How Does Pornography Impact a Relationship?

April 12, 2020
Pornography has almost as many advocates as detractors. In this framework, you may wonder if it affects relationships. Today's article will answer the question of how pornography affects a relationship and explain its main positive and negative effects.

Pornography is a set of written, pictorial, or audiovisual representations that show nudity followed by sexual behavior. Even though it’s been around for a long time, its consumption by both individuals and couples skyrocketed with the advent of the Internet and technological devices. The question is – how does pornography impact a relationship?

This subject generated great interest among researchers. In this regard, the study of the effects that pornography consumption has on an individual level and also on romantic relationships is what has the most repercussion.

Most of this research focuses on the idea that porn consumption negatively affects a relationship. However, more recent studies are finding positive results.

“Young people rely on the Internet and its unlimited supply of pornography to ward off external stress. The instant gratification gratifies instantly. But the external stress is, in large part, being caused by the Internet itself. The Internet itself is a feedback loop; it creates the demand that it then seeks to fill.”

-A.N. Turner, Trapped In The Web

How does pornography impact a relationship?

A person at their computer.

Negative impact

Experts found that couples who don’t consume pornography generally show a greater degree of adjustment, greater satisfaction and dedication, and more positive communication.

However, this seems to vary depending on whether one of the partners consumes it or if both partners consume it together. In the event that it’s only one of the partners, there are usually lower levels of commitment and a greater probability of flirting with others and infidelity.

When the perception of those who don’t consume it is negative, it affects their self-esteem and sexual satisfaction. In fact, some women in heterosexual relationships perceive their partner’s consumption of porn as traumatic as infidelity.

In a recent study, the participants indicated the following negative aspects of porn use:

  • A decrease in interest in sex. Many indicate that pornography decreases their desire for their partner and they lack excitement in their relationship. In other cases, they even tend to want their partner as a pornographic character.
  • Increased personal insecurity. Participants reported a decrease in their self-esteem or their perceived level of desirability. They think that they aren’t able to excite the other as much as the pornographic material could.
  • It contributes to unrealistic expectations. Specifically, both consumers and their partners say that porn affects what a person expects in terms of physical appearance, sexual performance, and even tastes.

Positive impact

Couples in which one or both partners consume porn may experience higher levels of eroticism and sexual appetite. Furthermore, they consider that pornography can act as:

  • A source of information. Many allude to the educational value of this type of material. Consuming porn can bring new ideas couples can enjoy together. In addition, it helps to know what they like and don’t like.
  • An opportunity to experiment. It can benefit couples by increasing their sexual repertoire, as well as in normalizing variety, inspiring, encouraging creativity, and provoking a state of mind that predisposes them to sexuality.
  • A guide that improves sexual communication. Porn provides an opportunity to talk openly about sexuality and likes and dislikes and builds trust. It makes communication flow and promotes the understanding and acceptance of each other’s sexual desires.
  • A source of pleasure. Mainly, pornography is considered entertaining, fun, and exciting. Thus, they experience it as a pleasant activity that makes one, or both partners, feel good.
  • An exercise for sexual comfort. In many cases, couples perceive that porn promotes the comfort or self-acceptance of their own sexuality. Likewise, it helps reduce embarrassment, guilt, and anxiety towards certain sexual behaviors, improving sexuality.
A couple kissing.

Conclusion on how pornography impacts a relationship

Most studies refer to porn’s negative effects on heterosexual couples. Instead, users themselves say they don’t exist. What seems to be more or less clear is that it depends on the partners’ perception, their attitudes, and whether they use it individually or as a couple, among other variables.

How pornography impacts a relationship also depends on a couple’s level of communication. Thus, poor relationships tend to experience more negative effects. However, as indicated above, others consider it an opportunity to increase and improve their communication. In short, the important thing is to always maintain an open dialogue to be able to seek pleasure in one another and your own as healthy and honestly as you can.