Lifestyle

I accidentally shared porn with my neighbour. How can I deal with my friends judging me? | Leading questions


I am a 43-year-old straight female with a 53-year-old partner of 20 years, and no children by choice. About a year ago, I inadvertently found some porn clips on Instagram – some hashtags are not as innocent as they appear!

I have never been a fan of porn in general, however I quite enjoyed this and have since indulged in scrolling on a few occasions, including gay sex and kissing videos. A few weeks ago, I inadvertently shared some content with my neighbour via Bluetooth. He politely informed us, we apologised and I had a laugh about it with my partner. However, it seems that around the same time, I also shared porn with several work colleagues and I’m sure a lot more have heard about it too. This has been more embarrassing, and I’m sure receiving unsolicited material of that nature is a shock.

What I have since found difficult, from sharing the story with close friends, is the judgments on and questions about my sexuality and the state of my relationship. Feeling like I need to explain my relationship, clarify my sexuality and justify my activities feels wrong and absurd. I am now questioning my friendships; every day I feel more lonely and anxious, and I feel like every action or word is being judged. How do I remain curious, open-minded and joyful in the face of unexpected judgment from those close to me? I feel I can’t be myself around them any more and that it will affect all other current and future relationships. Is this an overreaction and if so, how do I counter it?

Question has been edited for length

Eleanor says: If there’s one thing you shouldn’t take other people’s feedback on it’s your own sexuality. Sex is so fraught, for so many people, that sometimes being well adjusted makes you a curio.

Maybe no one has said this to you, and it might be helpful to hear it: this sounds fun! Women are beautiful. Watching people enjoy themselves is exciting. There’s a whole dimension of your sexuality that just lives in the relationship you have with yourself; surprising yourself with what you like; doing something fun and not getting caught. The “discovery” your friends are so concerned about sounds to me like a perfectly lovely way to play. It’s mean to begrudge you what sounds like the petit fours of sex.

For all that, I don’t think you’re overreacting – no one likes to feel exposed. It is horrifying to find people wandering around parts of our mind we didn’t mean to let them into. Importantly, though – it took me a while to realise this – that experience isn’t necessarily shame. It is possible to endorse a choice, to feel genuinely unashamed of it, and to still hate the feeling of other people picking it up with tweezers, turning it over and examining it. I hope you’re able to separate the feeling of being judged from the feeling of being ashamed, because it would be a real loss if this part of your sexual life started to feel un-fun.

You asked how to counter this response. One thing you might find comforting is how totally arbitrary and custom-corseted people’s reactions are. These friends are presumably scandalised by one of two things: the same-gender element, or the pornographic one. While I am confident the porn-saturation of younger generations has a lot to answer for, very few 20-year-olds are taking a friend aside for a hushed chat about watching women kiss on Instagram. Some might take you aside if that’s all you watched.

You might, too, get some use from the rule that you can teach people how to react. While talking to your friends, look for ways to make your manner insist that this is a funny story – that they’re behaving strangely when they take it seriously. This is a matter of refusing to meet them on their own terms and keeping your answers short – externalising the breezy presumption that this isn’t notable enough to warrant long sentences. You might be surprised at how quickly people revise their suppositions when they see they aren’t being matched – your manner, rather than your words, might be able to scrub away the supposition that this is a big deal.

These friends have already learned what you watch. But you could also help them learn something else – that they’re the weird ones if they think your fun is their business.


Ask us a question

Do you have a conflict, crossroads or dilemma you need help with? Eleanor Gordon-Smith will help you think through life’s questions and puzzles, big and small. Questions can be anonymous.



READ NEWS SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.