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Is it realistic to find a non-religious man who doesn't watch porn regularly?
October 15, 2011 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Is it realistic to find a non-religious man who doesn't watch porn regularly?

I have had some very negative experiences in past relationships regarding pornography addiction and deception. It's become a hangup I can't get past. It's a problem for me because I really do believe it is bad for relationships- that it lowers bonds between people and compartmentalizes a man's sexuality. I also feel that the vast majority of porn exploits women. To be open, I have watched pornography myself and I have stopped because of what I've learned about it.

I have seen a therapist about the issue and that hasn't made it better because all two therapists have told me it's OK to have this view. I was in a relationship with a guy who also shared this view, but we broke up because I was not religious and he was. I worry that the fact I want a porn-free boyfriend who is not religious takes me off the market.

A new therapist? Or just keep looking?
posted by figgypudding to Human Relations (63 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Keep looking. We are atheists, both of us, with no sex hang-ups whatsoever, but Mr. ROTFL doesn't like porn. He says it's gross and fake and everyone looks dead-eyed and the visuals are way too clinical. He does enjoy various types of erotic imagery, but hardcore porn just doesn't do it for him at all. (FWIW: I don't care if he watches it or not.)
posted by ROTFL at 9:38 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would try to regurgitate Dan Savage's advice on the matter, but it's best left to the master:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=15715

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=15810

And speaking a non-religious occasional-porn-watching male, I agree consistently with everything that he says on the matter.
posted by fso at 9:44 PM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


My husband is not religious and is not really into porn.
posted by KathrynT at 9:45 PM on October 15, 2011


I live with an available non-religious man who does not watch porn regularly. He doesn't hold your views that it is particularly bad for relationships and all that but he does agree with the exploitation aspects and has told me it holds very little interest for him. This isn't just my male best friend lying to me, because I *do* watch (and read) porn regularly and it holds interest for me, so it's not like he's trying to keep me in the dark about his nefarious sexual predilections or anything like that!

Keep looking. Your therapists are right, you have a perfectly legitimate opinion about porn. My friend is not the exception to the rule, either - maybe you're just looking in the wrong non-religious crowd?
posted by Mizu at 9:45 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, these guys exist.

However, you may want to consider that there is a huge difference between a guy who uses porn compulsively as part of an unhealthy sexuality, and a regular dude who looks at porn regularly -- but this difference has little to do with the frequency of porn usage.

Also, not looking at porn is no guarantee that the guy will be good, faithful, etc.

I suggest that you look at this as a preference rather than a judgment about what it means to look at a lot of porn. It's fine that you want a guy who isn't into it. But there is a whole lot more to sexuality than that.
posted by mrs. sock at 9:46 PM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah, Dan Savage's insensitive opinions are the last thing I need. I've already been told to "get over it" and it hasn't worked.
posted by figgypudding at 9:46 PM on October 15, 2011 [50 favorites]


Yep, totally possible to find. Most of my guy friends look at porn, but the minority love it or need it, and some make a point of avoiding it entirely (for various reasons, most of which are mentioned above).

Of those who do enjoy it, I think most would be willing to have a conversation about why and about the role it plays in their life -- which I think would help you.
posted by vecchio at 9:49 PM on October 15, 2011


Yes. My guy is not religious and is not really into porn.
posted by Eshkol at 9:53 PM on October 15, 2011


Is it realistic to find a non-religious man who doesn't watch porn regularly?

Sure. They exist. But you're probably more likely to find a guy who says he doesn't watch porn, and then be disappointed when you find out that he does.

I sincerely hope you find what you're looking for.
posted by auto-correct at 9:53 PM on October 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


I've had atheist partners who weren't interested in porn. Then again, one of them knocked up his coworker behind my back, so not watching porn is no guarantee of anything.

Mr. Stardust does watch porn, but much of it is niche stuff that I enjoy as well.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:59 PM on October 15, 2011


Mr. Jenkins has virtually no porn watching habit whatsoever, and while he was raised in a religious household, he is not religious himself. It's slightly weird to me that he's not into it, as experience has led me to feel like all dudes are way into it, but he just isn't. It's refreshing.

(But if he wanted to ramp up his intake, I'd be cool with that too.)
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 10:01 PM on October 15, 2011


Keep looking. They're out there. I have no tolerance for pornography and won't date anyone who uses it, and I can tell you that there are definitely non-religious men who never view pornography. There are lots of guys who agree with you about this.

And Dan Savage is incorrect. (It cracks me up that he thinks he can speak for all men.) People will probably chime in and tell me that I'm deluding myself if I think that there are men who don't look at it, but all that really tells you is that the crowd they hang with is like that. Although Metafilter tends to skew in favor of porn, several men have turned up in answers to previous AskMe's to say that they aren't interested in it. Guys who aren't into it don't run around telling other guys; they just don't do it. There's nothing wrong with wanting this quality in a partner. It's something I've always insisted on, and I've never found it impossible to find someone. In fact, for me, it's only been an issue once. As someone above suggested, you may just need to start looking in different places.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:01 PM on October 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh by all means keep looking. I have a friend who had to break up with some dude because he was addicted to porn. I think most guys have watched it, but I think you can easily get a guy who doesn't watch it or will easily stop watching it, just be up front with it at the moment you feel it's appropriate (once a mutual attraction is established, once you're talking about these things). I think it would be highly useful to say "I watched x video where x happened and this guy was all x and the girl was x, and after watching that and a couple of other ones, I just felt really bad. I feel like women in these things are being exploited." Talk about it and make it clear that it's no big deal that he has in the past watched it or is currently doing it, but that going forward it's not something you are interested in.

