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Sensitive Guy

September 25, 2003

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My boyfriend looks at porn and it freaks me out. It's not because I'm jealous, but because I'm insecure. I'm sure many of those girls are more attractive than me. In general, Dan, you've been really insensitive toward people (girls, I guess) who feel strange about porn. I think that was unnecessary because you have to see, even if it is flawed, where we are coming from. Any words illuminating this interest in porn would be helpful in my getting past this.

Average Girl

All men look at porn--men with hot girlfriends, men with dumpy girlfriends, men with 10 girlfriends, men with no girlfriends. The handful of men who claim they don't look at porn are liars or castrates. Tearful discussions about your insecurities or your feminist principles will not stop a man from looking at porn. That's why the best advice for straight women is this: GET OVER IT. If you don't want to be with someone who looks at porn--if you can't handle it, AG--get a woman, get a dog, or get a blind guy. I'm sorry if you think that's insensitive--no, wait: I'm not sorry. I sincerely believe that "Get over it" is the best possible advice for women bothered by porn. While men shouldn't rub their female partners' noses in the fact that they look at porn--that's just inconsiderate--telling women that the porn "problem" can be resolved though good communication, couples counseling, or a chat with your pastor is neither helpful nor realistic.

But, hey, you want compassion, AG, and compassion you're going to get: I sent your letter along to David Loftus, author of Watching Sex: How Men Really Respond to Pornography.

"Her letter is sweet," says Loftus. "Unlike other women, she admits to her own insecurity instead of attacking her boyfriend. It is common for women to think their men are comparing them to the gals in porn, but believe me, we don't. Men are much simpler than that: We enjoy looking. When we regard a passing Porsche with awe, it doesn't mean we really want to own one or that we hate our little Honda." So you're a Honda, AG--I hope this compassion stuff is making you feel better. Moving along, Loftus wonders why women who feel insecure about men looking at porn don't feel insecure when their men leave the house. "The women he sees on the street every day," says Loftus, "are far more accessible than the ones on the page, his VCR, and computer screen. But it's a lot of work to get to know someone new, and we tend to like our significant other for a host of reasons besides mere looks."

My boyfriend and I haven't had sex in a couple of months. We have been together for over a year, and he wants to get married. We used to have a lot of sex--good sex. And no, I haven't suddenly become a fat, ugly sow who is lousy in bed. He enjoys looking at porn sometimes, and his library of porn tapes contains over 50 videos. He doesn't watch them often, but I have always found his interest in porn obnoxious, especially now that we're not having sex. What is going on here?

Going Crazy in Portland

"There are so many things that affect frequency, from overwork to depression," says Loftus. "Before we go blaming pornography, it's important to know where his head is at: How does he feel about the frequency of your lovemaking? Does he have any theories or solutions? And does he expect (and more important, want) the sex situation to improve after marriage? If you haven't discussed these issues with him, you need to get on it right away. And don't mention porn. That's an easy excuse--a red herring--that can sidetrack the discussion to the detriment of deeper, more important issues."

A few months ago, my fiancée found some of my porn videos and threw them out, telling me how much they upset her. We've been dating for six years; as of two years ago I have been officially banned from going to the strip club with my friends. I should also mention that whenever an attractive woman walks by, I have to look at the floor for fear that a stray glance will enrage my fiancée. Her take is that looking at other women borders on cheating. She cried and cried this evening, sobbing that she doesn't understand why I need to so much as look at other women, saying it makes her feel like I'm not satisfied with her. I feel that pornography isn't cheating; if anything, it probably prevents a lot of men from cheating. By the way, my fiancée is a beautiful girl with a great body, so I can't understand how low self-esteem is such a factor. Any suggestions?

Porn Controversy

First, a little insensitivity: You would have to be an idiot to marry this insecure, inconsiderate bag of slop. She throws your stuff away? You can't look at a pretty woman on the street? That's the sort of crap you squelch before you marry someone, PC, unless you're really looking forward to that first divorce. If you love her and want to marry her, do her the favor of leveling with her: Of course you're not satisfied with just one sex partner--no man ever is! Men aren't wired for monogamy. Period. It's one thing for a woman to ask her man to make that commitment and be faithful; it's quite another for that woman to ask her man to pretend that he's not even remotely interested in having sex with other people--to pretend, essentially, that he isn't a man. But the true measure of a man's love isn't that he doesn't desire others, PC, but that he doesn't act on his desire for others. If your fiancée can't see that, well, then she has no understanding of men's sexuality and, consequently, no business being in a relationship with a man.

