Ask Charles: "My fiancé watches porn. Does he just not want me?"

Dear Charles:

Two nights ago, I got drunk enough to ask my fiance if he still watches porn. He said, "Every once in a while." I knew something was up months ago. He wasn't sexually interested in me for a while. (That alone is a red flag for me since I've been cheated on and replaced by porn in every relationship I've been in.) It's not new to me. But this time, it hurt.

I truly love this man and we are great together. He tells me how much I mean to him... but all that means nothing to me now. He watches porn at work—in a bathroom stall to "let off some stress," apparently. I'm glad he didn't lie about it, but it doesn't help the issue. I feel betrayed. Sex is very personal to me, and I don't know what to do about this situation. He says he'll stop because it makes me feel so worthless; but will he, really?

I'm starting to realize why I hate other women so much—because they are always chosen over me. I'm lost, I'm confused. I don't want this relationship to end, but I don't think I can recover from this. I've always had self-esteem problems and confidence issues... but this has just taken it out of me. I don't think I can have sex with him without thinking of how many porn starlets he's gotten off to... or if he's thinking of them while having sex with me.

This just hurts so much. I need some advice on what to do. 

T

 
 

 

Hi T:

Thank you for writing in, and I’m sorry for how you feel and for your experience. Part of what I hear in your letter is that you have been involved with men who have a lack of vulnerability and emotional connection — and who use porn as a “safe replacement” for sex so they don’t have to connect with someone during that intimate act.

It is those men who are making choices about THEIR sex lives due to their lack of emotional maturity and availability. Other people's choices and decisions are not a reflection on your desirability, your value, or your worth.

As for your current relationship… there are two types of men: Men who masturbate, and men who lie about it. Based on your past experiences with pornography, I can completely understand why you are angry and feel betrayed. However, I would ask you to consider that sometimes… masturbation isn’t about “sexual gratification.” Sometimes, a guy just needs a release — tension, stress, overabundance of testosterone… the list is endless and personal. And with that release, some men are visual in their efforts. That isn’t a replacement; it’s more of a visual aid to lead them to sexual payoff. 

Just because he’s using porn as part of masturbation doesn’t mean that he’s thinking of those starlets while wth you. It also doesn’t mean that you are somehow “not doing your job” or missing something – which is usually how partners feel if they discover porn. 

My advice: Sit down with him and talk about your fears, your past experiences, where your anger and anxiety comes from, and your anger… but be kind as you discuss it. After all, if this is your fiancé, the two of you should/need to be able to discuss these issues openly and honestly (and this won’t be the last issue the two of you face). 

But here’s the thing: As you ask him to get real and honest with you, you’ll need to do two things:

  1. Make it safe for him to be honest. Judgment doesn’t have a place in this discussion, or you’ll risk him not being open with you. You’ll need to accept what he says as true for HIM. You don’t have to agree with it, but it will be his truth.
  2. Be prepared. Sometimes when we ask for the truth, what we really mean is “Tell me what I want to hear.” If you’re asking for honesty, you’ll need to prepare yourself for things you might not want to know. 

He didn’t lie to you when you asked him, so you are already ahead of the game. I think you might be in much better shape than you realize… and with a man who just might help you heal from past wounds.

 

 
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