I don't talk to most of my buddies about what porn they are or are not watching, but I think if you lay out an issue for the guys I know, put it out there front and center and get them to sign on, making it clear that you're looking for someone who shares this opinion, or can have a rational discussion where the points are laid out that have him sharing that opinion. Most of my guy friends aren't religious, and many of them I think would respond well to this approach.

Definitely keep looking. Don't ever think "well, (non-religious) men just have to have their porn." That's just complete nonsense I think.

Oh please I hope you are not my friend because...awkwarrrd.
posted by cashman at 10:03 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know a few non-religious guys who don't watch porn videos — but they will read (and jerk off to) erotic stories. I'm not sure if that solves your problem or not.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:12 PM on October 15, 2011


What do you consider porn? Hardcore videos, Tumblr feeds of softcore, bikini carwash videos, erotic fiction, illustration? I'd say that every human being watches porn if you were to include every possible arousal-inducing media.
posted by theraflu at 10:17 PM on October 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is it the porn that bothers you or the masturbation? It's unclear because of the part where you say it compartmentalizes sexuality.

I would nth the others that you can certainly find nonreligious/atheist men who do not watch porn. Finding ones who do not masturbate, though, would be significantly more difficult.
posted by asciident at 10:19 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Porn mostly strikes me as absurd: primates I would not cross the street to know in real life assuming contorted poses and mashing their banal, overdetermined signifiers together. That's far from saying it has no impact, and I certainly have no moral problem with it, but looking at it regularly would not happen. Keep looking.

[But if anyone tried to draw lines around what I look at or read out of occasional curiosity, we'd be done.]
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:23 PM on October 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


My husband doesn't watch porn. I can be pretty sure he's being honest about that, because he knows it doesn't bother me if he does watch it, and in fact, I've probably watched more than he has (and invited him to join me, but he doesn't really enjoy it). He does, however, love pornographic stories, the written sort, without pics.

I think if you want to find someone who actually doesn't watch it, rather than someone who just says he doesn't, you'd need to find someone who you is scrupulously honest about everything (which my husband also is: he is the sort who will answer honestly if you ask him whether you look fat in that dress, because he believes that Truth is the most important thing ever). And/or you need to find someone who is willing to admit to other kinky or embarrassing habits, so you know he would admit to the porn one if it existed.
posted by lollusc at 10:26 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a giant, giant, giant gulf between "does not watch porn regularly" and "porn-free".

I am willing to believe men who claim not to watch porn regularly. This happens. Quite doable, as far as looking for a relationship goes. Tastes differ widely. A guy who shared your beliefs and values about things might well make similar choices.

If you want someone with such an aversion that you would be justified in believing that they were never going to do so ever again, and that you would feel horrified and disgusted and betrayed if you caught them doing so on some particular occasion? You are very, very likely to instead end up with someone who mostly fits in the former category and tries to hide what would ordinarily not be a significant event because they know how upset you're going to be by it.
posted by gracedissolved at 10:41 PM on October 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Most of the responses so far are from women who believe their men rarely look at porn. Just sayin'.

Yeah. Two of my ex-boyfriends claimed they weren't into porn. One of them was actually very into it, and on the verge of addiction, and a complete liar. The weirdest thing about this was that I was pro-porn, and asked him about what he liked as a way to compare notes, with no ulterior motive in mind at all. I really was just innocently trying to share/spice things up. He immediately clammed up, it was very strange. So, even with pro-porn girlfriends, guys themselves can have this weird aversion to admitting they like porn. I can only speculate that they want to keep it private/away from girlfriend, or they want to FEEL like a "good guy" and have some sort of shame surrounding it, or it's some weird madonna-whore thing.

BUT THAT SAID, the second ex who claimed this was totally nonchalant about it. He just said he didn't like it. I didn't believe him at all and asumed he was lying, but humored him because, hey, I'd learned from boyfriend #1. But then I had access to his computer for various things, and never did find any trace of porn on it. I never caught him either. So maybe it is possible. /shrug. I don't know. Don't really care, personally.
posted by Nixy at 11:16 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm another non-religious straight male who doesn't watch porn.

I can't speak for all men, obviously, but I'd guess that most guys look at porn sometimes, some people are really into it, others, like me, almost never.

Most of us are going to assume that most people are like ourselves. So, even though I know some people are are into porn, I'll assume that most guys can't be that into it, because I'm not, and guys who are really into porn will assume everybody else is. Reality is presumably somewhere in between. But definitely there are guys who aren't into it. And, no, not everyone's boyfriend is lying to them about it.

I think cashman's advice is really good, and reasonable, if this is important to you.
posted by nangar at 11:20 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


He says it's gross and fake and everyone looks dead-eyed and the visuals are way too clinical.

This matches my opinion, at least for the mainstream stuff. I guess there is a variety of more amateur/alternative/etc porn that I kind of like, but not nearly enough to do much looking for it aside from sometimes clicking on an FPP link labeled "nsfw" on MetaFilter. So sure, there are obviously some men out there who don't watch much, if any, porn, and who aren't religious.

But there are billions of people on the planet -- is that really a surprise? And something you'll need to think through is how much motivation matters. I don't watch porn, like I said, but I also don't particularly agree about it being harmful. So would you want someone like me because there's very little porn in my life? Or do you need someone who shares your particular reasons for not watching any porn?
posted by Forktine at 11:55 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would imagine that narrowing your pool to only those men who don't watch porn is going to leave you with relatively few options. If it's that important to you, by all means, go ahead, but it might be a better approach to grow comfortable with occasional usage, and definitely avoid dating heavy users. It's also obviously an awkward conversation to have very early in a relationship, so unless you also plan on alienating the majority of the men you come in contact with by bringing up inappropriate topics in the first few dates, you'll have to get past those dates anyway, and start getting to know the person, which might put your mind at ease.

