So, you and your partner are in the car, listening to “good 4 u,” and you wind up in a light-hearted debate about how old Olivia Rodrigo is. To prove you’re right, you grab their phone from the dash to do a quick Google search when you see them — a handful of OnlyFans pages lingering in their tabs. Though you try to be *sex-positive* (you own a vibrator! You listen to Call Her Daddy!) the situation is making you… uneasy.
OnlyFans requires that viewers “subscribe” to a specific performer’s page, where they can then directly interact with them, order personalized content, and “tip” money. And though OnlyFans briefly flirted with banning "sexually explicit content" in August, they ultimately decided that, for now, porn can remain on the platform.
Because of this personalized, even intimate way of watching sexual content, OnlyFans (and other sites like it) creates a sort of relationship between creators and subscribers that’s not found on mainstream porn sites. It’s also why you may feel extra confused when finding your partner’s OnlyFans subscription, as opposed to stumbling on their Pornhub history.
Though you may be tempted to lock their phone back up and pretend you didn’t see anything, OnlyFans is like a naked elephant in the room — it’s important to acknowledge, and more important to address. Danielle Blunt, dominatrix and community organizer with Hacking//Hustling, a collective protecting sex workers on the internet, says the key is to find the root of your discomfort with your partner’s subscription. “Check-in with yourself and figure out what about it makes you uncomfortable,” Blunt tells Bustle. “Does it make you feel insecure? Angry? Inadequate? Jealous? Are they doing something they said they wouldn’t do?”
If your partner specifically told you they didn’t watch porn or if they promised they canceled their OnlyFans subscription when you got together, you may be (rightfully!) upset about their lack of transparency. And for the record, expecting honesty in your relationship doesn’t make you “sex-negative.” However, if your discomfort is more about what the performers look like, what sexy stuff they’re doing, or how your partner is interacting with them — you may want to open dialogue about kinks, desires, and turn-ons with your boo.
“When you better understand your own relationship to porn and erotic content, you can more clearly set boundaries for what feels good and right for you in your relationship dynamic,” Rucifer says.
After sitting with your feelings, both Blunt and Rucifer suggest approaching your partner in a calm and honest way. Express how their subscription makes you feel. Ask what they get out of their time on OnlyFans. “Sometimes understanding your partner's desires and intentions can help alleviate discomfort,” Blunt says.
Of course, if you’re not OK with your partner subscribing to OnlyFans accounts (or lying to you about it) you’re completely entitled to say so. Express what about their OnlyFans subscriptions makes you uncomfortable — taking care not to be judgmental — and offer them space to share their perspective and potentially find a compromise. “You have the power to set up boundaries and structures in your relationship that work for you and your partner(s),” Blunt says.
Why People In Relationships Watch OnlyFans
According to Silva Neves, a relationship and psychosexual therapist, there are tons of reasons people watch porn and engage with other sexy content — even when they’re in a fulfilling relationship.
Because OnlyFans enables viewers to directly engage with performers and request custom content, viewers can embrace their sexual fantasies in a way that’s safe, anonymous, and non-judgmental. Additionally, finding a performer who’s into the stuff your partner is into can make them feel less alone or ashamed about their kinks, and more empowered to learn about their body and their desires.
“Fantasy is crucial for our mental health,” Neves says. “Engaging in fantasy-forward content opens possibilities for erotic expression.”
Blunt says many of her OnlyFans subscribers have told her they are in happy, supportive partnerships. “That doesn't mean that anything is wrong with the relationship!” she says. Some of them don’t want to explore their submissive side with their partner (or in person at all); others have partners who aren’t into kink and use OnlyFans as a healthy, consensual way to get their needs met. Some even engage with OnlyFans with their partner’s blessing.
Is Subscribing to OnlyFans “Cheating?”
Suddenly learning your partner is secretly subscribing to someone's OnlyFans can feel like a betrayal, but in reality, there’s no objective standard of what “counts” as cheating, according to Neves.
“What constitutes cheating depends on the specific agreement of the relationship,” Neves says. “For some couples watching porn may be cheating, but not for others.”
Murkiness around cheating often stems from an initial lack of communication. While you may have discussed deleting your Hinge account or dating exclusively, Neves says most couples don’t talk about porn when defining their relationship. The lack of clear agreements around sites like OnlyFans can make partners feel deceived or lied to later on.
How To Talk To Your Partner About OnlyFans
As Neves says, *most* people don’t intuitively know how to start a conversation about erotic media with their partners. “Are you seeing other people?” is hard enough. “Are you watching custom porn when you masturbate?” can feel impossible. Though it may be uncomfortable, getting on the same page in regards to porn habits early on can save you heartache down the road.
If you’re feeling jealous or uncomfortable with your partner watching people on OnlyFans, you may want to experiment with watching porn together or incorporating other sexy media, like audio porn or written erotica, into your partnered sex.
You also can create your own boundaries around the way your partner engages with OnlyFans. Maybe you don’t want them to privately message performers, or maybe you want to be able to see any custom content they order. Whatever you decide you’re comfortable with, talking openly about your desires and fantasies will hopefully help you better understand each other’s sexuality, and what sexual needs you can (or can’t) fulfill.
Ultimately though, if OnlyFans is a hard “no” for you, and you don’t want to discuss it, Neves says you and your partner may have incompatible values. You deserve to be with someone that respects you and is on your sexual wavelength, and so does your partner.
Danielle Blunt, dominatrix and community organizer with Hacking//Hustling, a collective protecting sex workers on the internet
Reverend Rucifer, sex worker and founder of Reiki Bondage
Silva Neves, relationship and psychosexual therapist