Is Porn Good for a Relationship?

The American novelist Erika Jong said this about porn: “After the first 10 minutes of a porno, I want to go home and screw. After the first 20 minutes, I never want to screw again.”

Is porn good for a relationship

That’s both a great witty little line, but it also describes our complex relationship with pornography. So it’s no wonder why the question “is porn good for my relationship” is so common. We’re going to take a look at it right now.

A 2014 study of more than 20,000 American couples who had watched porn alone in the last year were 12% were less likely to have a happy marriage and 10% more likely to cheat on their partner.

That finding was widely reported in the mainstream press and it sounds very conclusive, doesn’t it? But that study was done by the Journal of Family and Economic Issues, and a quick browse through their other publications reveals a noticeable bias towards more conservative family values.

That’s important, because the majority of research about pornography skews very heavily towards its negative effects, and you can easily tell that publications and studies that you assume are impartial aren’t at all. You can often see a pre-existing prejudice in the researchers that conducted the research.

Opposing research will tell you, for example, that men who use higher levels of porn reported greater relationship satisfaction. When it comes to porn, statistics don’t seem to count for very much. So I’m going to go against my more rational sensibilities just this once and ignore the research. It’s too muddy and contradictory right now.

What’s the point of porn? It’s existed almost as long as the film camera: the camera was released commercially in 1892, and the earliest film of people having sex is from 1899. The first actual porn film with a plot and actors, called A Free Ride, is from 1915. Here’s a clip from the beginning of it. It’s SFW, but you may well notice some themes that haven’t AT ALL.

That end sentence made me spit my coffee out, I swear.

Anyway, the primary point of porn is to stimulate and arouse the viewer. Unfortunately, the porn industry is lopsided, so when I say ‘viewer’ I should really say ‘male viewer.’ It’s only recently that society, or at least parts of it, have come to accept that women can enjoy sexual stimulation as much as men, so the vast, VAST majority of it is male-focused.

That said, watched together, porn can help build bridges and open new channels of pleasure. You can share fantasies that you may be too uncomfortable to communicate verbally. Porn can be a positive force for couples with an open attitude to sex and masturbation.

It’s rarely problematic for couples to use porn alone too. Pornography can offer an outlet for private sexual expression. I personally believe it’s healthy to have a shared sex life, and a private, internal one. One that’s just for you. Fantasising isn’t cheating, and if there were any trustworthy studies on the subject, I’m confident they would prove that having an inner sex life can only augment the outer one.

As long as it’s used to supplement, not substitute, real intimacy and real sex, then yes, porn is good for a relationship.

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Written by: Stuart Nugent

With 16 years in the adult industry, including many years at LELO, it's fair to say Stu has been around the sex toy block a few times. As LELO's resident sex geek, he's been featured in the Independent, the Guardian, HuffPost, Vice, Cosmopolitan, and anywhere people talk about sex. Here on Volonte, he turns his spotlight onto the important events affecting sex right now in a regular op-ed. Views are his own.

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