What are your house porn rules?
September 27, 2004 8:16 AM   Subscribe

What are your house porn rules? [more! inside!]

My old boyfriend and I had a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about porn that evolved over time. We each knew that we had our own little fascinations, we tended not to share them, and we usually saved our porn surfing for when the other one is not around. We'd talked about it some, we didn't talk about it much; he's a bit more private about it than I was. We're both pretty non-judgmental about it. This started to slip. I'd accidentally surprise him because he didn't hear me get home early. I'd use his laptop to turn the stereo on or off and see a torrent window filled with hardcore whatever. I'd come upstairs and see him furiously closing windows as I walked into the room. I didn't mind the porn, sometimes I even liked the porn, but the caginess and dodginess of it got on my nerves. How do you and yours settle porn territory disputes?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about, on those days when you have surprised him, tell him to keep on looking as you drop to your knees and . . . . . It worked in my house!!

I think that if your BF wants to keep it private though, then you should let him. Unless he's hooking up with people online, or using it as a substitute for intimacy with you, which you don't indicate, it's just harmless self pleasure. Some guys get off on the secretiveness of it. I also know couples that revel in their shared love of porn. My above scenario worked for me. I knew my husband looked at porn online, couldn't care less because I do as well, came home once and found him on the computer, so I just got down to business under the desk and joined right in.
posted by archimago at 8:23 AM on September 27, 2004 [1 favorite]


it would seem to me the best policy would be to share it (exact opposite of what you have now), which would reduce the secrecy and "dodginess"; or don't have it at all.
posted by quadrinary at 8:24 AM on September 27, 2004 [1 favorite]


How do you and yours settle porn territory disputes?

I think one way it could be addressed is to try to find a balance between giving the other person perusing of the porn fair warning that you're about to enter the room. I also think that the person perusing the porn should have a fair and reasonable expectation that you might walk into a room and perhaps they shouldn't be caught to such an extent that both of you are embarassed by having to close windows furiously.

[Aside - when I read your post, I had this image in my head of someone rushing around closing the windows in the room! The idea of program windows didn't hit me until I re-read the post :-) ]

I also think a healthy way to tackle the issue would be for both of you to sit down and talk it out? Not about the porn on view, but on the idea of porn territory disputes. Perhaps each of you could have a "private" zone where the other would know not to tread unless explicitly told it was okay?
posted by tomcosgrave at 8:28 AM on September 27, 2004


It sounds like keeping it private/covering up getting caught is part of the thrill. Your b/f is doing something 'bad' and discussing/sorting the territory would nullify that & diminish the thrills.

Porn is about fantasy, i.e. what you don't have in the real world and so, for some people, involving your partner - the real world - kills off the fantasy.
posted by i_cola at 8:31 AM on September 27, 2004


I think you can look at porn privacy as a kind of concetrated privacy. For most people, it's the most private time of their life. The privacy that most people require around their porn is like the privacy they need in the toilet or while they unwind from work or before they have their coffee, or what have you; the difference is that it's not a gray area matter. If the privacy is broken, it really feels like a violation.

Privacy is a human need, so you shouldn't take it personally that you boyfriend is trying to enfoce his need for it, albeit clumsily. A lot of people take it the wrong way, or feel bad, as if they aren't sexually fullfilling their partner if he has a need for porn. To my experience--and I've talked to a lot of guys about this issue--porn is only partly about sex; it's also about having intimate time with yourself, which can be hard to come by, and which is very important, regardless of how good a partner you have. Co-habitation is hard enough; not having enough time to even properly spank one's monkey can make it oppressive.

The solution, as I see it, is to make your feelings on the porn matter clear. (If you think he has a problem, as in compulsive or addictive behavior, then that's a separate issue. For this posting, I'm assuming that he doesn't.) Have a conversation about it, but don't get too nosey if he doesn't offer up too much. Make it clear that you're cool with whatever you're cool with. And make it clear that you see a difference between privacy and secrecy. Let him know that privacy is okay.

Importantly, set realistic guidelines for privacy. For example, get into the habit of rining the doorbell before walking into the house. This isn't just about giving him time to yank up his shorts, it's more generally about giving him time to get his mind shifted into the new mode of interacting with you. If you're living together, make it okay to say, I'm going to chill out in the computer room on my own for a while. Belive it or not, he may not use that time only for porn... it's important to know that you've got unscripted time in the day when you aren't responsible or answerable to anyone else for what you're doing, no matter what it is. Take this time, yourself, too.

Good question. Good luck!
posted by squirrel at 8:43 AM on September 27, 2004


Has there been a schedule change recently, to where the bf isn't getting enough truly private time to look at stuff without you around?

We all need our private time (well, okay, at least nerds like me do), and maybe you two need to carve out some specific routine. You can even do it without having an official conversation. You can just say you're going off to do X, and he's on his own for a certain amount of time. Then do that every day, and let the routine develop organically.
posted by frykitty at 9:17 AM on September 27, 2004


If I want privacy and don't wish to be interrupted -- porn or no porn -- I lock a door. That's what the locks are there for.

