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What Men Really Think When They’re Watching Porn

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If I’m not mistaken, Aristotle’s classic syllogism can be interpreted as follows:

All men watch porn.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates watches porn.

In this succinct but airtight statement, the great philosopher’s logic lets us establish a key fact of modern life: all dudes beat off to porn. Given this conclusion, the question for men today is not, “Hey, do you jerk off to porn? “ but rather, “Hey, how do you feel about jerking off to porn? About tiptoeing to the bathroom while your girl’s asleep so you can quietly whack off in your sink to an amateur video on your iPhone?”

While the above is only one snapshot of modern man’s relationship to porn, the reality is that most men have an ever-changing and highly complex relationship with our sexy videos. We like it enough to keep a multi-billion-dollar industry going strong, but we also quietly hate it. Why? Because porn is a slippery slope. Consuming it is an activity or impulse that requires, for most, some form of moral juggling — the drive for immediate pleasure is pitted against the residual guilt that comes afterward.

The problem with porn, as with all things fast and easy and cheap, is that its promise of escape often leaves you feeling closer to imprisoned.

This battle, this balance with the devil, is something that most guys can attest to. Not for everyone and not at the beginning of our relationship with porn, but soon enough. The once-nightly mindless beating off to all walks of porn as a young man eventually hits some resistance, some internal pushback, usually once the man gets older and/or couples up. These disapproving thoughts are locked away while he strokes, but seconds after the release, his mind is flooded:

Jesus, look at me…draped in my own goo, sitting on this couch that not three hours ago held my niece, and last week my Nana.

By indulging in moments where we can digitally have sex with anyone, we are having sex with absolutely no one.

I’m like a million other schlubs in their homes right now beating off to pixels.

Why can’t I seem to fall asleep these days without orgasming to a voluptuous blonde Latina riding 3 cowboys? What’s wrong with me? And was this blonde even decently paid for her services?  I wonder if she was coerced into this?

Man, does this make me a bad dude?

Then again, who the hell am I to presume what’s right for her? For all I know she produced this video and the only one getting f*cked here is me by my systematic detaching from my real sex life. From the real woman I live with. From my real feelings…

And therein lies the rub (sorry): by indulging in moments where we can digitally have sex with anyone, we are having sex with absolutely no one.

The impact of this cycle of need, then indulgence, then self-flagellation is that we make it harder on ourselves and our partners. Many women fear porn for this reason – they think that their man’s appetite for it is a threat. While I’m no expert on soothing anxious women, I will say that the following question is something I ponder: can men really navigate a healthy and emotionally involved sex life with their partner alongside a full-steam-ahead porn habit? I’m not sure they’re diametrically opposed, but the truth is I’ve never met a man (including me) that could effectively surf both waves at the same time.

And so most men gravitate toward making a conscious choice: two things cannot occupy the same emotional space at the same time. Like cutting out carbs or only indulging in the occasional smoke, porn gets relegated to “treat” status. A goody to enjoy in moderation. When she’s on a business trip, or out with her folks for the day.

After a while, it becomes just another “thing” that requires discipline and reminding oneself of the big picture – like all things that we want to do but know are bad for us. That’s not to say it always works or should always be followed to the letter. But it is to say, in this age where one can consume everything, feasting on less can often be more filling.

Amit Wehle is a writer and thoughtsmith, living in Brooklyn. He also tweets @AmitWehle.

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