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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » boyfriend reads nudie magazines

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Author Topic: boyfriend reads nudie magazines
Meryl Anne
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Hi! My boyfriend and I just got into an argument about him buying nudie magazines. In spite of all the ways my boyfriend has been good to me, the fact that he looks at those magazines makes me feel inadequate. I simply cannot process why he'd feel the need to go out of his way to look at the women in them if he isn't interested in them.

He promised me he won't buy that stuff anymore because I told him it hurts my feelings, but I don't feel right making him do that and honestly, I believe he'll buy that stuff anyway and just hide it from me.

The argument ended at a sort of impasse where we both just didn't want to argue anymore but I still have lots of leftover feelings. I need somebody to talk to and give me perspective or tell me what to do. I tried looking around on the internet for the experiences of other women but I didn't find that helpful because I couldn't relate to the women who didn't feel the way I did. I can't seem to just "lighten up" or "let go" like some of them say women in my situation should. Help?

[ 08-20-2013, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: Meryl Anne ]

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Molias
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I think this article about a partner's use of pornography might be a useful read: On a Boyfriend's Porn, Anger, Healing, & Finding the Way to the Healthy & Whole
The person who wrote that question is coming from a different place than you (I'm not getting the same level of anger from you, for starters), but I think a lot of what Heather says in terms of expectations for partners' sexual feelings and having a chance to pick apart your feelings here could be helpful.

It sounds like your biggest issue with these magazines is that you feel like you don't measure up to the people in them. Do you think there's a conversation you can have with your partner about ways he can show appreciation for you, or maybe you could talk about what in particular might upset you about how women are depicted in the particular magazines he's reading?

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Meryl Anne
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I'd like to take some more time to think about the article. If it's okay I'd like to be able to come back here and discuss this stuff with you afterwards.

My partner is often very vocal about his appreciation for me on many different levels. It just doesn't seem to stop me from worrying that he'll leave me for other women or that he's unhappy with me.

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Molias
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Absolutely, take your time. =)
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Meryl Anne
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So far, what I've taken away from having read it is that it is unethical to expect my partner to change his sexuality for me. That being said, applied to my situation, I think I should aspire to treat my boyfriend's sexuality with more respect.

However, I reflected and found that I feel this knee-jerk aversion to letting him enjoy his habits in peace. When I asked myself why, I came up with the following thoughts:

- I feel like less of a person because he has sexual fantasies about other women or finds other women sexually attractive.
- I feel less valued by him for the same reason and am convinced that he would leave me for or cheat on me with these women or women like them if given the chance.
- I feel like if I let him enjoy his habits in peace, he would either disengage from me and our relationship or he would cheat on me.

I'm going to go ahead and fill in the other sentences in the article. I hope you can help me change some of my unhealthy ideas.

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Robin Lee
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hi Meryl Anne,

So, based on those sentences you filled in, I have a few questions for you.

What do you think would happen if you didn't let him enjoy his magazines in peace? That is, what do you think would happen if you asked him to stop looking at them, continued to ask him if he was looking at them, and continued to tell him your feelings and opinions about this part of his sexuality?

Keeping in mind that what your boyfriend is looking at are pictures and that you are a whole and real person, what do you think these women could offer him that you don't? What do you think you offer him that pictures don't and can't provide?

Where do you think this idea that you're less of a person because your boyfriend finds these pictures attractive and arousing comes from?


There are no right answers here.

I'm asking these questions to help you think more about this.

--------------------
Robin

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Meryl Anne
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I appreciate these kinds of discussions, really. Thank you.

I think that if he didn't let him enjoy his magazines in peace, he would try to stop but ultimately fail because it's been a lifelong habit. He would then resort to lying to me about it.

If I keep asking him he's still looking at that stuff and telling him my feelings and opinions about it, he'd feel irritated and unappreciated, like I've reduced him to that part of his sexuality only.

I'm not sure what the appropriate word for what the women in the pictures can offer my boyfriend is. I just feel like they represent the kind of people he would feel more proud of being with and would enjoy sex more with. So I guess it might be accurate to say that I think they offer him what I believe he (and any other man) actually values.

Since I am a real person, I can offer him my companionship through his life experiences, and the chance to share mine. I can offer him actual physical touch. I can offer him genuine affection and return his affections as well. It might be important to point out that I don't feel like any of these are particularly special, coming from me.

