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(Zsolt Nyulaszi)
(Zsolt Nyulaszi)

My boyfriend looks at gay porn. Is he…? Add to ...

I caught my straight boyfriend looking at gay porn. He says he likes it because the images are so sexual, and that he's never engaged in any homosexual acts. Still, I'm kind of freaked out. What should I do?

Dear Freaked Out,

Let's immediately out the subtext: You wonder whether your boyfriend is gay. The underlying question: Does the porn one chooses reflect one's sexual persuasion? Does one equal the other?

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The answer: No. The math is not that tidy. Porn is a product of fantasy, and fantasy is unruly. A key player in one's arousal, our fantasies can be strange, aberrant, even disturbing. They can feature players whom we are not on any cognitive level attracted to, but with whom we have an imagined X-rated encounter. Fantasies are never a straightforward narrative, nor should they be scrutinized as such. Porn is an outcropping of this approach to arousal.

Marta Helliesen, a Manhattan sex therapist and sexuality educator concurs: "He is probably not gay, but sex-curious. Looking at porn of any kind does not reflect your desire in real life; it taps into fantasies, which are most often far away from reality." The real issue here? "It is a reflection of poor communication around sex and sexual desires, pleasure and so forth."

F.O., as the Taoists and coaches of the world tell us: Crisis is opportunity. The game-changer? Conversation. It is time to sit down with your boyfriend and discuss your sex life with utter transparency. What excites you? What can you tell him about your subterranean desires? And what can he tell you about his? Don't press each other into divulging your every salacious thought. Instead, find some common ground while preserving your autonomy.

For starter fluid, include the essential The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex in your conversation. It has an extensive section on fantasy, including many testimonials that show you just how variable - and surprising - we can all be in what turns us on.

Claudia Dey is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier

(claudiadey.com).

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If you have a sexual dilemma of your own, e-mail us at coupling@globeandmail.com.

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