You really might want to reconsider the idea of accepting occasional porn use in a partner. It strikes me as a cognitive distortion to imagine that it's all evil in every situation.
posted by namesarehard at 12:01 AM on October 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


On second thought, I wonder if it's more useful to figure out what exactly about porn upsets you so much. You mention compartmentalization of sexuality, or exploitation. If you met a wonderful man who was sexually present with you and prefers, say, Abby Winters or other non-exploitative porn, would that solve the problem? Is porn the problem or is the problem that you're feeling disrespected or objectified by the men you're dating?
posted by namesarehard at 12:13 AM on October 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


i am in no way telling you to get over it, or even think you should get over it. i think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to request - sure, it shrinks your dating pool, but so does every single preference about attraction, long term goals, and relationships. for instance, i realized it was super important to me to find an atheist, dominant partner who understood and encouraged my feminism. i found him. i thought it was impossible. but there he was.

having said all that:
it lowers bonds between people and compartmentalizes a man's sexuality

i used to hold this view. in basically every relationship with a man that i had before my husband, my boyfriends would hide their porn, lie about watching it, and get super cagey when the topic came up. i thought it was a relationship killer because honesty and openness are things i put probably the highest premium on.

in my marriage a lot of these problems have been solved because we've kept the porn, but taken out the compartmentalizes part. we don't always (or even often) watch porn together, but he never does it behind closed doors. he'll watch porn, i'll watch shitty reality tv. it's a way for both of us to relax. we sit next to each other on the couch, he squeezes my toes and kisses my legs - i laugh out loud and make him pause so i can show him the hilarious thing i just watched. it's not much different than him playing video games, honestly, except there's an orgasm at the end. i told him at the beginning of our relationship that because of my own trust issues, hidden porn collections were a no-go. he totally understood and opened his entire porn drive up to me. there is no off limits discussion. i can say "what do you like about XYZ" and he'll tell me.

as far as exploitation goes - depending on your definition, there is plenty of porn out there that doesn't do that - i am constantly recommending the crash pad series or anything that involves madison young. i have more suggestions if you want them (but i understand that you probably don't and that's totally ok).

you can find this man, but you have to be painfully upfront about what you mean and why and how it's not something you'll get over or as long as it's hidden it's ok. it took me until this relationship to learn how to plant my feet and say "I need exactly these things and i can't compromise on them. these other things i am pretty sure about, but might compromise, and these last bits are things i don't hold very hard so if you do, we'll follow your lead." it takes a lot of maturity and the ability to walk away from something that is almost, but not quite perfect for you.

good luck. if you ever want to chat about it, drop me a line. i might be pro-porn, but i'm very sensitive to your position just because my own list of needs and wants is so ridiculous.
posted by nadawi at 12:24 AM on October 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


Is it realistic to find a non-religious man who doesn't watch porn regularly?

Absolutely. My first serious boyfriend was like this, in my late teens/early 20s. He never once mentioned porn and I never stumbled onto porn anywhere in his place or on his computer, both of which I had total access to. He knew I watched porn myself so I don't think he'd have hidden it, anyway.

You have to be careful though, as people said upthread, this doesn't necessarily mean anything. I have a male friend who is just not into porn, but IS into strip clubs, which I would think would be worse for someone who objects to porn.

nadawi is so, so right with this:

you can find this man, but you have to be painfully upfront about what you mean and why and how it's not something you'll get over or as long as it's hidden it's ok. it took me until this relationship to learn how to plant my feet and say "I need exactly these things and i can't compromise on them. these other things i am pretty sure about, but might compromise, and these last bits are things i don't hold very hard so if you do, we'll follow your lead."


I would say that you have to have the porn conversation fairly early on, like say when the relationship starts getting physical, and you need to be ready to cut things off right away if you find the incompatibility is there.
posted by cairdeas at 12:39 AM on October 16, 2011


This is an interesting one. I (female) personally believe that most men watch porn, so I go into any relationship assuming that the guy watches porn. Since I also go in with the assumption that they like real sex better than porn, it has never bothered me. And it's never come up as an issue.

I don't think you need a therapist on this. I don't think you have to like porn, or be okay with the guy you're with watching it. I do think you are going to find that a lot of guys casually watch porn. I think you should try to differentiate between porn addicts and most guys. I don't think that porn compartmentalizes the sexuality of most men (unless I'm misunderstanding what you're saying there). I think it certainly can for porn addicts. It sounds like your personal experiences are with porn addicts. Try talking to some male friends about their porn-watching habits and how this has affected their sex life. This may give you some perspective and help you differentiate between the majority and the addicts.
posted by DoubleLune at 12:44 AM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never seen any correlation between being religious or not and porn usage. I think there was even a study a few years back that found the more conservative and religious a state's population was, the higher their porn consumption. Personally I've known serious porn users from both the seriously religious and heathen camps.

But yes - I've personally dated a couple of guys that apparently really weren't into porn or strip clubs. I'm sure they looked now and then (but hey, so do I, and I pretty much hate porn as a whole), but the general consensus was that it was dull, repetitive and getting grosser and meaner with each passing year. From what I gathered, they sought it out less and less because it just didn't really do much for them past producing a woodie for a spanking of mediocre-to-mildly-middling degrees of satisfaction, followed by feeling generally 'meh' about the whole process.

For my part, I'm far more concerned with what kind of porn my gentleman friends want to watch. People happily sexing each other in whatever weirdo way clearly rocks their world? Totally fine. But the guy who really wanted to show me his porn screensaver of various women shitting into other women's mouths, talked about how hot it would be to carve things into my chest because he saw it in some porno once, and left a picture of a sewn up vagina on my desk at work? That guy can enjoy fucking his own hand forever. Or possibly going to jail at some indeterminate point in the future.

