My current partner is really into porn. How do I not be jealous or feel as though he enjoys it more than having sex with me? Annoyed at myself for being unable to accept that sexual

My current partner is really into porn. How do I not be jealous or feel as though he enjoys it more than having sex with me? Annoyed at myself for being unable to accept that sexual variety is a normal human desire.

Hello Fren,

Let us consider together a phrase: 

“Not all who wander are lost.”

This is a phrase from a story from a thought from a dream had by J.R.R. Tolkein, a very cool nerd.

What does this phrase mean? A few things, probably.

For our purposes, this phrase means: 

“Not all who watch porn and masturbate are in actuality wanting IRL sexual experiences outside of their (presumably monogamous) relationships.

It can be a little difficult to wrap The Mind and The Jealousy around this fact, but it’s just true.

For many people, porn scratches a different itch. Maybe your partner is exorcising his desire for “sexual variety” this way, or maybe it’s a little more utilitarian than that. Human-on-human intimacy is intense. Sometimes, people have a little extra sexual energy that they need to expend, but it doesn’t necessarily overlap with a desire for intimacy with another human being. An easy solve for this is to stimulate the eyeball organs and the brain organ with a bit of sexual imagery and simultaneously self-stimulate the sax organ with a little bit of ~self-love.

And then you’re done and can resume being a relaxed human in the world. The porn images aid in efficiency and are all-but-forgotten after the orgasm-gasm.

Yes, we can be critical of how the consumption of pornography objectifies bodies, very often, bodies belonging to womyn. We can be critical of how pornography often fails to demonstrate consent and safe sex. We can be critical of the fact that many young people learn about sex for the first time by watching porn, which can potentially fuck up and skew perceptions and expectations. We can be critical of the way in which Capitalism™ is applied to Bodies™ and what that might be doing/ might have already done to Our Culture™. There are systemic, sweeping problems associated with pornography, it’s true. Porn is a very stimulating stimuli, but, like basically everything, it is not inherently evil when used in a healthy way.

Human beings are complicated. The Erotic Mind is kind of a separate neighborhood, and doesn’t necessarily share territory with The Mind You Use Most Of The Time.

You did leave out some important information-- you do not specify what your  partner’s being “really into porn,” actually means. Porn addiction is a real thing and, like any addiction or compulsive behavior, it can interfere with one’s ability to be a good partner in many ways.

There isn’t an “amount” of porn consumption that would automatically qualify as addiction (like there’s no measurable amount of alcohol that makes someone an alcoholic). Addiction is more about what happens to the person in the face of the stimuli, and how it affects other aspects of their lives. The human brain is massively susceptible to the varied rewards and resulting dopamine hits available via stimuli like drugs, sex, porn, gambling, Instagram, and technology in general. For some people, this can result in addiction.

If you’re concerned that your partner may be addicted to porn, it might be helpful to notice whether or not his porn use is interfering with his ability to be intimate with you. Is he spending so much time masturbating to porn that he’s not able to have sex with you? Does the sex you’re having make you happy? Are you typically mutually turned on by the same activities?

Is the fear that he enjoys porn more than sex with you evident in any of his behaviors? Or is this fear more rooted in your own insecurity?

If his porn use veers into problematic territory, it will be up to him to confront that problem. Therapy is a good option, and there are SA (Sexaholics Anonymous) and PAA (Porn Addicts Anonymous) meetings he can attend, if he’s ready.

Unfortunately, addiction to porn is not an issue you can solve on his behalf.

Someone in the midst of an addiction is not an ideal partner, especially if they are living in denial of the problem. If he does have a problem with porn consumption and decides to seek help, it may be a long journey for the two of you as a couple to regain your footing, or he may need time and space away from a relationship to overcome this issue.

Assuming his porn consumption falls within a “normal” range, it seems the jealousy you’re feeling is a mutual bad boundary issue.

Unless you are a couple who enjoys watching porn together, porn is for private time!

How do you know that he’s “really into porn?” Is he talking about it constantly? Liking tons of porn stars’ photos on IG? Are you stalking his browser history? Demanding he tells you about it?

It’s time to have a conversation and let him know that the porn thing tweaks your jealousy, and that you’d rather not know about his porn habits. Don’t be judgy and sex shame-y, just tell him you feel insecure, and that knowing too much crosses a boundary for you.

Some Instagram posts can be enjoyed on a “look-not-like” basis.

Ask kindly to be taken out of the porn trust tree. Hopefully he can respect this. It really doesn’t seem like a high bar to clear. His homework is to respect your boundary.

Your homework is to respect his boundaries. It’s possible you won’t be able to control the jealous, insecure, fearful feelings, but you can learn to sit with that discomfort.

What’s most important are your actions and your words.

Don’t stalk his behavior, don’t shame him, and keep it all in perspective. He’s your partner. He’s committed to you. He can respect this boundary around your insecurity, and you can respect his private time.

I’d encourage you to consider watching a bit of porn yourself, on your own time, if you haven't already, if only to demystify it a bit.

It’s mostly really goofy.