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May 16, 2016 · 5:56 pm

CRISPR, Biohacking, And Beauty Standards

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Years ago when I just started working out, a friend of a relative who worked part-time as a personal trainer gave me some advance. At the time, I was not in exceptionally good shape, but I wanted to get healthy and look good with my shirt off. Upon hearing this, he gave me what he called his three simple/inescapable truths about fitness.

Truth #1: To see results, you need to be patient and work out consistently.

Truth #2: To see results, you also need to tweak your diet and eat right.

Truth #3: No matter how hard you work out or how well you eat, everybody is still at the mercy of their genetics.

The passage of time, along with many long hours in the gym, have only proven those truths right. They reflect some of the inescapable obstacles that the multi-billion dollar fitness industry pretends aren’t there. As magician/performer Penn Jillette once so wisely said, “Great T&A requires great DNA.”

That doesn’t stop every fad diet and fitness gimmick from convincing people that they can overcome their genetic limitations and do so without putting in the necessary work. That’s akin to telling people they can become a foot taller just by wishing for it and giving some photogenic infomercial star their credit card information.

For the most part, we are very much at the mercy of our genetic limits and the basic chemistry of our bodies. If you want to lose fat, you got to get your body to burn fat, which can be harder for certain people with certain genetic dispositions. If you want to build muscle, you basically have to work that muscle until it breaks, forcing your body to repair it and make it bigger. Again, there are genetic limits at work here.

Those limits are frustrating. Believe me, I know and I have plenty of soreness to prove it. Despite that frustration, working out has been great for my health, my confidence, and my overall appearance. Those three truths still bug me at times, but I understand and accept them. For certain people, those hard truths are much greater burden.

As I write this, though, those truths are starting to falter. Unlike every other point in the history of fitness, health, and sex appeal, we have a working knowledge of the basic building blocks of the human genome. We have insights and understandings to our genetics that no infomercial star in the 90s could’ve imagined.

We know the genes that cause muscle growth. We know the genes that cause our bodies to burn fat. Some of these discoveries are very new and haven’t yet made their way to weight loss clinics or fad diets. The only barrier to making use of this knowledge is having a tool that can manipulate genes directly and precisely.

If you’ve read my previous articles on the future of treating infectious disease or fixing the flawed parts of the human body, then you know that such a tool exists and is being refined as we speak. That tool is CRISPR and, on top of potentially curing once fatal diseases, it may very well shatter those three truths of fitness. It may also destroy every other hard truth regarding bodybuilding, beauty standards, and sex appeal.

I’m not saying you should cancel your gym membership or junk those free weights just yet. However, the potential for CRISPR to change the way we think about our health and how we stay healthy cannot be overstated. While it’s still very much in the early stages of development, some people are already getting impatient.

That’s where biohackers come in. They’re not quite as badass as they sound, but what they’re doing is still pretty amazing and pretty dangerous. They’re basically skipping the part where they wait for the FDA or the World Health Organization to tell everyone that CRISPR is safe. They actually use themselves as guinea pigs to refine CRISPR.

Now, I need to make clear that this is exceedingly risky and not in the “Jurassic Park” sort of way. Tampering with our genome is uncharted, unregulated territory and we don’t yet have a full understanding of the potential dangers. That said, in the field of fitness and sex appeal, CRISPR may put gyms, plastic surgeons, and weight loss clinics on notice.

Renegade biohackers like Josiah Zayner, have actually live-streamed stunts where they inject themselves with CRISPR. Another biohacker, Aaron Traywick, injected himself with an experimental herpes treatment in front of a live audience. These are not scientists in cold laboratories using lab rats. These are real people tampering with their DNA.

Where this intersects with fitness comes back to those hard genetic limits I mentioned earlier. When you think about it, the way we build muscle and burn fat is pretty crude. We basically have to purposefully strain our bodies, even hurting them in the case of building muscle, to get it to do what we want. It can be imprecise, to say the least.

In theory, CRISPR would be more direct and far less strenuous than spending two hours in a gym every day. Instead of straining the muscles or sweating off the fat, you would just inject CRISPR into targeted areas of your body, like your belly or your bicep, and have it activate/inhibit the necessary genes.

Like cheat codes in a video game, it would prompt muscle growth in the specific areas you want. It would prompt fat burning in the areas you want. You could even take it further than that. Using the same techniques, you could use CRISPR to edit the genes of your skin so that it reduces the risk of blemishes and acne. As someone who suffered horrible acne as a teenager, I can attest to the value of such a treatment.

Some of this isn’t even just theory, either. Remember Josiah Zayner? Well, he injected himself with a CRISPR cocktail designed to block the production of myostatin. Those who are into bodybuilding know why that’s a big deal because blocking myosatin is one of the main functions of steroids.

While Zayner hasn’t gone full Hulk just yet, other more legitimate brands of research have already demonstrated that CRISPR could be the ultimate steroid. Researchers in China used the same technique as Zayner to create a breed of heavily-muscled dogs. This isn’t on paper. This stuff is real and it will affect both our health and our sex appeal.

Imagine, for a moment, standing in front of a mirror and documenting the parts of your body you want shrunk, grown, or smoothed out in some way. Maybe you’ll even make a detailed list, complete with diagrams and a full rendering of how you want your body to look.

Then, once that information is compiled, your personal doctor/biohacker programs all this into a series of targeted CRISPR injections. Some go into your arms. Some go into your abs. Some go into your face, butt, and genitals. If you hate needles, it may get uncomfortable. If you love gaining muscle and sex appeal without any real work, then it’s basically the miracle drug that every bad infomercial failed to deliver.

Considering the beauty industry is worth over $445 billion dollars, it’s pretty much a guarantee that some enterprising biohacker who may or may not already work for a major cosmetics company will make this a commercial product. There’s just too much money to be made along with too many people unsatisfied with how they look.

It may be costly at first, as most new treatments tend to be. People will pay for it, though. If you could exchange spending hours at the gym for just a few injections and get similar results, I think most people would gladly pay a premium for that. Sure, it’s a shortcut and it’s lazy, but if the results are the same, why does it matter?