Which is all to say: I hear ya. It can be pretty upsetting stuff. But don't despair: I really have come across more than a handful of dudes who just generally find porn pretty boring and unfulfilling and thus tend to not seek it out. And even some who aren't into porn at all, though I do believe that categorical 'Not Ever' category of porn user (male OR female) is a rare fish indeed. But I'm pretty hermity and thus don't really meet a lot of guys, so if I can find them even in my small sphere of aquaintance, you sure as hell can too.
posted by involution at 12:49 AM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, first of all short answer: yes, there are such men.

The slightly longer answer is that there are non-religious, non-porn watching men, but that the stricter you are on no-porn, the fewer there are.

Once you factor in other things you're looking for in a partner, this might leave you with many fewer potential mates. Obviously you only need to find one, so that isn't necessarily a problem.

Also, take into account that men who don't watch porn because they don't find it interesting may still watch it occasionally, and if you're looking for strict no porn ever then you should look for someone who objects to it on moral grounds (either religious, which you're excluding, or on the basis of the exploitative character of pornography)
posted by atrazine at 12:52 AM on October 16, 2011


Your question starts off about porn addiction and deception, before moving to the morality of porn.

Is the main issue the watching of porn itself, addiction to porn, the hiding of the addiction, or the hiding of interest in porn?

Because if you're able to break it down like this and decide that some subset of this list is what's the issue, I think you'll find that:

- most guys have seen porn
- most guys occasionally view porn but aren't addicted to it
- some guys are addicted to it when they're not in a sexual relationship
(and so on)

so you'll have different things to ask, and different size pools of potential matches to think about, depending on what matters most to you.
posted by zippy at 12:52 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It isn't wrong to avoid dating people who like porn. I wouldn't date anyone who smoked, and I think that porn watching is very similar - if you can't accept it in a relationship, then fine, you can't.

The deception element is something you should think about though. Watching porn is very common for men, but many of us have a certain level of embarassment about it; we know it's not inherently wrong*, but despite being more liberal than ever before, there is still some level of taboo around the subject in Western society. This means that plenty of faithful and otherwise honest men will still be cagey about their porn habits.

If you accept this point yet still would prefer someone who does not watch porn, then no you are not out of luck. You will simply have a smaller number of potential partners. Although it may be more likely for religious people to entirely shun porn, they are not the only people to do so. It's also not a binary measurement; for example, I cannot stand commercial porn. This dislike came about before I understood the exploitation, it's because it's all so utterly fake, and that's a complete turnoff. Strip clubs are out for the same reason.

Perhaps you could talk to your therapist about learning to accept porn that isn't exploitative? If manipulation and poor treatment of porn actresses is your issue, then it shouldn't be impossible for you to accept that a couple might want to take a camera into the bedroom with them. This would both widen your options and deal with the (apparent) misunderstanding that All Porn Is Bad.

* Not inherently wrong because not all porn is exploitative. Exploitation IS wrong.
posted by fearnothing at 2:15 AM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of my best friends is a non-religious man who doesn't enjoy watching porn. He has always seemed quite happy in his romantic relationships, and doesn't criticize those who do watch porn. He simply doesn't find it that interesting. He can name movies that explore different sexual aspect of relationships (i.e : Short bus), and that pretty much sums up the nakedness / sex he would be willing to see on screen. They are out there ;).
posted by Jireel at 2:49 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the main issue the watching of porn itself, addiction to porn, the hiding of the addiction, or the hiding of interest in porn?

To which I would add: is it only pornography that you object to, or viewing of any images of naked women? If your boyfriend was watching love scenes from movies (in which women get naked and simulate sex), would that bother you?

Separating pornography from nudity might be worthwhile - if the exploitation component of porn is what bothers you, there are other options available.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 6:44 AM on October 16, 2011


Sometimes it depends on how you define "porn". To some people it is any picture with nude people in it or even a rated R movie showing someone's ass or even a book like Lady Chatterley's Lover.
posted by JJ86 at 7:27 AM on October 16, 2011


Is the main issue the watching of porn itself, addiction to porn, the hiding of the addiction, or the hiding of interest in porn?

That's a tough question. I love Game of Thrones and some quite erotic movies for example, I don't object to sex scenes or nudity much at all. I think it's the compartmentalization, the degradation of mainstream porn (and I'm a VERY tolerant woman who loves facials, so it really amazes me how degrading I find this stuff), and the addiction (can't get an erection because they have overstimulated themselves, hiding it from me, avoiding me so he can use it more). I once mentioned that we could watch erotica together and my ex told me I was just trying to control him.
posted by figgypudding at 7:31 AM on October 16, 2011


The percentage of non-religious men who have no interest in porn is going to be higher than the percentage of non-religious men who have no interest in porn who are okay with being told what they can and cannot watch. If this is a deal breaker for your, that's okay, but I would be measured in how your broach the issue, because your hang up might be a deal breaker for them.
posted by spaltavian at 7:48 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Men come in all flavors, so I'm sure non-porn-using atheists are out there.

You may want to ask yourself how many other deal-breakers you have. Does your man have to make a certain amount of money, have a particular look, be a certain age, come from a particular ethnic background, have a particular personality, have particular values about parenting, and so on?

As long as your list of deal-breakers is relatively short, you're fine. If it's long, you're fine as well. You just might not have many longer relationships with men. And that's nobody's fault.
posted by ferdydurke at 8:04 AM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seriously dated three guys, and the only one who watched porn was the fundamentalist Christian. Take that as you will.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:48 AM on October 16, 2011


I am a decent, non religious male person. My view on porn is that it's like fried food - it's decent once in a while, but you don't want to eat it all the time or make a habit of it. I personally don't watch porn much - maaaaaaaaybe once a year, and even then not an entire movie, more like a scene or two on redtube or something - but I also don't think porn in and of itself is a problem.

