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Porn and privacy

Q: Yesterday I upgraded my Web browser, and in the process, was deleting some of the cookies left on my system. There were quite a few from explicit porn sites. I was a bit surprised, but assumed that they were sent from nonporn sites that my husband had been browsing, or maybe from places he'd been taken to inadvertently by deceptive links. I asked him last night if he had been looking at online porn, and much to my dismay he answered "yes." I was really shaken, but wanted to talk about it, asking him if there was something he wasn't getting from me that he found there or if he had any desires I'd never be able to fulfill. He was just kind of dumbstruck at the fact I'd found out, and didn't really want to talk about it. I feel rejected and violated, not because he's looking at porn, but because I've always tried to be really open to ideas in our sexual life. I don't have a problem with porn. I get turned on by visuals too. I've suggested we rent adult videos, and I initiate sex more often than not. I've let him know if there's something he wants to do, I'm willing to try it. Nevertheless, he's never really been into more than pretty straight stuff, and we've developed what I think is a really wonderful sexual routine. We do have really great, passionate (if vanilla by some standards), sex. I always assumed that he was happy with me and the sex we've been having for almost nine years now. He's said that he is. I know that most people in relationships masturbate on their own "quiet time," and it isn't unhealthy, but this shocks me because my husband has a rather macho attitude about it, and has disparaged guys "with their dick in their hand sitting in front of the computer." It's strange to know he' s one of them. I know he's ashamed that I found out, and feels that he's hurt me. I feel like there's more I should know, like exactly what stuff he's been jerking off to, but can't ask about. Should I be concerned that this person isn't all I've assumed he is? Now I'm second-guessing what I thought was a mutually satisfying and passionate sex life. Maybe I'm worried about nothing, but I feel like the person I thought was my best friend has let me down, or more left me out of something important to him.

A: Should you be concerned? Well, you obviously are and you’ve articulated your reasons quite clearly. He has also communicated his embarrassment at being caught and his reluctance to discuss the matter. So there you jolly well are. You can't get information from a clam. I'd let the matter rest for awhile and bring it up some time again when you are both feeling close, reassuring him that you do not want to invade his privacy but rather want to share anything he is willing to let you in on. And, for the sake of getting along, if he still prefers to keep this private, drop it. Nowhere in most marriage contracts is it written that a person is obliged to share fantasies.

Q: Does it make sense to avoid sitting on toilet seats in public bathrooms for fear of catching a sexually transmitted disease?

A: No. But if you are fastidious, use the paper seat covers that many public toilets provide. At the very least, they absorb the dribbles that less-considerate users have left behind

Q: Ever since I was 12 years old and thought I invented a wonderful thing, I have enjoyed giving oral pleasure to the women I am involved with. Today, I am 52 years old and have been dating a women of 42 who thoroughly enjoys the attention I have given her for the past four years. Eighteen months ago she informed me of an adverse result from her pap smear and that she had to go for additional testing. That additional test revealed a normal result and indicated no concern was required. Last month, she received a similar adverse result and the subsequent test confirmed abnormal cells. Although her doctor did not alarm her beyond suggesting more frequent examinations, now I am concerned about any possible transference of possible carcinogenic dangers. Would you please ease any concerns, as I enjoy giving her what amounts to the only joy in her life, but not at the cost of mine. Thank you so much and thank you for your great column.

A: There would be nothing amiss in asking your lover to speak to her doctor about possible transmission or for you to phone the National STD Hotline for the latest scoop (800-227-8922), but my good guess would be that you can continue to spread whatever joy you can in the world with impunity. Isadora Alman is a board-certified sexologist and a California-licensed marriage-and-family therapist. Contact her via this paper or askisadora@aol.com. Her Sexuality Forum is at

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