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Author Topic: One for Heather...
SailorTsukino
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Heather, I really want your opinion (and the opinion of any other experts available) on an issue I'm struggling with.
I've been with my boyfriend for about a year, at first it was long distance and he now rents with me bad only goes to his home every so often to spend time wih family, maintain the house ns garden etc.
We have a very active sex life and are both quite sexually expressive, we use toys and experiment with each other and our sex life is exciting.
After a night out recently we were very late to get home due to transport issues, it was about 4am an I was very tired, we'd both had a drink.
I said that I was too tired to have sex that night and I went to sleep, with the tv on.
I woke up about 20 mins later as I didn't her the tv any more, the screen was still on and my other half was looking at babe statio, I was really offended but my self esteem was already low at the best of times. After a bit of a row I said that it was disrespectful and that he shouldn't have done it, he said he'd never done it like that before and it wouldn't happen again.
He let me use his computer a few months after this and I found a lot of porn videos saved, I honestly don't know how to feel, I feel very insecure, like I'm not attractive or able to give him what he needs.
He and his ex watched videos together apparently and I want to be okay with it, but I don't find it a turn on, we tried it and I just wasn't interested, it was boring, even he said our sex was better than what was going on in the video and that he preferred me to the girl but I still feel so bad about it all. I know for a fact ona lads holiday he saw a live ping pong show with women squeezing things out as well as some other really strange videos online, is his normal?
When I asked him about he vids he sai he only looks at them when he's on his own at home and we can't have sex because it helps to look at something...
What should I do?
I thought about allowing him to video us or making a video for him (I'm 20 years of age and he is 24)
I'm already having cosmetic surgery his year which I hope will help with my self esteem
Should I demand that he stops watching?

I just want someone to help me work out how to feel about it all...

Posts: 54 | From: Ireland | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Hey there. happy to try and help.

There's obviously a lot to address here just based on your post, and, I suspect, probably more that wasn't included.

But I think the best place to start is around some of the things you're saying and thinking around your feelings about porn.

I hear you saying, I think, that if only your self-esteem were better, you'd feel beter about all of this.

While that may be true, someone's self-esteem doesn't dictate how they feel about porn, a partner's porn use, or the way a partner uses or frames pornography.

In other words, it's not like everyone with great self-esteem thinks porn is awesome and exciting, and has no issues with it, and everyone without that level of esteem either thinks it's awful and has issues with it OR, if they do, that those issues must be about their level of esteem.

People who are okay with porn, or some porn, are for all kinds of reasons, and the same is true about people who aren't. It's not just about esteem.

Let's perhaps start with this: if you had your druthers, in a sexual/romantic relationship what would you want and also feel okay about in regard to pornography or other sexual entertainment or erotic material (like say, erotic books, etc.)? Setting aside whatever your partner does and wants now, let's say you're dating someone new, they ask how you feel about porn, what your preferences are, and what is and isn't okay with you. Not just what you'd "allow," but what you would actually want, yourself, and not want, ideally. Let's say you feel 100% able to answer them with complete honesty.

What would you say?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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Robin Lee
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Hi SailorTsukino,

I see that heather has already responded to you, and I hope you don't mind if I chime in as well. As Heather said, there's a lot to talk about here.

I see that you're planning to have cosmetic surgery. Is that scheduled? Have you spoken with a surgeon yet?

I ask about this because studies very clearly show that people who undergo cosmetic surgery don't experience an increase in self-esteem, unless they also seek therapy or other emotional/psychological forms of self-esteem building. Even then, the results in studies of people who had surgery and therapy, compare to those who had therapy alone.

I'll share with you, too, that I experienced serious reconstructive surgery when I was a teenager. It wasn't purely cosmetic in nature, but the expectation was that it would drastically improve my appearance. My expectations were that it would dtrastically improve everything else, that I would become a confident, sparkling, outgoing young woman. My appearance was improved, but nothing else happened, and the resulting depression was--well--scary.

So, I don't know what your plans are for surgery, or what your reasons are, but I wanted you to know that surgery alone will not change who you are or how you feel about yourself.

Would you like to talk about this more, and perhaps talk about alternate or additional (as the choice to get surgery is always yours) processes to boost self-esteem?