That’s a question that has many answers, some of which are too difficult to contemplate. One of the reasons we find certain people so beautiful is because that beauty is so rare. Only a handful of women look as beautiful as Jennifer Lawrence or Kate Hudson. Only a handful of men look as beautiful as Brad Pitt and Idris Elba. Some of that beauty comes from hard work and conditions. Some of it is just good genetics.

What happens when that kind of beauty is as easy as administering a few injections with CRISPR? This is a question I already asked in my novel, “Skin Deep.” I offered hopeful, but incomplete answer. I have a feeling, though, that our entire notion of beauty standards will undergo major upheavals once people can shape their bodies the same way they customize their cars.

With CRISPR, we’re not just adding a layer of paint or trying to tweak an old engine. We’re modifying the foundation and scaffolding of our bodies. In theory, people could use CRISPR to achieve an appearance that is otherwise impossible, no matter how many hours are spent in a gym or how many dangerous steroids they inject. For all we know, what counts as sexy 20 years from now will look bizarre to most people today.

These trends will take time to emerge, but they’ll probably emerge faster than most fad diets or exercise gimmicks because once we start tweaking genetics, the old rules no longer apply. All the traditions and truths we’ve had about exercise, bodybuilding, and beauty collapse. It’s hard to know what will manifest in its place.

For a while, we may get a world where most women are thin and pretty while most men are tall and muscular. However, chances are people will get bored of seeing the same thing. As such, they’ll start experimenting. They’ll try coming up with entirely new body shapes, body features, and physiques that defy the existing laws of biology. As long as some people find that sexy, though, it won’t matter.

Then, there’s the impact of CRISPR on athletes. It’s one thing to test for performance enhancing drugs. What happens when some determined athlete injects a bit of LeBron James’ DNA into their genome to improve their basketball skills? What happens when an Olympic athlete tweaks something in their lung DNA to help them run a three-minute mile? How would we even test for that?

There are so many implications, both for sports and for beauty. It’s hard to know how our society will react, but unlike some of the other emerging technologies I’ve mentioned, CRISPR is real and it’s growing rapidly.

It’s still a very young technology and these things take time to develop. For a quick reference, penicillin was discovered in 1928, but it wasn’t commercially available until 1945. By comparison, CRISPR is barely five years old and biohackers are just starting to learn its limits and potential.

As that potential is realized, we may have to revisit other hard truths beyond those pertaining to fitness and health. From body image to sex appeal, a lot is going to change with this technology. It may be overwhelming, at times, but when it comes to sex appeal, humans are nothing if not adaptive.

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Filed under futurism, gender issues, sex in society, sexuality

A Meta-Level Marvel: A Review Of “Deadpool 2”

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When a movie becomes an unexpected hit, both with critics and at the box office, the biggest question isn’t whether or not the studio will make a sequel. Major studios just love money too much. It’s just a matter of whether or not the sequel will be able to capture the magic of what made the first movie so great.

The first “Deadpool” movie was an unexpected hit that Fox didn’t even want to make. It broke so many rules, both with its R-rating and with its unorthodox approach to making superhero movies. In fact, it spent a good chunk of its overly violent first act establishing that “Deadpool” is not a superhero movie and Deadpool, the character, isn’t a traditional superhero.

By daring to be different while also embracing everything that’s lovable and unique  about the character, “Deadpool” found a way to work, despite a paltry budget and an audience that still hadn’t forgotten Deadpool’s disastrous first appearance in “Wolverine Origins.” Now, “Deadpool 2” faces a new, but less daunting challenge in following up the unprecedented success of its predecessor.

Well, I’ll gladly spoil one detail about this movie. It matches, exceeds, and kicks the ever-loving shit out of those challenges. If you enjoyed the first “Deadpool” movie, then you’ll find plenty to enjoy with “Deadpool 2” and then some. Even if you found yourself unsatisfied with the first “Deadpool” movie, “Deadpool 2” will hit leave you feeling content in a way not possible without the aid of heavy stimulants and skilled hookers.

I realize that’s an overly vulgar way of saying that “Deadpool 2” is a great movie, but after seeing it, I think that’s perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the movie. It is, like its predecessor, an R-rated spectacle that does plenty to earn that rating. There’s plenty of profanity, violence, adult themes, and a lot of butt jokes.

Seriously, this movie doubles down on the appeal of butt jokes. It’s not quite in the same cartoonish mold as “South Park,” but it works because it’s a Deadpool movie. It needs to be vulgar and crude for the same reason water needs to be wet.

However, it’s not just the butt jokes, the violence, the crude humor, or the inherent lovability of Ryan “Mr. Blake Lively” Reynolds brings to the table. There are deeper, less juvenile appeals in “Deadpool 2” that help distinguish it from other superhero movies. It’s true to the Deadpool brand, but still finds a way to transcend its genre.

In the same way the first “Deadpool” movie mixed its superhero narrative with that of a genuine, sex-positive romance story, “Deadpool 2” does something similar. Instead of a romance story, though, the movie frames itself as a story about family and how to find one in an unfair, unjust world.

It’s a story that deals with serious issues of abandonment, abuse, and injustice. It does much more than its predecessor to incorporate the struggles minorities face that have played out in previous “X-men” movies. However, “Deadpool 2” never feels too much like an X-men movie. It keeps things personal and that’s key to making its story work.

Besides butt jokes and breaking the 4th wall, the underlying theme that drives the narrative in this movie is how everyone’s family gets shattered by various forces. Deadpool loses his family. Cable loses his family. Russell, also known as Firefist, is basically without a family from the beginning.

Those respective losses are what drive the characters through the story. That gives it a level of emotional weight that you wouldn’t expect for a movie based on a wise-cracking, exceedingly violent character who was heavily derived from an established DC character. That emotional weight is critical for both Deadpool and his supporting cast.

It’s here where “Deadpool 2” further improves on its predecessor. Unlike the first movie, it digs a little deeper into the vast catalog of X-men characters. The most important of those characters is Cable, the time-traveling badass whose convoluted origin story involves a clone of Jean Grey. It’s a character that Josh Brolin brings to life perfectly.

Already riding high from how he played Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War,” Brolin’s Cable brings a gruff balance to Deadpool’s quirky persona. That’s not just critical for the overall feel of the movie. It’s a critical element to their relationship, as established in the comics.

