Savage Love: April 18, 2024

Is paying for OnlyFans cheating?


I’ve been married for two years, and my wife just found out that I subscribed to a few OnlyFans accounts. She considers this cheating, which really surprised me. We have talked openly about how we both watch porn, but the fact that I’ve paid to see specific people crosses the line. 

I thought that her finding out might be mildly embarrassing, but I didn’t think it would be a relationship-ender. But she says she doesn’t know if she can get through this and trust me ever again or want to fuck me ever again. When I look on Reddit about this issue, it seems like everyone thinks that paying for OnlyFans is cheating. I never messaged anyone, I just paid for porn. And it’s not like I have an addiction to paying for porn: It was just a few accounts. 

I don’t understand why she doesn’t trust me when I said I’ll stop now that I know she doesn’t like it. To her, it’s the same as if I slept with another woman and said, “Now that you caught me, I won’t sleep with other women.” How can I build the trust back with her and make her not view me as a disgusting pervert who violated her boundaries? 

— Paying For Porn 

So, your wife was fine with porn  so long as you were jacking off to amateurs who shared their stuff for fun or professionals who had their stuff stolen. But getting out your credit card a couple of times and compensating porn performers for their labor? Unbeknownst to you, PFP, your wife considered that as cheating and, unbeknownst to you, your wife is one of those people whose definition of cheating is elastic enough to encompass things that aren’t actually cheating and, unbeknownst to you, cheating — even the not-actually-cheating kind of cheating — isn’t something your wife can forgive or get past. 

If you had known your wife regarded subscribing to OnlyFans as cheating, PFP, you wouldn’t have gotten out your credit card that first time. But you didn’t know because your wife didn’t tell you — she really should’ve beknownst that shit to you before the wedding. There’s a good chance the problem isn’t your OnlyFans subscriptions, PFP, but your wife’s buyer’s remorse. If she was unhappy in this marriage and looking for a reason to end it, she may have seized on your OnlyFans accounts as an excuse. 

P.S. Before the Internet came along and “disrupted” the porn industry, everyone — or their older brothers and cool uncles — paid for porn. Playboy and Penthouse and Mandate and Drummer didn’t fall from trees; adult movies weren’t screened for free at public libraries; dirty books didn’t magically appear on nightstands. While there are problems with sites like OnlyFans and JustForFans, they made it possible for actual porn performers to make a living and for amateurs with nice feet to make a little extra money.  

My boyfriend wants my permission to see sex workers. He did this quite a bit before we were together. He goes to Canada, where it’s legal and supposedly safer. He says he’s just trying to be open and honest about his desire for variety and that I should be glad he doesn’t want to cheat. 

To me, that sounds like a thinly veiled threat to cheat with or without my permission. He says it’s not like that. Ideally, he — a 53-year-old man — would prefer a sexually open relationship, while I — a 46-year-old woman — would prefer more of a monogamish situation. 

We were friends for twenty years before we started dating, we have great sex (though not as much as I would like), get along great otherwise and have a wonderful time together. This is definitely our biggest issue. Am I being closed minded and prudish to deny him the variety he desires? I consider myself pretty open minded, but I am extremely triggered by this. I’m not completely closed to adventures. I’m open to threesomes, sex parties, etc., but those are scenarios where we are doing something together. I’ve been in non-monogamous relationships in the past — consensual ones — but I don’t have the energy for that at this point in my life. 

Safety concerns aside, I have moral hang-ups around sex work. All I can think is, “What self-respecting woman would put up with this?” The other thing is that he has a long history of dating much younger women, sometimes as much as twenty years younger. I may be the first “age-appropriate” girlfriend he’s ever had. While I know I am still very attractive and sexy and I get hit on all the time, the reality is that I will never be young and firm again. The ones he hires are both of those things. 

What do you think, Dan? Are we doomed? Can we both find fulfillment in this relationship? Or should we let each other go? 

— Verklempt In Vermont 

A particular phrase came to mind as I read your letter, VIV, but not one that will come as a comfort: irreconcilable differences. You can’t reconcile yourself to your boyfriend seeing sex workers; your boyfriend can’t reconcile himself to monogamy and/or the kind of non-monogamy you might be willing to explore — if you were interested in exploring non-monogamy, which it doesn’t sound like you are.

