Recently, I’ve be doing a lot of self reflection and realized one big issue I deal with is loneliness. However, another thing I’ve come to question is my use of porn and my consumption of porn, especially my use of hard-core material. I’ve come to realise I feel unable to consume “regular” or just softcore porn as it can be called. One of the issues is that when I do, it makes me feel lonely it feels like I can’t watch it because I guess with anything a bit more “hardcore” there is some sort of disassociation from it.
I wouldn’t say I have a huge issue with porn; sometimes I can consume too much but when I go days or weeks without it and eventually relapse. I’m still unable to watch something less hardcore because my loneliness can at times feel crippling. I want to view less porn in general or at least things that are not as hardcore and unrealistic as I do enjoy softcore but feel unable to consume any form of it.
I think the issue is made worse by the fact I’m a 28 year old virgin, and watching things where it’s a bit more passionate and loving etc makes me feel like I’m missing out or have missed out, and always will so I chose to watch something more hard-core that I can do what’s needed and leave behind without feeling “I missed out on that and would love to have it”. Maybe I’m rationalising my consumption of porn and more hardcore versions of it; I’ve just come to realise where my loneliness can lead me and how it can effect my behaviour .
Any advice on how to deal with my consumption of more hardcore material while trying to deal with loneliness and navigating dating and my virginity at a older age.
Red Showtime Diaries
Let’s start with some clarification for others. As a general rule, when we’re talking about porn, the terms “hardcore” and “softcore” refer to whether you see any sort of penetration (including oral sex, handjobs or fingering, etc.), or if the sex acts on screen are simulated with carefully positioned objects or body parts obscuring the actors’ genitals. In the US, most of what one would’ve seen on Showtime or Cinemax late night would be considered “softcore” while Brazzers, BangBros, et. al. would be hardcore. It’s also worth noting that a lot of softcore porn relies more on story arcs and plot than most hardcore porn and the sex tends to be portrayed in more romantic or sensual manner than in hardcore porn.
(There are, of course, exceptions, but that’s another matter entirely.)
Now with that out of the way… you’re asking the wrong questions, RSD. The issue here isn’t the porn, per se. That, in and of itself is a classic example of “Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this,” “Well, stop doing that.” Yes, if watching it is like rubbing sandpaper over your soul, then you’d be better off not watching it.
But again, porn isn’t really the issue. If you’re not blowing money you can’t afford on porn sites and you’re not watching it at work our out in public, then I wouldn’t say you have a problem with porn that requires going cold turkey or that you need to only watch softcore or pinup videos or something. If all you’re looking for is some fap material to help you get off, yeah, your average Naughty America scene would do the job well enough and it isn’t going to do you any harm.
It seems to me like the issue you should be focused on is the loneliness and isolation.
Here’s the thing: while porn’s ‘harm‘ to the viewer is profoundly overstated, it’s pretty obvious that you are using porn in a way that isn’t healthy for you. If you’re watching porn and jerking off as a way of alleviating the loneliness you feel, then yeah, that’s going to end up making you feel worse. Not because there’s anything wrong with porn or masturbation but because this sort of self-medication is never gonna solve the issue. Orgasms feel great and dump a bunch of endorphins right into your brain, but it’s never going to be a substitute for people.
You’re right: your being an older virgin is likely contributing to that sense of despair and missing out. However, much like porn, your being a virgin isn’t the issue; the issue is how you relate to being a virgin. You clearly have a lot of shame and stigma tied up in being a virgin. You say you feel like you’ve missed out. I get that. A lot of folks — and I mean a lot — feel the way you do. They feel as though there was some window of opportunity, they’ve missed it and now they’re cut off from any opportunity of ever having that sort of simple human connection.
And they’re wrong. Being an older virgin — whether you’re in your mid-20s, mid-30s or older — isn’t the end of the world, nor does it mean that you’ve missed your chance. Being a virgin has no bearing on your worth or value as a person, as an adult or as a man. All it means is that you haven’t had a particular experience yet. That’s it. That is one aspect of who you are, not the sum totality. It’s not the most important thing about you or even terribly important at all; the number of people you have or haven’t slept with doesn’t have a significant impact on your life as a whole. A person who’s slept with a hundred women once isn’t more valuable, skilled or desirable than someone who’s only had three partners that he dated for multiple years at a time. Hell, he’s not more valuable, skilled or desirable than someone who hasn’t had sex with anyone.