It’s not at all necessary to be familiar with their history in the comics to appreciate it in this movie, but as a life-long X-men fan, it’s nice bonus to see the spirit of the comics find their way into the movies. Given how often superhero movies take liberties with comic lore these days, that does count for something for fans like me.

As a result, Cable’s gruff, overly serious demeanor complements Deadpool’s eccentricities perfectly. Having both suffered immense personal losses, they both seek the same thing. Their methods are just very different and that makes for some glorious conflict, complete with references to Brolin’s role as Thanos and his role in “The Goonies.”

Aside from Cable, “Deadpool 2” also brings in other familiar X-men characters. That includes Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who had significant roles in the first movie. It also involves newcomers Bedlam, Shatterstar, and most notably, Zazie Beetz’s Domino. While not all these characters get a chance to shine, Domino does plenty to steal the show in multiple scenes.

There’s even a lengthy list of cameos throughout the movie and not just of the Stan Lee variety. The movie, even with its more serious themes involving family and loss, still finds plenty of ways to lighten the mood and have fun with itself. It never takes itself too seriously or gets too dark. It finds a way to mix in just the right amount of humor into everything.

By nearly every measure, “Deadpool 2” checks all the necessary boxes for an appropriately uncanny sequel. It offers a rich array of content that builds on what the first movie established along with plenty of bonus material, including one of the best post-credits scene of any superhero movie. Even if you don’t care for the movie, that post-credits scene will put a smile on your face, especially if you hatedWolverine Origins.”

That’s not to say it’s a flawless movie. I wouldn’t put this movie above “Avengers: Infinity War” and not just because it’s a different kind of movie. “Deadpool 2” does a lot of things right, but it leaves some things unfinished. There are times when it rushes certain plot elements. As a result, characters like Vanessa and the lovably under-powered Peter feel wasted.

There are also a few instances where the the story feels choppy. Those instances are minor, though. While it would’ve been nice to establish a few other details about characters like Cable and Domino, the overall structure of the movie still works because it keeps the plot of “Deadpool 2” concise. It never tries to cram too much into the story, which has derailed more than a few superhero movies. See “Spider-Man 3.”

Overall, “Deadpool 2” is awesome because it has an identity and sticks to it. There’s crude humor, violence, and plenty of 4th wall breaking. There’s also genuine heart. In the same way the romance elements in the first movie felt sincere, the themes of family and finding a place in an unjust world feel just as sincere in this movie.

You’ll laugh and you’ll feel throughout “Deadpool 2,” but chances are you’ll probably do more laughing. As a whole package, “Deadpool 2” gives you plenty of reasons to leave the movie with a big smile on your face. Whether you’re an X-men fan, a superhero fan, or a fan of neither, this movie gives you something to enjoy.

If I had to score “Deadpool 2,” I would give it a 9 out of 10. It’s not flawless, but it’s pretty damn close. It’s exactly what you want it to be and then some. The ability to make more butt jokes is just a nice bonus.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, superhero movies, X-men

Jack Fisher’s Sexy Sunday Thoughts: “Deadpool 2” Edition

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Greetings, fellow lovers of Deadpool, tacos, and poop jokes. Once again, we find ourselves in uniquely prosperous times. Just a few weeks ago, the world became inherently more awesome with the debut of “Avengers: Infinity War.” That movie was an epic cinematic marvel that I went out of my way to praise. This week, another marvel of a more vulgar sort has arrived.

That’s right. The wait is over! “Deadpool 2” has arrived. Get a clean pair of panties and leave your tender sensibilities at the door because the Merc with the Mouth is back, once again through the lovable spirit that is Ryan Reynolds. He’s back with his R-rated antics and the world is better because of it.

I’ve praised “Deadpool” since the earliest days of this site. This movie has left me with plenty more things to praise. Some will make you sick to your stomach. Some will make you laugh hysterically. Some will even make you horny. When a former sexiest man alive and ex-husband of Scarlett Johanssen is involved, how could it not?

The “Deadpool 2” is another one of those rare pieces of media that makes the world an objectively better place. Like cat videos and babies with dogs, it brings a special kind of joy to our lives, along with some sex appeal. In that R-rated spirit, I dedicate this week’s edition of my Sexy Sunday Thoughts to “Deadpool 2” and all the vulgar spectacle it embodies.


“If intelligent design were real, then wouldn’t every man’s penis vibrate during sex?”


“True love is having someone who’s willing to unclog your toilet for free.”


“Drunk sex and drunk texting can be equally damaging to a relationship.”


“The foundation of any successful relationship is less about avoiding screw ups and more about not getting caught.”


“A wedding reception is just an opportunity for relatives to celebrate that two people they know are going to have sex.”


“It’s very likely that the invention of acting coincided with the first instance of role playing during sex.”


“Groupies are the sexual equivalent of unpaid interns.”


I hope these sexy musings embody the fourth-wall breaking effort that would make Deadpool proud and/or horny. I like to think he has a greater appreciation than most for the dirty, kinky musings that cross our minds in a given day. For those still buzzing from the move or are still in line to see it, I hope this supplements the experience. If it requires a clean pair of panties or underwear, then all I can say is you’re welcome.

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On Nihilism And Love (And How Nihilism Enhances Love)

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Whenever I talk about nihilism, it’s usually in the context of how it could effect an emerging generation or as an excuse to talk about one of my favorite cartoons. I try not to incorporate it into too many discussions, mostly because nihilism has some pretty sullen connotations. Whether you believe it or not as a philosophical principle, discussions about it can get pretty depressing.

Considering the underlying premise of nihilism, which is that life and existence has no inherent meaning, that’s somewhat unavoidable. At the same time, though, nihilism can provide a revealing context. Due to its inherently harsh nature, it can cut through the empty rhetoric and needless complications that overly complicate a subject. That can be exceptionally useful for a concept as broad and powerful as love.

Yes, I am going to talk about love and nihilism. I promise it’s not going to get as depressing as you expect. If anything, I believe that love and nihilism are a potent mixture that, when framed properly, can actually enhance both concepts.

Being an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I’m an unapologetic about my fondness of romance. I like to think I’ve made that abundantly clear. However, the more I write about love, the more I notice how often love gets twisted and contorted into something that undercuts its fundamental value.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional fairy tale romance that makes love seem like this unstoppable force that is ordained by angles and guided by unicorn magic. That sort of thing has its place alongside stories of giant robots and superhero movies. In the real world, though, pursing that kind of love is like pursuing actual fairy dust. It’s woefully unrealistic and potentially damaging to someone’s psyche.

