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How can I let this go?

By Anonymous March 22, 2009 - 4:49pm
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When I first met my boyfriend, he was a porn addict. I am really against porn, not for moral or religious reasons, but because I feel that it demeans women and lessens the desire for one's partner. There are other reasons but I won't go into them. We have come a long way as a couple; we have an amazing sex life, he hasn't used porn in years and we get more and more into each other every year. He says that he doesn't miss porn. He feels that his sex life is the best in his life.

My problem? I trust that he is done with pornography, but even though we have agreed as a couple not to masturbate when we are parted(we are only ever parted occasionally and never for more than a few days), I always have to ASK him if he has. He is a very truthful guy and I know would be honest if he had laspsed. I know that on some level, my asking repeatedly is a controlling behaviour. At this point, I need to trust him, let it go and stop with the questions.
Please help me to do this. Any advice is welcome.
Heidi B.

Add a Comment8 Comments

You are so welcome, and talking with you has helped me, too! :-)

I was thinking about our conversation last night, and I do agree with you that sharing your inner-most fears to a trusting and loving person could be wonderful and create even more intimacy. He sounds like he is very honest with you, and hopefully (with time) you can learn to trust that.

Relationships, even the most healthy of them all, are scary and risky. You are sharing every piece of yourself with another person (not giving it to them; just sharing), and the best part is that we all live in a society together with other people, places and things; those very people, places and things that can provide richness, insight, excitement and perspective to our relationships. The risky part is all these people, places and things can also create temptation or other "things" we'd prefer not to think about...but they're there, and we have a choice to live in a bubble (and place our loved ones in a bubble so they don't get hurt), or we live with hope, faith, positive intentions, respect and trust, and hope our loved ones do as well.

Here's to wishing you a healthy and happy and fulfilling relationship, and I hope you continue working on your past wounds so that you can appreciate your future even more.

Alison B

March 23, 2009 - 11:19am
EmpowHER Guest

We are soooo close, it is remarkable to us and to others. He adores me. When he is away from me, he calls me a few times a day. We miss each other. Maybe we are both a bit needy. He sometimes has to go on business trips and neither of us enjoys the prospect but we live with the unavoidable.
Thanks for all your suggestions. I already feel a little more at ease. I am a very controlled person and feel that maybe I need to relax a bit myself about my own feelings too.
He treats me like a princess..he really does. All these trust issues lie with me. He feels, like you, that how we treat each other is the most important thing.
Our sex life is fantastic. He wants me more now even that when we first met....and I am very attracted to him too.
He has always believed that masturbation is normal and healty. He grew up with very hippy parents who gave him so much space...so much that he had a porn habit by the age of 15 or so! He regrets that!
I probably ask too much of him; to be 100% physically and mentally faithful. I am very lucky with what I have; a man who would do anything for me and adores me. Many women will never have that.
I think I will tell him that it's me who is scared; scared of being second best, scared of not matching up, scared of being left. He will think these feelings are unfounded but it may make me feel better to be very honest about them. Do you agree?
Thanks for all the time and effort you have given to my question.

March 23, 2009 - 12:05am

Last comment...

this may help in your letting go process regarding your original post about masturbation:Is Masturbation Healthy?

Another way to increase the trust in your relationship is to talk with your boyfriend about his views of masturbation. There are some great talking points (or "quizzes") that can help couples talk about their views of sexuality...it's helpful to learn each other's perspective on these things. Does your boyfriend believe that masturbation is healthy? Why or why not?

Most importantly is how he treats you when you two are together. Are you happy with your sex life and intimacy when you two are together? That could be another area to explore...maybe you are getting a different vibe from him, and wanting to blame masturbation for a lack of intimacy or trust between you two? If so, please talk with him and be honest with your feelings (you said he is a loving man...maybe you can trust him with your scared feelings?).

I wish you the best---keep me updated!

March 22, 2009 - 7:13pm

You're right---the subject of sex is scary, especially when we think about our partners being a sexual being...and the many images and potential for hurt this brings up.