Once more, for emphasis: I wouldn't marry this woman if I were you. If you must marry her--if you love her and stuff--then you'll have to do what millions of other men in your shoes do: Tell the wife what she wants to hear, hide the porn, and pray you don't get caught.

And now for a little compassion from Loftus: "Pornography shocks a lot of young women because they don't understand the role it plays in many men's lives. Tell your girlfriend that you aren't comparing her to the women in porn (you aren't, are you?), so it's not an expression of dissatisfaction with her. It's just another way of expressing your sexuality. But if your girlfriend's mind is made up about this, if she isn't willing to listen to you, then maybe you should think about whether this relationship is worth the constraints she insists on putting you under." Which is Loftus's compassionate way of saying you would have to be an idiot to marry this insecure, inconsiderate bag of slop.


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Comments (25) RSS

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OMG, this artcile was what i needed. Thank you! Im a cute, with great boobs & butt but im a little insecure. My man likes porn. hell, i like porn too but sometimes its hard not to compare. This made me see it in a different light. I do understand no matter who a man is with, even if they got to make their own "weird science" version of their perfect female...they would still look at porn. Sometimes for me it is hard because my boyfriend says he has a semi-low sex drive yet looks at naked women and porn quite often. I get you men are visual, i respect that but it doesnt mean its easy for us women. We want to be your sex kitten. My boyfriend tells me 50 times a day im hot, sexy, beautiful etc. but sometimes when hes home and i think he may be having a meeting with rosey palm I cant help but think..maybe hes bored having sex with me? Maybe hes lazy? I have a pretty good sex drive and could easily have sex 4 times a week. We have sex about once a week. I like kinky things, im open to things....and knowing all this is hard for me as a woman to not wonder "IS IT ME??"

But, when i feel this way im going to read this article to get me through it.

I thank you, and without him knowing of this article i guarantee my bf thanks you too!!
Posted by Anonymous on March 13, 2009 at 12:02 PM · Report this
I'm a guy. I find porn disgusting.
I'm nauseated by cartoon women being brutally used on camera for money, not aroused.
What I like are real-looking women with real sexual needs.
That being said, I DON'T feel compelled to even look at other women when I'm already with one I care about.

Don't claim the entire male gender is the same when in reality you're just an asshole.
Posted by ahamilton on July 25, 2009 at 7:04 PM · Report this
Ahamilton is an idiot, or is looking at the wrong porn (Hentai maybe?) Who are these assholes that don't put out for hot girlfriends with real sex drives??? FUCK! There's some real douches out there...
Posted by Rosy's_Main_Man on August 3, 2009 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Gotta agree, Ahamilton is a brainless douchebag whose knowledge of porn seems to consist solely of weird anime.

Don't claim a perfectly normal guy who looks at other women and even GASP looks at porn is an asshole. If you want to see an asshole, look in the mirror.
Posted by tghgerkugrhu on August 29, 2009 at 4:15 PM · Report this
hi and respect to all, knowing you
will all bash me in a few minutes.
i have wresteled with this alot. i
am not a feminist im a humanist?lol
but its like guys have this built in
excuse to get away with anything regarding
to alack of self control when it comes
to anything sexual. i am a tit for tat person
, whats good for the goose, if u cant beat em
join em. i am extremely fair. but it seems when
you guys get the tables turned its not so harmless
afterall. i just say most men are ruled by their penis
and given an excuse to not even try to think
about how it affects thier partner. i think if i wouldnt
do something with them in the room i shouldnt be doing it
and thats a good way to exhist and promote trust
and security for both sexes. its called restraint
differemt people have different levels of tolerence.
i always just think how would it make me feel. guys arent as
cool when they are with someone that acts n thinks
like men think they r entitled to and "need" to.
Posted by karmacheck on September 24, 2009 at 8:03 AM · Report this
^ WUT?
Posted by nubbin on October 16, 2009 at 4:16 AM · Report this
@1 "We want to be your sex kitten."

