How to Do It

I Caught My Husband Looking at Pornhub on His Phone

Isn’t that the same as adultery?

Collage of a man hiding his phone in front of neon phones.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Vergani_Fotografia/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Dear How to Do It,

My husband and I have been together for two years. Just married nine months ago now. I noticed that he was being distant from me, and also that he was constantly hiding his phone. Every time he would go to bathroom, he was always keeping the volume on vibration, always face down. He never put it down. One day, he wasn’t feeling good and he left his phone on the bed, so I picked it up to plug it in the wall charger. My gut told me to check it, so I did. In his Google search history, I found several different times he Googled Pornhub. I lost it, of course. He confessed to me that he had thought about other girls while we had sex. That he was sorry. I forgave him and told him that him doing that is the same thing as committing adultery. I told him what the Bible says about it. He still denies the Google search for Pornhub though. I have let it go, and everything has been good here for about three weeks. I noticed that he is still hiding his phone. He also was changing the videos pretty quickly when I entered the room and acting like everything was fine. For the past two days, I have been feeling that same feeling—he’s still hiding the phone, it’s still on vibration mode. I need help with this. I don’t know what he is doing, or who he is talking to, or texting. I don’t know how to stop the garbage.

—Suspicious Spouse

Dear Suspicious Spouse,

I wish you would have included what the Bible says about using Pornhub in your letter because I don’t have one at my immediate disposal and I’m curious.

Your religion may consider fantasizing about other people to be on some spectrum of adultery, but to say that it is the same thing as cheating is qualitatively false. They are different. Fantasy is different than reality. One you do with your head; the other you manifest with your body. While some people may be capable of controlling their fantasies, they spring from desire, which is basically unconscious. And look what happens when you legislate someone’s interior life: They sneak around. Do you see how your insistence that your husband refrain from viewing porn isn’t actually keeping him from looking at porn? It’s in fact encouraging him to be dishonest. You can interpret that as a failure on his part, and I do think that honesty is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, but the thing about a lot of men is: They’re going to look at porn. For many, the condition that you are imposing will be impossible to abide by.

I don’t think you have to tolerate any behavior in a partner if it offends your personal morality, but a little bit of understanding would help. His porn use isn’t necessarily a comment on your relationship.

As for your other suspicions, the notion that he may be texting people behind your back is troubling. Besides countersneaking—that is, sneaking around to uncover his sneaking—I don’t know how you’re going to determine if he’s cheating, merely texting about cheating, or if the entire air of secrecy owes to the porn issue. Telling him that you’ve noticed his suspect behavior may help elicit a confession, but it could also just prompt further sneaking. He may get so good at it that he stops being so noticeable.

I think the best thing you can do is accept him and make him feel as comfortable as possible with talking about what’s going on with him in terms of desire. But perhaps you still won’t accept him, or he’ll say things you find unacceptable. In that case, I don’t know how you should handle a situation that you find unacceptable other than seeing your way out of it.

Dear How to Do It,

I’ve been dating a guy for two months. I am a 38-year-old woman and he is 42. We spoke every day for a month before we met. Since we met, we have been on many dates, seeing each other at least two times a week. This guy is different from the other men I’ve dated. He is sensitive, kind, and caring. He is soft-spoken and a bit shy. We have a ton in common. We work in the same field, and we have similar types of humor. The hours fly by when we are together. The other guys I’ve dated are your typical alpha types: aggressive, secure, going after what they want. I’ve never had an issue with sex with any previous partners, nor have they ever experienced any problems. Now with this guy, it’s just not happening. (It’s not the pandemic—we are social distancing, we are not seeing other people, and when we go out, we always wear masks and avoid crowds.) He and I are very affectionate with each other. He and I would cuddle, and his hands would roam all over my body, but always stopping short of foreplay and sex. I thought it was strange, but I figured maybe this guy needs a little longer to get to know me better.

We had sex for the first time two weeks ago after having drinks, and he was unable to maintain an erection. He said that it was due to the alcohol and did other things to compensate, so I didn’t think too much of it. After that, things went back to the way they always were; he is still super affectionate, and the conversations were the same, but he hasn’t kissed me with more than little pecks. I finally brought it up, and he said that there was nothing wrong. He also noticed that we haven’t had sex. I asked him what was his process with sex when dating someone new? He doesn’t have one. Is he attracted to me? Yes. Is there something wrong? No. Does he like sex? Yes. Is sex important to you? Yes. Why does he think we weren’t having sex? I don’t know. The conversation was going nowhere and after two days, I tried again to tell him that it’s important for me to know what his thoughts were and to finish the conversation. The only thing I got out of him was, “I am at a place in my life where I need affection and laughter more than sex. I’ve been showing you this while I was with you.” I don’t know how to respond to this. Do you think he has erectile dysfunction and is too embarrassed to talk about it and see a doctor? Sex is a nonnegotiable for me.

—Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

Yes—from the information provided, your read on the situation is essentially my read. I, too, think his ED and disinterest in sex are related. This could be a chicken-or-egg thing, though. His lack of interest in sex may be a result of his potential erectile dysfunction, or his dysfunction could be a result of his overall disinterest in sex. Either way, this issue manifesting itself so early on in your relationship (typically the “honeymoon phase”) does not bode well for your needs. No matter where it comes from, whether it’s him reacting to his body or his God’s honest emotional truth, he told you what’s what: “I am at a place in my life where I need affection and laughter more than sex. I’ve been showing you this while I was with you.” That’s “all” you got out of him, but it’s all you need to get out of him. Take it at face value. If sex is nonnegotiable, you two are unfortunately mismatched. At least you figured it out early. It takes some people years that they come to consider wasted. I suggest you move on. There are nice guys with stiff dicks out there. Find one.