You asked about my thoughts about my partner. Honestly, it is difficult to start a new relationship and know that he had "a past". It took a few years to get past it, even though I had "a past", too. I just had to tell myself that his past made him who he was, and I did not want to take that away from him; just like it would be unfair for him to be upset with me for having a previous boyfriend before I knew him. Then, what got me past my awful thoughts is this: I realized I WANTED him to have a past, to be a sexual person, because if he wasn't...then I would be dating a kid with no experience. Does that make sense? Think about it in terms of something non-sexual. I wanted a boyfriend who has some life experience; we were both in our 30s; I didn't want to revert back to being thirteen and date an immature boy. So, along with that comes experience in life...including a sex life!...and that goes with the territory of dating. Then, when I got my mind wrapped around believing this train-of-thought (and whole-heartedly feeling it), then other things made sense too, like he probably masturbates. He probably does not masturbate to my lovely image each time (LOL!), and I want him to be a normal, vibrant man! It would actually be scary to be with a man who only thought about me, because I wouldn't be able to live up to that same standard. It's fun to think a guy is cute, and for him to think you're cute outside of the relationship. It makes you feel good. That's where the trust over time comes into play...that someone thinking another person is cute does not equate to any action. It's part of being alive, I guess. So, if my husband masturbates (he would kill me if he reads this!) to the thought of another woman..so be it. I don't need to know if it was a co-worker, ex-girlfriend, movie star or myself...it is a fleeting moment and it means he has a healthy sex drive...and THAT is what is most important to me!

It makes sense that you don't 100% trust your boyfriend because of his past. That will just take time, and is not a good or bad thing. My then-boyfriend had gone to strip clubs with his guy friends before I knew him. We talked about it, and he said he was uncomfortable most of the time, the other time it was kind of exciting. It was nice to hear his thoughts. I would not be comfortable with my current husband going to a strip club now that we're married; however, other women are OK with this.

If you have a loving man right now, that's great! If he knows your past, then you can both work on mutual trust and respect in your relationship. It will take years...and is something that you never stop working on.

Ask your therapist for a book recommendation on "letting go". This is a skill that many people do not have, and is difficult to achieve. There are some methods you can try:
- focus on the positive
- let go of one small, achievable behavior
- talk with your boyfriend about your wanting to let go of control, that you are scared. Ask for his suggestions and ask him what areas he has trouble letting go of...there is a tendency in relationships to want to control the other person...maybe you can both work on a tiny step together and reward yourselves for each victory?
- meditation helps train your mind to let go of things you cannot control.

Probably knowing the difference between things you can control (your own behaviors) and things you cannot control (other people's behaviors) will help you in so many ways: relieve stress, be able to depend on yourself, trust in yourself and value yourself, and have more fun and joy with others.

"You can view life as unexpected and exciting or your can view it as scary because you don’t know what the future holds." Choose the life that is unexpected and exciting...and that means letting go of some things you cannot control!

March 22, 2009 - 7:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Alison,
Thanks for your honesty.It hurts a little but I know you are right.
I grew up in a family where I was constantly compared to my many siblings and mostly to do with physical appearance and this has led me to a life filled with competition with other women. I hate myself sometimes for being so jealous and trying to control my boyfriend's thoughts about sex. The idea of simply letting go of those feelings sounds so easy and yet for me is so hard.
Would you be completely comfortable with your partner masturbating to a fantasy about your friend or your sister or some woman in the street? I suppose that the answer is, don't think about it. Stop those feelings and use your thoughts for more important issues?
Some sex therapists are all about sexual expression through many formats but others are into the idea of total sexual fidelity. I have done a lot of research on this.And the latter was the type of relationship that I always dreamed of.
I think that I am even less trusting in this relationship, as this man, though completely recovered, has a history of pornography and strip clubs. He even one almost picked up a prostitute. I emphasize the fact that he is over that life now...but it's so ironic that someone like me would meet and end up living with and loving a man with a past like this!
I want this relationship to work so I am focusing right now on the 'letting go' of my control. It's like jumping into the deep end, scary but ultimately rewarding as I will feel better aswell as him.
My first test is to stop asking and to leave the subject be.

March 22, 2009 - 6:23pm

That makes more sense...I'm glad you wrote back!

I know it sounds strange, but it is actually a GOOD thing if your boyfriend masturbates while you are not there, and he may fantasize about you one time, he may fantasize about another woman or a combination of woman who do not exist. I know it's difficult to think this way...but put it in perspective. This is actually GOOD for him to express himself in a sexual way without you! Do you truly want to be in his every thought 100% of the time? What are the consequences of that? Do you want your boyfriend to be "asexual" at all moments in his life, except all-of-the-sudden when he's with you he turns into a sexual being again? Unfortunately, the world doesn't work that way, and excepting that every relationship has this aspect to it might help.