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Robin

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SailorTsukino
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I would say I was cool with masturbation but I hate the thought of them looking at other women as it makes me feel self conscious.
I have a good solo sex life too I suppose but the difference for me is that in using toys etc. I don't have the desire to look at other men, I've read some erotica and things but is his under the same banner?
I just feel awful about the idea of him gettin off to someone else :/
You guessed right heather there were things that weren't mentioned, I had a terrible last relationship that was abusive and I have felt more insecure following this, as well as that, I haven't been diagnosed with anything but I experience extreme highs and lows, from dancing around rooms to cryin I. The dark, sometimes I don't even know why really.
This is the first relationship I've been in where I feel like I'm chasing after the guy, his parents had a terrible divorce, with his father having multiple affairs and my boyfriends only previous girlfriend really crushed him when she left him, following an abortion( leading him to not have a girlfriend for years before we started dating. He's very distant, I asked him out after months of us meeting up, he gives me compliments like 'you're nice' and 'lovely' he's never said e loves me or called me beautiful..... He is also on medication that makes him very numb (mental illness)
As per my surgery, I had broken my nose a few years ago leaving it very put of shape, i have wanted the surgery for years, I've thought long and hard about it and I know I want to go through with it as I work in the cosmetic industry and looks are important to me.
A brief note to heather also, I have suffered from eating disorders in the past, although now I'm at a healthy weight but when my self esteem hits rock bottom I feel old habits coming back into play I.e. food hiding, skipping meals, cutting out foods one by one and excessive water or juice drinking

Id be lying of I said I'd never looked at porn, but it never really interested me much, a couple of my friends have said thy have no problem with their men watching, and I just wish I could feel that way too

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SailorTsukino
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I forgot to mention, my insecurities are not only superficial, I havent got muh self worth, I can't take a compliment, when I do well at work I feel like I don't deserve praise or promotions, and when my bf and I argue over his I worry that I'm just a terrible person,
An this feeling can come on in a matter of seconds to the point where it overwhelms and I have to hold back tears, and it can disappear as quickly and I feel over confident, sexual and elated.
I don't know whats wrong with me.

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Robin Lee
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Hi SailorTsukino,

You mention that you've never been diagnosed. Have you spoken with a doctor or therapist about any of this? I'm glad to hear you're at a healthy weight now, but it does sound like some of the underlying emotional stuff is still there. What you describe are some pretty serious and sudden highs and lows.

You ask if your boyfriend's porn-watching is under the same banner as your erotica-reading. You're the only one who can answer that. Thoughts and feelings about porn are so varied (as you can tell by the difference between your friends' reaction and your reaction) that it really needs to be a personal thing. There's often a debate too about whether there's a difference between erotica and pornography. What kind of distinctions do you make between the stories you read and the films your boyfriend watches?

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

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SailorTsukino
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I guess it's that what he's watching is real and what I'm reading is imaginary, like I'm not looking at anyone else's body to get off, my problem is that I don't know if it's something to be upset over or not, I don't want to see my doctor I've even able to deal fine on my own with is and I REALLY wouldn't want anything on my medical records
But him being so cold and distant from me I will admit is a big bit of the problem I mean after a year shouldn't he have opened up a bit more?

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Heather
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I actually would have liked to have heard that 100% honest answer about porn to a potential date be more than, "I would say I was cool with masturbation but I hate the thought of them looking at other women as it makes me feel self conscious."

Can we maybe try again? Skip masturbation: how you feel about masturbation is separate. And rather than saying how them looking at other women -- especially since that's something that isn't just about porn -- isn't something you like, how about saying what you actually do and don't want when it comes to porn and someone you are in a romantic or sexual relationship with.

For example, you say you hate the thought of them looking at other women: setting aside the notion that asking someone to never look at other people and feel something sexual isn't healthy or something we can ask, "hate" sounds pretty strong to me. So, if we're just talking about porn, would you say that you'd ideally want a partner who simply didn't use visual pornography, period? Or....?

I'm doing this because I think figuring out what you'd really ideally want is very important here. So, how you feel when someone does something perhaps tells you some about what you want, but that doesn't actually say if you're okay with porn use or not, and if so, if there are specific contexts, kinds, etc. you feel more or less okay about, etc.

And see if you can set aside feelings of if it's okay to feel however you do or not: you feel how you feel, okay or not. But based on how you feel now, what would you actually want if someone asked and you answered with complete honesty?

Secondly, while we're on honest assessments, rather than talking about what this guy should feel or how he should behave with you, let's look at how you feel about this whole relationship.

Is it what you want? What does it have that you do? What doesn't it have that you want? What are your favorite things about it: what do you just think is awesome about this relationship? What about your least favorite things, or things you think just aren't good at all?

[ 09-06-2012, 12:00 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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(Mind, we can later talk about real vs. imaginary, since in a whole lot of ways, most produced visual pornography really is no more real or less imaginary than, say erotic stories. But I think it's most important we just identify what you really do and don't want first, rather than having talks about porn that might have you feeling like you have to change your mind about however you do feel now.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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SailorTsukino
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He looks at amateur porn online too and thats real IMO, I know some of the staged stuff it a bit comically fake.

I gues my honest answer heather would be that I really don't like the thought of my other half having to look at it, I would hope that I alone was enough for them in that way, but I know that realistically the majority of men do look at things like that.
I also know that it wouldn't really be my place to tell him not to watch it despite wanting him, after all I have vibrators that I use myself and me having a problem with the porn would possibly be equal to it in principle.

