Hardcore Curriculum-4/28/09

Questions about issues with porn and interfering in an abusive relationship.

My boyfriend relies on porn to supplement our sex. I am very opposed to porn and think getting off to it is basically cheating on me. What do you think I should do?

Anna: Men like sex, a lot. Much of the time they feel the need to get some, which means they are probably going to masturbate even if they are in a sexually active relationship. If your problem is simply with his watching porn, you are limiting his ability to get off when you’re not available to have sex with him. Your belief that him using porn is cheating is legitimate, and I feel for you, but it creates a boundary for him that is frustrating. It comes down to this: Let him watch porn and masturbate, or have sex more often. He needs to get rid of sexual energy, and if you limit one of his channels for doing so, you should supplement it with another, namely you. When your boyfriend watches porn, he is using a visual stimulant so that he doesn’t have to bother you with his pressing need to get some when you’re not available for it. Consider this before you tell him that you want him to stop “booting up his hard drive” in front of his computer.

Chris: While this seems like a classic case of either “put up or put out,” the real issue at hand is incompatible sex drives. He wants it more often and you don’t. Your sexual relationship is not the most substantial part of your relationship with your boyfriend, but it still remains an important facet of intimacy. You should not feel forced to do something you are unwilling or unable to do in the name of a relationship; however, you need to talk to him about your feelings on his porn use. Maybe he would be willing to cut down so you can both explore different options (e.g. phone sex), which would fulfill his sexual drive without you having to “put out.” At the end of the day, make sure you both are comfortable with your sex life, and only then should you deal with how often you do it.

I have two friends who are dating each other, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call it an abusive relationship, it isn’t going well at all and hasn’t been all year. He is very controlling, and it is affecting almost every aspect of her life, and then he turns around and pretends that he is the victim. I’ve tried to stay out of it as much as possible, not only to preserve my friendship with both of them but also because it’s fundamentally none of my business. But at the same time I can see how detrimental this situation is for everyone involved. What should I do?

Anna: Abusive relationships aren’t only physical. This seems to me like a classic case of emotional abuse, and while it may not be extreme, it seems to be taking a toll on your friend. You may be friends with both of them, but if you see something un-kosher about this relationship, it is your responsibility to inform the wounded party of the reality of the situation. Telling her what to do isn’t any of your business, but showing her what is right in front of her face is certainly your business. Quite frankly, you should also tell her boyfriend what you see going on. He probably doesn’t mean to hurt her and doesn’t realize that he is doing it. Giving him a wake-up call could lead to behavioral changes that could lead to a healthier relationship. Unfortunately, it is likely that he will just lash out at you. Tread lightly, but at the very least, tell her what is going on in your head. Hopefully she will take a hard look at her relationship and do what is best for her.

Chris: Anna is right. While it is not any of your business to directly intervene in their relationship, it is your business to be aware of the harmful aspects of their relationship. Although you are not personally responsible for the actions or the relationship of either of your friends, you owe it to them and yourself to at least bring the situation to light. Just be aware that your offered help might be met with hostility from the both of them. Approach them as a friend who is willing to lend a shoulder. If you are not comfortable talking to them head on, maybe you should talk to somebody who will. Fixing their situation involves only the two of them, but an unhappy relationship destroys more than just the relationship between them. If the two are not right for each other, it is best that they deal with it or end it now, saving themselves a lot of time and emotional pain.

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