That’s where nihilism can provide an important filter, of sorts. At its core, nihilism strips away the magical thinking people ascribe to certain phenomena, be it love, honor, friendship, or happiness. From a purely nihilistic point of view, love is just another manifestation of brain chemistry within a larger manifestation of social dynamics.

On paper, that’s pretty cold. If it were incorporated into a fairy tale or an erotica/romance novel, it wouldn’t come off as very romantic. If you take a step back and go beyond what’s on paper, though, that nihilistic insight actually reveals the larger complexities of love.

To illustrate, think back to some of the most iconic love stories of all time, both classical and contemporary. Look at the epic love of Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Rose from “Titanic,” or Superman and Lois Lane. These are all held up as romantic ideals, the kind that make real world love seem inane by comparison.

However, applying a little nihilism to these narratives and something happens to these ideals. The strength of all these epic love stories is how passionate the characters feel for one another and all the obstacles they overcome to be together, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. That makes for an epic tale, but nihilism exposes a major oversight.

If we’re going to look at love as just a series of chemical reactions in the brain between two people, then we cannot overlook the other reactions surrounding it. To do so would mean ignoring real, tangible manifestations of reality. Since that’s the only manifestation that nihilism acknowledges, it has to accommodate those other feelings alongside love.

This is important, in terms of expanding love, because it establishes that it’s just one of many potential feelings that may manifest within the brains of two individuals. The mechanisms are the same. It’s just brain matter interacting with other brain matter. Sure, that reduces the biology of love to brain chemicals, like any other emotion, but at the same time it incorporates into all the other emotions in play.

In the cold, unfeeling world of nihilism, the mechanisms of love don’t carry any greater weight than the mechanisms of hate, happiness, sadness, and annoyance. While that’s bad news for fairy tales, it’s good news for love in a real world where love spells don’t exist and true romance rarely forms from a single kiss at the gate of an airport.

In that world, the basic brain chemistry of love can’t be enough. It’s necessary for two people to also get along in the sense that they can relate to one another, interact with one another, and deal with one another on a day-to-day basis. Those mundane, unromantic factors are rarely part of an epic love story, but an important part of a healthy romance.

When we conflate the meaning of love to the level of an old Beatles song, we undercut those less fanciful aspects of love. We focus only on those moments of intense passion that find their way into romance movies. Some, like my favorite romance movie, do a better job exploring other moments. Most though, along with music that blurs the line between love and obsession, don’t send that message.

That kind of love gives the impression that it’s the most meaningful experience anyone could have. It becomes the primary goal of every individual, seeking that special love that somehow makes them feel complete and content. To not have it is to be denied your very reason for being. It’s something you should dedicate every ounce of energy to, even at the expense of every other pursuit.

That romantic ideal shatters under the weight of nihilism because in that worldview, nothing matters to that degree. The very notion that anything would matter that much requires self-delusion to an egregious extent. Again, it’s a cold way of looking at the world, but it reveals the true tenants of a healthy, fulfilling love.

By mixing love and nihilism, love can no longer be that one feeling that gives someone a sense of purpose. That’s because, in the world of nihilism, nothing gives anything or anyone inherent purpose. Everything is just there by the random chaos and exists only temporarily, only to eventually perish at the eventual heat death of the universe.

Sure, that means that love can no longer be eternal or everlasting like a typical Disney movie, but that’s actually a good thing if love is to have any value. By rendering love a finite, temporary feeling, it becomes more precious on the basis of its rarity. The fact that it is so temporary is what makes it a powerful feeling to those who experience it.

It also leaves room for all the other feelings that go into a strong, healthy romance. Things like growing together, learning from one another, and complementing each other become part of an ongoing process that two people experience. For some, it can last a lifetime. For some, it can barely last a day.

In the long run, they don’t have inherent meaning in a nihilistic world. Whatever meaning love ultimately has is dependent on those who experience it. That means people can’t just rely on the fact that they’re in love and expect it to solve their problems. It means they actually have to work on preserving that meaning they’ve created in a cold, unfeeling world.

To some extent, that gives love true value and not just the inflated value portrayed in movies. By looking at love through the lens of nihilism, it’s possible to understand it for what it truly is, in relation to other experiences that sentient beings share. It’s no fairy tale, but it’s real in that we feel it and because we feel it, we give it meaning.

As a lover of romance and telling sexy stories, I find that uniquely inspiring. We can’t rely on an unfeeling, uncaring universe to give meaning to our love lives. We, as finite and fragile beings, have to do that ourselves. Those willing to take love as it is and not what we wish it were are better able to craft that meaning. If we can make it sexy along the way, then that’s just a nice bonus.

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Sexy Short Story: Maximum Effort (Inspired By Deadpool)

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The following is a sexy short story I wrote entitled, “Maximum Effort.” Like “Avenging Desire” before it, this was inspired by a superhero movie, specifically “Deadpool 2.” As such, expect an appropriately crude, but inherently sexy tale. Enjoy!

“One more, Stan!” said Wendy Maxwell from across the bar.

“Just one more?” the middle-aged man asked with a crooked grin.

“You heard me right. I’m saving my appetite tonight,” she said proudly. “Deadpool 2 is one movie I want to stay hungry for!”

“You sure you want to say that out loud?” he joked.

“I know what I said. I’m not taking it back.”

Wendy spoke with a certainty that left no room for argument, even from her Uncle Stan. He owned one of the best sports bars in town, which happened to be right across the street from the High-Max Cinema movie theater. She could see the oversized complex out the window and couldn’t wait to make her way inside in a few hours. She planned to be among the first in line to see Deadpool 2.

She’d cleared her schedule for the day, taking off work and taking care of any errands that might create a distraction. She’d also made it a point to pre-order her ticket and reserve the best possible seats in the biggest IMAX theater within a 25-mile radius of her house. She could’ve just gone to the one at the mall that was closer, but in the spirit of Deadpool himself, Wendy approached seeing this movie with maximum effort.

“I got to say, Wendy,” her Uncle Stan said from behind the bar, “I didn’t peg you for the superhero fan. A few years ago, I don’t think you knew the difference between Spider-Man and Batman.”