I'm not sure what you mean by where I think the ideas are from. Can you elaborate a little?

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Robin Lee
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Hi Meryl Anne,

I'm hearing in a lot of this that you don't have a very high opinion of yourself in general. I'm getting the sense that you'd have these feelings about yourself, what you're worth, and what you have to offer whether your boyfriend looked at nude pictures of other people or not.

What do you think?

I'm curious about what makes you think that your boyfriend values the same things that all men supposedly value? (Know that the idea that all men value the same thing, and find the same thing arousing, is a stereotype and isn't at all rooted in reality.)

When I asked about where you thought these ideas came from, I was wondering about whether you'd gotten any messages from people that you're less important or if you could think of anything else that would make you compare yourself to pictures in a magazine.

As I said above, I'm getting the sense that a lot of this is about how you feel about yourself, as well as, perhaps, some beliefs about male sexuality that really aren't, again, rooted in reality.

You're welcome for the conversation. We're happy to talk this through with you. [Smile]

--------------------
Robin

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Meryl Anne
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Hey, I just wanted to say that we're going into exam week so I've been preoccupied. But I'm still interested in this conversation. I hope I can come back to it after exams, if that's okay.
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Meryl Anne
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Hang on, before I sign off temporarily, I have a question. The article pointed out that it's not ethical to try to control my partner's sexuality. Is it too controlling if I ask my boyfriend to stop talking to me about some of his fantasies because they make me uncomfortable?
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Robin Lee
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HI There,
it's absolutely okay for you to take this conversation at your own pace. Best of luck with exams!

It's also okay for you to set boundaries with your boyfriend. If not hearing about his fantasies is a boundary of yours that you'd like him to hold, it's good for you to tell him that. This way, he knows what your limits are and can do his part to respect them and help you feel comfortable in your relationship.

You'll just want to be clear that you're asking him not to tell you about the fantasies, not telling him not to *have* the fantasies.

Does this help?

--------------------
Robin

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Meryl Anne
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It helps to know I can do that. I just told him that by all means he's free to fantasize, it just hurts my feelings when he keeps pestering me to do it.
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Robin Lee
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Okie dokie. How did that conversation go?

--------------------
Robin

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Meryl Anne
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Hi there. Sorry I dropped out of the conversation on this one. We've not had these issues for a while because thankfully he's refrained from talking to me about his fantasies.

I decided to come back to this thread, however, because the underlying issues that caused this conflict to begin with (my low opinion of myself) is causing another type of conflict. Specifically, my boyfriend just got mad at me for asking for reassurance from him too often. Asking for reassurance entails asking him if he loves me, if he finds me attractive, etc.

I would say that I do ask for reassurance often enough for it to get tiring. I would even admit that his verbal responses do very little to put them to rest. My self-esteem is bad enough that I even regard his candid positive comments with skepticism. I don't know how else to deal with these feelings of inadequacy, however, so I don't know how to stop. Not telling him I feel insecure feels insincere of me, like I am lying about who I am or what I feel.

I would like to know if it's valid to say that these are not feelings that I should just be able to get over easily (I've been trying to work on my self-esteem for years, but people talk to me like it should be something I can get over whenever I want.)

I would also like to know if there are any coping techniques I can do, and how I can communicate my feelings with my boyfriend without going overboard.

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Robin Lee
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Hi Meryl Anne,

Self-esteem is, I think, a really tricky thing. I don't think that it's something that people just gain by willing themselves to gain it. It's not so simple as flipping a switch and, look, there's the self-esteem.

For how to talk to your boyfriend, I think one way to approach this is to share your feelings with him without asking him to reassure you. That is, you can tell him how you're feeling while owning those feelings as yours, not anything that your boyfriend can or should try to fix for you. How do you feel about sharing your feelings without asking for reassurance? How do you think that would work for him?

You could talk with him, tell him that this is something you're working on, and ask him if sharing your feelings without asking for validation is something that he thinks would be less frustrating for him.


Ultimately, self-esteem is something that has to come from within. Yes, positive input from the people around us helps, but it can't give us self-esteem we don't already have, only boost what is already there.


What sorts of things have you already tried per having a stronger sense of self-worth? Was there a time when your feelings of self-worth were stronger than they are now, or have you always felt as you do now?

--------------------
Robin

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Heather
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It sounds like it also might be a good idea to do some self-reflection here and suss out if you're really in a space where it's right for you to be in an intimate relationship.

