I recently found my SO of two years paying for OnlyFans. He had only just started using it and his account has only been active for a month when I randomly ran across a subscription notification. I justified to myself that someone in a relationship shouldn’t have an account on OnlyFans. I discovered that he subscribed to about $200 worth of content and subsequently had a panic attack.Anonymous, Facebook.
I’ve told him that I have major insecurity issues and low self-esteem issues from previous experiences. While I don’t mind him watching porn and never stopped him from watching what he wants, something about paying for an actual person’s nude pictures really bothers me. I feel like he cheated on me. When I shared my feelings with him, he was reluctant to but quickly accepted how I felt and apologized. I still feel heartbroken over what happened and I can’t stop thinking about what he did. We are still together, but I’m wondering what others would have done in my position.
I am going to start off this column by addressing and acknowledging your feelings.
Your feelings of betrayal are valid. Your insecurity appear to originate from an internalized aspect of your partnership that you don’t think you can fulfill for your partner.
We are so often taught that we as humans must be everything to our partners: emotionally, physically, mentally, and sexually. And somehow, fulfilling only 90% of your partner’s needs are unbecoming of you, not just as a partner but as a human being. In so much that you see the critical judgment and prejudice in this very thread against your partner. And that the 10% you don’t fulfill suddenly and immediately feeds into your innate insecurity about who you are as a person outside of the role of partner. Your issue with your insecurity is something that you need to own and work on. The fact that he watches porn as it relates your insecurity is not his responsibility. It is something you should work on through therapy.
And the thing is, you say that you feel like you got cheated on. But the very concept and boundaries that define cheating and infidelity has constantly shifted as the relationship dynamics themselves have shifted over time. That particular aspect of change is very evident in how we see and interact with porn. I would venture to guess that most sexually active folks these days watch porn or read erotica – even if it isn’t for the expressed purpose to masturbate. But the concept of erotic medium has been around for FAR longer than the concept of infidelity and cheating has been. Monogamy as we see it has only really been around for the past fifty or so years. So to go back to what you shared, your feelings of betrayal are valid. However, your feelings of betrayal are not facts. Based on what you’ve shared, I presume that porn consumption is okay between you and your partner. As such, I am going to assume that you have never had an explicit conversation to say that you two should not pay for porn. And I’m curious to see if this particular insecurity stems from his being on OnlyFans, or if you’d be just as upset if he was paying for porn that was manufactured by a professional studio. If this was never an explicit agreement to not pay for porn, he did not breach an agreement or a boundary that would define what he did as cheating. Feelings are not facts.
I also have to point out that based on what you shared in your post, you seem to have dug pretty deeply into his OnlyFans history.
I feel like that act of snooping in and of itself is a major violation of trust, much worse than his paying for porn ever could be. The right to reasonable privacy is very important in modern relationships where we live most of our lives online. Openness and honesty too are important, but not when it breaches on his right to reasonable privacy. I know the dangerous slippery slope of digging for more and more information, which is a reflection of your innate insecurities and relationship anxiety. However, it too is a violation of an unspoken boundary and it is important for you to remind yourself of that for not just this relationship but for any future relationships you might have.
Instead of proactively justifying your behavior, it might be time for you to start a retroactive dialogue with your partner about what does and does not constitute cheating in your relationship. It is important for you two to keep in mind that you each likely came from different personal and familial backgrounds and only recently got to know each other after decades of maturing in your own personal journeys. As such, your personal view on what defines infidelitous behavior might be completely different from what your partners personally views as infidelitous behaviors, and vice versa. Have those really uncomfortable discussions about the what-ifs when the practical applications of the current happenstance is already hashed out. Those what-ifs will help you proactively address any future potential violation of personal boundaries or communicative disconnects.
At the end of the day, you will have to determine if this is something you want to work on. You will find that there are many who agree with your perspective on paying for porn. But men are so often negatively stigmatized for quality porn consumption or even toy usage, as it somehow negatively reflects on their sexual proclivity and fitness as sexual mates (as in, he couldn’t get another person to want to do that with him). In comparison, female sexual exploration is empowering and celebrated. So let’s keep that in mind as you reflect on how his experience with porn consumption could be filtering through your prejudice around sex work as it relates to masculinity.
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