Carolyn Hax: Boyfriend is secretive about porn; dispute with live-in brother

Columnist

Dear Carolyn:

My boyfriend of two years and I are moving in together. We are both 30. This has been a wonderful relationship with very few disagreements.

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

My one big concern is that he looks at porn. He is very secretive about it, but I have walked in on him a few times watching it and have seen it on the computer. It literally makes me ill.

I have always considered myself sexually open and I believe he is satisfied with our sex life. I have told him how I feel about porn but he continues to watch it. I know most guys and girls view porn differently . . . do I need to just get over it?

Torn on Porn

Do you want to get over it?

Porn questions are often misleading, because they fall into the tar pit of “should.” Should people stop using porn? Just paired-off people? Should their disapproving mates just get over it?

It’s interesting debate fuel, and useful for individual choice. But when it comes to living with someone else’s choices, it’s best to abandon the shoulds and stick to what is.

Is your boyfriend willing to stop using porn? If unwilling, can you love, trust and accept someone who sneaks porn — and if willing, can you love, trust and accept someone who at any given time isn’t using porn only because you asked him not to?

Until you’re sure where you stand, don’t move in with him. Sorting this out will be hard enough without the potential agony of moving out to cloud your thinking.

If you do start (or stumble into) the “should” conversation, then try approaching it as a true-or-false question: If you believe an industry is so unsafe or dishonorable that you wouldn’t offer up yourself or spouse/child (real or hypothetical) to work in it, then you shouldn’t use the products of that industry.

Cool thing is, this works not just for porn, but for meatpacking, contact sports, mining, art, education, pubs, multinationals, politics, you name it. Discuss.

Dear Carolyn:

My husband and I allowed my brother to move in with us because he lost his job and was about to get evicted from his apartment. We all agreed before he moved in that he would not smoke inside our house.

Well, my husband came home early yesterday and found my brother smoking inside our house. My husband wants to kick my brother out, like, right now — change the locks today.

I am also mad at my brother for smoking in our house, but I feel like kicking him out for smoking a cigarette is an overreaction, and my brother has nowhere else to go. So, how do I resolve this?

Brother vs. Husband

Judging from his response, your husband sees this as a last straw.

Judging from your account, this is your brother’s first offense.

The first offense + nowhere else to go + family = warn Brother that next time he does this he’s out.

The husband’s frustration + his good sportsmanship in hosting your brother = a just-spouses session where Husband airs his (other) grievances, you don’t get defensive and you agree on the bailout’s end date. Your husband needs your support, too, just in less apparent ways than your brother does.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

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