My wife has some issues with porn, but with her it's not the porn itself - her ex-boyfriend who she lived with for four years before she and I were a couple would watch porn all the time and lie to her about it, even though it was obvious that's what he was doing. So her thing about it is the honesty, which I totally get and on those rare occasions I do watch porn, I tell her about it - sometimes she watches with me, sometimes she doesn't, but as long as I'm honest about it with her she really doesn't care.
posted by pdb at 9:10 AM on October 16, 2011


It's realistic. Guys like this exist, so you can find them. But it may not be a good idea to insist on it.

1. Guys like this are a minority, so you're making life hard for yourself by eliminating most men.
2. Unlike, say, restricting yourself to redheads, it's hard to find this out early since it's quite private. So you're going to waste a lot of time and emotional energy.
3. It's easy for a guy to lie about.
4. Many of the non-porn guys will have entirely different reasons. They might be mostly aroused by touch/smell/taste. They might be too proud for porn because they think they're great players. They might prefer their own fantasies. This doesn't seem like a particularly good way to identify decent men since you'll be eliminating some decent guys who like porn, but retaining some assholes who just don't have a taste for it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:15 AM on October 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I once mentioned that we could watch erotica together and my ex told me I was just trying to control him.

...even with pro-porn girlfriends, guys themselves can have this weird aversion to admitting they like porn. I can only speculate that they want to keep it private/away from girlfriend, or they want to FEEL like a "good guy" and have some sort of shame surrounding it, or it's some weird madonna-whore thing.

Dude here, with some breathtakingly sweeping generalizations for y'all.

Even (I would say especially) in the context of a stable, committed relationship, even in the context of a mutually sexually satisfying stable, committed relationship...for many men, sex can be stressful/tense/anxiety-making for reasons that may not be immediately clear or understandable by women.

At the basest biological level, lots of guys feel, or just internalize, this fundamental notion that we're responsible for the sex happening. No erection, no sex, in other words. Of course this 'truth' is not really true, and is a reflection of a very narrow view of the sexual act and sexuality etc etc...but I'd argue that most dudes believe this, and I'd also argue that this sense of responsibility can also get inter-mixed with other socially constructed stuff with regard to men in society and what we're expected to be and do and all of that...

I'm not being very articulate here, but I hope you see what I'm getting at. Men (I'm talking about good, caring, normal dudes here) put pressure on themselves about sex. We 'know' it's up to us to make it happen, and we really want to be 'good' at it, and so on. But men don't want women to know about this self-inflicted pressure. We get good about hiding it. Or hopefully we get into a great, sexually open and communicative relationship where we don't have to, where the entire performative aspect of the thing is non-existent...but relationships like that are pretty rare I think.

Porn is a space where men can indulge in a kind of sexuality that is entirely free of pressure and expectation. And I think this is where a lot of the secrecy, the unwillingness to share one's experience with porn, comes from. It's like - "I love you, I love having sex with you...but please just let me have my thing over here. My emotional vacation."
posted by Angus Jung at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


My advice? Drop the porn issue, pretty much. Of course, this more or less only works when you are NOT dating a porn addict... Addictions of any kind are usually quite bad, and tend to have people act in similar ways. MOST guys are not porn addicted. Asking potential dates right off the bat if they use a minimum of porn is... awkward :) (I exaggerate a little)

Basically... I think, you aren't looking for a guy who uses no porn. You are, I think, looking for trust. Good boundaries. Respect. A healthy sex drive, and one where you don't feel second (or last) place to porn. I heard once that porn addiction is in a way, addiction to approval.. porn never says no or has issues. I think you can find a guy who views porn... well, healthily, and meets all your requirements. A sample size of your ex is not a good representative pool :)

If you do stick to your guns and want a non-religious, non porn using guy, that of course is your right. It's your view of things, and since it is yours, it is entirely correct for you. However, that will limit your dating pool pretty sharply. Is it worth it for you? You are the only one who can answer that.
posted by Jacen at 9:34 AM on October 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're entitled to whatever dealbreakers you want, and I'm sure you can find it. But if you're concerned about how much you might be narrowing down the dating pool, I'm with Jacen and DoubleLune: there is a very very big difference between the occasional viewing of porn and an addiction to porn.
posted by salvia at 11:40 AM on October 16, 2011


Well, first of all I want to reiterate that there is nothing wrong with you for having this preference and that you should never have to apologize for it. You sound like a sex-positive person who is understandably wary of some of the issues surrounding mainstream porn and relationships. It is not too much to hope for a relationship with a partner who is willing to hear your feelings and open to discussing ways to meet your needs.

I think in this day and age we should be able to get past the idea that you are dooming yourself to a life of loneliness and misery if you don't adapt your desires to conform to mainstream society's idea of what sexuality should look like. I have some not-so-normal preferences and had resigned myself to the idea that I most likely would have to live with some kind of compromise if I ever wanted to have a successful long-term relationship, but it turns out that that isn't true. Sure, I didn't lead off my first date by announcing that I have these preferences and so, in entering my relationship, there was the possibility that it would not have worked out. However, I like to think that what makes my relationship work isn't that we happen to have these qualities in sync, but that we are interested in listening to and working with one another in order to meet the needs of the both of us. I believe that my willingness to share my needs helped to make my partner feel comfortable enough to talk about some of his preferences that do not necessarily conform to the dominant image of hetero-male sexuality and, so, in the end, we have a relationship that (according to people on the internet at least) many people would not be happy with, but that's fine since there are only two people (that I can think of) that need to be happy with our arrangement.
posted by mustard seeds at 11:50 AM on October 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sure my boyfriend is like this. He's an atheist and rarely watches porn, especially since we started having sex regularly. I actually tend to be the one who watches porn from time to time and I agree that sometimes it means that I'm not that in the mood for having sex (but he has a lower sex drive in general, so this is rarely a problem). They definitely exist.
posted by peacheater at 12:09 PM on October 16, 2011


1) It's OK to go from dating an alcoholic to not wanting to date someone who drinks at all. But it's not necessarily a good thing to fixate on.

