Ask Professor Foxy: How Do I Get Over My Boyfriend’s Viewing of Porn? And How Do I Stop Punishing Myself?

This weekly Saturday column “Ask Professor Foxy” will regularly contain sexually explicit material. This material is likely not safe for work viewing. The title of the column will include the major topic of the post, so please read the topic when deciding whether or not to read the entire column.

Dear Professor Foxy,

I know you probably don’t have time to respond to questions like these, but I don’t really have anyone to talk to and I’m milking all of the limited resources I have. I’ve been a fan of Feministing for a few months now, and I identify as a feminist cisgender gay male, but lately I’ve been having trouble practicing what I preach.

I’ve been in a wonderful healthy relationship with my boyfriend for over 2 years now, and we are very close, but sometimes have trouble confronting each other when we see issues in the relationship. A few months back I was (wrongfully) snooping on his computer, and I found some porn and some webcam photos of another guy in there.

We’ve discussed the issue at length (something that isn’t very natural to us), but I feel like the tarnishing of his image has poisoned my view of him, and my view of myself as well. I know he loves me and he shows me in a variety of ways, but I can’t stop myself from thinking that every minute he’s alone, he’s masturbating to porn. And lately, it’s gotten worse- all the porn he watched had these tiny, skinny boys in it. I’ve started to cutting down my meals, replacing them with exercising, and counting calories militantly.

This is very unlike me, but I don’t know how to stop. I’m totally exhausted with bringing up the subject to him, and so is he, but it’s on my mind relatively frequently when we are together.

Maybe I just need to recognize that he’s a sexual person even when he’s not around me? Or recognize that his fantasies shouldn’t be projected into his real life? I can’t seem to convince myself of either.

If you can, please help me.

Thank you so much,

J

Dear J –

You have a bunch of things going on here. Let’s address one at a time.

First, you identified one clear problem with your relationship (confronting issues). I would say that even the language shows a problem: confronting versus discussing. Partners needs to be able to talk about things, confronting is a whole different level. Talking with our partner about what bothers us in a relationship makes our relationship stronger, avoiding issues weakens the relationship.

You also don’t trust him; otherwise you wouldn’t be looking in his computer. When we go looking for things we don’t want to see, we often find them. You need to reflect on what is causing this distrust, is it him, you, or some combination?

Our partners are always sexual people, whether or not we are in the room. A person’s sexuality is not dependent on others. Part of being in a relationship means discussing how that sexuality is expressed. This does not mean you get to control, but boundaries around things like having sex with other people can be discussed. I caution against trying to control how often he masturbates. Why does it matter? Does it take away from sex in your relationship? Or is it a different kind of stress relief?

Also, the kind of porn that one masturbates to may or may not reflect what we desire in actual life. Just the other day another queer woman and I were talking to a gay male friend of ours about the incredible prevalence of queer women who love gay male porn. Many of these women have no desire to have the kind of sex shown in much of gay porn, but still love watching it. He may watch skinny boys have sex, but he loves the body you have.

You’ve discussed it at length with him. What will it actually take for you to feel good again? Is there actually anything? It may just take time and a conscious effort to let it go. You need to make the decision to stay in this relationship and actively work towards feeling ok again (some of this is work you need to do on your own) or leave it.

The thing I am actually most worried about is your eating habits. You are working your way into or are already experiencing an eating disorder. You need to seek help for this. Gay and bi men are significantly more likely to have an eating disorder. I don’t know where you live, but you can find your local LGBT community center on Centerlink’s website and many of them have counseling services that can help you as an individual. Some information on eating disorders can also be found here.

You need to take steps towards healing. Your relationship can’t be ok until you are ok. You need to do that for yourself.

Best,

Professor Foxy

If you have a question for Professor Foxy, send it to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.

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