“What can I say?” she said. “A lot can change in the span of a few years.”

“I’ll say!” her uncle said. “One day, you’re agonizing over which generic action flick you can tolerate with your friends. The next, you’re prepared to drop kick someone who tries to buy the last Deadpool-themed bra.”

“You sound so proud,” Wendy teased. “My mom is convinced I’m just overcompensating after my ex-boyfriend ditched me for his roommate’s sister.”

“Eh, what does she know? You’re more self-aware than she ever was.”

“Kind of like Deadpool himself!” she pointed out.

“No argument here.”

Wendy laughed as her uncle poured her one last cup of coffee before. She’d just about finished her dinner, which consisted of a small sandwich and some soup. It was light, but for good reason. She didn’t just want to save room for popcorn. She wanted to make sure she didn’t miss a second of the movie. That meant minimizing the risk of bathroom breaks, drowsiness, and an upset stomach.

She had never taken such elaborate precautions for a movie before. Then again, she’d never been so enthusiastic about a movie, either. That was before she saw the first Deadpool movie two years ago. She actually hadn’t intended to see it. Her now ex-boyfriend had bought them tickets to see it. Then, the day before the premier, he dumped her, but left her the ticket.

Never one to turn down a free movie, she just went and saw it. From the very beginning, with that hilariously vulgar opening credits scene, Wendy was hooked. She had no idea who Deadpool was or why the movie was such a big deal. By the time it ended, though. She was hooked. She needed to laugh. She needed to see something crude, funny, and vulgar after her breakup. Deadpool was the perfect medicine.

After that day, she became a full-fledged Deadpool fan. She started buying Deadpool comics, following Deadpool-related forms, and even found herself getting into the larger world of superhero comics. It helped that her brother loved comics. He helped catch her up and even got her into cos-playing at a comic book convention last year. It had been so much fun and it all started with Deadpool.

For Wendy, seeing Deadpool 2 was like completing a process. She’d been such a workaholic after graduating college, pulling long hours at the software company she worked at. Her former boyfriend got her to lighten up somewhat, but it was Deadpool who helped her achieve a greater epiphany.

“Maximum effort…for the right reasons,” Wendy said to herself with a smile before finishing the last of her sandwich.

It had been one of the many memorable lines from the first movie. She was good at giving lots of effort, but never with much passion. Deadpool, both the character in the comics and the one Ryan Reynolds brought to life in the movie, channeled his passion and wit into everything he did. Whether it was shooting up Ajax’s crew or trying to hook up with Death herself in the comics, he did everything with personality.

That helped Wendy so much, both in her professional life and her personal life. She’d made more friends, done better at work, and even embraced a more distinct dress style. For the Deadpool 2 premier, she’d dyed parts of her hair red, wore a Deadpool-themed halter top, and even wore Deadpool-themed underwear.

It might have been quirky for most, but it helped that she was far from the only one in her Uncle’s bar. Looking around, she saw a lot of fellow Deadpool fans showing off their attire. Some were dressed in costumes. Some were showing off their Deadpool-themed tattoos. Everyone seemed to share in the excitement, but Wendy doubted that excitement was as intimate or personal.

As she wiped her hands on her napkin, her Uncle Stan arrived with the coffee. Once served, she took a quick sip and held it up proudly.

“To Deadpool,” she said to her Uncle, “the man who got me through some tough times and helped me put maximum effort into being awesome.”

“Cheers to that, Wendy,” her Uncle Stan said, rolling her eyes. “You talk about the guy like he’s your crush instead of a comic book character.”

“What can I say? He made me laugh at a time when I was crying over my ex. He inspired me to laugh at the overall absurdities of life. He even got me to dye my hair for the first time since high school. And nobody needed to dare me!”

“I’m glad he’s been such a positive influence. Just don’t start measuring all the men in your life to the same standards as comic book characters or Ryan Reynolds.”

“Relax, Uncle Stan!” Wendy said as she took another sip of her coffee. “I intend to maintain the positivity. I mean, it’s not like I’ll just up and fuck the first guy who dresses like Deadpool and talks like Ryan Reynolds or something.”

The older man laughed and shook his head before going back to serving other customers. Wendy went back to finishing her coffee, occasionally checking her phone to see how much longer she would have to wait. She still had a solid two hours before the movie. It promised to be an agonizing wait, but with each passing second she grew more excited.

“It’s almost here!” she said to herself. “Deadpool 2 is almost here! God, I wish there was a way to make the wait go faster.”

Moments after saying those words, I figure walked up to the bar next to her. He seemed to come out of nowhere. He was tall, well-built, and wearing a full-bodied Deadpool costume the likes of which she hadn’t seen since that comic book convention she went to with her brother. It looked like a perfect duplicate of the costume Ryan Reynolds wore in the first Deadpool movie.

“Hey bartender!” the man in the costume called out. “Whose balls do you have to fondle to pay the check? And for the record…yes, I moisturize!”

Wendy’s heart skipped a beat and her panties got a little warmer. She swore that voice sounded just like Ryan Reynolds, but it couldn’t be him. For one, the man in the costume looked taller than Ryan and there was no way big Hollywood star would be at her Uncle’s small-time bar, especially one married to Blake Lively.

At the same time, however, she found herself staring at him intently. Someone who put that much effort into a costume must have at least half her appreciation of all things Deadpool. Even after one of her uncle’s other bartenders came buy and processed his check, he still carried himself like the Merc with a Mouth himself.

“Hey,” Wendy called out. “How many times have you asked about ball-fondling today?”

The man in the suit turned towards her and seemed immediately intrigued. Even through that mask, Wendy sensed him smiling.

“That depends,” he replied jokingly. “Do you consider yourself for or against? How important is it to you that balls be fondled?”

“Well, it wasn’t that important to me until a few years ago,” Wendy said, mirroring his tone.

“A few years ago? You mean the same time that saint of a man, Ryan Reynolds, cracked a joke about it in the first Deadpool movie?”

“Oh, it was no joke to me. If making that move required fondling Wolverine’s balls, be they Hugh Jackman’s or anyone who looks like him, then I say ball fondling has proved its worth!”

