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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Extensive experience fostering family relationships through consultation / counseling.
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Customer Question

My boyfriend lies about looking at porn. A few times, I have come across a porn site in the history bar on our computer. Also, he has a friend that sends him pictures of naked girls. He says he deletes the emails. However, I went behind his back and went digging. Of course, he has several porn emails from this guy and they are saved in different folders. I asked him to block this friend. He said he would, but I dug again and found this was not the case. The topic of porn has come up a few times, and at first I just shrugged it off as nothing. I said it's no big deal, and I'm used to guys doing that. He said he doesn't look at it; he doesn't need it, he only needs me. But time after time when the subject comes up, he denies it. I guess my question is that is this something to worry about or am I over-reacting? I'm not happy about him looking at porn but it's something I can deal with. But I'm not sure his lying is something I can handle.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Jennifer replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using!

Pornography is an interesting topic when it comes to relationships. Some women are perfectly fine with their boyfriends looking at porn with the idea that at the end of the day, they belong to them. Others are deeply offended at the idea of their men looking at other women and finding them attractive sexually. There is no right answer when it comes to what is acceptable and what isn't -- other than whatever you and your boyfriend are comfortable with. This may mean a degree of compromise on both of your parts, though.

I think you're right that the real issue here is honesty. The cultural basis for not wanting to talk about sensitive subjects is real, but I think it's a non-issue when it comes to being in an intimate relationship. Tell him that. Explain to him that you understand it's difficult for him to talk about all of this, but you need him to understand your feelings about it all -- particularly about how it makes you feel when you find that he's been lying to you. Another issue to consider is the fact that he may feel violated by your checking up on him. The issue of his lying aside, he may find it to be an invasion of his privacy and you should be prepared for that. When you have this discussion, be honest about what you want to happen. Ask him what he wants as well. Does he want to continue looking at porn to some degree? Is that acceptable to you? Are you willing to trust him if he says he won't? What would it take for you to feel like you could? Perhaps he would need to block the e-mail address with you present. As difficult as it will be for him, you'll be most successful if you can have an open, honest conversation about this. I wish you the best of luck!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Recently, about a month ago, when I saw that his friend had sent him quite a few porn emails, I said point blank "I know that you look at porn." He denied it. He said his friend sends it to him. I told him that porn is not the issue, it's the lying. He says if he was looking at it he would tell me. He says "I would never, and will never, lie to you."
He admits to looking at it before we were together but now that he has me, he doesn't find it necessary. I said then you should have blocked this guy way back when. That is when I asked him to block the guy. He said he would, but obviously that's not the case. I even suggested at some point in the future that maybe we watch porn together - he said absolutely not and that it was hard for him to even talk about this (back to the whole culture thing). I hate that I am checking up on him. And part of me wishes I could just let it go. All I really want is the best relationship possible and I feel like every time I bring up this subject I'm just ruining things. But basically you think I should definitely talk with him?
Expert:  Jennifer replied 5 years ago.
I do.... However, I think you'll need to be careful about how you approach it. Instead of setting the tone of "I know you're looking at porn and lying to me about it," begin with the fact that you love him and really want trust and honesty to be hallmarks of your relationship. Perhaps if you frame it positively by beginning with that and then telling him that the pornography has become an issue in your relationship and you don't want it to be. Set aside whether he has or hasn't looked at it and emphasize the fact that all you want from here on out is to be honest with one another. Set the boundaries you're comfortable with with regards XXXXX XXXXX pornography and being in contact with his friend via e-mail. Ask him if they're acceptable boundaries or if you need to find a compromise to make you both happy. I think talking to him about it again will be the only way to settle the matter. Just try your best to keep the issue on the table as a problem you need to solve together versus pointing any fingers -- a sure way for him to become defensive and shut down (particularly if this is already something that's difficult for him to talk about).

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