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excuse me, can you please stop surfing for porn?
what's the appropriate measure for xxx?
by alex b (@Lexistential)

A memory haunts me, one from eight years back. I'm 27, and sitting in the dark with a 45-year-old guy. Much as I'd like to recall it as a lovely instance, it's the last civil date we have with one another. Knowing our end is imminent, we behave pretty well.

We're at the movies, watching Auto Focus with Greg Kinnear. I had chosen it on the basis of looking seemingly light-hearted; as Bob Crane's sordid life is revealed onscreen, I figure out otherwise.

And, so does my date. The deeper the film delves into Crane's sex secrets, he sits ramrod straight, staring at the screen without noticing that I saw him do so. His evident "a-ha" moment led to my first grasp of the eventual truth: like Crane, my date was a porn addict.

After watching the movie, I cited my date's similarly relevant behavior to him, and he confessed that I had figured him out. Hearing him say so didn't make me feel any better; though it was nice to know why he spent long nights on the Internet watching anything and everything, and was so sexually aloof to me, it felt like a hollow victory. I felt relieved that this relationship wasn't my fault while despising him for subjecting me to a totally unprecedented level of sordidness.

Eventually, we broke up for the last time. And, I chose to move to New York. As I acclimatized myself to Manhattan's noise, trains, and general boisterousness, the memory of my date cast a shadow. Whenever I met a new guy, I tried not to feel afraid, or paranoid that he too was a porn addict. And, I bolstered myself with a promise: I would simply never allow myself to get involved with someone like him again.

I didn't know that teaching myself to spontaneously change the sky's color would have been an easier task, but that promise comforted me in the time I needed it.

It's now, eight years later, that I've come to accept that porn is an inevitable part of the package when it comes to meeting a new guy. From a stack of "for-the-articles" Playboys to a convenient DVD stash or bookmark list, I take it for granted that porn in a guy's bedroom is as common as beer in the fridge. And, though my former date brought on a temporary phase where I refused to remotely acknowledge porn, I've grown at ease with it enough to think that a guy who isn't into it would be a strange, fucked-up novelty of repression.

And, I've also come to understand that my personal promise can't protect me from another secretive person. Though I swore otherwise, one of my recent relationships carries similar signs to the one I sought to never repeat: long nights on the Internet, a fairly generous DVD stash, numerous iPad bookmarks, and noticing he seemed more interested in sex if it was a question of reenacting porn instead of emotional engagement. Though this relationship didn't wreak any of the havoc of my previous one, I experienced enough deja vu to wonder when enough is enough.

Unfortunately, I don't have a set of definitive answers, no handy universal standards to write up as a rule book. I only know that, in the course of growing more involved with someone I'm dating, I consider it unacceptable to be prioritized against a free video clip on the Internet. I generally think I shouldn't have to worry about whether my prospective Mr. Right is concealing a secret life where porn, AdultFriendFinder.com, and a possible transsexual fetish are the lead actors.

But, I do worry. I live in a big city where access to porn can be accomplished within a mouse click or DVD purchase. And, I take it for granted that I don't know everything on first sight, that people have their secrets and will only share them when they're good and ready to. Though I no longer believe that every potential Mr. Right is a secret porn addict to the extent of my former date, I do think there's a chance that my everyday prospects are hip-deep in their own porn infatuations, ones they'd prefer to keep hidden from me, and some they even ritualize to the point of treasuring their own private time instead of sharing it.

Ultimately, if I'm fortunate enough to click well with somebody again and become more deeply involved, I hope that he won't hide his fantasies. I hope that he shares them with me, for I'm certain that if he does, the experience of fulfilling them together will be amazing. For now, I play my cards cautiously; I'm no longer a 27-year-old girl willing to please for the sake of dating just anyone, and a little more savvy at 36. I've been lucky enough to have had sex with someone emotionally engaged with me, and hope that I'm able to do so again.

After all, I'd like some happier memories. And, I'm ready to share.


An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.

more about alex b


could i do big love?
a take on polygamy
by alex b
topic: general
published: 6.30.06

words to a stubborn alcoholic
a necessary dose of tough love
by alex b
topic: general
published: 9.19.11


tracey kelley
11.15.11 @ 12:13p

Hm. No dudes weighing in on this. Interesting. :D

alex b
11.15.11 @ 2:16p

Yeah. Makes me think of the time I got sent in to clean the adult section of my comic shop: the guys stopped reading Horny Biker Sluts so fast they skittered out. Fast. Like cockroaches :-D

lucy lediaev
11.16.11 @ 1:04p

This is a very common addiction--especially among older men, who would be the last to admit a problem.

alex b
11.17.11 @ 8:15p

Perhaps so, but I think it can become a problem for any guy of any age at any time. All he'd need is an Internet connection.

And, I think people should be mindful. Porn addiction gets underestimated/written off as trivial as often as it's concealed. After all, it's not a drug like pot or alcohol. And unlike gambling, it wouldn't hugely affect the finances (unless it turns into funding strippers or escorts, which is a different arena).

jeffrey walker
11.23.11 @ 10:11a

the issue is that the problem with porn could be addiction; it also could well be your personal problem foisted onto him.
what is appropriate porn level? find a balance. one idea is, don't turn porn into a "negative" you attribute to your partner always being nefarious. deciding things about a person you don't like is a good way to get a list of stuff you hate, when instead, some of those things can be made positive.
example: on a night he's excited and your not, encourage him to use porn to release. you get a relaxed partner, with no effort by you, and your both happy.
on nights he's not into it and you are, maybe flip on some of his fav. porn while you get into something sexy. then, take some control when he's hot and bothered.
if he come to you, its win-win.

jeffrey walker
11.23.11 @ 10:12a

if he does not, (i.e., porn is more interesting than you), well, NOW you might have a full blown problem.
but, if you treat all cases of porn as "bad", you will very likely end up with your partner 'preferring to keep it hidden', as you suggest, so as to simply not offend.


alex b
11.25.11 @ 2:46p

Striving for balance is something I agree with, and given my own unorthodox set of experiences, I am absolutely open to working towards one with a prospective partner. Moderating porn together makes for fun play.

I don't see porn as an inherently bad thing, nor do I treat all cases as "bad." And I'm not one to pitch a fit over a stack of Playboys. But, when I meet someone who considers an Internet habit more important to maintain versus actually communicating (or who chooses the stack of Playboys over me), then we have an issue.

jeffrey walker
11.26.11 @ 4:50p

There is also a line between porn surfing, and then, chat room - whatever that would be called. If the partner is fantasizing over photos, that is one category -- if the partner is interacting with other parties, that is another issue entirely.

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