Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

His Take: “He’s Choosing Porn Over Me”

I’m 26 and I live with my 29 year-old boyfriend of over a year. We have a wonderful relationship and he is very, very good to me. However, my laptop broke recently and when I started using his, I quickly discovered that, like most men, he is a fan of pornography. It’s nothing serious — he just visits certain websites maybe 4-5 times a week. While I understand it’s normal for guys, I can’t help but feel taken for granted of on the nights when I get home from work and he doesn’t initiate sex. We used to have sex twice a day, but now it’s just 4-5 times a week, which I realize is still a lot, but I’m resentful. I don’t know how to go about discussing this with him without coming off as the insecure nag who compulsively checks his browser history. Any thoughts would be much appreciated! — Feeling Neglected


GREG: I’m actually really excited someone asked this question because it has been a very important subject to me over the past few months. I began noticing a decrease in my sex drive and some… uh… difficulties in the bedroom a few months ago, and I never considered why until I came across an amazing article by Davy Rothbart in New York entitled “He’s Just Not That Into Anyone.” Rothbart discusses various troubles he was having in the bedroom and they directly paralleled mine. He did some research and discovered that porn is pretty much ruining men’s libidos. I would absolutely suggest reading the article by Rothbart, and even sharing it with your boyfriend. He may be insulted by you bringing it up, but honestly it was one of the best things to happen to my sex drive. Since I’ve cut back, I’ve become much healthier sexually and now I know why I was having trouble and how to avoid it again. Porn is still awesome, but like any other vice such as alcohol or fast food, moderation really needs to be considered.

BITTER GAY MARK: First, may I applaud both you and your incredibly grown up attitude towards porn? So many of the fairer sex overreact so to this issue it simply boggles the mind! That said, I did find something else to take you to task on. One phrase LEAPED out at me upon reading your question… “when I get home from work and he doesn’t initiate sex.” Good grief, woman! Why must HE be the one to ALWAYS initiate sex? Why don’t YOU light his fire on the “off” nights he doesn’t light yours? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe after initiating FOUR or FIVE nights a week, he might like to be the one who feels wanted and desired? Look, true or not, men are constantly bombarded by media reports that women don’t want sex as often as we do. Maybe by always demanding he make the first move you’re giving off vibes that you are more than getting your fill? Maybe he thinks he is just giving you the break you won’t ask for… Odds are this has nothing to do with your boyfriend looking at porn. No, this is actually about you expecting him to do ALL the heavy lifting. Actions speak louder than words. You want more sex? Try turning the tables on him — trust me — not only he will love you for it, but you WILL get what you want, too.

ART: There are three things at play here: 1) Why don’t you try initiating sex? You’re not totally helpless there. Just jump on him and start trying to get it on. Trust me: he will almost always want to; 2) You will never have the same amount of sex 12 months into a relationship as you are having at the one month mark. Never. It is the saddest truth there is, but it is the backbone of the Married People Sitcom joke economy; 3) You know how many times a week he visits these sites, which means you’re already the insecure nag who checks his browser history. I have ready access to my fiancée’s browser history all the time but I never check it because that is a violation of privacy (and not the good kind). Alternate fourth thing at play: maybe there is a way to make up the difference on your own.

JMagic: Ah, the inevitable “Does my guy look at too much porn?” issue. It sounds like you’re equating his porn viewing to his sexual interest in you, which at this point is kinda unfair. Up until you started using his laptop, you had no idea he perused such websites. For all you know he could have been visiting those sites 12 times per week, and cut back to 4-5 once you got serious. Now, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit put off if your sexual contact takes an unexpected nosedive, but maybe try initiating things on your end from time to time. Sometimes you gotta jump his bones when you get in, instead of sitting around and hoping he’ll pick up on your “give it to me” vibe. Men like to be pursued just as much as you like for us to pursue you. Give it a whirl and you might be surprised.

ALEX: He isn’t deleting his browser history so it doesn’t sound like he’s hiding a porn problem from you. It’s natural, and even healthy for a relationship, to have a certain amount of wandering eyes, and after a long day at work, it’s sometimes easier to spend a few minutes with an image as opposed to a few hours and energy having sex with an actual human. But if you’re having resentment, you’ll probably want to voice this with him at an appropriate time to alleviate your worry. Keep in mind that, even if the sex has waned, 4-5 times a week is still more than the average pop star.

* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at [email protected] with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.

