Like

Do I Have to Stop Watching Porn if I’m in a Relationship?

SexDo I Have to Stop Watching Porn if I’m in a Relationship?

DoIHaveToQuitPorn_v2.jpg

It’s Do I Have To? Practical advice for skeptical adults.

DoIHaveTo_Icon.jpg

Do I have to stop following porn Snapchat accounts if I’m in a relationship? My boyfriend isn’t MAD per se, but he doesn’t really think its ideal. Here’s the thing, I follow porn stars on Snapchat and Twitter and for some reason that really bugs him, because I could theoretically get in contact with them. He thinks it’s very personal! Also, I will be watching a weird BuzzFeed snap in line at Trader Joe’s and now it just autoplays porn on accident and I’m like, “argh sorry lady behind me in line!” It’s like watching a naughty thing on a plane!

Sex media in 2016: it’s with us all the time and we never know when it’s going to reveal itself. Real quick, because I am so happy this is a safe place, you reminded me that once I watched Boogie Nights on my laptop on a bus to Boston and secured my status as I-95’s preeminent pretentious pervert. It’s because my best friend described Boogie Nights as a movie about purpose and California. She did not mention that it was about the porn industry as it pertains to purpose and California. This is where I discovered a helpful trick to watching sex scenes in public settings: Dim the brightness on your laptop, wait for sex sounds to be over, and light your screen back up. Anyway, I watched the whole thing and I’m glad because it’s a good movie about porn, purpose, California.

So sex is still the main component of a relationship that people have territorial and exclusive rules about. This seems relatively arbitrary, of course. For example, if intense romantic content was treated this way, couples would have rules about watching movies with Gwyneth Paltrow in them or reading Nicolas Sparks. Alas no such rules exist.

*When asked about adultery, Newman apocryphally said: "Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”

With porn and sex, it’s like Paul Newman and the steak and the hamburgers*, except this is pictures of hamburgers. Pictures of hamburgers are great. They’re juicy and exciting and introduce you to thrilling new options (fried egg on the top! Jucy Lucy!). It has everything to do with a burger, but it’s not a burger. An image is not the thing. Ceci n’est pas un pénis.

If your boyfriend feels like porn is cheating, hear him out. I thought of this scene in Black Mirror that people KEPT bringing up as particularly haunting and upsetting: this (unhappy) couple is having sex while they’re each watching something on their sci-fi eye contacts, presumably porn or a memory of having sex with someone else. This seems to be the crux of people’s arguments who feel like porn is cheating: Why aren’t they enough?

This path of thinking can be hurtful, but this is the time to make the case that porn is just totally different than sex. Each person maintaining their own rich interior, independent life is good for the couple as a unit, yes? I think so.

** I also checked “burger” on UrbanDictionary to make sure I wasn’t writing about a crazy sex thing and I don’t think I am, so please let me know ASAP if I am advocating something I’ve never heard of.

Now to your boyfriend’s point about the possibility of contact with porn stars. You’re following them for those hot posts, but it also opens means of communication. Truly, what a time! Because your relationship to them is based in sex, it makes complete sense that your person is more skeptical about your proximity to them and your interactions with them. So treat them the way you would with anyone who you had/have a primarily sexual relationship to, like an ex. It’s just like your ex having your number or a way to message you. If your boyfriend isn’t cool with it, don’t allow a private exchange or a special communication. Watch yourself and don’t be shady. Give your partner a heads up if this other person reaches out to you. Really, as always, forever, just don’t be shady. Then proceed. Pictures of burgers** for everyone.

Are you skeptical about whether you have to do something? Send your leading questions to maggie_lange@gq.com. It’s a weekly thing!

Read more