That can be hard, mind, when self-esteem is very low, because just being in one, "having" one can feel like a boost. At the same time, having healthy, mutually beneficial intimate relationships when one or more of the people in them has very low self-esteem is generally intensely difficult, for everyone. Having at least decent self-esteem is kind of a requirement for someone being able to be intimate with someone else in a way that's healthy for them and the other person, and that actually works.

I'm also wondering who else you have in your life to talk to about this, and get help with this with? Have you seen a counselor or therapist, for example, who has not just worked with you on this, but provided you a person where it is more sound to talk about your insecurity with, ask for reassurances around it, etc?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Meryl Anne
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I think we've had a handful of situations where I just shared how I felt but he ended up automatically giving me reassurance anyway without me asking him to. Like somehow hearing my usual self-effacing humor or my history of not liking myself (but mostly my appearances) makes him antsy. I do understand that my self-esteem may not be at a healthy enough level for an intimate relationship, but I would like to try a few more things before I seriously consider breaking things off.

I have personally traced my self-esteem issues back to the time when I was bullied from 5th grade to 6th grade (same set of classmates.) It was a tough time for me because I wasn't getting support from my family at home and my friends at the time enjoyed being mean to me as well. To this day I reflexively shy away from people who remind me of the people who bullied me, and I have to constantly remind myself that that time is gone, these are not the same people and I'm a different person now.

I would say that I didn't realize what effect that had on me until I got to college. I have since spoken to two school counselors but the best they could do was point out to me that I have low self-esteem and I shouldn't have low self-esteem.

Most of the work has been based on my own efforts to read about improving self-esteem and trying to apply them to myself. For example, I spent a lot of time in college learning to be more aware of my thoughts and feelings. I've also used what I've learned to push myself to get past negative self-talk and take risks career-wise, allowing me to develop faith in my abilities. I've let myself mend my relationships with my family since that time. Lately I've been using an online program called Mood Gym.

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Heather
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Well, I want to say first that you're certainly not responsible for his responses. In other words, he is, and if he doesn't like how he is responding to these dynamics, then it's on him to also work on changing them, you know?

School counselors generally aren't the same thing as mental health professionals. You can even know from how they responded that clearly, really providing mental health counseling wasn't part of what their job was or entailed, or what they had training to do. That's by no means how a qualified mental health professional would respond.

Might you be open to looking into that ACTUAL help from someone qualified? It's clear you already have some sense of where some of this is coming from, but where it sounds like you're stuck is being able to move forward from there, and that the DIY you have been doing -- from what I can tell -- hasn't been resulting in sufficient progress.

But like I said, too, if you are finding you get super-triggered in a given intimate relationship, or any of them, it also might be worth, too, really trying to honestly evaluate if you are in the right space now for those, period, or if the one you're in is really the right thing for you and your boyfriend right now. That's also one of the things a qualified counselor or therapist could help you evaluate and make choices around.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Meryl Anne
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I did try at one time try to approach an actual pyschologist, but I didn't have enough money and still don't today. It's also not a good time financially for my family.
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Heather
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I understand.

If you'd like to fill me in on what you have access to per general healthcare -- if you're somewhere with national health, or if not, if you have public health or insurance, etc. -- I'd be happy to do what I can to help you see if you might be missing anything per options you have with that but don't know about or realize you could have.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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(I should add that if you're a minor, nor a legal adult, you may have options for free counseling services locally, too, options legal adults don't have.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Meryl Anne
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I don't know a lot about accessibility of public healthcare to a person such as myself. I'm currently a medical student. I am legally an adult, but the way I understand it is that only adults who work full-time have access to public insurance.
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Meryl Anne
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Also, I'm from the Philippines.
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Heather
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Okay. Have you started by asking for information about access to healthcare -- in general -- via your medical school? This is often part of student services nearly anywhere, informing students about their healthcare options, or providing certain kinds of student healthcare directly.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Meryl Anne
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I might need to verify this but I recall that psychiatric services aren't part of the free healthcare we can avail of. However, now that we are discussing this, I have considered speaking to my mentor (our school assigns mentors to us) who happens to be a psychiatrist.
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Heather
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If nothing else, that sounds like the best person to start with, because they also will know what options you have for this care in general! [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Meryl Anne
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Thank you for your guidance [Smile]
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