While sex parties, swinging, threesomes, and other forms of non-monogamy where the couple plays together appeals to you in theory, VIV, it doesn’t seem to hold much appeal in practice. And if you told your boyfriend what you told me — you don’t have the energy for non-monogamy anymore — he may fear the promised sex parties and threesomes may never materialize. So, for variety’s sake, he’d rather get your permission to make something happen for himself (seeing sex workers on business trips) than wait on things that might never happen (attending sex parties with you). It’s also possible your boyfriend prefers sex one-on-one over the kind of group play you might be willing to indulge him in. 

Which means you two are at an impasse. Your boyfriend needs a particular thing to be happy — a permission slip from his partner to see sex workers — and you need the opposite thing: not just a promise from your partner to refrain from seeing sex workers, but ideally a partner with no interest in having sex outside the relationship at all. 

He’s not that guy. 

If I may paraphrase Maya Angelou: When someone starts dropping unambiguous hints about who they are, take the hint the first time. While your boyfriend didn’t explicitly say he’s incapable of honoring a monogamous commitment, he made it pretty clear that he’d rather not make one. I think the tell here, VIV, is that he said seeing sex workers with your permission was a better choice than cheating while failing to include not seeing sex workers on his short list of possible options. 

So, is this relationship doomed? 

It sounds like you crazy kids have a lot going for you: a long history, good sex (if not enough), and a lot of affection. But one of you is gonna have to give in to make this relationship work. And if your boyfriend agrees not to see sex workers in exchange for a promise from you to have some threesomes someday, you’re going to feel pressured to do things you may not wanna do, VIV, and verifying he’s not cheating on you is gonna be tricky. You’ll either have to take him at his word or never let him out of your sight. And the fact that you already feel like he’s making veiled threats to cheat is a bad sign — unless you’re willing to set your fears aside and/or suspend your disbelief and/or embrace tolyamory. 

P.S. Alexander Cheves — author, writer, memoirist, and sex worker — walked into the café in Berlin where I was working on my response to your question, VIV. Since Cheves writes a sex-advice column himself, I asked him to take a look at your question and share his thoughts. 

“First, not all sex workers are women,” Cheves said, “and sex work isn’t just supposedly safer where sex work is legal, it is safer. And I guess I’d say to VIV that the fact her boyfriend is being transparent makes him a good potential partner. He’s laid out his ‘price of admission,’ as you call it, Dan, and now VIV has to decide if that’s a price she can pay. In general, I think people have too many dealbreakers, but not wanting the same kind of relationship — not wanting monogamy or not wanting the same versions of non-monogamy — is often a sign that, yes, a relationship is doomed.” 

I’m a slightly bisexual but mostly gay man. Recently, thanks to diabetic medication, I lost a significant amount of weight (without meaning to) and I find myself unexpectedly interested in dating, companionship, and sex for the first time in years! 

I haven’t been in a relationship in twenty years and haven’t had sex in at least fifteen years. With testosterone replacement therapy and improved sexual function in addition to my improved general health, I am ready to reconnect sexuality. But I haven’t pursued dating since before the turn of the century!

Technology has changed, dating has changed and my physical abilities have changed so much that I am unsure of how to proceed. I’m even a little nervous and scared. Hiring an escort service — bespoke sex for compensation — sounds like a good option. I am also open to encounters that include physical affection without sex. I am so overwhelmed by new choices and lack of knowledge about choices, I feel frozen. Any advice on how to defrost would be greatly appreciated. 

— Back On Top 

“BOT has already answered his own question,” said Cheves. “He has an idea that an escort would be helpful — and I think one would be helpful — and he’s talking about taking baby steps as he eases back into sex and intimacy. Taking those small, manageable baby steps with someone you trust rather than diving in headlong is a good idea. He’s already giving himself the kind advice I would give him if he’d written to me.” 

Take some good and accurate pictures, create a profile and thank your lucky stars that you’re getting back out there at a moment when everyone seems to want a hot daddy. In addition to booking some time with an escort or two, look into hiring a gay life coach. Just as are there are guys out there who make a living taking dick, there are guys out there who make a living helping other gay men learn how to navigate gay life, hookup apps, etc. 

“Learning how to communicate online, learning how to make emotional connections, and learning how to tell sex and romance apart — some lessons he needs to learn, and some he may have forgotten and needs to relearn. Also, he should bear in mind that, even though he’s older, there’s gonna be knowledge and experience gaps between him and his partners, even if they’re younger than he is. He’s going to have to learn a new language, and he’s going to make mistakes. He’s also going to have a few unrequited crushes and he might get his heart broken. And while those experiences are painful, they’re essential to the process.” 

You can follow Alexander Cheves on Twitter @BadAlexCheves.

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