“I’ve been in a great heterosexual relationship with my boyfriend for over a year, but I recently found a large history of gay pornography on his laptop that began about a month after I started dating him. We really like each other, but I’ve recently found myself avoiding him. How do you think I should talk to him about this and make sure our relationship can last?”
In a situation like this, it can be easy to jump to “worst case” scenarios. Finding out that your partner has kept secrets from you, especially when it comes to his sexuality, can be tough. The start to every conversation is honesty. Avoiding your boyfriend will not fix anything, it will only cause more strife when you actually do sit down and talk it out. Bisexuality, pansexuality, men who have sex with men but continue to identify as straight… pretty much any other forms of sexuality besides homosexuality and heterosexuality are often overlooked in our society but exist nonetheless. When these sexualities are brought into the mainstream conversation, many negative perceptions and stereotypes dominate, leaving those with these sexualities feeling reserved about disclosing. Only your boyfriend will be able to give you the answers that you want, and maybe he is still figuring them out.
When it comes to talking it out, it’s important to have this conversation before your alienation of him goes on much longer. If you want real answers, this is not a conversation that you can start in the middle of the Student Center; make sure you are in a location that is private and comfortable for both of you. If you want honesty from him, it’s important that you offer honesty in return, including how you came across the porn history. Things not to do include waiting till you’re halfway through dinner and suddenly blurting out “ARE YOU GAY?” That will not work out in a productive or healthy manner for anyone.
This does not necessarily spell doom and disaster for your relationship, but that is up to you both. Before engaging in conversation, it’s worthwhile to consider your own boundaries. Are you more upset at the lack of communication/honesty or the act itself? If you’re upset about him watching porn, are you upset at the fact that he is watching porn in general or is it that his sexuality might deviate from just you? How do you know that this started after you began dating? Perhaps this was a previous habit, and would that change your feelings about it? Your relationship isn’t the only thing being discussed here, it’s his sexuality and all the societal messages both of you have received and internalized about sexuality, as well. Sexuality and masculinity are very much linked and the perceptions of both can be damaging to anyone who falls outside the plane of macho masculine heterosexuality. He has a lot to lose here, too. Be careful that in asking him about the situation you don’t find yourself getting aggressive and turning to “blaming and shaming.” His identity and sexuality is valid and deserves recognition and support. This is a situation in which you can either find out more about your partner, or where you realize the relationship will not work out due to no fault of either of you; but, regardless of the outcome, you will learn. That’s the point of it all, right?
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