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Can Pornography Improve a Sexual Relationship?

Mar 19, 2014

What comes to mind when you think of pornography?

Can Pornography Improve a Sexual Relationship?Your first response to that question might be negative. For many of us, the word conjures up “dirty” film clips downloaded from the Internet or movies that used to be sold in a room behind a velvet rope at the video store.  It might make us think of the adult magazines sold behind the register at the convenience store or the books teenagers secretly pass around with the sexually explicit passages marked.

In other words, for many people, pornography is associated with shame and distaste.  But is that always true?

Some couples find that using pornography together improves their sex lives.

To be clear, we are not talking about pornography that depicts violent sexual acts or any acts that involve children.  Instead, we mean pornography as Merriam-Webster defines it: “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.”  For this discussion, we mean couples using porn together to enhance their sex lives together.

Why Use Porn?

There are many reasons to consider using pornography in a sexual relationship.

·         It may add spice.  Sexually explicit images – whether on a screen or in the mind – can simply put couples in the mood.  It can also give them ideas to add to their own sexual repertoire, adding variety and excitement.

·         It can open dialogue.  Many couples feel uncomfortable discussing sex. Pornography may start a conversation each partner may long to have and provide an opportunity to share fantasies.  It might be easier to say, “You know that scene from the story we read last night? Want to try something like that?” than “I want to use handcuffs.”

·         It can help couples understand attraction. It’s human nature to be sexually attracted to someone who isn’t your partner. Using pornography can help one partner understand what attracts the other.  It may also make partner’s less likely to seek sexual variety outside of a committed relationship.

Negotiate

Before using pornography to enhance their sex lives, couples need to be open about their feelings and what they expect.  For some partners, pornography is not acceptable at all.  Others might prefer different types or different amounts.  For example, one partner might enjoy videos while the other prefers reading an erotic novel together.  One might want to watch a pornographic video during foreplay.  Another might want to watch it at a time when the couple is not being sexual.

As with other aspects of sexuality, communication is key.  Discussing when, how, and why to incorporate porn into their sexual experiences is critical to using it well.

Being honest can further a sense of intimacy that will enrich what happens in the bedroom. 

And, once they decide to use porn, partners should quickly address anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. For example, a woman may feel inadequate or worry that her partner is comparing her to a porn character. Her speaking up allows her partner to reassure her.

When Porn Becomes a Problem

While many couples find pornography to be beneficial, it can be a double-edged sword.  Too much pornography can make people have unrealistic expectations of their partners and their sexual activities. Their relationships can start to suffer and they might start to substitute pornography for real-life intimacy.

Pornography can lead to physical problems, too.  For example, men who masturbate while viewing pornography can develop erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation because they need that extra stimulation.  They may find that they need pornography in order to perform with a real-life partner.

If you or your partner has a problem with pornography, help is available.  Your healthcare provider can refer you to the appropriate specialist.

Your Turn

What do you think? Do you and your partner use pornography to enhance your relationship?  Has it made things better or worse?  Feel free to tell us more in the comments.


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Resources

Archives of Sexual Behavior

Daneback, Kristian, et al.

“Use of Pornography in a Random Sample of Norwegian Heterosexual Couples”

(Abstract. October 2009)

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10508-008-9314-4

Huffington Post

Nelkin, Stacey

“5 Reasons Why Watching Porn Together Can Be Good For Your Relationship”
(March 7, 2013)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacey-nelkin/5-reasons-why-watching-po_b_2766968.html

International Society for Sexual Medicine

“What are some effects of sustained pornography use?”

http://www.issm.info/education-for-all/sexual-health-qa/what-are-some-effects-of-sustained-pornography-use/

“What can be done to help someone who has a problem with pornography?”

http://www.issm.info/education-for-all/sexual-health-qa/what-can-be-done-to-help-someone-who-has-a-problem-with-pornography/

Psychology Today

Kolod, Susan, PhD

“Fifty Shades of Porn”

(May 1, 2012)

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychoanalysis-30/201205/fifty-shades-porn

Sexual Medicine Society of North America

“Fifty Shades of Grey Shines Light onto Sex Health”

(June 13, 2012)

http://www.sexhealthmatters.org/sex-health-blog/fifty-shades-of-grey-shines-light-onto-sex-health