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What Constitutes Cheating?


Dear Philippa,

Do you think a guy who looks at porn on the Internet is cheating? My girlfriend thinks I'm cheating by doing this. But I'm faithful to her. I'm not even having cyber-sex with anyone. It's all just fantasy. What's wrong with that?

�Paul, Cincinnati, OH


Dear Paul,

There are those people who view all pornography as morally wrong. I don't know if your girlfriend is one of these people. If she is, then you have more than an issue concerning sexual behavior, you have a serious difference in values. I'm assuming that this is not what is going on in your situation.

I read a survey a year or so ago in a woman's magazine that asked women your question and 45% of them said that if you told your girlfriend about your porno watching you weren't cheating; but if you didn't then you were.

I wonder if the women that were surveyed would feel the same way if the guy read girlie magazines or rented erotic videos. I suspect it's not the act of viewing pornography to fantasize that bothers most women, but the type of porno viewed. Keep in mind that online pornography means different things to different people because it ranges from partially nude photos to videos that exceed the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Personally, I find that most of the xxx-spam that reaches my email system addressed to AskPhilippa is pretty warped and offensive. Another concern your girlfriend may have is that you may eventually try online cyber-sex because it is so easily available.

Some people also feel that pornography objectifies women because it often portrays women the way some men wish they would be, focused solely on physically pleasing their man. Porno does not take into account a woman's need for emotional as well as physical intimacy. How can a real-live woman ever compete with the fantasy portrayed on the screen?

If you want to resolve these issues then you have to help your girlfriend feel like her concerns are valid. You need to listen to why she is disturbed by what you do. And I do mean sincerely listen so she knows that you care about how she feels. Experts in human sexuality say that the healthiest relationships are where both partners are totally open with each other about what they like sexually so they can create an environment where both feel safe sharing new experiences together.

Fantasy is healthy and normal; however, online pornography may not be the best source for your pleasure. Use this experience as an opportunity to develop more intimacy in your relationship. Consider sharing fantasies and making them part of your time together as well as apart. Talk to each other about what you like and what you need to feel satisfied. And most importantly show your girlfriend that she is one who fires your fantasies and fills your heart.



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