2) Most guys I know watch a lot less porn when they're having a lot more sex. I'm not trying to put this on your shoulders, like "If only you'd fucked him more!" but rather saying that going forward, it's something to keep in mind.
posted by klangklangston at 2:46 PM on October 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think mainstream porn is expoitive too. Here's something I would guess... if you've known what it's like to be exploited sexually, then watching porn is really concerning because how can you know the woman isn't in that place too? If you know you went along with sexual activities but were in a really bad place-- and men KNEW you were in a bad place but they didn't care... how can you trust these people in these movies are ok?

I personally can't. I know nothing of what "normal" guys are like, but I am guessing there are guys who just don't realize what it can feel like to feel like your insides are disappearing and you don't even exist and all you are is a sperm vesicle and how it feels to watch another human being see that you feel this way and just.. not care. And I would imagine people whose minds/experiences have just never gone there, don't see the same thing when they watch porn.

All of my friends have been extremely premiscuous and watching their journeys of being really happy having crazy sex with lot's of people and then sobbing in the bathroom shitfaced drunk wanting to cut themselves, I just don't see excessive meaningless sex as harmless.

Period. I get that other people do feel like it's harmless, I've known a lot of them for many years and in my own personal experience I've watched too many people be WRONG about how it's affecting them to believe people really know how it's going to affect them in the long run.

I have too many friends who have worked in porn and worked in sex work or as strippers and earnestly, I see pain. I just see pain. I get that some women might truly be empowered, but I have known close friends saying they were empowered and watched what that meant. I just didn't see empowerment.

I would guess the issues that are at the core of your concern would be where to start discussing it with man. I think the goal would be a guy who could relate to where you're coming from with those concerns. I don't think what you're actually worried about is a naked body in art, so it would be a nice medium to find types of erotic art/film that you and he both feel are not exploitive maybe? I.e. if he shares your concerns you'll have to build trust based on him using his own judgement of what is or isn't exploitive and trust him to enjoy art/film that doesn't exploit people to the best can be determined...


I.e. you'll have to get to know him and find out if that's a concern he has too, because if he doesn't really feel concerned about people being exploited in porn or exploitation in general or making choices based on how they affect others, I don't think it will work out very well.
posted by xarnop at 3:48 PM on October 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I had a big moral hangup about porn until I was about 18. thought it was a waste of intellectual energy
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:36 PM on October 16, 2011


What is your age? As a 20 something male, I don't know a single male that doesn't look at some kind of porn, and come to think of it I don't know any females either.

I'm guessing they are out there, that much would be obvious, but you are going to have a really hard time finding one.

And to those that say their SO doesn't watch porn because it's soulless and whatnot, the amateur porn market is much larger in terms of content on the web. It's huge and it's normal couples having sex. It's not soulless, it's quite real and erotic and there is something for literally every fetish.

I don't think beautifulagony could be considered soulless at all. Or metart. Or ftv. These of course at the tamer sites. And if someone came to me and said that they don't look at porn because it's soulless and banal and whatnot I would be inclined to think three things:

1. They are lying
2. They don't know how to use the internet effectively and by some miracle has not come across the amateur stuff, which is highly unlikely if you are under 40
4.Their sex drive is low for whatever reason
3. Their view on sexuality is distorted because much of the amateur and even a lot of the professional stuff now are catered to people just enjoying sex and not 5 guys jackhammering away at some poor 18yo that will probably never do another scene again
posted by penguinkeys at 5:12 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is your age? As a 20 something male, I don't know a single male that doesn't look at some kind of porn, and come to think of it I don't know any females either.

I'm guessing they are out there, that much would be obvious, but you are going to have a really hard time finding one.

And to those that say their SO doesn't watch porn because it's soulless and whatnot, the amateur porn market is much larger in terms of content on the web. It's huge and it's normal couples having sex. It's not soulless, it's quite real and erotic and there is something for literally every fetish.

I don't think beautifulagony could be considered soulless at all. Or metart. Or ftv. These of course at the tamer sites. And if someone came to me and said that they don't look at porn because it's soulless and banal and whatnot I would be inclined to think three things:

1. They are lying
2. They don't know how to use the internet effectively and by some miracle has not come across the amateur stuff, which is highly unlikely if you are under 40
4.Their sex drive is low for whatever reason
3. Their view on sexuality is distorted because much of the amateur and even a lot of the professional stuff now are catered to people just enjoying sex and not 5 guys jackhammering away at some poor 18yo that will probably never do another scene again


That's pretty reductionist. Maybe they just don't like giving in to their fleshy urges.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:15 PM on October 16, 2011


As said above, yes they do exist - my husband is non-religious and doesn't watch porn.

Keep looking, there's one out there for you!
posted by deborah at 6:38 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


you might want to reconsider your definition of exploitation, penguinkeys, or read the history of metart, one or the other. also, some people have a problem with amateur porn because a pretty large amount of those were videos made inside of a relationship that were posted afterwards as revenge.
posted by nadawi at 7:05 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do ask yourself what your issue with "porn" is. There is an extremely broad variety of porn. Much of it may not be what your conception of porn is. Some guys are into female-friendly, made-by-females, produced-by-females, directed-by-females (replace female with women if you prefer), general intended for (lesbian) females.