They both laughed. The man barely even noticed when the bartender gave him his check back. Now leaning on the side of the bar, he leaned in a little closer. Again, she sensed a unique look through his mask. He was still smiling at her and in a very flirtatious way. The fact he smelled like fresh chimichangas – which had become her favorite snack food, by default – certainly helped.

“I take it from the dyed hair, the Hot Topic shirt, and the appreciation of ball-fondling jokes that you’re as excited about Deadpool 2 as me,” the man said.

“Well, I’d certainly say I’m excited, but you being as excited?” Wendy questioned. “I find that hard to believe.”

“What makes you say that?”

“For one, I don’t’ see a boner in your pants. Trust me, if I was a man. I’d be so hard right now I’d have to wear a dress.”

“You don’t say?” he said with a laugh. “So you’ve been glancing at my man parts?”

“Are you going to tell me that you’re not looking down my shirt right now, hoping your mask will hide it?”

Wendy, showing more playfulness that would’ve made Deadpool proud, leaned in closer so that her breasts were plainly visible through her halter top. She didn’t even need to gaze through his mask. She knew he liked what he saw. He didn’t even try to avoid it.

“I’ll plead the fifth on that,” he said. “I’ll also plead that you’re not here with someone…like, for instance, a jealous boyfriend who has the muscle mass of Colossus.”

“I’m alone,” she told him with a flirty look. “In fact, I’ve been single since I saw the first Deadpool movie.”

“Really? A pretty girl like you, one who’s willing to wear Deadpool-themed clothes that blatantly show off your breasts, is single? I find that hard to believe. And I know someone who paid to see the Green Lantern movie.”

“Believe it!” Wendy said confidently. “In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Deadpool has been the most important man in my life since my last breakup. You could say he’s become a passion of mine.”

“A passion?” he said with more intrigue. “Are we talking stamp collecting here or the kind that requires a spare pair of panties?”

“I own a vibrator that I’ve covered in no fewer than 16 Deadpool stickers. What do you think?”

Wendy hadn’t intended to sound that dirty, but she couldn’t help herself. Between her excitement surrounding Deadpool 2 and the man looking and sounding so much like Deadpool, her passion for the character was mixing with other passions. It also wasn’t lost on her that she hadn’t had sex since she broke up with her ex-boyfriend. On the night of a new Deadpool movie, it seemed more relevant.

She felt the gaze of the man in the costume narrow. She even swore she saw a slight bulge in his pants. She wasn’t exactly being subtle, but neither was he. Maybe that was just a byproduct of dressing like Deadpool, but it still did the trick. It still got her hotter than Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively in a sauna.

“I think,” the man said in a deeper tone, “that we might be able to help each other.”

“Are you saying you have more stickers?” she quipped in a flirty tone.

“I’m saying I’m here by myself as well. I had a girlfriend, but she didn’t care for Deadpool movies. She even tried to make me throw this costume away.”

“Sounds like a total bitch. You were right to dump her.”

“I haven’t regretted it for a second,” he said, “although I can’t say the same for my penis. It’s been lonely, to say the least, and there’s only so much I can do with hand lotion and re-watching Van Wilder on cable.”

“That’s so sad.”

“It is,” he said, “but if you know a place nearby that’s private and good at screening awkward noises, I think we can help each other.”

The man leaned in even closer, so much so that she could smell his breath and the manly scent emanating within the costume. It smelled like a mix of tacos, hot sauce, and pure manliness. It proved plenty potent, sending Wendy’s heart and hormones into overdrive.

She’d yet to see the man’s face. She’d yet to even get his name. However, he was dressed as Deadpool, had a clear appreciation of all things Deadpool, and appreciated his mannerisms. On a night when Wendy was determined to celebrate all things Deadpool, the idea of fucking a guy dressed like him just seemed too fitting.

It was reckless, crude, and something Deadpool would totally do. Wendy, feeling adventurous in a way that only Deapdool could inspire, decided to take a chance. After all, she still had plenty of time between now and the movie premier. Why not try to pass the time with a little Deadpool-themed kink?

“As it just so happens,” Wendy said with a seductive glance, “there’s an isolated little nook out back…one only I know about because my uncle trusts me way too damn much.”

“Hmm…that could work,” the man said with growing excitement.

“I’ll take you there under one condition.”

“Name it! And I promise that’s not just my penis talking.”

“You keep that costume on. That includes the mask,” she told him. “Also, I don’t want you to give me your real name or anything. Just let me call you Wade.”

“Keep the costume on, keep my name secret, and let you call me Wade,” he said, pretending to think about it, “all in exchange for some kinky sex. Normally, I would take a moment to pray to the gods of Stan Lee and Rob Liefield for guidance, but I think I’ve got their blessing with this!”

“Good!” she said intently. “Because on a night like this, I intend and expect maximum effort!”

Casting aside all restraint and reservation, Wendy just left a couple twenty-dollar bills under her half-finished coffee before grabbing the man by the arm. Then, with an energy and intent that surprised her more than him, led him out of the bar through the rear entrance. Most customers weren’t allowed back there, but since her Uncle owned the place, she gave her a pass.

The man she now called Wade eagerly followed, staying close by and slipping his gloved hand into her back pocket, giving her butt a firm squeeze. It got her to move a little faster, making her inner thighs feel hotter in the process. Between excitement for a movie and a lengthy sexual drought, her body seemed extra receptive to a little stimulation.

“You’ve got a nice ass,” Wade whispered into her ear as he followed her, “not quite as nice as Ryan Reynolds, but still close.”

“Stay close,” Wendy replied in a lurid tone. “I can use my ass as well as Deadpool uses his guns!”

“A bold claim,” he said. “I’d like to see you prove it!”

“Oh I will!”

Still completely confident, she led Wade down a narrow hall, passing one of the cooks along the way. She ignored the strange look she gave him. She didn’t care if the whole bar saw her slip out. She was going to have sex this man. Then, she was going to see Deadpool 2. By every objective measure, it looked to be a damn good night.

Upon reaching the door, they burst out into the hot mid-May evening. They emerged in a back alley where nobody who wasn’t driving a delivery truck ventured, especially this late in the evening. As soon as the door closed, Wendy turned around and jumped Wade with the same fervor as Vanessa did in the first Deadpool movie.