I must say, in my experience you (women) really don't. Maybe I've just been with all the wrong women. I do believe there are women out there, somewhere, with active sex drives that could match mine (kind of high, I guess. 4x a week sounds practical). I've just never met one and sex is always a huge issue in my relationships. I try hard not to assume the whole gender is the way, but sometimes I do feel like I'm seeing a pattern.
Posted by TacoJohn on October 21, 2009 at 6:39 AM · Report this
TacoJohn, are you perhaps quite young and meeting "women" at church camp? Oh, and 4x a week is not so high.

That said, I like porn and if my boyfriend didn't like looking at naked women (print and video only) and pretty women on the street I might worry a little. That doesn't mean I don't get insecure but after being a jerk and feeling like a jerk about it, I no longer blame my boyfriend for my issues.
Posted by Silentkid on October 21, 2009 at 10:48 PM · Report this
Sorry TacoJohn, I just reread your post and I realized I misread it the first time. Guess I just felt like being snarky and I am sleepy.
Posted by Silentkid on October 21, 2009 at 10:56 PM · Report this
Wow. I guess...I'm in the minority in women? I look at a lot of porn and I just sort-of assumed that everyone did...
I'm with Silentkid - if your boyfriend doesn't EVER look at naked women? that's a little odd.
Oh and ahamilton - you are an arsehole. What's more, you're a self-righteous arsehole. "oh no! I don't look at porn! I'm perfect! You're all freaks!" please. if you don't find porn a turn on, don't watch it, but don't act all high-and-mighty about it. Also, I don't love the anger you displayed at porn stars. Frankly, it was a little scary in the don't-want-to-meet-you-in-a-dark-alley kinda way.
Posted by PornLovingWoman on October 25, 2009 at 6:03 AM · Report this
@Silentkid You are forgiven. I'm 28 and married. I have had the problem of uneven sex drives in every significant relationship I've been in. I say 4x/week is "practical" because we have three kids and busy lives. I want more, but even if my wife had the same sex drive I do, it just wouldn't happen. But as I said, I really don't want to believe that all women are like my wife and previous girlfriends. I would love nothing more than to be wrong about this. But based on what I've encountered, the statement "we want to be your sex kitten" just isn't true.
Posted by TacoJohn on October 25, 2009 at 7:03 AM · Report this
My observations echo those of Tacojohn. I have had two marriages and many long term relationships in my 45 years and I don't claim to have a high sex drive, but it was certainly higher than 90% of the women I have partnered with. Of all the women I have been with only one truly wanted to be my sex kitten and it did not work out with her in the end. The other woman who wanted to be my sex kitten did so only to get my money so she does not count. I enjoy looking at porn now and then, and observing the beauty of women that I cross paths with. It has never made me want to be unfaithful to my partner. Dan had it right, if you are insecure as a women about these things, then work on it. Do not beat your man over the head with them like PC's gorlfriend is doing, it usually does not solve anything.
Posted by stormblade on October 28, 2009 at 9:22 AM · Report this
50 porn videos? My partner and I have well over 500. No, I'm not kidding. We've ended up 'inheriting' alot from our friends when they converted everything to CD. With the Internet we hardly watch them, but we do watch porn. We're men after all. Thank goodness neither one of us has a problem with the other watching porn. We watch separately AND together. Women should lighten-up. Watch it with your guy. Maybe even try some of the things you see. And that goes both ways. See if he can do some of those porn-star tricks on you!! You might find it educational, you might even find it funny.
Posted by Leftbythesideoftheroad on October 28, 2009 at 5:08 PM · Report this
I LOVE porn. I think most women can get into porn if they are open to it. I'm a lesbian, and all my girlfriends that weren't into porn at the beginning of our relationship have found at least a couple genres that they really like.