50 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Sophie March 17, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I have a similar problem except my live-in bf watches porn for approximately 2 hours a day – everyday. I’ve never had a problem with it before, I actually enjoy porn myself (which my bf said he loved) but it’s becoming obvious that his porn-watching is affecting our relationship. Whenever we do have sex, it’s like he’s reenacting what he sees and forgets that I’m a real person who gets tired (or sore) and just wants to have regular sex and not freaking porn-star sex all the time. How much is too much? I can’t tell if maybe he’s addicted to it since even previous bfs never watched it as much as he does.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 March 17, 2011, 3:37 pm

      I can’t really tell you what is to much. All I can tell you is that I never watch it when I’m with my SO (just a personal preference because she isn’t into it) and I never watch it just to watch it!If I do watch it, it definitely doesn’t take me 2 hours to get done what I’m watching it for lol. 2 hours a day does seem a little excesive though.

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      • avatar

        maynard March 17, 2011, 3:47 pm

        Yeah 2 hours seems like a lot. It’s not like you’re watching a movie.

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        Sophie March 17, 2011, 4:02 pm

        Actually he used to watch it practically all day long before he got a full-time job, now that he has one it definitely decreased. We just got into a huge blowout fight the other night because I wanted to have what I call “bf-gf” sex (meaning, kind of romantic making love sort of thing) but he wanted to do 5 different positions, bondage (i.e. tie up), and just “fuck” which is okay if I’m in the mood for that but when you’re in a serious relationship for 3 years sometimes you want to feel I don’t know, special? I’m just glad I’m not alone, and other people think it’s a little much. Sorry if that was a little personal lol.

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        maynard March 17, 2011, 4:17 pm

        I gotta say, I don’t think you’re at all out of line requesting sweeter/softer sex sometimes, especially if you’re also (at least sometimes) into the ‘harder’ stuff he enjoys. But knowing nothing other than what you just wrote… I don’t know, his refusal to NOT have ‘porn star’ sex at least some of the time, and when he watches THAT MUCH porn… (I kind of don’t know how to finish this without being rude/judgemental) it sounds like he needs some therapy for an addiction.

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      • avatar

        Maracuya March 17, 2011, 4:38 pm

        Yeah, it sounds like your situation is more letter-worthy, actually. All-day (pre-job) sounds like an addiction to me.

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      • avatar

        elisabeth March 17, 2011, 9:50 pm

        Agreeing with the guesses at addiction. He’s watching it just to watch it and is having trouble having intimate sex vs. “porn-star sex.” I wonder if there are underlying intimacy issues, too?

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    • becboo84

      BecBoo84 March 17, 2011, 3:54 pm

      I’m no expert, but 14 hours a week does seem kind of excessive.

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      • avatar

        convexed March 17, 2011, 6:30 pm

        14 hours a week is almost a part-time job.

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    • avatar

      J March 17, 2011, 4:56 pm

      Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyperactivates the appetitive system. Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use-it-or-lose-it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Just as our muscles become impatient for exercise if we’ve been sitting all day, so too do our senses hunger to be stimulated.
      Norman Doidge, M.D., Columbia University

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  • avatar

    J March 17, 2011, 3:26 pm

    I’m sick of people having the attitude that every time a woman is unhappy about pornography use she’s “overreacting”. Pornography harms women, men and children. Check out http://www.thepinkcross.org or oneangrygirl.net to get REAL facts about the effects pornography is having on men and the way sex workers are treated.

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    • avatar

      J March 17, 2011, 3:27 pm

      also, check out Pornland by Gail Dines.

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    • avatar

      anna728 March 17, 2011, 10:27 pm

      I think there are legitimate concerns to pornography like you said, but in the case of this particular letter I don’t think the porn was a big problem.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 March 17, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Good advice guys! Sometimes it was hard for me to figure out my fiance, because it seemed like I was the one initiating sex 90%. It made it seem like I was the only one who wanted it, and it made me back off. Then I learned to pick up some subtle hints that meant she wanted to get after it, and it has been getting better. I’m still not the best at picking up those hints, but I’m learning!

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    • avatar

      LSS86 March 17, 2011, 3:50 pm

      I think in most relationships, there is always a compromise on the amount of sex to have. [note: about to make a generalization!] Very often, the man wants to have sex more often than the woman does. Let’s say the man wants to have sex 5-6 times a week, but the woman only wants to have sex 3-4 times a week. The woman will probably oblige her boyfriend and have a bit more sex than she would like, and the man will probably accept that he might not have quite as much sex as he would like. In this scenario, the man will initiate sex nearly all the time, because when he doesn’t initiate, it’s a chance for the woman to take a night off sex, so she won’t initiate it either. [end generalization.] It doesn’t have to be the man wanting more sex and the woman wanting less, but whoever wants more sex is going to wind up initiating more often.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 17, 2011, 4:06 pm

        Yeah that is a really good point, and that has happend before. At first it seemed like I was either initiating it, and when I wasn’t were weren’t having sex that I felt that maybe she wasn’t as attracted to me as she was when we first starting dating. We ended up talking about it, and I’m very glad we did, because things have changed for the better, and it makes you feel good when the other person lets you know they want, and enjoy it too. We have a little less sex now, but it is a good comprimise what we have going on now. It is definitely key to talk things out before things go to far, and people ar unhappy.