Wade responded just as favorably, catching her in his arms and leading her back to the wall next to the door. Along the way, she kissed his mask, playfully licking around the mouth area while grinding her body up against his. She could already feel the bulge in his pants growing. She also felt him feel up her curves, squeezing her ass and tracing up along her waist. It got her so hot that her clothes became unbearably itchy.

“Wade…help me get this off,” she said, already breathless as she unzipped her pants.

“Gladly,” he replied.

Kicking off her sandals, not minding the dirty pavement on her feet, Wendy slid her pants down her legs with Wade’s help. In the process, she revealed the Deadpool-themed panties she’d been wearing, complete with an image of Deadpool’s face right over her pussy. She swore she heard Wade giggle.

“Ooh! Those are so cute,” he said to her, his hands already on the side.

“Help me get them off and I’ll let you smell them,” Wendy told him.

“Deal!”

She laughed again, but never lost focus. She slipped out of her panties quickly, leaving her naked from the waist down. As soon as they were off, she let Wade take them, who eagerly put them up to his mask. She watched as he took in a deep whiff, not unlike the one Deadpool did when he smelled his guns.

“Ooh yeah!” he said. “I’m touching myself later.”

“Better make it much later!” said Wendy. “Remember what we discussed about ball-fondling? I’m for it.”

As if to prove her point, she dropped to her knees and grabbed the side of Wade’s pants. By now, the bulge in his pants was pretty big. Getting it off was a bit of a challenge, but after doing the Deadpool-themed belt-buckle, she managed to pull the tight-fitting red pants down to his ankles, along with his boxers.

Much to Wendy’s surprise, the man wearing the suit was very well-endowed. He had the kind of manhood that Deadpool would’ve joked about to no end. At the moment, though, it was no laughing matter. Wendy was horny, excited, and daring. True to her word from earlier, she went to work fondling Wade’s balls and playfully stroking his cock.

“I fully approve…of your position on ball-fondling,” Wade teased.

“That’s not all I’m in favor of,” Wendy said in a lurid tone.

With one hand still cradling his balls, she shot the masked man a kinky glance before taking his dick into her mouth. From there, she began giving him oral sex, channeling her inner Vanessa from the first Deadpool movie. Wendy had given her ex-boyfriend oral sex on multiple occasions, but never with such effort and fervor.

“Holy fuck-knuckles, that’s good!” Wade moaned, still holding her panties to his masked face.

Encouraged, Wendy kept up her oral teasing, using her lips and tongue to full effect. It didn’t take long before Wade was leaning back on the wall for support, running his fingers through her hair with one hand while holding onto her panties with the other.

As she sucked him, Wendy felt her own arousal escalate. At one point, she slipped a free hand between her legs and fingered her vagina to get all the right juices flowing. Before long, she was ready for a new effort.

“Mmm…ready to fuck me, Wade?” she asked seductively after giving his cock one last lick.

“With maximum effort!” Wade replied.

With instinct and reflexes as powerful as Deadpool himself, Wendy shot up from the ground. Wade, seizing the initiative, took her in his arms briefly and turned her around so that she was up against the brick wall, facing away with her heart-shaped ass pointing at him.

His pants still around his ankles and his mask still on, the man she instead on calling Wade grabbed her by the waist and guided his dick into her with a single thrust. He was so hard and she was so wet. Like Deadpool and a young Bea Arthur, their flesh embraced one another.

“Ohhh fuck!” Wendy exclaimed into the humid evening air.

“Fuck…yeah!” Wade grunted.

Wendy’s world began rocking. Wade put in the same effort into fucking her as she had when she gave him oral sex. He was so energetic and thorough, pumping his manly flesh inside her and stimulating her womanly depths with every motion. Wendy bucked her hips with every thrust, leaning harder against the brick wall. It didn’t matter that it was dirty and reckless. They were just that excited about Deadpool 2.

He fucked her nice and hard in that position, his pelvis rhythmically smacking against her putt with each thrust. At one point, he grasped her but with one hand and reached up her shirt with the other, pulling down her bra and feeling one of her breasts. That added an extra bit of sensation to their sex. Wendy loved it and craved more.

“Harder, Wade! Fuck me harder!” she cried out.

“Nice boobs…hot pussy…super penis…I fucking love it!” Wade said.

They kept going at it, moaning and grunting in the dirty nook behind her Uncle’s bar. Somewhere along the way, he pulled out and turned her around so that she could jump him again, throwing her legs around her waist so he could fuck her just like Wade fucked Venassa in the first movie. Wendy eagerly embraced the opportunity.

Her back now against the wall, her breasts hanging out of her top, Wade held her legs up as he guided his dick back into her and resumed their sex. She held onto his shoulders as their bodies rocked to the rhythm. Wendy found herself gazing intensely into the masked face before her. Whether by fluke or kink, looking at it just made her hotter and pushed her faster towards her peak.

The sex was so intense and driven. In that moment, she wasn’t just fucking some random guy in a Deadpool costume. She was actually fucking Deadpool. He was Ryan Reyonld and she was Morena Baccarin. He was Wade Wilson and she was Vanessa. That thought, along with the steady onslaught of sexual sensations, brought her to the brink of orgasm.

“Ohhh I’m coming, Wade! I’m coming!” she cried out.

“Ooh yeah! Me too,” he grunted. “Fuck, I’m going to pop my fucking load in you!”

“Do it, Wade! I want to feel your Deadpool-loving cum inside me!”

That was probably the most vulgar thing she’d ever said during sex, even while drunk. Wendy didn’t care. She was loving it too damn much. It was just too damn fun.

After a few more powerful thrusts that tested her flexibility, and other various aspects of female anatomy, Wendy came hard. She came so hard that she scratched her nails down over the seams of the mask, tearing through parts of the fabric in the process. Her toes curled, her lower back arched, and her core was set ablaze with a fiery surge of pleasure.

As that feeling engulfed her, Wade let out a labored grunt of his own, tightening his hold on her butt as he steadied his hips in anticipation of his release. She then felt his dick throb inside her pussy, his manly juices mixing with hers.

In that moment of shared, Deadpool-driven ecstasy, she kissed the masked men with passion, knowing that she’d achieved something once deemed impossible. She found a way to make Deadpool even more awesome.

