3 Ways To Make Porn Work For Your Relationship

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man woman using porn to benefit relationship
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Let’s talk about porn! I don’t know about you, but after much thought on this subject, I see porn as a double-edged sword, like social media.

Since just about everything in life operates on a spectrum, I see both “good” and “evil” in such sexually explicit material. I think the way porn is made or viewed often falls on intent.

For example, was it made to empower women to own their sexuality, or does it teach men to objectify women? You’re welcome to disagree with me, but again, we’re trying on new pants.

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What science says about porn in relationships.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships asked 200 couples in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships to journal about their porn use over 35 days, responding to questions delivered to their smartphones every evening.

Researchers found that women in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships seemed to like using porn as inspiration or foreplay and were more likely to follow through on their desires than men. However, they watched porn less frequently than men.

But men in same-sex relationships also showed increased desire to make love to their partners, and were more likely to have sex on the days they viewed porn.

Men in heterosexual relationships were less likely than those in same-sex relationships to have sex with their partners after viewing porn.

“It’s quite possible that people in traditional mixed-sex relationships easily fall into socially accepted ways of thinking about sexuality and intimacy,” the Psychology Today article on the study reads.

“In contrast, those in same-sex relationships, because they defy social norms, are also more likely to be open about their sexuality and discuss sexual issues with their partner more readily.”

What can we learn from defying social norms when it comes to porn?

I want to call attention to the “defy social norms” part. What can we learn from trailblazers, people who think differently, and misfits?

How can we throw away mental roadblocks that have been holding us back, become more open-minded, and apply these lessons to our love lives (and beyond)?

How can we stretch ourselves like elastic?

Let’s relate porn back your mindset.

Let’s start treating it like a blank canvas, and paint in some new ideas about how this porn study might relate to your relationship.

First, if porn has been an issue in your relationship, whether you think your partner has been viewing too much of it or you think your partner would rather watch porn than make love to you, let’s make a few things clear:

  • It’s completely normal to feel uneasy about your partner’s porn habit.
  • Don’t assume your partner thinks you’re unattractive just because he watches it. (I mean, there could be a deeper issue there, such as your partner feeling lonely and resorting to porn, but let’s start here.)
  • Like I said, look at your partner’s intent, and understand that sexuality happens on a spectrum.

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Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to know if porn can enhance your relationship and sex life.

1. Where does porn rank among your values?

You can define values as “a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.”

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For example, someone who values “novelty” but has a low sex drive might need inspiration to get turned on (like the women mentioned in the study). Porn can help!

2. How can you redefine porn’s role in your relationship?

Every relationship is different, so if you, for example, value open communication, then opening a conversation about porn’s role in your relationship would align with that value.

Do you two like porn in moderation? What kinds of boundaries can you establish, such as the type of porn you watch together?

If one of you likes porn more than the other, how can the non-watcher welcome or accept this behavior? You could say this is an opportunity to pick your battles and practice self-love.

3. Would viewing pornography together hurt your relationship?

If your partner’s excessive porn-viewing is hurting your relationship, how can you work together to save your relationship?

Yes, this implies that your relationship is a team, so you need a team mentality.

Given how easily accessible porn is these days, your partner might be like the straight men in the study who watch porn, but don’t necessarily act on it. Perhaps this is because he’s de-sensitized to it, depressed, or lonely. 

You might have found out about his porn habits the hard way, like stumbling upon his digital stash. It’s easy to react to such an unpleasant surprise, and even easier to get angry.

Don’t panic. Relax. No jumping to conclusions.

You’re allowed to feel angry and betrayed, but like those mentioned earlier who defy social norms, try calmly talking to your partner about his porn habits, establishing that you’re willing to listen. You'd want him to do the same for you, yes?

It might open a much larger conversation about your relationship, but it’s better to tackle the situation now than to let it boil and explode later.

Feel free to see a couples' therapist, but the bottom line is you’re going into this as a team. The worst-case scenario is that you don't resolve the issue, and you find yourself someone else with whom to team up.

How does it feel to try something new? After giving it a shot, you’ll learn you have more power than society likes to admit.

Also, like social media, porn can make you feel more isolated than intended. However, you can choose to use porn intelligently, healthily, and in ways that align with your values to make your relationship stronger than ever.

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Holly Shaftel is a certified professional coach who specializes in helping women trade in their relationship anxiety and insecurity for peace of mind. Learn more about her practice at Holly Shaftel, LLC, and take her research-backed "Relationship Insecurity Quiz" to see where you stand romantically.

This article was originally published at Holly Shaftel. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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