When Porn Threatens

Dear Harlan: Please help me. My girlfriend caught me using online porn. She found some videos on my phone. We have talked about porn in the past, and I know she is against it. She believes it’s degrading to women and it is no different than cheating. We have a healthy sex life and an honest relationship, but she is talking about breaking up with me. I betrayed her trust and I feel awful about it, but I don’t understand why she can’t forgive me. I’m faithful and will do anything for her. She knows it, but the porn has made her doubt our three years of dating. Is there anything I can do to convince her that she can trust me? I don’t want to lose her over something so insignificant in my life.

— Messed Up Again

Dear Man:  STAY AWAY FROM PORN. When porn is costing you your relationship, it’s significant. If you want to stay together, you’ll have to figure out how to stay away from porn. You can start by apologizing and explaining to her how you view porn – not to change her mind, but to reassure her that you are loving, committed and working to fix this problem. One solution can be to install a program that will monitor your online activity. Covenant Eyes (www.covenanteyes.com) is a place to start. This program monitors the websites you visit, the search terms used and the YouTube videos watched, and lists them in a report. This monitoring tool is used by people who need another layer of accountability. In addition to Covenant Eyes, you can start going to Sex Addicts Anonymous (saa-recovery.org) meetings, and find a therapist to help guide you. When you are lying, sneaking around and hurting someone you love, it’s time to address the problem and get help. If you don’t think it’s a problem, find a partner who is more tolerant of porn.

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Guilt from cheating past haunts faithful girlfriend

Young couple arguingDear Harlan, I’m 19 years old and in my first real relationship. I’ve been dating this guy for a couple of years and I’m madly in love. I cheated in the beginning of my relationship and felt like shit afterwards. Now, I’m as faithful as can be but I still feel bad. What do I do? – Cheated

Dear Cheated, You learned that cheating makes you feel like sh*t. That’s a good lesson. Don’t forget that feeling. Use this feeling to make you a stronger, better, and a more loving partner. Use that feeling to understand why you did it and why it will never happen again. Use that feeling to get tested for a sexually transmitted infection to protect your partner – just in case. Once you know why you did it and why it will never happen again, you can live with yourself. If you need to confess, find a spiritual leader and a therapist.

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Cheaters are responsible for the cheating, not you

Young girl holding a broken heartDear Harlan: I’ve been in only two relationships throughout my whole life, and they both cheated on me. What did I do wrong to cause them to cheat? Because of this I’ve shut myself off to finding anyone. Please help me understand why this happens. I’m not afraid of being rejected, but I am afraid of being abused again. I want to find a serious relationship with a man. — Still Bruised

Dear Still Bruised: What did YOU do wrong? You didn’t cheat. You didn’t intentionally betray and hurt people. The cheater is responsible for his cheating. You’re responsible for becoming stronger, better, and more confident.  This means understanding your role and his. Instead of beating yourself up, work on healing.  Instead of hating him, give him permission to be flawed.  Focus on you — not anyone else. Stop the cycle of abuse by learning to love yourself and surrounding yourself with people who can help you move forward.  Start by finding professional support.  Then, upgrade and find someone you can trust and love.  He’s out there waiting.

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Messing around with cheating girlfriend is big mess

Surprised man finds his wife in bed with another manDear Harlan: I’m a little confused. I took a girl out on a second date, and she told me she has a boyfriend at home. She still wants to continue dating me. I’m very attracted to her. Should I just mess around with her, or leave her alone? — Conflicted

Dear Conflicted: You’re not confused, you’re just horny. Leave the cheater alone. You don’t need a jealous ex-boyfriend knocking at your door at 3 a.m.. There are plenty of single women who can give you what you want. Besides, a person who is this comfortable cheating on her current boyfriend will have no problem cheating on you.  Just you wait. I don’t care how hot she is — her behavior is ugly and reckless. Tell her that you’re not comfortable dating someone who’s in a relationship and don’t mess around.

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Hold On: Hand-holding might not be sex, but it still feels like cheating

Young Couple Holding Hands On White BackgroundDear Harlan, Is holding hands with a woman other than your girlfriend cheating? Where is the line drawn?  – Tempting Fate

Dear Tempting, Holding feet?  No, not a problem. Hands?  Yes.   Ask your girlfriend if you don’t believe me.  When you have to ask if something is crossing the line, you know a line has been crossed. Something felt wrong, right? You can minimize the hand-holding and justify it as innocent, but you feel guilty. Whatever you want to call the hand-holding, let’s just agree that it’s wrong. Would you want your girlfriend holding hands with another guy? Nuh-uh. Unless you’re in a dance class, a manicure workshop or in a situation where holding hands is part of the job, there’s no reason to hold hands. The bigger question is why would you do something that feels like it’s crossing the line? Clearly, you felt something when you held this other woman’s hand. If you feel like holding her hand and other parts of her body in the future, let go of your girlfriend’s hands. Otherwise, hands off. You know it’s not cool.

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