Another idea: take your thoughts to the other extreme for a moment:
Have you ever had sexual dreams of another guy, either one you knew, an ex-boyfriend or a movie star? Have you ever found another guy attractive? The answer is most definitely "yes". Does this mean you don't love your current boyfriend? No, of course not. Does this mean you want to be unfaithful to your current boyfriend? What it means is that you are a sexual being, and that's just what humans (and other animals) do. It's normal, and it's OK. It is not about the sex or attraction; it is all about the trust and mutual respect.

To answer your question about "how"...it sounds like you are doing the right thing by going to counseling. You have had a difficult past regarding sexual abuse. The trust issues will take time. My advice (please, please ask your counselor his/her opinion on this, and take their advice over mine; I have never met you) would be to take the controlling behaviors off the table in relationship to your boyfriend, in regards to what he does on his own time. If you two are in a committed, monogamous relationship, then you both need to honor that. However, he has every right as an adult to sexually express himself with his own body, on his own time, alone...asking him otherwise is not fair, is not human, and is controlling and creating a trap for him to fail.

You want this relationship to succeed, and I'm assuming your boyfriend does as well. Create situations for you both to be successful in, and I would stay away from anything sex-related until you are further along in your recovery process with your counselor. You can make it fun...what are some fun goals that you two can have for the relationship that will help it succeed? Go to a new park together, take lessons for a new sport, visit a new town, try a new ice cream flavor...the possibilities are endless!

If you are unable to let go of controlling your boyfriend's behavior, perhaps this may not be the best time in your life to have a boyfriend. Relationships are absolutely not about controlling; abusers use control and power over another person, and you do not want to start that cycle again. Please let your boyfriend be who he is; if it fits with you, then great. If it does not, then let him go and work on your issues with him by your side as a trusted friend.

I hope this message wasn't too honest! Let me know if you'd like to talk about it anymore!

March 22, 2009 - 5:56pm
EmpowHER Guest

I guess that I am afraid that if he masturbates when I am not there, that he will fantasize about other women though he tells me that he would only think of me. I am aware that I need to let this go, believe me...but I am having a hard time.
I want to feel more secure.
I am aware that this is not about him. He is a wonderful, caring, kind person but I have issues of trust from childhood that are hard to let go of. I also have vague childhood memories of sexual abuse. I have a therapist and she says that I definitely need to stop this controlling behavior.
I know that...but how?
I don't feel the need to masturabte myself. Maybe once in a blue moon but I really only feel sexual with a man. All my best orgasms are with intercourse.
I used to mastubate but now am just not that into it.

March 22, 2009 - 5:39pm


Why have you both asked each other not to masturbate in each other's absence? (or, was this your idea and he agreed to it?). Sounds very extreme and controlling to me, and not the stuff that healthy relationships are made of.

Masturbation and porn use/porn addiction have nothing to do with each other. Masturbation can be a part of a healthy expression of sexuality. Porn addiction, by definition, is not part of a healthy expression of sexuality. Porn use is debatable. There is a wide spectrum of behaviors that fall under the category of "sexual"; everything from dreams, hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, communicating, masturbating, being curious, intercourse, playing with toys in sexual ways, touching oneself without climax, watching R rated movies, watching XXX rated movies, reading romance novels...on and on and on...

Are there other trust issues in this relationship? Why are you using masturbation as the litmus test for trust? Asking a man not to masturbate to prove that he is trustworthy is like asking a man not to have a wet dream or have an erection upon waking in the morning. Does he need to ask your permission to do other things in the relationship as well? Why do you feel the need for him to express his sexuality in ways that ONLY involve you? People are sexual in nature; it does not mean they act on every sexual thought or impulse, but controlling the who, what, where, when of every aspect of another person's sexual expression will never result in a trusting relationship. What if he has a sexual dream about another woman; would that make you feel even more insecure in the relationship? What if he goes out to dinner with another friend who is female; would that make you feel more insecure in the relationship? You've gotta trust this guy, trust yourself, or let him go, I'm sorry to say!

Lastly, why have you decided not to masturbate yourself? This is a healthy part of a woman's sexuality to, and helps to understand her body. Women or men masturbating do not take the place of desire for another person; I can send you some studies from the Kinsey Institute on this (it's an old wive's tale, made to be guilt-producing!). Masturbation can actually have the opposite effect; it helps a person be more confident when the time comes to be with another person, as well as many other helpful reasons.

March 22, 2009 - 4:58pm
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