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Dear Captain Awkward:

About a year ago I made a conscious decision to stop consuming porn. I stumbled across the basic argument that you can’t be certain whether or not the people being filmed have been coerced. This coupled with recently having  realized that I was/am a Nice Guy(tm) (and being mortified) was enough to make me too uncomfortable with porn to continue to consume it.

A year goes by and porn comes up in jokey conversation amongst friends so I admit to not consuming porn anymore and am interrogated as to why. Apparently it isn’t enough to suspect that some of the people being filmed may be coerced.
The gist of the conversation was that since:

  1. There are women that get rich doing porn
  2. I still wear clothes and use gadgets that are produced by exploited labor.
  3. I am a tool and a hypocrite and therefore totally wrong about porn. At least until I go and actually do something about something else that’s more important like disposing of my smartphone and/or swap out all my clothes for those produced by people making what would be a living wage in the US or EU.

I am stuck with limply stating that I have to start somewhere. OK, maybe I’m a little too bitter about this.

I’m still befuddled by trying to fix the Nice Guy stuff, now I have to defend not watching porn?  I don’t require that anyone else forgo watching it, I have just found the human trafficking/coercion angle very compelling. I guess that it’s possible I may have implied “…and you shouldn’t either.” and that could explain the vehement resistance, but I really didn’t expect it.

I don’t know if I’m just hurt or really offended by their reaction. Do I try to let it drop or do I need new friends?  Or am I just a hypocrite?

I was looking for an analogy that would allow me to write about your question without writing about porn in more detail than I’d like to do under my real name, and then it hit me:

You became a porn vegan.

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I love seeing what search terms bring people here  to Captain Awkward Dot Com Enterprises. “Today can eat a bag of dicks.”  “Wealthy women have needs, too.”  “How do I find a rich bad girl?”  In this post, I’ll try to answer some of the questions I found in my search terms.  Sometimes you don’t need the backstory to know that something is a terrible idea.

I’m putting the actual questions behind a cut.  Some of them involve rape and sexual pressure and coercion and are 100% A+++ NOT FUNNY and the fact that people are Googling this stuff is breaking my heart.

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"Barbie, I can't lie - I've been thinking about G.I. Joe this whole time."

I have a few letters in the Captain Awkward Mailbag that go like this:

My partner and I are in love and have a great sex life and (s)he tells me all the time how much (s)he loves being with me, however (s)he dated sexy people before me and I have less experience and I’m worried that (s)he is comparing me to past partners and I don’t measure up. What do I do?

And like this:

My partner and I are in love and have a great sex life, and (s)he tells me all the time how much (s)he loves being with me, however, I found a giant hoard of porn on my partner’s computer and all the people did not look like me and they definitely did not do things that I do in bed and now I’m worried that (s)he really wants to be doing that stuff and our entire relationship is a lie…oh god…what do I do?

Listen up.  It’s rare that one-size-fits-all advice exists in this world, but this is a situation where it really, really, really works.  Here’s what you do:

Get the fuck over it and keep enjoying your relationship.

For Group A (My Partner Has A Sexual History, Oh No!): Your partner’s past partners and comparisons to them will not damage the relationship, unless you become an insecure control freak who constantly brings it up and checks in and makes your partner feel weird and guilty for having sex before (s)he met you and looking for ways you are not measuring up.  If your partner learned about things (s)he liked in bed from another partner and sees fit to share that with you in a constructive and instructive way, like “Hey, it would really turn me on if you would….” that is NOT negative criticism of you, that is called BEING AWESOME IN BED BY SAYING WHAT YOU LIKE.

For Group B (I Am Threatened By Porn!): Porn exists.  I’m not going to say every single person on the planet looks at it, or even every single person with a reliable internet connection, but lots of people look at it, okay?  And lots of people look at weird shit that they don’t actually want to do in real life because the imagination is a dark and sexy magical place where crazy shit is allowed to happen.  And lots of people look at porn that has people with different body types than they’d “normally” go for or kinks….because sometimes it is exciting to look at a variety of things.  And yeah, some of it is gross and exploitive and sometimes the people are so waxed and oiled and fake that it looks like when you were a kid and mashed Barbie and Ken’s (or Barbie’s, or in my case, Godzilla’s) “areas” together….so…okay….what is the problem?  Your partner has an active interest in sex and a filthy imagination?  This is less a problem than an opportunity.

If your partner is neglecting you to look at porn, that is a problem.  If your partner is constantly bringing up exes and comparing you to them, that is a problem (because your partner might be an asshole, in which case, break up!).

If you have an otherwise healthy, happy sex life and your partner also looks at porn, there is no problem.  If you have an otherwise healthy, happy sex life with someone who has had sex with other people before you, there is no problem.  If you are not so experienced at sex, there is also no problem, because listen:  Everyone starts out inexperienced, and the way you get more experience is to do it with a person you like and who likes you.  NOT ACTUALLY A PROBLEM.

Except the problems manufactured by your own insecurities.  And your lovers and sex partners are not required to magically anticipate and heal and make up for all of your insecurities. Saying to someone “You need to be different, as in have a different past (or pretend you do), or stop looking at porn you like (or pretend you have stopped looking at it) in order to make me stop feeling so sad and insecure” is manipulative and controlling and makes you the person in the wrong.  It’s actually your job to handle that shit so that you can be in a healthy relationship.

Listen, the more you see sex as something that you “get” and “perform,” the more weird and insecure your sex life will be, because you’ve made it about yourself and not about making another person feel great and letting them make you feel great in return.  Your job during sex is to try things out, ask questions, observe responses and reactions, be honest about your desires and needs (no faking orgasms!), responsible about your health and your partner’s health, and make sure everyone is having a great time and wants to be there every step of the way.  Other than that, there is no formula.

More getting the fuck over yourself and more fucking, please.  Thank you.  This has been an episode of Blanket Statement Monday.