Rather than worrying about having not had sex or what kind of porn you’re watching, you should be focused on dealing with your loneliness. And while the current Omicron surge is making going out and about risky (get vaccinated and your booster if you haven’t already!), the cure for your predicament is going to be making a point of actually going out and, y’know. Meeting people. Not just women, and especially not just women you find attractive, but people. Building a social life and having folks who you care about and who care about you is how you not only cure your loneliness, but how you set yourself up for success with relationships in general. After all, the skills involved with meeting people, building connections, building community and turning those connections from strangers to friends are the same skills that help you find romantic and sexual partners as well.
Focusing on making new friends — in addition to strengthening your current friendships — is what’s going to help ease that sense of being so terribly lonely. Not feeling that dark cloud of empitness and doubt in your life will go much farther to making your life better than…well, really just about everything else. And having Team You in your life — those folks who love you, care for you and support you — correlates positively with building the confidence and self-esteem that makes it that much easier to meet amazing potential partners.
So, my advice? Dial back on the porn for a bit. By all means, rub one out when you’re horny and need the release, but use your imagination for a while instead of relying on Pornhub or Emanuelle in Space or something. But leave the porn out of it, since watching the softer stuff leaves you feeling upset you seem to have complex feelings about the rest. Instead, turn that energy towards finding your people — where they spend their time, where they hang out, etc. — and make inroads there. Resolve to make meeting new friends your priority in the new year and the rest will be far, far less daunting.
And by the by: the answer to navigating being a virgin while dating is simple. Most people don’t care about your body count, and the ones who do are more likely to be compassionate and caring… qualities you want in a potential partner. The folks who give you shit for being a virgin are the folks who’ve self-selected out of your dating pool and your social circle. Your having not had sex is only one thing about you; how people respond to that information, on the other hand, tells you everything you need to know about them.
Paging the Doctor!
My situation is a bit out there, but I’m not sure where else to ask, but I’ll do my best.
I’m a 27 year old guy, fairly successful, and in a good place with my life. I’m interested in finding a life partner, and generally don’t have trouble finding dates, the thing is, I have an odd fetish that leaves me conflicted: even though I don’t do it myself, I like seeing women smoke cigarettes, and have sexual fantasies about having sex with a woman who is smoking during.
I’ve had past relationships, many sexual, with women who didn’t smoke, but to an extent, it felt as though I was faking the sexual aspect. I found pleasure in it, but still never orgasmed, and while I was physically attracted to my exes, it never felt half as intense as even just seeing a woman smoke while walking down the street. I’ve noticed as well that the smell, the exhalation, and to an extent, the addiction all play into it for me, and it does feel that it’s pretty strongly ingrained into my sexuality at this stage, as it’s been there since I started having fantasies at all.
Anyway, I find this kind of goes against what I want in a partner, stability, health, and concern for the future are all things I want in a life partner, and I’d feel horrified if I couldn’t rely on someone being there with me through all of life, and going through every stage of life I can with someone. As weird as it feels, I want to be 80 with the same person I’ve been with since 30 one recliner over, and I’m worried that a partner who smokes might not make it there, so that’s another scary thought to me.
It’s also not as though it’s just about my own internal conflict either, my immediate family, my parents mainly, are fanatically anti-smoking (in fact, I think my fetish might have partially come about thanks to it being such a taboo growing up), to the point where they would almost certainly judge a partner I take to meet them if she smokes, and may strain other important relationships in my life.
I guess, at the core of all of this is the conflict I feel. With people I feel comfortable building a future alongside, I don’t feel fulfilled as a sexual being, and with those I feel fulfilled, I feel worried for a future I’m afraid will never be. I guess I just wish this fetish wasn’t such a part of me, that I was more varied in sexual taste, or more vanilla, or even had a strange fetish that at least didn’t sabotage the health of my partner.
For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t try to get a non-smoking partner to start, but what I wonder with all of this is what would be best. Should I or shouldn’t I try to find someone who already smokes? Is sexual fulfillment more important or less important than long-term viability? Should I try to “fix” this fetish? Is that even possible? Is there a limit to how many questions I can ask in a letter?
Here’s the thing about fetishes and paraphilias, GL: nobody knows where the hell they come from. You can find folks who will tell you that they were never spanked growing up, so they attached an erotic association to it and people who will tell you that they were and that’s why. Just as importantly: you can’t really “fix” them. Not only are fetishes not a thing that usually needs fixing, but they tend to be a permanent part of your sexuality, much like your orientation. So, rather than trying to “cure” it or get rid of your fetish, you’d be better off learning how to work with it.
