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.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
LisforLeslie October 3, 2019, 8:43 am
LW #1 – If someone cheats on you with someone of the same gender, people always see it as a reflection that they weren’t good enough, sexy enough, young enough, old enough whatever enough. When someone cheats on you with someone of the opposite gender – for some it’s easier because you simply don’t have the items on the checklist. For others it’s harder because you couldn’t possibly be able to scratch someones itch.
Ultimately though – you’re 21. This is likely not your last relationship. At some point either of you are going to need to spread your wings whether it be relationship wise, employment, travel, whatever. All you can do is hope that he treats you with respect and doesn’t go behind your back. If he needs something different – if you need something different, break up and move on.
LW#2 – have you tried asking “What makes you uncomfortable?” and walking through all of the possible complications of air travel and what to do if that happens? Sometimes just being prepared for what is going to happen and what to do when flights get cancelled, delayed or the normal travel nonsense can be managed by just talking through how to solve problems.
csp October 3, 2019, 8:48 am
LW2 – So the first time flying alone is scary. Will her parents help her with bags and tickets before security? Because that is the most daunting thing. I would say to your niece, “Most of the time when we get nervous/excited, it is either because we are about to do something amazing.” Like going up the hill on a roller coaster. She needs to decide if this adventure alone is worth it. If she thinks it isn’t, then don’t shame her. Just say we will do it another year.
Miss MJ October 3, 2019, 8:59 am
LW1: I generally agree with Wendy’s advice, but if your BF’s actually lamenting to you that he’s never been able to explore his attraction to men physically (as opposed to you thinking that based on knowing he’s never been with men), then I do see that as a red flag that he may not be as all in as you are, just as I’d see it as a red flag if he lamented that he really wish he’d taken the opportunity to have sex with another woman besides you. That’s just not something you tell someone you’re in a monogamous relationship with unless you’re setting them up to push for an open relationship or something similar.
LW2: I like Wendy’s advice, but I’d also figure out *why* Carrie is afraid to fly alone. Is it because she won’t have the comfort factor of being around anyone she knows? Is she afraid to be around or interacting with unknown people? Is it she is afraid of flying itself? Is it the process – she’s afraid she’ll get lost/miss her flight/ not know what to do if there’s a delay, etc.? Knowing exactly why she’s nervous might help combat her fears. But, at the end of the day, unless she’s incapable of flying on her own (and as long as her parents are cool with it), I think encouraging Carrie to take this step by herself is a good milestone on her way to becoming independent, especially if she’s planning to go away for college in 2 years.
The first time I flew alone, it was to Europe with a connecting flight to go to school abroad for a year. I knew no one, either on my flight or there, and I was super excited, but also kind of terrified. But I made it and gained so much confidence in myself and what I was capable of on my own. As long as she’s actually capable of doing it, then it’ll be good for Carrie to have that experience in a more controlled setting.
golfer.gal October 3, 2019, 9:17 am
LW1, my views on porn are similar to yours, though maybe for different reasons (most porn is horrifically sexist and it’s actually very, very common for women in the industry to be trafficked, stuck doing the work against their will because no other industry will hire them, and/or have their boundaries violated on set in ways that are deeply disturbing). So you know what I did? I found a partner who held the same views. Trying to control or change someone’s preference to watch porn doesn’t work, it’s controlling, and it’s not ok. There are actually a lot of people out there who, for a variety of reasons, don’t watch porn. The trope that everybody does it and it’s totally harmless simply isn’t true. All this to say, unless your boyfriend wants to stop watching porn strictly for himself, because he has had a change of heart (and it doesn’t sound like he does), trying to force him isn’t going to work and it’s not ok. That doesn’t mean you have to be ok with it, it just means you need to find a partner who’s values align with yours.
Also, the fact that he’s telling you he wishes he had gotten the chance to experience a romantic relationship with a man is telling. It doesn’t mean he’s any more or less likely to cheat, but it may mean it’s time to move on and let him have that experience. The bottom line is you don’t trust him and your values on important issues are not aligned. It’s time to move on.
Anonymous October 3, 2019, 2:03 pm
Um… Considering he ONLY watches gay porn… it’s doubtful any women are being trafficked or otherwise abused in the production of said man on man porn.
Bittergaymark October 3, 2019, 10:09 am
LW1) Your concerns are warranted. NEWSFLASH: Yes, you are a layover on His way to gaytown.
LW2). Forget it. Your boring, scaredy cat niece can sit home in bumfuck. Forever. Take a less fortunate friend on a trip instead. They deserve it more anyway.
