I am the first relationship he has had and he says he feels like he missed out on part of his life by never having been with a man, yet he assures me he would never want to be with anyone but me. On the issue of the porn, he broke multiple promises to lessen the amount he watches and he lied and hid what he was doing. I feel betrayed and as if he is cheating on me because he is seeking out men for sexual pleasure. I want to stay with him, but I feel as if he has proven he does not want to be with me through consistent dishonesty and not caring about my feelings.
Is there any advice you can give me? — Afraid He’ll Cheat
I come from the school of thought that people’s porn-watching habits aren’t really their partners’ business (as long as children aren’t involved). You say that porn makes you sick to your stomach, so the obvious solution for you is to not watch it. Why should your boyfriend stop doing something just because you don’t enjoy it? If knitting scarves made him sick to his stomach, would it be fair for him to tell you that you can’t knit scarves? No, that’s absurd! Your hypothetical knitting isn’t causing him any harm, especially if you don’t do it in front of him and it doesn’t cut into your time together. Does his porn habit cut into your time together? Or do you think his porn habit says something about his values that differ from your values?
If you think you two have different/opposing values — and that the porn is a reflection of that — no amount of bossing your boyfriend around is going to change his values. If you worry that your boyfriend is going to cheat on you with a man, whether or not he watches porn isn’t going to change that either. If you think the kind of porn he watches is a reflection of his sexual interests and those interests don’t include you – or women, in general – your telling him to stop watching the porn is not going to change his desires. You can’t make someone promise his way into only being attracted to you and no one else, and you don’t get to feel betrayed by your boyfriend’s being attracted to men when you knew he was bisexual when you started dating him! His dating you doesn’t STOP him from being attracted to men any more than it would make him stop being attracted to other women.
What I think you’re mainly worried about is that your boyfriend is going to cheat on you with a man because he’s attracted to men and has never explored that attraction in a physical way. And, to be honest, it’s a fair concern that he may regret missing a chance to explore that attraction, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to cheat on you any more than someone in his very first relationship with a woman – which he’s in with you – might wonder what being with a different woman would be like. Bisexual people are not more prone to cheating than anyone else, and, frankly, it’s close-minded and kind of bigoted to think otherwise. It’s also utterly close-minded to think of porn-viewing as confirmation of cheating fears. Your boyfriend is with YOU. He is dating YOU. Isn’t that a far more meaningful confirmation of his desires than what he watches on a screen?
I can’t convince you that your boyfriend isn’t going to cheat on you. But I think, deep down, what you fear the most is what you already know to be true: your boyfriend likes men. He’s into men. Maybe *that* is what you cannot stomach. Regardless, if bisexuality, watching porn, and being attracted to anyone other than you is a deal-breaker for you, this is a dead-end relationship and you should MOA.
The sticking point? She’s afraid to fly alone. She’s never done it, and I empathize – the first time I ever flew alone, I was 16. Maybe relevant/maybe not: She has some other socialization issues, and while she’s quite smart and gets high grades, she’s not much of a people person. So we’ve been texting (and speaking in person when I visit her) about her coming to visit, and she’s said she doesn’t know if she can do it. I do my best to be encouraging, offering suggestions to conquer her fears, letting her know I’ll be at the airport as soon as she arrives (alas, due to security I can’t meet her at the gate and she’s 16, which means we can’t get an escort for her). I plan on suggesting that she can call me or her grandmother (my mom, who’s up for it) the minute she clears security and have us on the phone until she boards and after she deplanes, which is a kind of virtual “walking” with her.
So what I guess I’d like to hear from you and others is this:
1) Any advice for encouraging a 16-year-old to fly alone for the first time? There are all kinds of tips to get little kids through airplane rides (this will be about 3-4 hours) but nothing that seems to address young adults.
2) I’m not trying to be pushy with this; if she’s really not ready until 18, then OK. But she wants to go away to college in a few years, and she’s frequently discussed how I promised I’d take her to “any country in the world” (that’s a conflation, but not one I’m against doing) and can’t wait to go. I’ve told her I’m happy to do that, but we have to start simple, like with this trip to visit me. Should I drop it? How do I know the fine line between encouragement toward helping her becoming more independent – and goading her into something that she might be too afraid to tackle now? — Auntie Maybe
The people who would best be able to tell you where the fine line is between encouraging Carrie to become more independent and goading her into something she isn’t ready for are her parents. Have you talked to them about all this? You say that with her parents’ approval you’re planning to make this trip to visit you Carrie’s birthday present, but it’s unclear whether you’ve already gotten their approval or you’re still just planning to seek it. There’s a big difference between the two, and I suspect Carrie’s parents will have some opinions about her readiness to travel alone to see you which would affect whether or not you get their approval.
If you’ve already gotten Carrie’s parents’ approval for this gift and you’ve spoken to them about Carrie’s apprehension of flying alone and they believe it’s time for her to foster more independence and they think this trip is a good opportunity to do that but they don’t know how to encourage her and they don’t have any tips or advice for how you could encourage her — and this is all a collective big “if” — you have a few options. The first option is to talk with Carrie. Does she even *want* to come visit you alone? When she says she wants to travel with you one day and can’t wait to do so, how does she imagine you connecting for the trip? Does she imagine that any trip out of the country will originate at her home base, with you by her side? Have you told her that that isn’t how it’s going to work? What is it about flying solo that gives her anxiety? Is she able to articulate it?
If Carrie can articulate to you that she wants to do this trip and she wants to conquer — or at least bravely face — her fear of flying alone, there are some tips for making that happen. Your idea of having her call as soon as she clears security is a good one. I would also suggest you reimburse her for a purchase of wifi on the plane so that she can text people while on the plane and feel connected and less alone that way. If she struggles with social issues, big headphones may be helpful to give the signal that she doesn’t want to chit-chat. If she has any sensory processing issues, which sometimes goes along with social struggles, noise-canceling headphones would also help with that. Finally, some airlines do, in fact, offer unaccompanied minor services — for a fee — for kids up to 17 years old, even though it is generally not a requirement for kids older than 15. This could be a great step for Carrie toward independence and flying alone, but only if she wants to take it and only if you and she have her parents’ approval. If even the idea of flying with an unaccompanied minor status is scary to her, then the answer about whether she’s ready for such a trip should be obvious and you’d be wise to find a sweet sixteen gift that she’d better appreciate even if it means not enjoying it as much yourself.