The Tiny Habit That Can Devastate A Relationship

Is this habit cheating? Some say yes, some say no, some say maybe.

Couple having a passionate discussion Getty Images | Unsplash

Do you or your partner watch porn? If so, you’re not alone. The pornography industry is one of the biggest in the country — generating an average of $13 billion each year. It's widely known that the majority of men watch porn at some point in their life, but a large number of women view porn as well.

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Watching porn is a tiny habit that can devastate a relationship, but is it cheating?

1. Regardless of gender, it brings up a good question. Is watching porn considered cheating?

Kathleen wasn’t worried about this until recently. She has been with her partner for seven years and he has always watched porn, and it never bothered her until a group of her friends brought it up.


She says, “There was a debate, and some of my girlfriends felt that watching porn is unacceptable if you're in a relationship. They believe this is a form of cheating. This made me feel anxious. I never thought of my partner as a 'cheater'. Can you please give me porn advice? Do you think it’s a form of cheating on your partner?



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2. My advice: There's no definitive yes or no answer to this question.

It’s subjective. Consider how it affects your relationship before you decide if it feels unfaithful or not.

Kathleen’s girlfriends probably feel that intimacy shouldn’t be shared in any capacity while in a relationship. Or, they might worry their partner will get caught up in the fantasy world of porn, making it harder to get excited when it’s time to be intimate.

On the other hand, others may not be concerned about their partner watching porn. Instead, they might find that the fantasy world of porn inspires and may also satisfy their partner, particularly if they have a stronger sex drive.

Neither side is right or wrong. In some cases, porn can help relationships by inspiring sexual experimentation and discussion. Many of my male clients have said that they felt watching porn is not necessarily about lusting over people but using it to get excited. They compare this to the way women use romance novels to get excited.


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Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to distinguish what’s best for your relationship:

1. How do you feel about your relationship?

2. Are you and your partner satisfied with your sex life?

3. Is your partner turning outside of your relationship to meet a need that should be met within the relationship?

4. Has your partner become dependent on porn or do they watch it more often than you two are intimate?

she doesn't know


Photo: via Shutterstock

Answering these questions about yourself and your relationship can help you determine if porn can be a part of your relationship, or if it's something that may be destroying your relationship.

If you and your partner have a satisfying sex life and are happy in your relationship, watching porn now and then probably isn’t a concern. However, if you’re struggling with intimacy and your partner is watching porn more often than you’re being intimate, you might need to address this issue with your partner.


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Rachel Moheban-Wachtel is a multilingual individual and couple’s therapist with a private practice in NYC and the creator of The Ultimate Relationship Resolution program.