Brise October 3, 2019, 8:54 pm
LW1: you are wasting your time with this guy. He shows you and tells you he likes men. Move on instead of trying to police his desires and porn use. How delusional!
LW2: yes, drop it. Why on earth are you so invested in setting your niece in a trip that frightens her when she is so young? She isn’t mature enough for an unaccompanied trip and she has plenty of time to visit you later in her life. Stop pushing. In my opinion she is daydreaming about trips round the world with you. Not serious. As parent I would never allow unaccompanied trip for a minor child, Never! Why do you focus so much on her? Live her alone and let her grow at her own pace.
FYI October 3, 2019, 10:30 pm
I don’t think the LW is bigoted. I think the LW’s intuition is telling her that her bf is gay, not bi, even if he doesn’t quite know it yet.
FYI October 3, 2019, 10:39 pm
LW2, 16 is very different than 18. Just because she isn’t ready to go on this trip now doesn’t mean she won’t be ready for college in two years.
And I think it’s a spectacularly bad idea to conflate this trip with the “any country in the world” trip — as though she won’t “earn” that one until she does this one. That’s not fair to her. A trip WITH YOU ON THE PLANE is different than a trip by herself. She may never be able to fly alone, so …. she can’t go on the trip you promised her? Not fair. She’s afraid, not disobedient.
Bittergaymark October 3, 2019, 10:56 pm
If you can’t fucking fly alone at 16, your life ain’t gonna amount to much.
LadyPants October 4, 2019, 2:21 am
I had a 12 year old stepson who yelled ‘TITTIES’ repeatedly at his middle school substitute teacher. He was condemned to Saturday detention. The rest of our family already had plans, so we dropped him at the bus stop, talked to the bus driver about his itinerary, called another guilty party’s parent to make sure he got off the bus at the correct location (um, his school…). Had Grandma pick him up at the end of his sentence and bring him back to our house. He was so distressed that this became the sole foundation of a real live lawsuit alleging child abuse brought against us by his mother. She lost that one good. This situation is equally ridiculous.
allathian October 4, 2019, 7:03 am
LW1: He wants to watch porn, so he watches porn. He’s not going to stop doing that just because you don’t like it. So if this is a deal-breaker for you, MOA. Let him explore his sexuality with others, men or women, who aren’t bothered by his porn habits.
(For the record, my attitude to porn pretty much matches yours, I’m just happy that my husband isn’t interested in it either. Or if he is, he’s discreet enough about it that I don’t know about it.)
LW2: The first time you fly alone can be daunting. Even if she doesn’t feel ready to do it yet, don’t push her. But you could talk her through what makes her most nervous. For me, it’s going through security.
Skyblossom October 6, 2019, 11:00 am
LW1 Time to move on. You take someone as they are and your boyfriend likes gay porn. That’s who he is. You can’t change him so you either accept the gay porn or you break up. He is who he is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is gay. Gay or not, it is never a good sign when your partner is talking to you about the people they wish they could have sex with. He is already thinking beyond you.
LW2 She is ready to travel alone when she is ready. She may or may not go to a college that requires air travel. Find out what she fears and see if you can directly address that fear. If it is lots of different fears assume she isn’t ready and give a different gift.
It can become complicated when kids travel alone. Is she flying direct or would there need to be a transfer? If there is a transfer what happens if her flight doesn’t go and she is stranded? A teen can’t just check into a hotel. We looked into this for our daughter. US hotels require that you be 21 to check in. Does your niece know how to find her gate? Does she get lost easily? Some teens notice everything and pick it right up and others notice nothing and just following along so don’t learn how to do things. Does she lose things easily? Would she be afraid that she might lose her ticket and be unable to get on the plane? Does she know she can have an app on her phone that will have her boarding ticket? Does she know how to find the way from the plane to luggage when she gets off the plane. If she has always just followed her parents she may have no idea how to get out of the airport. Does she worry that you won’t be there on time? If you got caught in traffic what should she do? How would she find you? Is she afraid of sitting with people she doesn’t know? Is she afraid of being groped by men?
Some kids are carefree and worry about nothing. Others worry about everything. They can think of things to worry about that have never occurred to you. Instead of guessing about what the problem may be you need to ask her what she fears and see if you can help. If she fears lots of things you should give up for now.
You could also fly to her and then come back with her but let her lead you through the airport. You would be with her and if needed point out how you find your way and then wait with her while she worked out how to find her way around. You would only be the back up if she really couldn’t work it out.