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  • avatar

    J March 17, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Pornography is a marketing device for sex trafficking: It normalizes degradation & violence as acceptable an inevitable part of sex, & uses bodies of real women & children as objects. The difference between pornography & erotica is clear in the roots of the words themselves — porne=female slaves, eros=love. So pornography, like rape, is about violence & domination, not sex.” Gloria Steinem, 2006

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    • becboo84

      BecBoo84 March 17, 2011, 3:55 pm

      No one said anything about child porn. I think we’d all agree that’s a gross human rights violation.

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    • Heather

      Heather March 17, 2011, 4:28 pm

      Wow. Really? As a victim of sexual harassment, that you’re equating rape to pornography is hideously insulting.

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      • avatar

        J March 17, 2011, 4:54 pm

        http://www.oneangrygirl.net/myth3.html < 12 studies directly pornography use to violence against women/children
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19862768 < another government sponosred study directly linking pornography to violence against women

        As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence you not seeing the direct link between sexualized violence/sex as a commodity (aka pornography) and violence towards women (thoe ones in porn films being violated) is sickening and speaks volumes about today's society

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        elisabeth March 17, 2011, 9:56 pm

        I understand that you (J) feel strongly about this subject, but starting multiple comment threads seems forceful, and everything after the first like an afterthought. I’m not sure why these couldn’t all be combined in one comment?

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      • avatar

        RoyalEagle0408 March 18, 2011, 12:54 pm

        I really hate when people tell victims how they should feel.

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      • avatar

        Golden_Key March 18, 2011, 1:17 pm

        I wish I could thumbs up this a thousand times. Thank you!

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        Golden_Key March 18, 2011, 1:19 pm

        Oh and just to be clear, I was referring to your comment, RoyalEagle0408.

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    • avatar

      _jsw_ March 17, 2011, 5:18 pm

      @J: The horse is dead.

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    • avatar

      anna728 March 17, 2011, 10:35 pm

      J, not only do I think you are highly overstating the negative effects of pornography, the points you are making are also completely different than what the letter was about.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com March 17, 2011, 4:04 pm

    4-5 times a week?! Just wanted to say it sounds like you’re doing great to me! In fact, I’m jealous!

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  • avatar

    spaceboy761 March 17, 2011, 4:11 pm

    It’s possible that he was still looking at porn just as much while you were doing your best impersonation of rabbits. Twice a day isn’t very sustainable, and 4-5 times a week is still a lot. Most relationships lose their frequency of sex over time anyway, so it’s possible that this has nothing to do with porn.

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  • avatar

    maynard March 17, 2011, 4:27 pm

    I would agree with most of the guys that if you want more sex, you have to initiate it. As a girl I love feeling wanted (ie when the guy initiates it) because it makes me all sexy and hot, but at some point you gotta realize that he would probably like to feel that way too. And, if you’re not opposed to it, I’d let him know you’d be down for bringing some porn into the bedroom to watch together sometimes to make his porn watching a partially shared activity, which could also increase your sexy-time frequency.

    Though I think a lot of (or just some?) guys compartmentalize sex and porn. I knew some guys in college that said they would be studying and just decide “eh. I think I’m gonna whack off right now.” do it, then get back to work. Doesn’t at all mean he’s any less into you or taking away from his enjoyment with you.. it’s just something he does as an aside, perhaps.

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    • avatar

      elisabeth March 17, 2011, 9:58 pm

      As a girl, it *is* great to feel wanted. But it can be equally as sexy to feel like you have the ability to turn him on! Initiate it!

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  • Heather

    Heather March 17, 2011, 4:32 pm

    I also agree with the 4-5 times a week point-I know frequencies are different for everyone, but personally I think that’s a really healthy amount. I would think if you’re doing it twice a day you would get burnt out on it (and lets be honest here, there is such a thing as too much sex).