The ideal arrangement for me would be one like archimago has provided. Maybe because I don't get off on secrecy, that seems like the healthiest and most fun of all possibilities.
posted by majick at 9:52 AM on September 27, 2004


Additionally, caginess and dodginess are par for course with viewing porn. "No, mom I'm washing my hands....." Of course you both know what's really going on, but you can't admit it. No matter how open you are to the matter there is always a bit of, 'oops you caught me' shyness involved, especially when viewed as him being in a private personal space, when wham he's not the only one in the room anymore.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 10:05 AM on September 27, 2004


My situation sounds similar to yours in most respects, jessamyn, except that we haven't experienced many "oops!" moments like the ones you describe. It sounds like the idea of the arrangement you have is satisfactory to you both, but it isn't being upheld. If you're going to compartmentalize, you need to really compatmentalize. If you're going to have boundaries, you need to actually honor them. Perhaps calling him if you're going to come home early would be preferable to walking in on something you'd rather not see? And perhaps he needs to take time out more deliberately and carefully if his porn time is cutting into the hours you're both around the house.

Perhaps it's time to enjoy some porn together. If the walls of your labyrinth are starting to crumble, create some shared space where this is all comfortable. Perhaps that's not possible, as in: it would defeat the whole point. Or perhaps you just need to share a little together time and each maintain seperate porn time as well.

Just a thought. I think you might have some room to take the stigma out of those "oops!" moments, even if they do continue to occur.
posted by scarabic at 11:15 AM on September 27, 2004


Do people actually spend a lot of time looking at porn though not masturbating? I mean, I'm doing some computer housecleaning or something looking at porn isn't masturbatory, but that isn't very often. How much time do people spend looking at porn, anyway?? I feel like there's something here I don't understand about other people's sex lives.

I dunno, seems like a tangle of issues here. First is about masturbation: frequency, privacy, and sensibilities. Second is about how porn fits in with that. Third is how the previous two fit into your sex life. Fourth is whether there's some fetishes or the like that are revealed in porn taste that someone doesn't want their partner to know about; and why is that the case? Fifth is each partner's overall attitude about porn? Are they jealous? Even a little?

There's lots and lots of folks that assume that a healthy relationship means no porn and even no masturbation. I don't think that's true (that's not to say that I don't think that a relationship without porn or masturbation can't be healthy). In my most recent long-term relationship, which really is a bad example since there were conflicts between us regarding sex (particularly my sexual interest in her), we were very casual about each other's porn, sometimes use porn and/or masturbation in our shared sex life, would if practically necessary (we had a roomate) look at porn and masturbate in the presence of the other (which I think made each of us-that is, the non-masturbating partner-mildly uncomfortable). I didn't really have any special kinks or anything that I tried to keep her from knowing about or seeing; she did have a couple of surprising porn fetishes that she didn't exactly try to keep a huge secret from me, but was circumspect about them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:18 AM on September 27, 2004


Has there been a schedule change recently, to where the bf isn't getting enough truly private time to look at stuff without you around?

Yeah, we had always been sort of a joined-at-the-hip couple so I think we both had trouble asserting what "away time" from each other meant in a house that we both lived in and, in fact, shared all group space in. In a future dream world we would have had offices, bedrooms, locking doors, hobbies, etc. I know that I looked at a lot less porn after I had a live-in, both for logistical reasons as well as "not as interested" reasons. I think the problem was more about free time than porn but the porn aspect made it a little trickier to talk about.
posted by jessamyn at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2004


You can only watch porn where you're willing to take on the role of anyone in said porn. (The bukkaker or the bukkake-ee, as it were).
posted by alan at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2004


Why not get a "do not disturb" sign and put it on the (closed) door to a room during porn-o-thons? This way anyone who wants privacy while viewing can have it, and anyone viewing porn on the laptop will just have to accept that it's not private unless they're in the room designated for that purpose.
posted by biscotti at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2004


it's not private unless they're in the room designated for that purpose.

What the romans would call the Masturbatorium, huh? All houses should have one.
posted by signal at 2:58 PM on September 27, 2004


Masturbatorium

Oh, I thought that was when one declares a temporary end to mastrubation. *shudders at the thought*
posted by squirrel at 7:24 PM on September 27, 2004


This might not be helpful, but it is an option: no more porn.
posted by davidmsc at 8:24 PM on September 27, 2004


Might not be helpful?
posted by squirrel at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2004


This is long after the fact, but in my world his porn is always viewed in the same room. After opening the door quickly led to scramblind and embarassment a couple of times, I started loudly, "Hey, sweetie," a few seconds before entering the room, or walking heavily on my way to the door.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:05 PM on October 4, 2004


Standing rules: My SO and I always phone before coming home. We've used that since the beginning, and it makes life lots more comfortable--Both for the sake of any self pleasure, as well as the engineering of surprises for eachother, or something as mundane as having dinner ready in more timely fashion.
posted by Goofyy at 1:16 AM on October 5, 2004


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