partnered sex are two very different things; one is an intimate experience (even if you're both just looking to fuck) and one is a simple "wham bam thank you glans" to get things out of the way.

She might see fantasising about others as being a form of infidelity and believe that if you really loved her, she would be all you need. Which is nice in theory, but in practice, that's not how monogamy works. A monogamous commitment just means that you won't sleep with other people; it doesn't say a damn thing about not wanting to. For many people, porn is a quick and easy way to get the sexual novelty they crave without betraying their partner's trust.

Or it could well be that she's annoyed that you're watching it without her. Plenty of women love watching porn with their partners.

But right now, you don't know. You're making assumptions, and that's making an arse out of you and 'mptions. So sit down, talk it out, and figure out where everybody stands before you make any grand sweeping gestures that you can't actually live up to.

And if it turns out that she does have a problem with porn for porn's sake? Don't make promises that you already know you can't keep; all that does is put a ticking timebomb into your relationship, waiting to blow up the trust she has in you. Talk it out; she explains how she feels, you explain how you feel, and then see if you can reach a compromise. That compromise could well be that you'll pretend that you don't watch porn any more and she'll pretend to believe you. Then it's on you to provide her with the plausible deniability that lets her keep the belief intact — no jerking it while she's in the house, no files on your hard drive or your phone (that's what Dropbox and PornHub are for), clear your browser history as soon as you're done and get used to using incognito mode.

Good luck.


Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].


This story originally appeared on Kotaku.

Harris O'Malley is a writer and dating coach who provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr NerdLove.


Comments

    The title of this article made me think that a porn star had reached out to lifehacker for advice.

    Bonus points for the Long Kiss Goodnight reference!

    What he needs to do, is get much better at hiding it!

    Answer: Yes Quit... Until you find out the what her porn is. Until then sexting

    My girlfriend and I watch porn together. Bonus!!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now