8 Ways Porn Can Strengthen Your Relationship

Yesterday I shared information gleaned from new research showing that not only does porn not cause sex addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, or stress, but the self-acceptance of the label of “sex addict” does in and of itself lead to depression, anger, anxiety and stress.


There is a very specific reason that I feel so strongly about breaking down and sharing this important information, which is that I have yet to see anyone who still enjoys a mutually satisfying sex life within their marriage show up in my office thinking about getting a divorce!

When things start to mellow in the bedroom, or even when they haven’t, one partner may turn to viewing porn by themselves as a way to find a quick and efficient sexual release. That in and of itself is not necessarily an issue.

Only ever watching porn in isolation, however, can potentially lead to building resentments. The partner sneaking off to watch because their spouse has rejected their advances feels shame and frustration, while the partner noticing porn sites in the other’s browser history loses confidence and trust.

To me, calling out this pattern is not some doom and gloom pronouncement, but rather a statement of opportunities couples miss far too often.

Here are 8 ways porn can enhance self-esteem, build trust and boost sexual satisfaction in your relationship.

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  • Be transparent with your partner about your interest in watching porn. Sneaking off for a quick release when your partner is otherwise engaged seems reasonable enough, but sneaking in any form is sure-fire trust explosion waiting to happen. You don’t have to make an announcement whenever the mood strikes — although that could be pretty funny — but don’t treat it like a secret you hide like some 15-year-old still living in your parents’ house.
  • If you want to your ideas to be respected, make your thoughts known. You can’t expect your thoughts to be respected if you have never shared them in the first place. If you want him or her to be OK with your interest in watching some porn even when you are satisfied by the sex between the two of you, you have to actually say that. Don’t expect your thoughts to be guessed.
  • Dive into difficult conversations with a no-judgment policy to improve communication. Women may expect men to spill the beans to us each evening as we would with a female roommate. Men may want to keep the conversation more brief and relaxed. But you didn’t want a roomie forever, remember? You wanted a husband or a wife. Neither a man nor a woman is going to talk about anything real when worried about stepping on mines of criticism. Establish up front that it is safe to share anything.
  • Talk about porn and sex in relation to what you and your partner like specifically, not what men and women like in general. When you criticize your partner, you deliver a giant blow to his or her self-worth, productivity and positive feelings towards you. This is true even when the attack is an indirect hit. Negative statements about “pervy guys” or “sluts” who watch porn” will be delivered and heard as direct indictments of the self. Don’t worry about anyone else. This is about your relationship with each other.
  • Watch some porn simply for the sake of seeing the wide variety of bodies in this world. Men tell women all the time that we judge our looks more harshly than they do. Women tell men all the time that size doesn’t matter. Take a brief glance through the picture galleries on some porn sites. You will see men and women of ALL shapes and sizes. Men and women are both physiologically wired to become aroused by the sight of the naked body, and you chose each other’s. Turn on the lights on and take a look!
  • Find ways to explore what gets you each most excited together can increase both of your sexual satisfaction. There is so much hype about sharing fantasies. Maybe you just want your partner to know how hot you think a certain position or location would be. Watching together is great, but for lots of people that feels awkward. The goal isn’t to watch porn, but to explore your interests and desires. Ask him to send you images of something he would like you to wear and go find something similar that feels comfortable for you. Ask her to send you a clip of a scenario she’d like you to arrange. Kind of like your own personal sex Pinterest — hence the “vision board” reference above.
  • Use the category section on a porn website (or two) as a way to talk through your limits. Discuss what you are kind of OK with, what you do not think seems great, and what you are absolutely opposed to ever. Check in from time to time to see if those feelings have shifted in either direction, and make it clear that no is always no, even to something you may have thought sounded cool once but later decided you are no longer down for.
  • Have fun!!! Sex is messy and sometimes awkward. Occasionally someone gets an elbow to an eye socket or falls off the couch. The positions you see in porn are chosen by a director so the camera can present a clear visual experience, so not everything you see will work well without choreography and production assistance you likely neither have nor want. There is nothing wrong with trying as long as you are ready to bust a gut together laughing if it doesn’t work out to be as cool as you expected.

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Not sure how to start the conversation? Try dropping casually that you read an article about scientific reasons men like porn. The study I previously cited by Hammon and Wallen of Emory University states that “there is an advantage for males in quickly recognizing and responding to receptive females through (visuals, allowing them to maximize) their mating opportunities.” Ask your partner what they think about that.

Door open.

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