"Porn" isn't all about fake silicone breasted bleached blonde dumbasses having a shag with some ugly short (to make the penis look bigger) guy with a (camera angle amplifying) huge shlong. There really is a very wide continuum.

But, yeah, for a lot of guys porn is a surrogate for intimacy but only because they can't get the real thing.

Be good, giving, and game* and if porn is still a problem, dtmfa.
posted by porpoise at 7:56 PM on October 16, 2011


Is it realistic to find a non-religious man who doesn't watch porn regularly?

no, it's not very realistic. yes, there are some out there in the same sense that there are winning lottery tickets out there. plus, factoring in the technicalities of finding someone, it seems very hard.

find a therapist who will help you overcome your irrational fear of porn. your criticisms of it are valid but the porn world isn't black and white, there are degrees as others have mentioned. try to develop a more nuanced approach.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:22 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once mentioned that we could watch erotica together and my ex told me I was just trying to control him.
posted by figgypudding at 7:31 AM on October 16 [+] [!]
So this question seems to have been really well answered. And I really want to thank you about being open in your question and your replies. I just want to expand a little bit on the advice you received about talking to a dude about porn.

Now, this guy might have just plain sucked. Maybe he was addicted to porn, or maybe he just plain doesn't respect women to the point where he see's no reason to be honest/open about porn. But I want you to realize most guys who watch porn don't see much difference between watching porn, reading erotica, masturbating while thinking about Megan Fox in Transformers 2, or a woman using a dildo. Also, since they were about 13 years old and first hid an old playboy from their parents, men have been conditioned to lie about porn. And if a significant other approaches dude the wrong way, even someone who rarely watches porn can react the wrong way.

For example- I was once in a relationship where porn became a big issue. I was living with a girl I had been in a relationship with for three years when I mentioned something about a porn I watched earlier in the week, and she just at that point realized that I hadn't completely stopped watching when we got together. It was nothing I had hidden, but it quickly became a super big deal. To her credit, a lot of her anger related to problems of communication we were admittedly having, but that was only clear on retrospect. The message she was telegraphing to me at the time quickly became "As your girlfriend, I have the right to control how you seek arousal, even when I'm not around."

Now, Ms Sharkbot and I have a fun game where we joke about how we own each-others sexy-parts, but sexual autonomy is a pretty sensitive subject for both men and women types. I'm not saying you were infringing on this dude's autonomy, he may have just been trying to emotionally manipulate you. But its easy for a guy, if he's not very introspective, to feel controlled when this stuff comes up, even if he actually is a balanced, not-regularly porn consuming, nice guy.

How would I want someone to approach this with me? Well, when I get to the point in the relationship where things are getting more physical, I talk a lot about sex and other sexy type things. If he asks you about what you like, tell him some things that you like (to show you are being honest, open, non-sex-hating and non-judgmental) but mention that you have to confess there's something you don't like. Due to some problems you've had in the past, you hate it when people lie about porn. Tell him you want to talk about porn. Tell him there are things you don't like about it, and he doesn't have to agree, but he has to respect your opinion. That why it's focused on what you like as opposed to focusing on what is a deal breaker, and it's focusing on respecting your opinions as opposed to focusing on what the dude should feel shameful about. Don't try and get him to confess to liking porn then tell him that's a deal breaker. That's kind of a manipulative trap question. Instead focus on what his definition of porn is, and if that can be made congruent with what you've described as 'erotica.'

Now saying stuff like "hey, y'know those 18 year old Russian girls having sex in a cheap motel room with an older guy who's demeanor screams 'organized crime' are probably not operating with a generous definition of 'consent'" is reasonable, but it's not very "positive" and doesn't really foster an open, non-judgmental dialogue. Instead focus on stuff you like, show him erotica. Show him erotica is hot and it makes you hot that it's not exploitative. Show him its hot that he is doing things in an open manner.

Lastly, everyone has already said there are guys who don't like porn. And if that's as important as qualities such as "respectful," "attractive" and "honest" and you really want to spend the time and sift through the singles scene to find those guys, absolutely go for it. But I want to re-emphasize what some people said who's comments haven't been highlighted; make sure this is really important to you for reasons you can readily articulate to a nice guy whom you're dumping because, when you're not around, he has a hard time getting off without pictures of naked women. If a guy is getting dumped he deserves to know the reason, and something like "porn is exploitative" is easy for an un-thinking dude to dismiss as coming from some "fem-nazi". But a reason like "an un-willingness to distinguish between porn that is exploitative and erotica that supports respect of women shows a lack of empathy that I've run into before, and don't want to get involved in again" might actually make a dude think.

Also, Ms Sharkbot introduced me to Abby Winters, which focuses on natural appearances and features all-women shooting crews, and we are both very happy because of it. That is all.
posted by sharkbot1957 at 10:25 PM on October 16, 2011


As a 20 something male, [...] I don't think beautifulagony could be considered soulless at all. Or metart. Or ftv. [...] And if someone came to me and said that they don't look at porn because it's soulless and banal and whatnot I would be inclined to think ...

5. They grew up in a permissive "nothing is taboo" household and studied/did/taught anthropology for 20 years, such that those sites are seriously boring and completely lacking in appealing sensuality, surprise, significance, and emotional depth--just showcasing matters that are among the most common in the world with mind-crushing repetitiveness.

Since this topic also mentions religion, I'm reminded of what happened when Hortense Powdermaker took a copy of the Bible with her while she was doing ethnographic fieldwork in Melanesia. She figured she'd have a lot of time on her hands, and reading the Bible would be a way to increase her own cultural literacy while taking a break from her work. But the endless recitation of genealogies and taboos in the Old Testament was an overwhelming reminder of work. She couldn't see it as anything but a dreadfully boring mass of cultural details, much like the stuff she was in New Ireland to study but lacking in the vibrancy and personal meaning of what was right there, all around her.