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  • avatar

    vizslalvr March 17, 2011, 4:49 pm

    I don’t know about other people, but I know that personally, there are times I prefer to pleasure myself over having sex with my fiance. We have sex 5-7 times a week and I enjoy every minute of it, but once in awhile it’s nice to bust out the old vibe or my hand and get myself off in a few quick minutes and go to bed without the rigmarole of sex.

    Maybe the OPs boyfriend feels the same way, and uses porn (as the vast, vast majority of men do) when he just wants to indulge in some self-love. Barring that, I agree that the OP needs to be initiating if she wants sex more often and communicating her needs, wishes, and desires like an adult.

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  • avatar

    SGAC March 17, 2011, 4:52 pm

    I would like to point out that LW is 26, and technically has not reached her sexual peak yet, while her BF is approaching his 30s, and may be at the beginning phases of ending his sexual peak, thus the change in their sexual frequency. Also, I don’t think it’s fair to stereotype that all men are willing to have sex all the time, no matter what. The BF’s libido could not be there when she gets home because he may have some stressor or frustration on his mind, like an incident at work – we shouldn’t immediately assume that his sexual needs are already satisfied through porn. So although LW can try to initiate the sexy-time herself, he may actually not be in the mood for it, thus HIS lack of initiatiation. In any event, the LW owes it to her BF and herself to talk about the frequency changes of sexy-time as well as taking the sexual lead every other day. 🙂

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  • avatar

    heidikins March 17, 2011, 5:07 pm

    @Greg Thank you for your response, and for the link to that article. Seriously, thank you.

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    • avatar

      Natasha Kingston March 17, 2011, 5:55 pm

      Yeah, that article was really fascinating and I have experienced this behavior a lot more in the last few guys I dated before getting married. Even my husband, unfortunately; I forwarded him the article, too.

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  • avatar

    AKchic March 17, 2011, 6:37 pm

    4-5 times a week? Boo hoo for you sweetie. If you want more sex you need to take off your big girl panties and initiate the action yourself.

    You think you have it bad now, wait until there are kids in the picture. I’ve got four of them under 11. I’m lucky if I get it once a month. Granted, we do have the opportunity more than once a month – we’re just too damned tired!

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  • avatar

    anna728 March 17, 2011, 10:42 pm

    I am not sure why the LW thinks there is a correlation between her boyfriend’s porn and the decrease in sex. Both his occasional porn viewing and the decrease in sex as the relationship progresses sound pretty ordinary to me, and unrelated. It didn’t sound like he had suddenly started watching tons of porn in the same time frame as their sex became less frequent- he’s probably had similar habits all along, she just wan’t looking on his computer before. I don’t really think there’s much of a problem here.

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  • bittergaymark

    bitter gay mark March 18, 2011, 12:43 am

    It’s funny that while I think we all gave the girl solid advice, we were all but completely overshadowed by hilariously pornophobia…. Eh, it proves my opening line, I guess.

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    • avatar

      Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich March 18, 2011, 2:06 am

      Its OK, Bitter Gay Mark, this isn’t Savage Love. But some of us still love considerate, moderate consumption of porn.

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    • Heather

      Heather March 18, 2011, 12:21 pm

      This is totally unrelated bitter gay mark, but I love your picture. The umbrella on fire? It’s awesome.

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      • bittergaymark

        bitter gay mark March 19, 2011, 3:47 am

        Thanks, Heather. DON’T try that at home. I shot that late one night when I was felt like my entire life was going up in flames… 😉 Anyway, it was a tricky photobooth adventure on my ibook. Needless to say, I burned through a lot of umbrellas… Oh, and it was high comedy when I set off the buildings’ smoke alarm at four in the morning… Whoops.

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  • avatar

    MAC2011 March 18, 2011, 8:52 am

    4 or 5 times a WEEK….WOW

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  • avatar

    Heather Girl March 18, 2011, 9:47 am

    I had a boyf that was into porn, AND into me. It never ruined his libido, just made him think he was Ron Jeremy. Once I caught on to his hobby, I was out the door.
    While everyone thinks “oh guys are just into porn”, that doesn’t mean that they just get a free ride to stare at it all day with a bottle of lotion, ya hear me?

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  • avatar

    lee March 18, 2011, 5:21 pm

    I completely agree with Art.

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  • avatar

    Sal August 14, 2017, 11:44 pm

    What men need to realise is that there’s a growing realisation among women that if they feel justified in meeting their sexual and visual needs through other women in porn then we women are entitled to meet our emotional needs through other men too . SO long as there’s no touching or sex it’s all fair . And trust me we will keep it just as secret as you men keep your porn 🙂
    What’s good for the gander and all 😉 …..

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