Is Porn Accepted in Your Relationship?

Many couples have conflict about the role of pornography in their relationship. You may flat out refuse to allow it. You might sneak your viewing and keep it a secret. You may view porn as cheating. You might use it to learn about sex or secret fetishes. Or, as a couple, you may use porn to get even sexier together.

Are any of those right or wrong? Is it addictive?

Sex therapists are divided about whether or not viewing porn is an addiction. Some researchers say an absolute yes, others say it’s not. Some say it hurts relationships, others argue it actually helps relationships.

At our Center, we’ve seen both sides of the argument. Benefits have included how porn has helped couples overcome issues of sexual inhibition, connect with content that sits outside of conventional sexual norms, helped couples become more sexually engaged with each other as well as bring couples closer together.

On the flip side, we’ve also seen how pornography has contributed to obsessive viewing for some partners, increased erectile dysfunction for some males, negatively impacted sexual expectations within partnerships as well as effected identity, performance and gender roles in sex.

There are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to the role of pornography in your sex life. Each partner and partnership is unique.

At CIR, we believe couples should have open and honest discussions about the role of pornography in their lives. This should include where and how you think it could help enhance your sex life, as well as how it taps into your vulnerabilities, fears, and concerns. These discussions should be on-going, not a one-time conversation.

In addition, for couples who choose to view porn, we highly encourage that couples only view “Ethical Pornography” (typically created by women) where:

  • Actor safety and full consent is the highest priority of the company
  • Natural body types, all skin colors, and orientations are featured
  • Workers are paid fair, adequate wages under safe and clean working conditions
  • Workers can refuse any scenes outside of their comfort zone
  • Sex positivity, advocacy, and empowerment are emphasized
  • Films NEVER include the use of drugs, alcohol, force, abuse, endangerment, minors and/or non-consensual sex

So yes, healthy porn viewing requires that you do your research. Unfortunately, pornography can be exploitive, unethical and abusive. This poses considerable cause for concern, especially when it comes to children and adolescents. Kids can easily stumble upon inappropriate websites. We encourage the highest levels of safety and caution to prevent children and teens from viewing content that could traumatize them.

Here are some additional tips on healthy use of pornography:

  • Porn is designed for ENTERTAINMENT purposes only. Erotic scenes are comprised of scripts, actors, lights and cameras. Porn is not a means of sex education.
  • Your greatest source of sex education is your partner, research books and/or films designed for educational purposes only.
  • Porn is not a replacement for your partner. While it can be enjoyed solo, if you find yourself turning more to films than to your partner, it’s time to take a break from viewing. Spend time reconnecting with your partner instead.
  • If you enjoy sexual fantasy but never really want to experience it in real time, porn can help you explore fantasies safely without having to enact them (of course, as long as it follows the guidelines above).
  • Sharing porn viewing with your partner can help build sexual trust and intimacy together, while also fueling sex positivity and sexual empowerment.

Overall, we encourage you to introduce the topic to your partner. Start by having an honest conversation. Treat your relationship as unique, sacred and intimate. Hold each other’s views with care. Beware of absolutism. See where the conversation takes you.

Note: If you and/or your partner struggle with out of control sexual behavior, sometimes called sex addiction, which may or may not include porn viewing, we suggest you speak with a professional that specializes in that area.

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