Porn is pretty much the same, once you get that kind of perspective on it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:32 PM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shame-- I think this is a huge issue related to porn use. As much as a lot of us think we've become "sex positive" and finished with all that puritanical shame stuff from the past, I think it's still pretty active in some portion of peoples sexuality than is realised.

I actually think it's possible that porn use really does add to problems in a relationship, but it's more of an issue of porn being a great retreat when the things are having ups and downs and it's possible that without -use of a habit forming escape method of any kind- that it would have been easier to actually be present for and resolve the issues leading to decreased intimacy.

Habit forming behaviors including internet/TV/food/going out/anything under the sun used to escape something else---- all provide the opportunity to escape, and there is one thing that never happens when we are escaping: addressing whatever things/issues/feelings/relationship issues that we are running from.

And you don't start most habit forming behaviors in some state of desperation to escape. You just notice that a bunch of ice cream, or a hard drink, or a nice masturbatory session with sexy videos start sounding more and more comforting.

I think regarding these behaviors I tend to take a harm reduction approach, don't focus on the desire to escape or the use of a behavior to escape as being "bad"--- don't INCREASE shame over seeking something comforting that feels good. Instead focus on awareness that there is some issue of pain/discomfort/life issue that is being avoided, and that maybe is really too big at that moment to entirely fix; and work into facing those things in your body and your life. And try to shift this need for comfort and escape into a habit which causes the least amount of harm but still fulfills that which you feel like you're needing. Meaning, if you're going to use porn to fill it, try to be aware of the ways porn can affect people working in it and make deliberate choices about what kind of porn you're using.

And if you find yourself thinking porn is more satisfying than the real thing, you probably have a LOT of questions to ask and work through with yourself. (Which is not a bad, nor shameful thing at all. It's about asking yourself if you will be happier focusing on porn or focusing on creating a relationship with intimacy that suits your desire and lot's of sex that fills those inner reaches you aren't sure can be filled with anything; and asking yourself what's getting in the way of that.)
posted by xarnop at 5:58 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We exist but the rationale isn't always simple. Ignore those here claiming you are irrational or sex phobic. It can be boredom, distaste at exploitation, or a matter of wanting to limit influences on our sexuality to real people. Talk to potential partners, learn their thoughts. Skip those with no thoughts on the matter; you can't make the decision for them, but it's a deal breaker for you. That's ok.
posted by ead at 11:20 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think beautifulagony could be considered soulless at all. Or metart. Or ftv. These of course at the tamer sites. And if someone came to me and said that they don't look at porn because it's soulless and banal and whatnot I would be inclined to think three things:

1. They are lying
2. They don't know how to use the internet effectively and by some miracle has not come across the amateur stuff, which is highly unlikely if you are under 40
4.Their sex drive is low for whatever reason
3. Their view on sexuality is distorted because much of the amateur and even a lot of the professional stuff now are catered to people just enjoying sex and not 5 guys jackhammering away at some poor 18yo that will probably never do another scene again


In other words, you assume that everyone is just like you, and if anyone claims not to be just like you, they are lying.

But not everyone is, in fact, just like you. I just wanted that noted for the record, in case figgypudding is still reading this thread.
posted by ROTFL at 6:14 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually think it's possible that porn use really does add to problems in a relationship, but it's more of an issue of porn being a great retreat when the things are having ups and downs and it's possible that without -use of a habit forming escape method of any kind- that it would have been easier to actually be present for and resolve the issues leading to decreased intimacy.

I liked xarnop's entire post, but esp. this part.

In the discovery that a partner has a secret porn habit, of whatever degree of seriousness, it's easy to jump immediately to one or more of the following conclusions:

1. OMG! He's a perv!
2. OMG! He can't be trusted! If he can keep this a secret from me, what else might he be hiding?
3. OMG! He's into something that objectifies/degrades women! He's a misogynist creep!

But I think in many cases, the porn thing falls right into the category of "great retreat"/vicarious escapism activities, i.e. televised sports, video games, etc. And I also think that the problems with porn are often exactly the problems with these other forms of habit-forming escapist retreats - in other words the sexual part of it really isn't the big issue.
posted by Angus Jung at 11:28 AM on October 18, 2011


And I also think that the problems with porn are often exactly the problems with these other forms of habit-forming escapist retreats - in other words the sexual part of it really isn't the big issue.

Or maybe that's a good thing, and the OP might be better of trying to see it as a good thing. As in: when he sees you're not into it, he has another release, and thus can reduce overall conflict in a relationship.

This line by the OP is a bit disturbing:

I think it's the compartmentalization

sorry, but that *is* controlling, you're trying to control your partners sexuality. you can choose to not date people who think like that, but please keep in mind that for those of us who like sex but for whatever reason have not been able to have as much as we like, porn is something that can keep us from going crazy.
posted by cupcake1337 at 3:40 PM on October 19, 2011


the OP is trying to find someone who doesn't like porn. that isn't controlling. that's trying to find someone who shares your world view.

a lot of people won't date someone that has visited prostitutes, that's not controlling your partner's sexuality, that's looking for someone who shares your view of sexuality.
posted by nadawi at 4:14 PM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


What is your definition of "regularly"? Because I know a lot of guys who have checked stuff out once in a blue moon, but don't make anywhere near a habit of it.

And please don't think I'm asking this out of a "oh, get used to it, most guys do it" kind of thing. I'm just not clear whether you're taking a zero-tolerance policy or a "once a year maybe but no more" policy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 AM on October 20, 2011


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