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Dear John: I Like Him. He Likes Porn.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

 

What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected].

Dear John,
 
I’ve been seeing a guy I know from a former job. I had a crush on him for a long time but didn’t want to date a co-worker. When we stopped working together, I figured what the heck, if he says no, I won’t be seeing him every day any more anyway, so I asked him out. And it’s been going great for several months.
 
Here’s the thing, though. He’s a really sweet, nice, emotionally and financially stable guy. And he loves looking at pornography. Like, frequently. I tried to be cool about it and give watching it with him a try (at his request), and I’m just so not into it. I don’t think it’s morally wrong, or anything; I just don’t find it sexy. I find it either kind of mechanical and passionless, or just a little bit depressing. And some of it is pretty nasty.
 
But I feel like in trying to indulge this a little bit, I’ve let the genie out of the bottle. Now he wants to incorporate it into all our lovemaking, and half the time he’s on the computer, that’s what he’s doing! I kind of wish he WAS hiding it so I could be blissfully unaware!
 
How do I tell him that, okay, I gave it a try, and I’m just not into it? And I don’t want to try to tell him what to do, but how much does the average guy look at pornography, anyway? He sure seems to watch a lot of it!
 
Sincerely,
Not Much of a Watcher

 
Dear Watcher,
 
Your first question is the easier one to answer. You tell him you gave it a try and you’re just not into it. Your open mindedness is all he has any right to expect. I think it’s to your credit that you were receptive to at least seeing if you liked it. You don’t, so if he’s as nice a guy as you say, he will accept that.
 
When I was a teenager, explicit pornography was pretty uncommon. It was, for the most part, inaccessible without a trip to a seedy adult bookstore. Now you actually have to make a bit of an effort to avoid being exposed to it.
 
There’s a chance your boyfriend’s porn viewing is compulsive, but I would be more concerned about the nature of what he’s looking at. Personally, I don’t believe such imagery is inherently exploitive or degrading. But the majority of pornography is inarguably misogynistic and directed at men who harbor, at the very least, fear of and resentment toward women. In other words, if there’s an Internet clip of two people having sex on an isolated beach and they appear to like and respect each other, that’s one thing. If the link to that clip invites you to, “Watch this slut/whore/etc.,” then that’s quite another. It’s hateful and ugly, and no man should pretend it’s not a  big deal.
 
So I would encourage you to examine the attitudes towards women reflected in what he’s watching. Having said that, let me repeat that I do believe there’s explicit erotica that can be enjoyed by healthy, well-adjusted adults. I know some readers will vehemently disagree with this and I would encourage them to make their case in the comments section. I’m just speaking for myself here. Considering how sex-obsessed our society is, it’s amazing how few interesting discussions we have about it.
 
 
Dear John,
 
I am a college student with a roommate who I like and enjoy living with. She’s responsible, courteous, pays her portion of the bills, etc. But to be completely honest, I don’t want to be her friend in the same way she wants to be mine. She’s kind of awkward, socially and otherwise. A little goofy – it’s hard to explain. We just don’t have a lot in common.
 
The problem is, I use things like Facebook to let my friends know where I am and to make it easy to get together. The disadvantage to this is that half the time my roommate will just show up and include herself in whatever we’re doing. I can’t avoid her or de-friend her – we’re roommates! I just don’t want her hanging around with me and my other friends all the time. But I don’t want to hurt her feelings, either. Help!
 
Sincerely,
Well, Look Who’s Here!

 
Dear Look Who’s Here,
 
It would be nice if we could say exactly what we mean without ever hurting people’s feelings, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. To get your message across, you have to have a frank conversation with your roommate, and her feelings will undoubtedly be hurt. You will have to say something like, “Hey, Chrissy, I really like having you as a roommate, but because we’re roommates, we see each other an awful lot. So I think it’s good if we also spend time apart and hang out with other friends. We don’t have to do everything together, okay?”
 
If she is imposing and showing up where she’s not invited, she should learn that as she makes her transition into “real life,” people generally attend social events only when they’re invited to. But I can’t shake the feeling that you and your friends are excluding her for reasons that have more to do with high school cliques than adult social graces. If she keeps showing up where she’s not invited, there’s another solution besides telling her she’s not welcome. Maybe you could invite her.
 
 
Dear John,
 
Last fall, my wife started working out. We’re both late middle-aged and neither one of us has exercised much in the past 20 years or so.
 
Much to my surprise, she has really taken to working out. Her New Year’s resolution was to take it to another level, and I can already see the difference.
 
Sounds great, right? It’s not. I feel like I’m being left behind as she makes new friends, cooks healthier meals (some of which I’m not too crazy about), disappears at night to go to the gym, etc. Frankly, I feel like we’re going in different directions.
 
I hate exercise. To me, nothing is more boring. So I know better than to say, “I’m coming to the gym, too.” That’ll never work. Do you have any other ideas how I can avoid being left behind as she (metaphorically speaking) runs on ahead? At first, I was just waiting for the whole thing to run its course, so to speak. Now I’m afraid, she’s really hooked!
 
Signed,
I’ll Be Here on the Couch

 
Dear On the Couch,
 
Wow, it’s a shame that you were hoping this was just a phase and you were keeping her seat in front of the TV warm for her. This is the perfect opportunity to follow her example so the two of you can get in shape together.
 
The key to staying in shape is to do something you truly like. I don’t care how disciplined or focused you are, if you don’t like a form of exercise, you won’t stick with it. You seem to equate working out with going to a gym or slogging away on a treadmill in the basement, but forget about that and think of what you like to do – or even what you’d like to try. There must be something: do you like to swim? Ride a bike? Cross-country ski? Play tennis or squash? Rock-climb? Even daily walking can have significant effects.
 
Talk to your wife about this. Is there something you can both do together? Exercising with her or another friend will enable you to motivate each other on those inevitable days when one of you just doesn’t feel like it. But it starts with finding something you really like to do. And I firmly believe that everyone can find something.
 
Of course, if you haven’t been checked out by a doctor in a while, see one so he or she can give you the okay to begin an exercise program. Then get moving. Literally.

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected].

 

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