It’s also worth noting that smoking is actually a fairly common fetish. Smoking porn — literally, just hot women smoking cigarettes and cigars — has been around from the moment VCRs became household products. Plus, unlike voreaphiles or folks into giants or other literally impossible kinks, yours is fairly easy to fulfill. After all, there’re lots of smokers out there.
Now, like a lot of folks who write in, you’ve given yourself a false dichotomy. You’re not in a position of having to choose between a relationship or sexual happiness; you’re perfectly capable of having both. Part of why this is a dilemma for you is that you’ve played out an entire scenario in your head where anyone you date can either be a non-smoker or can get you off… and that’s not the case. While I understand wanting to make sure your partner isn’t upping her risks of cancer and emphysema, you can’t control how long your partner lives or what their health situation will be. I’ve got family members who did literally everything right — ate a pescatarian diet, exercised vigorously every day, never smoked, never did drugs and drank in serious moderation — but died of a heart attack anyway.
Don’t get me wrong: that doesn’t mean that the answer is to say ‘damn the risks’ and throwing caution to the wind. It just means that rigid adherence to that line of thinking sets you up for failure, because it requires your being able to control things that are literally uncontrollable and unpredictable.
However, you also can have both sexual satisfaction and a lifelong commitment. It’s just a matter of being flexible and thinking a little outside the box.
From what you’ve written, it sounds like you have a stronger fetish than many; smoking in this case isn’t something that makes your orgasm that much harder, it’s something you need in order to get off. It carries that last little “oomph” you need to push you over the line. This — again — isn’t that unusual. For many folks, a fetish is a “yes and” — an add-on that makes sex that much hotter. However, there’re folks who, for whatever reason, are wired in such a way that they need their particular thing to actually orgasm. Since you’re one of those — and you’d like to have a sexually fulfilling relationship — what can you do?
Well, you have a number of options beyond the obvious “just date a smoker”. Videos of women smoking are not hard to come by; you can even find plenty of examples in mainstream movies. Having one playing in the background could, again, be a way of getting your rocks off while still being with a non-smoking partner. Another option is vaping. There are a profound number of e-cigarettes out there that mimic the shape, size and form factor of tobacco cigarettes. While some of the ritual may be lost — tapping a smoke out of the pack, lighting up, etc. — an e-cig will still give the look and feel of smoking, along with the exhalation and smoke. While inhaling any vapor into your lungs runs a risk, there’re plenty of e-cigs that don’t have nicotine or tar. There’re also herbal cigarettes that actors use to simulate smoking on stage or on film. They have the same look and feel as tobacco cigarettes, but without the same carcinogens. Those could be viable options for a non-smoking partner who’s game for helping you indulge your fetish and getting your motor humming.
That being said, lighting up — or grabbing the vape — every time you want to have sex is going to be a bit much. Even an indulgent partner isn’t going to want to have to grab an ashtray as part of the foreplay every single time. You’re going to want to start working on being able to get yourself there during partnered sex… even if she’s not blowing smoke in your face. The good news is: you’ve already got practice at this. You, presumably, are able to get off when it’s just you and Our Lady of the Five Fingers and you’re running the fantasy loop in your head of… I dunno, Billie Eilish with a nice Cohiba. You can bring that same procedure to partnered sex. While yes, you want to be in the moment and pay attention to your partner, what goes on in your head while you’re getting it on is ultimately your business. If it means imagining your girlfriend with a couple Marlboros, then by all means, let that particular movie play and push you over to the point of orgasmic inevitability.
Hell, considering your fetish, it wouldn’t be that hard to get some vintage smoking advertisements from the 19th and early 20th centuries, frame them and put ’em up on your wall. It’s not that different from folks who frame vintage alcohol and absinth ads; the age and artistry makes it classier than, say, Mad Man era magazine ads for Lucky Strike. To everyone else, it just seems like a love of vintage art; nobody has to know that this, to you, is the equivalent of Betty Page pin-ups or classic French postcards. You can make a surreptitious glance while doing the deed and give yourself that extra little “oomph” at the end.
The key is not locking yourself into this false binary, where you get one or the other, not both. Once you accept that having one doesn’t exclude you from having the other, it just becomes a matter of finding options that work for you… and exploring those options with your partner can make things much, much hotter for both of you.
And don’t forget: if you smoke after sex… you need more lube.