Savage Love: Porn and Circumstance 

My fiancée is extremely bothered by me looking at porn. It revolves around insecurities that have gotten so bad that even other girls bother her. (We can hardly go to a beach anymore.) I don't have any weird relationship with porn—no addiction, no violent stuff, and I look pretty infrequently. She acknowledges that it's a normal thing but is unable to get past it. She has gone through two counselors on her own, and we have gone through two couples counselors. They have ALL said the same thing: "It's completely reasonable to want him to not look at porn, and if he loves you, he won't look at it anymore." I have been asked how often I look at it, why I won't stop looking at it, why is it so important to me. They have recommended "clinics" to help me abstain from porn. This all happens after both of us say that our goal is for this—me looking at porn very occasionally—to not be a problem and even after we've told them that she used to be totally okay with it (four years ago) but now she feels crazy and doesn't want to feel this way about it. Our last therapist said my refusal to go to a clinic showed that we had a toxic relationship! I'm dumbfounded. Every time we see a therapist like this, it damages our relationship.

Lack Of Sane Therapists

"The therapists seen by LOST have drunk the Kool-Aid: Porn is automatically bad, stopping porn use is always the best answer, the person who doesn't like porn is always right," said Dr. David Ley, writer, clinical psychologist, and author of The Myth of Sex Addiction. "Such therapists develop target fixation when porn is involved and lose sight of other, real issues that need to be addressed."

The most obvious issue that needs addressing is your fiancée's evident and apparently metastasizing insecurity. (Yesterday you had to stop watching porn, today you can't go to the beach, tomorrow you won't be able to have female friends.) But since all the therapists you've seen thus far were batshit-crazy sexphobes—or "fixated" on porn, as Dr. Ley put it—her issues haven't been addressed.

"LOST's fiancée probably sees his use of porn as a reflection of his level of attraction to her," said Dr. Ley. "Or she's worried that a man who looks at porn is a man who will cheat. I understand and empathize with her fear."

But Dr. Ley wonders if something else is at work here. "LOST's fiancée might be dealing with a form of anxiety disorder, where obsession is sometimes expressed through irrational fears of infidelity," said Dr. Ley. "A therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (the 'other kind of CBT') for anxiety disorders may be helpful, and less likely to get distracted by blaming porn."

To find a therapist who specializes in CBT and isn't a batshit-crazy, smut-shaming sexphobe, Dr. Ley suggests you find a therapist through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (aasect.org) or the "Kink Aware Professionals Directory" at the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (ncsfreedom.org). "The therapists LOST will find there are more likely to be sex-positive," said Dr. Ley, "and less likely to jump on the 'porn is the root of all problems' bandwagon." You can follow Dr. David Ley on Twitter @DrDavidLey.

On the Lovecast, Dan and Heather Havrilesky of Ask Polly discuss unfortunate tattoos: savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net, @fakedansavage on Twitter

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