"Ask Dr. Tracy"

8/8/99 Advice Column

Double Standard
He Won't Buy A Nice Ring
Husband's Pornography Bums Her Out

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I do not understand the double standard that a guy cannot say, "No" to sex with out the being deemed as having problems.

In my last three relationships the women have left me because I have wanted to take the relationship slowly. Each time it has centered around the fact that I have said, "No" to intercourse.

In the last two relationships I explained before it went anywhere that I would not engage in intercourse until I felt our relationship was solid and committed. Each of the women said they thought this was wonderful and understood. I made it clear up front because the first woman I said no to was hurt and rejected. We talked about it and she said she was ready and that she had never had anyone say no to her. This is why I explained to the next two, up front, front how I felt. I do not want to hurt anyone.

When the foreplay began and it went no further than oral sex they become upset and angry with me. In the second and third relationship this has happened after only two months. I do not want to have intercourse until I am sure that we know each other well enough and that the possibility of a future exists. One that might lead to marriage. I am at that point in my life where I would like to settle down and have a wife and family. It seems as though they do not believe I am serious because they attempt to take it further each time we are together. I have to keep saying, "NO". They have asked me if I was gay, impotent, or just didn't like sex. Each time I am made to feel as though I have a problem or something is wrong with me. None of these things are true. After this happens a wall builds between us until no communication takes place and then the relationship ends.

I have am an avid reader of your work. The advice you give is wonderful. Please help me understand why it is wrong for me wanting to wait just because I am a guy.

signed: No means No.

Dear No Means No,

This is not a case of "double standard." I'd tell the same thing to a woman: you shouldn't be having oral sex if you don't intend to have sex.

You sound like President Clinton if you think oral sex doesn't count. Oral sex is sex. That's why it's called Oral Sex!

You're not Clinton, so don't think you can have just a certain amount of sex and not have women expect to get the rest. If you want your "no" to mean something, then don't go any further than a good night kiss.

You didn't say who's doing the oral sex, but either way and in any combination, you're letting these women get to a point where they want to have intercourse. Then, after they're turned on, you stop. I don't blame the women for thinking you're gay or impotent or don't like sex or are even hostile.

Wanting to wait is fine -- just don't turn on the electric if you don't intend to pay the bill.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been involved with a guy for over 2 years. We have a near perfect relationship. He is my best friend and the person I know God sent to me to spend the rest of my life with. My boyfriend says he feels the same way. We recently graduated from college and were lucky enough to have found jobs in the same city. We have been living together for over eight months and especially the last three months, we couldn't be happier. I now find myself constantly thinking about marriage and looking at dresses and engagement rings. Is that normal? He says that he is ready to marry me but he doesn't want to spend the money it cost to buy me an engagement ring. The ring that I have chosen cost $3000 and he claims that is to much to spend on a ring. I told him that I don't care how much he pays for a ring as long as he puts a lot of thought in the ring he chooses. Lately, he constantly reminds me of the $3000 ring and makes me feel as if it is my fault that engagement rings are so expensive. What should I do or say to him to convince him that I just want a nice ring? Also, what can I do to convince him that this is not a time to be a cheap-skate and that a decent ring will cost over $1000?

Sincerely, Wanna-be-bride

Dear Wanna-be-bride,

Of course it's normal for you to want to be married. Living together just naturally brings out those thoughts. But you don't have to spend a fortune to do it. If you're too extravagant and don't show signs of fiscal responsibility, you'll scare your boyfriend. He'll imagine you squandering the family fortune-to-be.

So if he's ready to marry, but not with a $3,000 ring, buy a $300 ring. The price of the ring is not as important as marrying the person God sent you to spend the rest of your life with. Or is it?

Who says you need an expensive ring? DeBeers diamonds? Lots of women get married with $100 rings and stay married very happily. Maybe they get an expensive ring for their 20th anniversary. Maybe they never get it. But a lifetime of love is more important than the expensive ring.

Haven't you heard? The bigger the diamond the shorter the marriage?

If you want to be a bride, stop whining about the ring and keep your eye on the ball. Know your objective. What is it you want? A ring? Or a wedding?

If it's a wedding, get an inexpensive ring. Buy a synthetic diamond; nobody but a jeweler can tell the difference. Find a ring on Ebay or at a pawn shop. Make getting a cheap ring a fun thing that you and your guy do together.

Don't make him feel like a cheapskate. He's the guy you love who loves you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been with my husband for 8 1/2 years and we have two children.

From the VERY beginning we have had an ongoing conflict about him using pornography. His need to masturbate to photos of other women makes me feel inadequate. He's 35 lbs overweight and smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, while I'm slim and fit. Still, I don't find a need to seek out nude photos of men with better physiques or seek "variety".

I'm not prudish and am willing to experiment sexually to act out my husband's fantasies, I've even told him I wouldn't mind the porn if it were a SHARED experience.

Despite my efforts to accomodate him, it seems that every so often I'll find that he's been having little secretive porn sessions again -- when I'm away with the children, working, or sleeping.

Three months ago, (yes, I'll admit that after walking in on him downloading some pictures late one night, I was snooping.) I found half a dozen EXTREMELY aborrant sado-masochistic photos in a computer file (not "babes" in bondage, but REALLY deviant TORTURE scenes -- the kind of thing you wouldn't find on a magazine stand -- they made "Hustler" look tame.)

When confronted he said he was looking "out of curiousity" and had only surfed that website "two or three times" and had "no idea" how those pictures were saved in a separate cache.

Not only was I revolted by the photos, but I feel betrayed. We have two small daughters and I feel that to dismiss this is possibly very irresponsible on my part. On one hand, I want to put this behind me and move forward, on the other hand, after all of these years I'm sick and tired of "waiting for the other shoe to drop" -- plus it's hard to love a man I mistrust.

Sometimes I think the best thing I can do is get OUT of this marriage while I'm still reasonably young and attractive. I have a fear of wasting my life, and the most sexual years I have left, on someone who seems hung up on the masturbatory fantasies which I, (perhaps naiively) associate with an adolescent or an introverted "loner".

Is it normal for a "happily married man" to have secret porn sessions? Am I over-reacting? Or is this as bad as I think it is?

P.S. -- He's read this letter and says "It STILL sounds as if I've saved those photos -- he maintains he hasn't.

Dear Worried Wife,

Pornography is perfectly okay for an adult as long as it doesn't involve children. I don't understand the big deal. Your husband masturbates to sado-masochistic pornography. That's been around for centuries.

And men and women have been masturbating to it forever. So what? It doesn't make him less of a husband or father or lover. He's been a good guy except for masturbating, smoking, eating too much and downloading porn. I've heard a lot worse.

What's really worrisome though is the fact that you're still fighting about it after 8 years of marriage. I wonder if there's not something else bothering you and suggest you go to see a therapist to get some help figuring out what that may be.

His behavior isn't abnormal, and you're overreacting. But often when couples have problems, they pick on the obvious and say, "everything would be perfect if only he didn't watch porn." While the less obvious issues like, "I don't feel loved enough," never get addressed and the couple continue to fight over the "red herring" issue.

Masturbation is solitary and selfish but it's not a sin. I'd say this is not an issue worth breaking up a marriage over.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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