Dear Jenny, Why is my girlfriend watching porn?

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Jenny Block answers all of your burning lesbian sex and relationship questions. This week: Porn. She digs it, you’re not so sure.

Dear Jenny,

I am 22 and in my first real “grown-up” relationship. Mandy and I have been dating for six months and moved in together about three months ago. We are a match made in heaven and I am just extremely in love with her. She is confident, sexy and very kind and giving. Our sex life is frequent and passionate.

I really thought all was going great until I discovered on her phone that she has been watching porn. I can tell by the dates that it is not just a one time thing, but quite often. I feel just terribly insecure about this. All kinds of thoughts have been going through my head, mainly am I not enough for her sexually? Will this porn use lead to a desire to be with other women? And more than anything, why with such a beautiful and giving partner like me would she need to view porn?

-Taylor

Dear Taylor,

Ah, the porn question. First things first, congrats on the grown-up relationships. That’s huge. And it sounds like it’s going well for the most part.

Now to the porn. The short answers are this. No. Not necessarily. And, because she’s human.

Here’s the thing. Porn is about fantasy. It’s very often not about what we want to do in real life, but instead what gets us off. Her watching porn doesn’t mean that you’re not enough. In fact, it may very well mean that she is so turned on by you, that she feels the desire to masturbate when you’re not around and porn helps fuel her when she’s taking care of business all on her own.

Porn will likely not lead to a desire to be with other women. Porn is her “other woman.” She loves you. She doesn’t want to be your French maid or your dirty little whore. She doesn’t want you to be her filthy slave or her sadistic doctor. She wants her porn to do that for her. What turns us on is a very mysterious thing. There is nothing wrong with a healthy fantasy life that includes porn and erotica and plain old imagination coupled with masturbation.

Finally, it’s not that she needs porn. It’s that she wants it. She gets all the real-life love and sex she wants from you. But she is still human and she still has perfectly healthy desires. It doesn’t matter how hot you are or how fantabulous a girlfriend you are. Some girls like porn. And some don’t, and that’s ok too.

Porn can be a part of a healthy relationship. If she becomes distracted by it, if she watches it nonstop, if she chooses it over you, if she asks you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, etc., it may be time to seek professional help. But if she likes it a little naughty when she’s having her alone time, so be it.

Here’s the thing with porn though. It has a long history of violence against and exploitation of women. Some argue that porn can only be made through violence against and exploitation of women. I can’t say whether that’s true or not. But I can say that porn, in general, is not a pretty industry and is generally not healthy for the women working it. That being said, there are exceptions.

There is lesbian porn made by and for REAL lesbians, often with their very own partners – and it shows! If you and your girlfriend decide that you are ok with porn being a part of your relationship, I would do some research together and see if you can find stuff that you both feel good about. The Crash Pad Series and Juicy Pink Box are some options. AfterEllen does not endorse any porn sites, for the record.

Another option is literary erotica. Books like “Little Birds” by Anais Nin, The Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice, and a wealth of anthologies by Rachel Kramer Bussel, not to mention the wealth of writing that can be found online, can all be used to fit the bill when it comes to fantasies. And since it’s writing instead of film, the real-life violence and exploitation are not a concern.

Like anything else, the best way to get to the bottom of this is to talk to her. Bring it up in a non-accusatory way at a time when you are both relatively stress-free and have time and space to talk. You’ll be able to tell as soon as you start talking to her what her porn interest is all about. As long it falls under the “just for fun” category, allow her the freedom to let her freak flag fly.

Who knows, maybe it’ll turn out to be something you like to indulge in together now and again…