Also, for sex drive, it may not be common, but I know a bunch of women, including myself, who will have sex as often as they can get it. In my most sex-ful(?) relationship, we were averaging once or twice a day. Also, some advice: it's the case with most women that having sex and climaxing more often will lead to increased sex drive and increased ease of climaxing. It is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, but if you can get yourself to have sex more often than you think you want to, and make sure that your partner does their best to bring you to climax, you will likely find your sex drive picks up a lot.
Posted by ricaroo on November 2, 2009 at 7:27 PM · Report this
porn is a tool to aid in self induced orgasm, fucking CAN induce an orgasm as well but not always, AND it takes a bit more effort than jerking off, sometimes people want orgasms without all the involvement of fucking, Fucking is still good but alot of times its just easier to jack off and then go on with whatever, porn just makes this go quicker, no one watches porn for ANY OTHER REASON, the people who have an issue with thier significant other jerking off to porn need to get the fuck over themselves...
Posted by jerk it REAL nice on November 2, 2009 at 8:57 PM · Report this
I'm with pornlovingwoman--who says women don't or can't enjoy porn as much as men do? Furthermore, it's been obvious to me since puberty that a man can be utterly in love with his girlfriend or wife and still be physically unable to refrain from staring at every third woman who goes by. And yeah, it's irritating sometimes, but each of us needs to learn to work through it in her own way, or give up on the male gender entirely (not something *I'm* willing to do, I'll tell you!). However, Savage and others--including gals who get upset when their partners ogle another set of boobs--ignore the fact that WOMEN enjoy looking, too! I adore my boyfriend, but I'm not blind...
Posted by peakes on November 3, 2009 at 6:07 PM · Report this
I have never commented before, but after reading the comments I have to. Men reading this: It's long, but worth your time.

On sexually frustrated, married men:

Men who complain that their wives can't keep up with them sexually need to realize one thing: A woman's sexuality is not as simple as yours. While it is possible/probable that you have a higher libido, you also need to understand that basic fuckin' with the same person over a number of years just isnt going to cut it - that is, keep a woman interested in sex with you. You need to engage her body and mind and figure out what turns her on - chances are, it's a fantasy or a concept, rather than just watching your dick get hard while you attempt to solicit unwanted sex from her. Maybe she isnt as excited by the things that used to work. A little bit of mystery and novelty go a long way - put some fucking effort into it if you want to have more of it. ENCOURAGE her to make demands on you in bed. Believe it or not, there are a lot of sexually frustrated married women as well. If your wife has never discussed a lurid fantasy with you - or hasnt in a long time - then she is most likely having them anyway and you're just missing out on all that potential sex. Open up the lines of communication and TRY HARDER.

On men desiring other women:

I am a woman and I look at hot men that I pass on the street and sometimes have sexual fantasies about them. Sometimes my vagina really wants to fuck someone it hasn't been with forever. It's not "a guy thing", it's a "human nature" thing.

On Women and Porn:

'Women can enjoy porn as much as men' is not exactly fair. Porn is made for men, by men, and A LOT of it involves treating women like shit. I'm not passing judgement on your fantasies, just pointing out that enjoyable porn is extremely hard to find in my experience. It's easier to just use my imagination.

Dan never makes much effort to experience a situation from someone else's shoes - female, religious, asexual, or anything else he doesn't understand. So it's not surprising that he reacted to the anti-porn women like he did. I'm fine with that - obviously I read the column anyway and his perspective is usually entertaining and helpful.

But here's another perspective: I am a straight female who makes no demands on my partner as far as his porn consumption. Ever, at all - because I understand why he does it and why men do it. But that doesn't mean that I don't also think about, or understand, some underlying reasons for the female hatred of it - and they are more complex than you might think. "INSECURITY!!" doesn't exactly cover it.

The fact that most men love to look at porn but would never consider dating the women they oogle points to the kind of objectification and double standards that make women uncomfortable. And saying that men don't compare the women in their lives with porn stars isnt entirely true.

Why do you think so many men from my generation prefer their pussy completely smooth/prepubescent? Why has long, blonde hair and huge boobs become the american beauty ideal? Why are fat women so universally reviled in our culture? Why do so many men have this sense of entitlement about having sex with hot women? (Women in porn are almost always hot, and ALWAYS feel like it.)