“Fuck yeah,” Wendy said in her orgasmic daze. “Now that’s what I call maximum effort!”

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The following is a review I wrote for PopMatters on X-men: The Wedding Special #1. Enjoy!

Musings on Mutant Matrimony: X-Men: The Wedding Special #1

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May 17, 2018 · 7:31 pm

When Your Lover Uncovers Your Porn Collection (And What Their Reaction Reveals)

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I talk a lot about taboos, double standards, and various gender quirks. I don’t just do that because it highlights significant disparities among people trying desperately to get along and/or make love to each other. I do it because it offers some fascinating insight into the conflicting mentalities that drive such conflicts.

A lot of those conflicts, however, are on a larger, more impersonal scale. A typical couple, be they heterosexual, homosexual, or something else entirely, can only do so much to impact larger cultural forces that they had no role in choosing, propagating, or subverting.

These forces, from our approach to marriage to the assumptions that guide our understanding of romance, usually only effect individuals and couples indirectly. We’re all somewhat at the mercy of what our culture has built for us and we can only do so much to guide it forward.

However, there are a few lesser-known aspects of that culture that we can influence on a day-to-day basis. One such aspects involves porn and whatever porn collection that you or your significant other might have, be it hidden or not. I’m sure just mentioning it has made certain individual’s tense for various reasons that I won’t state outright.

Regardless of how you or your lover feels about porn, it exists and it exists in a big way. It’s also a huge multi-billion dollar industry. The fact it’s so huge is a telling sign that both you and your lover have probably consumed it at some point. It’s also very likely that anyone claiming that porn is immoral has probably consumed it as well.

Despite this prevalence, porn is still immersed in taboos and quirks. I don’t want to focus too much on those, since I’ve already touched on a few. The ones I want to focus on have to do with how those in a romantic relationship react to it. That reaction, in many ways, goes beyond double standards and reflects something deeper about our concept of relationships as a whole.

Most people probably don’t need much imagination to surmise how their lover would react to their porn collection. Whether or not it’s a secret, there’s this underlying sentiment about someone in a relationship who consumes porn. That sentiment usually manifests in two scenarios. This is the first and probably most basic.

A woman casually walks by her lover’s desk. Their computer screen is open and so are a wide number of files. Curious, she takes a closer look, only to find out that there’s a sizable collection of pornographic videos on the computer. She’s utterly shocked at just how much content there is.

There are videos featuring extreme, hardcore scenes. There are videos featuring bondage, S&M, and various fetishes. When her lover returns, she is outraged. She sees this level of porn consumption as an affront to their relationship and demand that the files be deleted.

This isn’t just a basic thought experiment. This sort of thing does happen in real life. A part of what inspired this article were stories like this one where a woman kicked her husband out of the house after finding some porn on his phone. Granted, her reaction was extreme, but it reflects a similar sentiment.

There are those who, when they find their lover’s porn stash or just part of it, see it as an insult and an affront to their relationship. They see their lover’s desire to seek another sexual outlet as proof that they aren’t enough and their lover isn’t attracted to them anymore. For some, it can be fairly traumatic and for understandable reasons.

Now, I didn’t specify the gender of the person who voiced that outrage like I did in the scenario. I did so because I don’t want to generalize too much. From a purely anecdotal perspective, which is admittedly flawed, women are more angered by their lover’s porn consumption than men.

Again, that’s a generalization. It also says nothing about how homosexual or transgender relationships couples react to porn. I honestly had a hard time finding research to that effect. However, I found plenty that indicated how common porn consumption is among couples and how reserved many are to admit it.

That leads me to the next scenario, which isn’t as common, but is a bit more colorful. It involves a different kind of reaction for a couple that probably has a very different dynamic from the first, but that dynamic is key in understanding the implications.

A man casually walks by his lover’s desk. Their computer screen is open and so are a wide number of files. Curious, he takes a close look and discovers a sizable collection of pornographic videos. For a moment he’s shocked, but then he’s impressed at the sheer breadth of the collection.

There are videos featuring lesbian couples. There are videos featuring bondage, S&M, and various fetishes. When he confronts his lover, it’s awkward and a little funny. However, he’s also genuinely intrigued by this side to his lover and says they should talk about it so as to re-evaluate their outlook on their sex life.

It’s not nearly as dramatic, which is probably why it doesn’t make the news as often. Again, I was vague with the gender dynamics here and I’ll probably get in trouble for saying the person in the scenario was a man. I get it. That’s a general assumption fueled largely by existing cultural expectations.

Men are okay with porn. Women are a bit more sensitive about it. Not everyone is like that. Some women don’t have a problem with porn and even enjoy watching porn themselves. Some men don’t care for porn and are genuinely averse to it. Everybody has their own attitudes towards it.

That said, there is this prevailing sentiment that men are anxious about revealing their porn habits to their significant others and women don’t like the idea that their lover has a sexual outlet other than them. In both cases, there’s an anxiety over what this means for them and the relationship.

To some extent, porn consumption and learning that your lover consumes it undercuts the romantic script that we think we have to follow. Within that script, two people are in love. They only desire one another. They’re only attracted to one another. Anything that might diver that attraction must be a bad thing. Porn does all of that and then some.

In that context, it’s understandable why some would react harshly to their lover’s porn collection. It shatters the romantic ideal they once assumed. Suddenly, their love is not on part with Romeo and Juliet. Their relationship is not some epic romance. The idea that they’re still sexually aroused by other people makes it seem less special and less meaningful.

At the same time, such a reaction has more distressing implications. If someone is  disgusted by the notion that their lover is sexually aroused by something other than them, then that implies they somehow own their lover’s desires. They own their ability to have sex and be intimate. The idea of owning another person to that extent goes beyond love and into the realm of obsession.

In that circumstance, even a stray thought anyone has towards someone other than their lover is an affront. Given the many indications that humans aren’t entirely built for monogamy and the high divorce rate, this is wholly unrealistic and a little scary and it sets unreasonable expectations among couples that are bound to disappoint.

There are, indeed, certain cases where someone’s porn consumption is detrimental to a relationship. However, from a pure numbers perspective, those instances are the exception and not the norm. From a pure betting perspective, there’s a good chance that your current lover or future over consumes porn. How you deal with it will likely reveal the strength and/or weakness of your relationship.

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