My problem I guess is that I just don't know how to feel an the confusion of it all is getting me down, after all I feel like if he's so into looking at other naked women he'd prefer any of them over me or he wouldn't be looking at then when he already has me, if you get me?

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Heather
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Well, it is and it isn't. Even with amateur porn, people still edit. They still choose what to show and choose not to. They still do most, if not all, of their consenting and negotiation off-camera. And they still very much pick what to show. There's little to no porn out there by amateur's where we are seeing people have sex while having a serious head cold, seeing people do things where they're like, "Ooof! That doesn't feel good, gimme a sec," etc. Heck, amateur porn can't even show sex while someone in on their period, one of the most common things in the world.

In other words, it's still constructed just like more produced porn, just like written erotica.

No one HAS to look at porn.

Mind, it usually isn't about a partner "being enough" or not, just like probably, when you choose to read erotic stories it isn't.

It also isn't sound to talk about the majority of men using porn. There are men who don't use porn, for many reasons, and I don't think, based on the data we have, we can say the majority of all men do. (If it helps to hear something anecdotal, while I'm personally fine with a lot of porn and a lot of kinds of porn use, among my male partners through the whole of my life, I'd say only about half used visual pornography, and the half that did, only a couple did so regularly.)

But even if they did? YOU would still get to choose only to be partners with men who didn't if that's what you want, just like a vegan could choose to only date other vegans.

I'm not asking about this boyfriend; I'm asking about what you'd really want.

For sure, I think that porn or no porn, you have some things to work out, and it might even be that you need to get your own self-esteem way more up before you really feel secure and okay in ANY sexual relationship. OR, it may be that this is less about the porn, and not just about your self-esteem, but about having a partner where you just don't feel wanted and valued. The partner may be more of the problem than the porn, if you follow me.

But.

People still get to have preferences. So, let's cut to the chase here: would you prefer a partner who didn't use some kinds of pornography? If so, what do you think about instead seeking out a partner who doesn't instead of trying to figure out how to get fine with someone who does?

And in thinking about that, how about talking about the stuff about this relationship overall I asked about?

[ 09-06-2012, 04:43 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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Just want to add something else to think about: people tend to like to look at people. people tend to find a range of people attractive or sexually compelling even if and when there is one person they are super-into.

And people having those feelings and desires isn't about not being as into that person as they could be, most of the time. If we know anything about human sexuality -- not just with men -- we know that there is a certain interest in variety, especially in our sexual imaginations.

Being with someone sexually, and exclusively, isn't usually about not having interest in anyone else, or having no other better options. It's more typically about having those interests, but deciding that for that time, that one person is who you both have the opportunity to be with, and who you want to be with most. And in a relationship that includes sex, but is about more than just sex, it's about a whole person, and all the ways of being with that person, not just about sex.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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Claire P.
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Well, porn is never “real” in the sense that your partner is not actually involved in what he is watching. The female actors in the porn he watches are not aware of his existence. The combination of those two factors lessen the possibility of any REAL threat you may feel exists to your relationship- just due to the porn-watching.

It is very common for people to fantasize about elements that are not present in a current relationship. As Heather noted, people like looking and thinking about other people. It’s pretty natural. Masturbating while watching porn- whether visual or literary- does not necessarily indicate anything beyond the private, pleasurable experience of just that.

Fantasizing is often a major part of reading erotica. Do you find yourself fantasizing about certain situations, characters, or actions you read about? If so, do you feel your “attraction” to those elements threaten your feelings and commitment to your boyfriend?

A personal example: I know that the erotica I prefer is not something I would like to share with my boyfriend, not because I am hiding some secret unfulfilled lust from him, but because I get a lot of enjoyment from it as a solo activity that I understand to be totally separate from our relationship and the feelings we have for one another. Can you identify with that at all?

I understand the jump to thinking you might not be doing something right; I had a relationship early into my college years where my partner watched porn, and as I’m not visually stimulated either, I didn’t really understand the attraction to it, and assumed the reason had something to do with something I wasn’t giving him. But I soon realized that men and women are not the way they are usually described aka they are not the stereotypes you find in magazines and in movies. If I felt comfortable masturbating to ideas that did not include my partner, why assume my partner was masturbating to porn for different, negative reasons that had to do with a problem with me?

If you haven’t yet, I suggest sitting down with your boyfriend to discuss your feelings. If he disagrees with your feeling that something is wrong in the relationship because of his porn interest, consider taking him at his word. (If you fundamentally do not trust him, I would reconsider more about the relationship.) And just a final thought, but if your boyfriend is so open about his porn-watching with you, perhaps it is because he feels so confident about the commitment in, and status of, your relationship?

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