How to Do It

My Husband Secretly Loves Bisexual Porn

How do I make him talk about this with me?

A guy sits in his bed watching bisexual porn, surrounded by click-pointer icons.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

Dear How to Do It,

My husband and I have been married for 16 years. We have sex about once a month, after kids and lots of life stuff, and that’s fine for me. I think he’d like a little more, but he’s seemed OK with our current pace. I know he masturbates pretty frequently—he goes to a particular room, and I know what’s up—but I try to respect his privacy. Recently, I was cleaning in that particular room and I brushed his laptop, which was not password-protected. You probably know where this is going: He had left some porn up on the screen. The thing is, it was bisexual porn. And the guys were definitely the focal point of this particular one from what I could tell. I was sort of shocked and I only looked for a second before I shut the laptop and left the room.

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My husband has never mentioned a sexual interest in men in any way, and I never would have guessed he might have one. This ate at me for a couple weeks before I finally mentioned it to him in a clumsy way. He turned bright-red and said it was just porn, nothing more. I should have let it go, but I pressed, and he eventually said he prefers bisexual porn but would never want to try anything with a guy in person. I asked him if he would if I gave him my blessing. He seemed super flustered and said he didn’t know. He denied he’s bisexual and said it’s just curiosity, but I could tell he was a little unsure. He seemed happy to change the subject and I finally let it go, but I feel really uneasy about what I found out. He would die before talking about this with a couples’ therapist. I also have no idea if I’d be OK with letting him explore, but I definitely can’t just forget about this. What should I do?

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—Not Snooping

Stoya: So, some fantasies are just fantasies. Sometimes people fantasize about things they would never want to actually happen.

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Rich: Yeah, and porn can kind of tease out those very fantasies but also keep them at bay.

Stoya: That too.

Rich: Could it be possible that the fact it is so distant is what makes it hot? Like, it’s hot precisely because it’s so removed from his experience?

Stoya: Definitely possible.

Rich: All of which is to say, this isn’t necessarily a sounding of the alarm. Maybe he’s just bored with the aesthetics of straight porn and wanted to branch out. Plenty of straight women are into gay porn, which depicts scenarios that they are excluded from by definition.

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Stoya: Absolutely. Or he could want to kiss another dude, on the penis.

Rich: He very well might. One thing that I have to say, even if it’s ultimately immaterial, is that I don’t believe this instance of porn discovery was as innocent as the letter writer makes it out to be. “I was cleaning in that particular room and I brushed his laptop.” Please. I think she was snooping. That’s probably neither here nor there, but let’s not bullshit a bullshitter.

Stoya: Sometimes, I think I take our letters at face value too often.

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Rich: It’s because you’re pure of heart. I’m the cynic.

Stoya: It’s good to have roles.

Rich: It’s true. But maybe, ya know, it’s worth acknowledging that there may be a violation of privacy afoot. A minor one. Ideally, these things would be out in the open in a relationship, so I also kind of feel like as long as it isn’t devastating, whatever it takes to get to the truth is ultimately OK.

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Stoya: Yeah, I was mostly thinking how sad it is that they can’t just, like, talk about this.

Rich: I felt for the guy. He seemed really shaken—and this is from her perspective.

Stoya: He might be dealing with a lot of shame or fear.

Rich: For sure. I know that this is not a fashionable thing to say and could be contradicted with a man cave full of counterexamples, but it’s hard for straight guys in some ways. “Straight” is such a narrow path for a lot of guys, and deviating from it means calling into question your entire identity. This kind of thing can be worldview-altering.

Stoya: I’m wondering if there are ways that our writer can be cautious with her husband while satisfying her own need to address this further.

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Rich: Like if she put on bisexual porn for their next sex session? A way to kind of illustrate her acceptance?

Stoya: That might be the worst option! I’m imagining the guy turning into an actual turtle and retracting his head into his upper chest out of embarrassment. But at the end she says she definitely can’t just forget about this. Which leads me to believe she’s going to want to address his taste for bisexual porn again in the future.

Rich: Right. So how to do that delicately?

Stoya: Displays of acceptance might be part of that, but I think she should proceed slowly.

Rich: Yes, and you know, this is still recent, so he’s still getting used to the idea of someone knowing his secret. So maybe his wife’s discovery didn’t yield an immediate exhale moment, but that could be coming as he becomes more comfortable with what all of this means. Which is to say that these conversations could go better in the future. Maybe a good way to approach this is for her to make herself available to talk about this without pushing. Ask him if he’s comfortable talking about it, instead of staging a confrontation every time.

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Stoya: Or sharing some of her own undisclosed sexual interests if she has any. Sometimes that kind of vulnerability goes a long way to putting a partner at ease.

Rich: That’s a great point. Does she have any bi-curiosity herself?

Stoya: An interest in toes? A desire for latex?

Rich: It would be useful to really understand his sexuality. If he is indeed bi, then in theory this poses about as much threat as if he were into redheads but married a brunette. Just another element of his taste palate, you know?

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Stoya: Totally. There’s no reason to panic, and porn-watching habits are not statements of a desire to act.

Rich: But ideally, as the letter writer hints, he’d be allowed to explore this if he were really interested in it. I know it’s a big ask, but life is short. Seems a waste to go through it wanting but never getting your hands on some dick.

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Stoya: I think she could do some thinking on what she would need to feel comfortable. Boundaries about sleepovers? No green boxer shorts? Or, you know, deep conversations about what “fluid bonding” means so she’s prepared in case he does want to explore and expresses that?

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Rich: Yes. It’s a big idea to get used to. I totally understand why people use monogamy as a security blanket, but allowing him to experience this sex he’s potentially interested in and presumably never has had would be a great gift to him.

Stoya: She might find she enjoys compersion.

Rich: Yes—and/or participating.

Stoya: Ooooh, yes, that too. I think, just remember their love and trust for each other, nurture that, and be careful with each other if they decide to explore.

Rich: I agree. If these conversations instill a sense of fear in him, there’s a good chance he’ll have a fight-or-flight response and then they’ll be no further along than they were in the first place.

Stoya: Definitely. So use plenty of caution and be gentle.

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