There Was Porn Involved

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Reader’s Question

Thanks for your help. I am very confused about what I should do, if anything. I’ve been going out with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. We met at work, and everything in our relationship is going fine. We have an above average sex life, even he has commented on that — how his friends are always complaining about their girlfriends and wives and how he has nothing to complain about. So the other day he opened up his email, and I saw that there was a specific email coming from a site, which by the name I could tell there was porn involved. I went to the site and it was about swingers, and finding swingers in your area, etc. Now I am completely confused. I know he didn’t finish his membership to the site because of the rest of the emails that I later saw (he forgot to sign out): it said for him to go back to finish registering, and another saying that they hadn’t seen him on there etc. I haven’t said anything to him, and I’m not sure what do do. Not sure if he was just curious? If maybe it’s a fantasy? What should I do next? Again thanks for your help.

Psychologist’s Reply

You say “he opened up his email, and I saw…” How was it that you saw what he did, yet he is not aware that you saw this porn email? I ask for this reason: trust in your relationship is the key to your success. Mutual respect is built on trust. With those two things, you can have an open conversation about curiosities, fantasies, past practices, hopes for the future, and celebrations of your sex life together. Without it, there is the chance that every conversation could spiral into doubt, anger, suspicion and distance. So if you discovered the email innocently, then there is no issue here. If you discovered it in another way, then I wonder if there is already a tear in your trust?

It sounds like you have a good relationship with this man, so what would be the harm in bringing the subject up with him? It troubles you, so I don’t see how you could keep quiet about it and let doubt fester and grow. Since you are a couple, then be a couple! Put the best interest of your relationship first, even before your own self interest or his. Talk to him kindly, respectfully but directly. If you can maintain that attitude with him throughout a discussion (or argument), then it speaks very well for the strength of your relationship.

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Now, about the porn itself. From this brief example, it sounds like he is not overly concerned with the site since he didn’t fully register, etc. If he’s curious, that’s one thing. It is normal to have fantasies. Freud said the only abnormal fantasy is no fantasy at all. Acting on a fantasy might be a deal breaker, but keeping a fantasy alive within the privacy of your relationship can be exciting. There is nothing wrong with a couple enjoying adult play with each other. It is OK to play. Not all play needs to be a psychodrama. Not all fantasies need to be acted out, especially not in public.

It also sounds like you have a few fantasies — or fears — of what this could mean. I encourage you to act on those by talking to him directly. Do not remain silent; trust him with your concerns. The one thing I would like to say about this particular fantasy is this: however titillating it may be, the result of swinging is usually a devaluing of your partner. Your partner is no longer special, but instead is interchangeable. Many people in the scene would argue this point with me. Still, I maintain that there is greater respect for each other in an exclusive sexual relationship. You are not interchangeable. What you do for each other cannot be duplicated or improved by adding another body to the mix. Consider that the most sensual part of your body is your mind. Together, you can explore fantasies and enrich each other’s lives through intimacy. In swinging, you trade intimacy for intensity. It doesn’t sound like a fair trade. You can create intensity within your intimate relationship. You cannot, however, create intimacy in an intense but anonymous polygamous relationship. That is something reserved for a whole person, for a loving couple, and for an exclusive and increasingly rare relationship.

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