Dating

I Caught My Boyfriend Looking at Porn on His Phone. Is This a Red Flag?

Very recently, my boyfriend and I were looking at Instagram together on his phone, and when he opened up his photo gallery, I spotted a picture of a woman wearing a bra. I was immediately unnerved and I asked if he could show me that photo again. He acted oddly and said he didn’t want to share the photo and how I’d be infringing on his privacy.

I told him he can choose to not show me his phone, but our relationship will have a huge dent. He ultimately showed me his phone and he downloaded nude photos from a porn site onto his photo gallery. I’ve never really been a jealous girlfriend and I encourage watching pornography. But I don’t know why that incident made me feel so bad.

He was also very apologetic and made me feel like he was cheating, and he was also trying to hide his phone because he felt embarrassed, since these girls aren’t actual porn stars. They are actual people from amateur porn sites. Is this a red flag at all? For some reason, it’s easier for me to stomach a situation if he was just watching porn.

Syra

Thanks for the question, Syra. I also want to refer you to this post called “What Do Men Get Out of Looking at Other Women?” which may add some nuance to what I share below.

I understand why you were unnerved when you saw a bra pop up on his phone. (another woman!)

I understand why he didn’t want to share the photo with you. (how mortifying to be caught by your own girlfriend!)

I understand why you feel that he had to share his phone with you to preserve the trust. (my boyfriend should have nothing to hide from me!)

I understand why he did share his phone with you and apologized (I want my girlfriend to know I’m trustworthy and didn’t cheat on her!)

I don’t understand why you’re parsing the difference between amateur porn and “real” porn.

I don’t understand why you’re parsing the difference between amateur porn and “real” porn.

Do you think that because these women aren’t famous, they’re somehow a greater threat to your relationship?

Do you think that because your boyfriend gets off on regular women, he’s apt to leave you for a regular woman?

Listen, I am not here to tell you that porn use is good, nor am I here to tell you that you’re not entitled to feeling your feelings regarding this incident.

But, from what I can gather from your short email, your boyfriend seems to be a normal guy who likes to jerk off to amateur porn and came clean(!) when confronted. And you seem to be a regular, well-adjusted girlfriend who intellectually understands that his porn use is benign and not threatening to your relationship, but is having trouble actually feeling that way.

As such, I wouldn’t consider this a red flag at all. I would consider it a small victory for honesty and transparency. Now your boyfriend doesn’t have to hide his predilections anymore and now you don’t have to worry about the unknown hurting you. The worst is already over. Go make your own video and stop worrying.

(I don’t mean that about the video, BTW. Too risky. But you get the idea.)

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