These things are probably beyond the scope of a sex advice column, but worth noting notheless - especially by guys who are feeling bolstered by Dan's ability to call their uncomfortable girlfriend an "inconsiderate bag of slop".
Posted by Vagina USA on November 6, 2009 at 5:41 PM · Report this
June 18
Ok. I've had it up to here with this:
"Of course you're not satisfied with just one sex partner--no man ever is! Men aren't wired for monogamy. Period."
Believe me, there are plenty of men who are "wired" to be monogamous. And there are plenty of monogamous women, too.
And then there are men and women who are polygamous, or celibate, or monogamous with some partners and polygamous with others.
So, can we just stop with the blanket statements? It is so unprofessional and ignorant.
P.S. I am in a polygamous relationship, and both my fiance and I love porn.
Posted by June on November 7, 2009 at 9:50 PM · Report this
VAgina USA:

"Dan never makes much effort to experience a situation from someone else's shoes - female, religious, asexual, or anything else he doesn't understand."


Unlike you, who essentially tell men that it is their responsibility to unlock female sexuality, in all its unfathomable mystery?

So, following your own advice, could you please make an effort to see your own advice from someone else's shoes: a straight man's.

Guessing you cannot, let me ask how would you feel if I wrote the following:

"Women who complain that their husbands don't satisfy them sexually need to realize one thing: A man's sexuality is not as fucked up as yours. While it is possible/probable that you have a lower libido, you also need to understand that once-a-week sex with the same person over a number of years just isnt going to cut it - that is, keep a man interested in sex with you. You need to engage in it more often the way he wants and figure out what turns him on - chances are, it's about frequency and particular sensations on body parts, rather than you having mystical emotional connections with your inner chakra or whatever some such hormonal BS you are peddling today in your menstrual cycle. Maybe he isnt as excited by the things that used to work for him. A little bit of enthusiam and novelty go a long way - put some fucking effort into it if you want to have better sex. ENCOURAGE him to make demands on you in bed. Believe it or not, there are a lot of sexually frustrated married men as well. If your husband has never discussed a lurid fantasy with you - or hasnt in a long time - then he is having them anyway and you're just missing out on all that potential sex. Open up the lines of communication and TRY HARDER."

Pretty insulting to women, isn't it?

Moreover, that is kind of a bullshit way of dumping responsibility for men's sexual pleasure on women. If men did that shit--and some do--I would forgive women if, instead of obsessing about that sort of immature footstomp, they shrug and go about the business of paying the mortgage, raising kids, running for office, etc.

Here is a thought: if a grown woman in charge of her body wants something from your mate, SHE OPENS THOSE COMMUNICATION LINES!!!! Don't belittle men for not coming to women and asking women what they want. Show some agency and tell them. What you propose is such a goodam cliche, I am astounded a Dan Savage reader is peddling that crap.

We are much better off burying your view that men must dote on women to tease out their sexual nature in the grave next to homophobia and no sex before marriage.
Posted by Snowguy on November 11, 2009 at 7:37 AM · Report this
@ 17 -

"If your wife has never discussed a lurid fantasy with you - or hasnt in a long time - then she is most likely having them anyway and you're just missing out on all that potential sex."

OH YES! Lurid fantasies have got me through much otherwise unexciting, unproductive sex.

@ 19 - we can probably agree that men are generally more interested in having sex than women are, and that women are less interested.

Realistically speaking, the less-interested partner in a relationship is not very likely to start inventing ways to make sex more frequent and wonderful. Because that's the whole point, they're *not* interested, not even in all that potential sex. They're 'missing out' on something they have no interest in having. Like plaque, or a visit from the mother-in-law.

There's a strong natural inertia against putting effort into something, even for your beloved partner, when it has close to zero interest for yourself. Some self-sacrifice is in order in a relationship, but forcing yourself to assume flirtatious eagerness *yet again* when you have no actual desire to do the act itself just makes sex, and feigning interest in sex, a duty and a chore.

It makes better logic that the more-interested partner, if they want more sex, puts in the effort to get the less-interested partner more interested. The more-interested partner is after all the one who has the better chance of getting what they want out of the process.

