Thanks for all the great advice. I've been working each day on telling myself that I am beautiful, desirable, and attractive, with the goal of enhancing my self confidence. It works!
I am three months into a relationship with a great man, who I hope to have a serious future with.
I noticed in today's e-mail, you said, "If you shudder at the sight of your best friend's husband, whose porn and stripper habit came to light after their wedding. . ." This started me thinking about porn. I suspect that my 37-year-old boyfriend has a porn habit, but I haven't asked him about it.
Terry, how much porn consumption is normal? And how should I bring up the subject with my new man? To be honest, porn bothers me. It makes me feel very bad about my body, and makes me feel like I've been cheated on. I know that this is MY problem, not his. I believe that men can't help but look at porn, and its only natural, because they are visual creatures. Or, at least, that's what I try to tell myself to feel better. But, when does a porn habit become a porn addiction? And, how can I discuss this with my man?
Any guidance you provide will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Terry.
You've asked a really important question.
After I received your letter, I saw an interview with Bob Berkowitz, the author of He's Just Not Up for It Anymore: Why Men Stop Having Sex, and What You Can Do About It. He says that some men lose interest in their wives and girlfriends because porn sets up unrealistic expectations about women.
So you're right to be concerned.
But porn is an interesting thing. Some people are really, really into it. Some people aren't. A good female friend of mine has loved it since she was a teenager, but her brother never shared her enthusiasm.
She eventually married a man who adores the stuff (thanks to modern technology, they can pump into their house 24 hours a day). For them, that's probably a good thing because when they're not enjoying their special hobby together, they're fighting. So, you could say porn actually keeps them together.
But, many years ago, my high school Social Studies teacher, Mr. Metzger, pronounced: "Sex on screen is the most boring thing on earth."
Like beauty, porn is in the eye of the beholder.
Whether your boyfriend is hooked on adult entertainment or is just an occasional observer remains to be seen. You can bring up the subject casually. Use my friend, for example: "I heard about this woman and her husband who are really into porn. What do you think about that?"
And see what he says.
My husband, for example, said, "That's great for them, but I really don't want to go there."
Another guy might say, "Hey, sounds like a good time."
Which makes a good opening for you to tell your guy how you feel about it: "Yeah, it might sound like a good time, but I don't know how it would play out in real life. If you watch too much of that stuff, it can set the bar a little high."
(You're telling him--oh, so gently--that porn not only sets the bar high for you and your body issues but for him and his, too.)
Let the conversation go where it will.
Now, in your letter you wrote, "I believe that men can't help but look at porn, and its only natural, because they are visual creatures."
I often wonder why men are tagged visual creatures when it comes to watching porn or ogling other women, and we women are tagged visual creatures when it comes to seeing a cute pair of shoes.
I mean, if I happen to see porn I don't necessarily turn my head. I'm human. But I don't go looking for it. I don't visit porn websites. If it finds me (and sometimes it does), I look. And then I make a decision to stop looking.
My friend may love it, but ultimately, I find it soul-deadening and depressing. If I had to watch it with my husband to keep our marriage together, I'd really rather not be married.
But enough about me.
You're clearly not comfortable with your boyfriend having a serious porn habit (and we don't know that he does!) You have a right to your feelings. The question is, will he respect them?
A lot of relationships fail because people aren't willing to talk about make-or-break issues. They actually walk up the aisle without asking their partners if they even want children, let alone discussing their feelings about porn.
You're smart to ask your boyfriend how he feels. Just remember to do it with a sense of humor.
I hope this helps.