Updated: Apr 6
It's tired, it doesn't mean you care, and it ain't cute.
"Relationships: easy to get into, harder to maintain."
That's a quote from an old Chris Rock stand-up, Bigger & Blacker. For many, it rings true to this day. New relationship energy will fuel a love affair for a time, but once that wears off? Ooh, baby, that's when the work starts for a lot of folks. I agree relationships can be hard to maintain, but a good portion of the "work" seems to come from people MAKING THINGS HARDER for themselves.
You might be like, "How so, Foxy?" Well, I'ma tell you.
We make relationships hard by making assumptions about boundaries that are never discussed beforehand. We make relationships hard because we act in problematic ways deemed "normal" for a long time by society. One way that the focus of THIS column entry is the antiquated assumption that men and women cannot have platonic or clear-cut boundaries with each other while in monogamous relationships, leading to what I call "patriarchal-policing": an assumed entitlement and responsibility to police each other's social, sexual, and digital behaviors.
This issue has been long a source of annoying contention for me. And it seems like it's an everyday problem of cis-hetero monogamous relationships, though I'm sure it's probably a thing in same-gender-loving (SGL) monogamous folks and monogamy between gender-nonconforming individuals. From a cis-hetero man getting upset at his cis-hetero/bi woman partner putting up sexy pictures on her Instagram to cis-hetero women losing their shit over their cis-hetero/bi men partners finding other women on Instagram attractive, the idea seems to be that men and women cannot be trusted or allowed to like anything or anyone sexy outside of their partner, or be sexual/"aesthetically pleasing" to others outside their partner.
This idea is, of course, NONSENSE. But more on that in a bit.
Below find a recent tweet from an OnlyFans adult content creator who was messaged by a woman I'll call "Possessive Girlfriend" pressed about her boyfriend being subscribed to her.
Notice how quickly Possessive Girlfriend goes from being polite to rude, misogynistic, and sex-negative(whorephobic) towards DoveNymph. Like most of society, Possessive Girlfriend thinks so little of sex work and sex workers, she completely dismisses the fact that DoveNymph is just providing a service that PG's boyfriend and others pay for. Not only that but contacting the service provider to cut off her boyfriend instead of talking with her boyfriend about his OF subscription is typical patriarchal-pick-me-woman behavior. Instead of holding men accountable for their actions, these types of women(pick-mes) take part in patriarchal-policing, firing their misplaced ire at the women they view themselves as being above. And because women and girls have been taught to view each other as competitors for male attention and validation, pick-mes see all women as possible threats to platonic, social, and especially romantic relationships where none really exists.
On TOP of these antiquated and desperate behaviors, you have folks operating off the idea that your romantic partner must be your everything, and finding anything and anyone outside of them attractive and sexy is wrong because doing so somehow disrespects the boundaries of a monogamous relationship. And paying for anything sex-related is apparently a relationship anathema because why pay for something that's supposed to be freely accessible?
So, we have a mixture of chimerical ideas that men and women cannot have platonic boundaries while partnered with others and that your partner---man, woman, enby, etc---MUST be your intellectual, emotional, and SEXUAL everything. All these notions are birthed from patriarchal ideology, a set of unproven and unempirical beliefs based on assumptions and generalizations about how the genders are and "must" behave. And folks still utilize this devoid-of-facts ideology to dictate how they and others operate in all types of relationships.
Then wonder why their relationships are filled with so much "trouble"!
Here's the cold, hard truth, folks: the world is filled with attractive people. Some even more attractive than you. A good amount of those attractive people make adult content for pay. And people want to consume adult content and will consume it for free and for a price. This type of content ain't going anywhere. And paying for it---adult content and sexual acts---says nothing about a person's worth or value as a human. Trying to police this behavior in an authoritative and punitive way will not make said behavior disappear, nor should such a policing occur in the first place. If you have negative associations with porn and adult content in general, that's something you need to discuss with your partner. It's also worth doing some self-reflection into why you hold those negative associations. Nine times outta ten, it's what you've been taught by society via family, peers, media, your church(if you're religious), etc. about sex and sexuality, and nine times outta those ten, all the messages you've received are negative and have no basis in facts. So you can discard them!
Same thing goes for relationships: your partner finding other people attractive is not an assault of disrespect upon your relationship. Relationships are supposed to be based on solid stuff like compatibility, communications, shared interests, and mutual respect, not just the superficial. Men are not inherently disposed to cheating the minute they've seen a set of big titties. Likewise, women are not inherently disposed to being scheming sirens when they're single, out to tempt every man into fucking them. These ideas are, again, not based on empirical facts, but assumptions about arbitrary behaviors everyone within the gender spectrum exhibits.
Boundaries, however, are social contracts that we form with ourselves and the people we interact with that set the tone of relationships. Therefore, it's important they're based on foundations that make sense. For example, a given boundary of monogamy is that partners exclusively be with and have sex with each other. When partners break those boundaries, it is THEIR fault, ALONE. It's not the fault of the person they broke the boundary with. Men and women are more than capable of having platonic boundaries with each other while existing in monogamous relationships, providing they respect the exclusivity boundary that comes with monogamy.
Likewise, boundaries placed onto partners to not like/post sexy photos and pay for adult content from OnlyFans are nonsensical as well, and aren't the blame for partners stepping out on relationships cheating, either. Acting off this notion makes even less sense when partners have shown they're more than faithful to the relationship, so it becomes more evident this 'boundary' is based on nothing but jealousy and insecurities. Better time would be spent addressing those so you're not projecting them onto your partner. Break down your issues with paid adult content versus free adult content, because it is evident there IS an issue there. Sexual content is sexual content, regardless of it being free or paid, so the problem seems to be with the "going out of one's way to subscribe" to it.
It seems to ignite a fear of a partner being unfaithful just due to having access to sexual content because it's assumed having access to the content equals having access to the actual creator. As an OF creator myself, I can easily refute this ridiculous notion; making sexual content doesn't mean I've given access and consent to all my subscribers to have sex with me. This is the age-old assumption folks make about sex-positivity: that being sex-positive means that access to one's body is freely given to anyone and everyone, and that is simply not true. This is why I always suggest that folks do self-introspection when they come up against dissonance like this and investigate all the things they've been taught and told all their lives. More often than not, the solution lies in discarding their learned sex-negativity.
There also seems to be a fear cishet women still operate off of: not being 'enough' for their partners. But again, you cannot be a person's 'everything'. Men are also taught all their lives their partners are supposed to be satisfied with just them, especially physically & sexually, and uhm, that's not always gonna be the case. Again, there are billions of humans walking the earth, many of them more attractive than you, and me. This doesn't make your relationship less valuable or not worth respecting. This means be with each other because you WANT to be. Relationships aren't compulsory situations you fall into, they're arrangements folks CHOOSE to get into if that's what's wanted by both/all parties. And when these arrangements don't work out, it's not the fault of adult content creators and IG models folks most likely will never meet or fuck.
Relationships do require work and can become hard because life becomes hard at times, for some more than others. But one of the ways folks can make relationships a bit easier is to communicate their boundaries with each other and make sure those boundaries actually make sense. Unlearn gender double standards and policing each other's sexual and social behaviors that were never negative to begin with. You cannot begin to actually respect your partner if you feel you have to dictate how they move across social media or consume adult content. And if the posting, selling, or consuming adult content itself is enough to inspire a partner to be unfaithful, that says more about the condition of the relationship and of how little you value the person you're with.