The more and better quality (and personally tailored) the effort made, the better the return will hopefully be. If a decent effort doesn't magically convert your less-interested partner into the exciting, innovative, frequent-sex-wanting partner of your dreams, then hopefully it will produce a more contented partner who will be happier to meet the more-interested partner's demands, and who will regard initiating sex as something nice to do for their partner, not a deadly dull chore to be done for the sake of the relationship.

To all heterosexual women (and all others) turned off by watching perfect-bodied porn actresses exhibit unholy amounts of lust for whatever the director is having the actor do to them, may I warmly recommend gay porn. It features all the perfect male bodies and organs that you are presumably interested in, and no women doing exactly the same things as you can do, only so much better than you. And the actors can't easily fake the fact that they're having a good time.
Posted by Anononon on November 12, 2009 at 4:33 PM · Report this
I'm a man and I can say that showing respect for my woman and choosing to not look for pornography is much more satisfying than anything gross and unrealistic that could be provided on the internet. Don't forget that porn not only causes you to view your wife or girlfriend as less attractive (whether you admit it or not), but it also DESINSITIZES you, meaning that your real emotions are dampened. Things that used to be important and big to you sink below your growing tolerance. Do you wonder why the violence in movies has been escalating since movies have existed, why there are areas of pornography that lurk in the dark fantasies of abusing and humiliating women? Because without moderation we soon become accustomed to the threshold at which we set our stimulation at. If you would only wait for your partner to be ready and willing for sex, you would understand that feeling like a considerate man is much more rewarding then 10 minutes of self stimulation.
Posted by Anonymous anonymous on July 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM · Report this
The funny thing about your comment is that you used the word moderation. Moderation doesn't mean "I WOULD NEVER AND OTHER PEOPLE SHOULDN'T." Your self-righteousness wins you no allies, and your contradictions lose you respect. I honestly don't care whether you look at porn or not. Why are you so quick to judge people who do?
Posted by ModerationInReality on October 26, 2010 at 12:02 PM · Report this
Okay, how about a 51 year old male addicted to teen porn and nothing else. He is only into spy-cam stuff and masturbating skinny teens who look anywhere from 13 to 18.
His addiction/recreation even caused him to do an illegal act which I will not elaborate on.
How do ya like them apples?
Porn still harmless?
Posted by angrychick on April 3, 2012 at 10:36 PM · Report this
Auragasm 24
I truly envy women who like watching porn. I always start laughing because sex looks so violent and clumsy when I'm not a participant, and I can't be attracted to people I've never spoken to (unless he's a hot actor/artist with a great persona), other girls moaning annoys the hell out of me. I've used it as an educational tool, but never masturbatory aid.

My man watches about 5 minutes of porn a day to whack off when I'm at work. Doesn't make me feel insecure. My problem with porn is that I believe it gives younger guys unrealistic expectations of anal sex in particular, which is practically standard in every video now. All my partners when I was younger tried to stick it up there without asking, without booty foreplay or lube. WTF?! I had no idea straight guys were so into ass these days. They honestly thought I'd just LOVE it that way. Thank goodness for Savage Love or I NEVER would have gotten over that.

Because my vibrator is as threatening to him as those deadeye actresses are to me, I'm willing to make a compromise. I still wish I enjoyed it though :(

I think I could stand to watch some amateurish stuff: slower paced, people who actually care(d) about each other, not making a whole lot of noise. Would it help to make our own tape? Or would it just be like that time I had to treadmill in front of a mirror?
Posted by Auragasm on July 11, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
I'd like to echo what ricaroo said: a woman's sex drive will increase if she gets orgasms frequently, and decrease if she doesn't. If the sex is lukewarm, the need just goes away after a while. So the best insurance against sexless relationships is to take the time to make her come every time, and the best way to make sure she really does is to make her come BEFORE you put your penis in her. For anyone who's worried about a partner's declining sex drive, I highly recommend the book She Comes First. It could save you years of sexual frustration, and maybe a needless divorce.
Posted by Biev on December 9, 2012 at 9:30 PM · Report this

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