Help us keep giving the advice you crave every week. Sign up for Slate Plus now.

Dear How to Do It,

I am a woman with a blow job–related problem. I spent the first several years of my active dating and sexual life only dating and sleeping with women. I learned to try anything: oral, digital, anal, strap-ons, etc. I always saw myself as a very adventurously sexual person who was not weighed down by fear of fluids or all the strange things that bodies can do. Then, I started dating and sleeping with men. There are many confusing things to navigate about being a woman-who-sleeps-with-men now (that I never faced as a woman-who-sleeps-with-women), but by far the one I am the most challenged with is the BJ, specifically, semen and swallowing. Now, I proudly will eat pussy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so I brought the same enthusiasm for female oral into sucking dick. Everything is fine until he gets to the point of finishing. I will literally retch and vomit the second I taste jizz in my mouth. Every other part of the blow job is so much fun, and I’ve been told that I am pretty good at what I do, as long as we switch to something else to help him finish. It is the most humiliating experience, and it has now happened with multiple men.

I think I can assume that multiple men do not have physical issues that somehow make their semen particularly atrocious, so I feel that the issue is squarely my own. I’m sure you can imagine that there is nothing worse than being really into it, finishing, and then watching your partner choke back vomit, with all the requisite sounds and facial expressions (just recalling those moments makes me want to cry from embarrassment). My solution thus far has been to avoid it completely, which is disappointing because I do really want to suck dick and give good head! I just don’t know how to get over this strange aversion to semen. I sort of feel like the solution is some sort of exposure therapy, but I literally cannot imagine, even in the most open and respectful of sexual situations, sitting with my partner and saying “OK I’m going to give you head over and over until I stop throwing up onto your penis. Let’s go!” Is there a way to get really good at controlling your gag reflex? Am I just destined to never give a good blow job?

—Shallow Throat

Dear Shallow Throat,

You do realize that you have the option of not swallowing, right? From what I have noticed on apps that primarily target queer men, there are people who advertise as swallowers and people who specifically solicit them. Which is to say that even among queer men, a subset that includes some of the proudest cumguzzlers you’ll ever meet, swallowing is not the assumed norm if it’s routinely negotiated upfront. I think it’s even more socially acceptable for a woman to refuse to swallow.

When giving head, you can just do everything you’re doing and then when he’s close to the point of no return, take his dick out of your mouth, jerk him off, and let him shoot wherever you’re comfortable. If you’re getting these guys to come with your oral skills, you are giving good blow jobs. While many men enjoy having their cum swallowed for reasons that may include control, feelings of acceptance, and the ineffable pleasures of fluid bonding, how many do you think would turn down a blow job if they knew they’d end up shooting outside instead of in? A few, but not many, I reckon. Just scale back and make the experience entirely enjoyable for yourself. He’ll still have his fun, and this way, you can, too.

Listen to the women of Thirst Aid Kit discuss how romance novels helped shape their understanding of desire.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a straight woman aged 65, and I haven’t had sex with a man since before I had breast cancer eight years ago. I’m contemplating an involvement with an old friend but am worried that intercourse might be difficult after all of this time. What do I need to make this as pleasurable as possible?

— Back in the Game

Dear Back in the Game,

The two immediate things you should do are visit a gynecologist, who can determine if there is atrophy of your vagina, and get yourself a vaginal dilator set (here is but one on an internet that is awash in vaginal dilator sets). This advice comes via Dr. Elizabeth Zadzielski, menopause specialist and the chief of obstetrics and gynecology at LifeBridge Health in Maryland. Zadzielski said that while vaginal estrogen creams are an option for some women in your situation, most oncologists are not amenable to breast cancer survivors using estrogen. (Further, if you received endocrine treatments for your breast cancer, it may have exacerbated your vaginal atrophy.)

Zadzielski recommends using a lubricant like K-Y Jelly and starting with the smallest dilator. Insert it for as long as tolerable, up to 20 minutes. And then when that’s comfortable, do that twice a day, and keep moving up in size as you adjust until you arrive at the approximate size of your partner (if you are aware of that information).

This is a good question, and I’m glad you looked before you leapt (on that dick) because you could have hurt yourself. “I have seen instances where women with vaginal atrophy are now in a new relationship and think they can just resume intercourse and actually wind up getting hurt,” Zadzielski told me via phone. “You can actually cause trauma with penetration.” Your note also underscores the importance of women continuing to visit a gynecologist even after their reproductive years, something Zadzielski calls “critical.” If you haven’t been going, here’s some advice: Go and keep going.

— Rich

More How to Do It

I have a recurring thought that might turn into a problem. I’m married to a man I adore, and we have an incredible sex life that I wouldn’t change for the world. Passionate, fun, multiple orgasms per session. However, while my body is overjoyed, my mind is struggling. My husband is slightly shorter than average, and his dick is slightly smaller than average as well. This is something I’ve always known and has never impacted our sex life. But I had a friend complaining about a below-average-sized lover, and it got me all in my head. Now when I look at my husband in bed, I can’t not notice that he’s smaller than what society says he should be. I never thought about it before, but it’s making me feel less attracted to him now. I find myself less inclined to give him hand jobs or blow jobs because I don’t want to think about his size. Why am I obsessing over this when I find sex with him so pleasurable? How do I get over this?