Pornography and Trust:
Men typically start using pornography when they’re teenagers. For many men, this usage continues into their adulthood, even when they’re in an intimate, sexual relationship with another adult. However, no matter how close or intimate the relationship is, men typically find it almost impossible to talk about pornography. They don’t want to talk about pornography and trust (hope!) their partner’s won’t ask.
There’s something about this which is really puzzling. For many men, their partners are someone who they open up to and show their vulnerabilities to. Their partners get to see them at times of their greatest triumphs and their greatest despair. Men can show themselves to their partners in tears and in desperation, in success and failure.
And yet, even for men who do this, they often can’t let their partner know about the pornography they like to watch, or even that they use pornography. In the absence of this, women are left to make their own assumptions about their partner and pornography.
The feared reaction
In my experience, part of this stems from a fear about how their partner will react. They are concerned that their partner will see their pornography use as infidelity or a betrayal. This is pretty understandable; many partners do find that they are strongly affected by men’s pornography use. For them, pornography is just the same as a man having sex with someone outside of the relationship. For many partners, it’s about trust.
Even though their man might not see it this way, for some partners the use of pornography is something that can’t be forgotten or forgiven.
When porn is allowed
But some men have different experiences. Some men have partners who don’t particularly mind them watching pornography. Their partners may not particularly like it, and they may not watch pornography with their man, but they find it tolerable. These men have a freedom to watch pornography, but even then, some men find it very difficult to tell their partners what they like to watch, or even show their partners what they’re interested in.
The tailored sex life
Why is this? Most likely, it’s the very thing that draws men to pornography and keeps them there. This is the idea that they can have a sex life which is perfectly tailored to be exactly what they want. However, the more men tailor their pornography viewing to their fantasies, the more secret it becomes. This tells us that it’s the fantasy itself – the inner life of the man – which is so hard to reveal to his partner.
For a man to tell their partner about what they actually want from sex is a huge risk, and pornography never asks them. Pornography just delivers it.
Pornography and trust
This is one of the biggest things that men face giving up when the give up pornography – a safe place where they can ask for what they really want without fearing the reaction of their partner. When men give up pornography, they feel they’re asked to give up this safe place.
The irony of this is no matter how open and accepting their partner is, trusting enough to reveal themselves is very hard. It seems like there are issues concerning pornography and trust on both sides.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about masturbation – is a secret, or just private?
– Tim Hill
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