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I just found out my feminist boyfriend watches porn

Can a man be “thoughtful and a feminist” and a watcher of porn? Our advice columnist Claudia Dey helps you sort it out.

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Man watching porn on computer in bed

Photo, iStock.

 

Dear Claudia,

I came home early from work and walked in on my boyfriend of four years surfing porn. I find porn disgusting and degrading to women, and I thought he felt the same way. My boyfriend is a thoughtful man and a feminist. Seeing him in front of those images made me feel like I’m living with a stranger. What do I do?

Dear Shocked,

But you aren’t living with a stranger. You’re living with your boyfriend of four years, a “thoughtful man,” “a feminist” — and a watcher of porn. It can rightly cause confusion that the people we love are many things at once, and that those qualities are often in opposition. How to recover from your shock? With the best tool for resolution: conversation.

It’s time to check in with your boyfriend. What is he thinking about? What is he after? Is this a passing or enduring fascination? As you come to understand the size of this secret, ask yourself: Can I live with it? Or does it get in the way of how I experience our sex life?

It’s crucial to the health of every love relationship that you each have your private universe. Without (reasonable) secrets, you forfeit your selfhood, the very flint that caused a spark in the first place. Secrets are not betrayals — they’re declarations of autonomy. They don’t have to distance you and, over time, they can even keep you together.

claudia-dey

 

Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier.

Submit your questions to Dear Claudia at chatelaine.com/askclaudia