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Hey Honey, Let’s Talk About Porn.

Lifestyle

Hey Honey, Let’s Talk About Porn.

As has been discussed before on this site, a lot of people watch porn. Specifically, a lot of people watch porn by themselves. Porn consumption is generally a private practice, one that is not usually discussed with other people—even (or maybe especially not with) our significant others.

Searching online, you will find a lot of commentary from relationship experts arguing about whether the use of pornography is good or bad for a relationship.  Some argue that it can create distrust and insecurity in a relationship while others suggest that it can help build intimacy and “spice up” a couple’s sex life.  I would argue that whatever your personal porn habits are, it is worthwhile to have an open, honest conversation about it with your partner (or partners) as a way to communicate your fantasies and curiosities as well as your concerns and insecurities.

One commonly held belief that often causes discord in couples concerning porn is that “what my partner watches in porn is what they want in real life.”  This is absolutely not the case.  Sure, a person may see something in porn that they want to try or they may search for something that they fantasize about doing in real life, but just because they are sexually aroused by an image or scene does not mean they desire to act it out.  For example, some straight women like to watch lesbian porn but have little or no desire to be with a woman in real life.  Similarly, straight men may watch gay male fellatio porn but have no desire to re-enact that situation.  This is difficult for people (especially partners of the person watching the porn) to accept or understand.  But sexual arousal is complex and what we fantasize about, what we masturbate to, and what we desire in real life with a partner are often different.

Many people who have had only limited exposure to porn tend to think that all of it features unrealistic acts or exaggerated bodies with silicone and fake tans galore.  And while there is a ton of that out there, a lot of porn produced today features different body types, ethnicities, ages, genders, and pairings of sexual partners.  There has also been a huge rise in “amateur porn”, or porn that is uploaded to the Internet by “regular people” who look like you and me.  In fact, Cindy Gallop, an entrepreneur, consultant and speaker, created a website called MakeLoveNotPorn.com that hosts amateur porn video submissions.  This is a great resource for individuals and couples who may find the aforementioned “traditional porn” intimidating or unappealing.  Additionally, this new era of porn does not only feature man/woman, woman/woman, and man/man run-of-the-mill sex.  Fetish sites and speciality porn are also accessible by searching for literally any type of porn you can think of in Google search.  The Center for Sexual Health and Pleasure’s website where Clinical Sexologist and AASECT certified Sexuality Educator Megan Andelloux answers the question, “Where Do I Find Ethical Porn?” is another avenue for finding particular sites and to learn about how to search for “ethically-made porn,” or porn that is made, produced, and marketed with transparency of who benefits from any revenue that results in its distribution and which employs willing, informed performers who are treated ethically (definitions of “ethical porn” vary, but this is my understanding of what it should entail).

All of that said, pornography use does not interest everyone.  Some people are adamantly against it; whether because of the traditionally misogynistic practices and content of some parts of the industry or their own moral beliefs regarding sex and masturbation, and some people prefer other methods of sexual stimulation.  In the context of a relationship, it is important to respect your partner’s preference and maintain an open dialogue with compromise and negotiation when needed.  The necessary step is to have the conversation.

Some people would like to watch porn with their partner, but are nervous to bring it up.  Some prefer to keep their porn-watching a solo activity, but might be curious about what their partner is watching.  Either way, having an open, honest conversation about porn is not easy for many people.  It requires being vulnerable and open to judgement by discussing and admitting to certain sexual turn-ons and practices that may have not come up before in the relationship.  For example, in a male-female relationship, the female might assume her male partner has watched or currently watches porn because it is generally accepted that men watch porn, but may be nervous to talk about her own porn habits for fear of how she might be viewed.  The male partner might be interested in watching porn with his female partner, but doesn’t want her to think he prefers porn to having sex with her and so avoids the conversation all together.  There is a common belief that women do not like or watch porn and men who watch porn are sexually unsatisfied or have some kind of addiction.  This is why it is important to initiate a conversation with honesty, but to also remain curious and non-judgemental so each partner can feel more comfortable disclosing the truth about their porn habits.  While the first couple of conversations might feel awkward, embracing the topic can lead to better understanding and increased intimacy.  Once these conversations become more comfortable, a couple may decide they want to watch porn together, which, for some couples, can open up a new and exciting avenue for intimacy and sexual exploration.

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Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Elizabeth Watt

Elizabeth is a Clinical Psychologist and psychotherapist in Washington State. She provides therapy and consultation to individuals and couples and is working to become an AASECT-certified Sex Therapist. Her primary interests are romantic and sexual relationships, sexual empowerment and education, the dynamics of communication, and reducing stigma around issues of sexuality and mental health.

Get in touch with Elizabeth via email at elizabethdwatt@gmail.com

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