The world of pornography moves millions , being one of the most profitable industries at a global level. Although in the past it was considered something shameful, today there are few people who have never seen any kind of pornographic material. But since its inception, controversy and debate have arisen regarding the effects that its consumption can have, especially in the area of couples.
Some people find it a betrayal similar to infidelity when their partner watches pornographic videos or believes that they do so because they are already loved for it. Is this true? Does pornography destroy the quality of relationships? Let’s start by defining what we are talking about, which is often confused.
What do we mean by pornography?
As most people already know, porn or ponography is that set of sexually explicit works or performances that are generated for the purpose of arousing or satisfying their viewers.
Although at present the consumption of pornography is mostly online and is based on audiovisual content in the form of videos . All types of stimuli that meet the characteristics described above are also considered as such. Thus, we can find photographs or pornographic magazines or even written stories.
But you have to distinguish pornography from eroticism. While eroticism is also partly about attracting the user through insinuation (it may or may not include full nudity and sexual attitudes) and may be linked to the artistic, in the case of pornography it is shown in an integral way with the basic aim of obtaining sexual gratification. It is also important to bear in mind that what is considered pornographic can vary greatly between cultures, between subjects of the same culture or even at different times for the same subject.
Once we visualize the concept of pornography, we can see what effects porn has on the couple’s world.
Effects of porn on relationships
Since the emergence of pornography and the study of its effects on the population that consumes it, the controversy has arisen as to how it can affect the functioning of a couple .
The answer to how the use of pornography can affect a relationship depends largely on the characteristics and considerations of each of its components. There are people who continue to see the consumption of pornography as a betrayal or something worrying that translates into a lack of desire for the person himself. The reason for this conflict is usually insecurity, the fear of losing one’s partner or of not being desired.
In this sense, a study carried out in 1989 stated that male consumers of these products ended up feeling less sexual and emotional interest in their partners, considering them less attractive in comparison. However, although this study had wide repercussions, it was carried out with a very small sample that did not really allow the generalization of the results.
A more recent conclusion
More recently, that study has been replicated with a much larger sample. Through several trials, the aim has been to evaluate the impact of pornography viewing and its effect on the attraction and feelings of the analysts towards their partners.
The results have shown that there is no relationship between the two factors. Thus, it can be considered that no, the consumption of pornography (as long as there are no factors such as addiction or it is used as a way to avoid and escape from reality frequently) does not generate a decrease in the desire or the esteem of the partner .
It must also be taken into account that the consideration given to sex and sexuality in general has evolved throughout history, with more and more information and elements of a sexual nature being present in our daily lives. This means that over time things like the consumption of pornography have become much more widespread and normalised, so that the idea of one of the members of the couple seeing porn is not so strange and is less likely to be lived in a negative way.
Beneficial effects of its consumption
In fact, nowadays the consumption of pornography can even be beneficial for many couples.
Unless it is used as the only means of learning about sex, porn can provide many ideas about ways to enjoy sexuality in ways other than the usual ones. There are couples who see these kinds of materials together, using them as a way to stimulate themselves and increase their libido while providing them with ideas regarding different games and ways to enjoy their sexuality together. On an individual level it can stimulate imagination and desire.
Pornography also generally integrates aspects and people from different backgrounds and orientations. It can help to break certain taboos, as well as in some cases can help some people to know their own body (for example in aspects such as female masturbation, which even today is still a certain taboo in some people) and ways to stimulate it.
It can also be used as a tool to make explicit and communicate desires and fantasies that would not normally be expressed. In fact, it is sometimes recommended in some marital therapies, since it helps to learn and share moments together of physical and mental stimulation.
Situations where it can be harmful
Although the consumption of pornography is not negative and does not have to cause damage to the relationship, as is the case with most things it can be negative if it is used in a dysfunctional or excessive way .
This is what happens in those people who turn to porn as an escape route from problems with their partners, using it to get away and not to face conflicts. The same happens with people who are very withdrawn and have poor social skills, who may resort to these materials as a compensation mechanism, limiting their interaction. In these cases, the existence of low mood and self-esteem may be recorded, and the use of pornography only g may provide temporary relief and subsequently reduce the mood .
Also, in some people porn can be addictive. As with all addictions, we find ourselves with frequent and prolonged consumption of a stimulus of which over time more and more is needed to obtain the same effects. The subject can spend an excessive amount of time and limit his interactions with the environment (including his partner) and leave aside other responsibilities and activities. Likewise, the withdrawal or absence of it can cause high anxiety, irritability and hostility that can end up causing serious damage to the relationship.
Other adverse effects
Another case in which it can be harmful is when porn is used as the only means of learning about sex. It must be taken into account that in the world of pornography, sexual relations between actors and actresses are reflected, which are usually notable for their physical and sexual attributes, relations that also have specific characteristics (high duration and intensity, roles and attitudes determined during the relations…) and which focus on genitality .
In this way, certain stimuli and ways of proceeding are normalized that can lead to expectations of what a satisfactory sexual relationship entails that may later prove difficult to fulfill in reality. There is also the risk of ignoring and trivializing the affective aspects and it may be that only penetration is identified with obtaining satisfaction, without taking into account other activities that may be erotic and pleasant, such as massages, kisses, games or caresses.
- Balzarini, R.N.; Dobson, K.; Chin, K. & Campbell, L. (2017) Does exposure to erotica reduce attraction and love for romantic partners in men? Independent replications of Kenrick, Gutierres, and Goldberg (1989) study 2. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology , 70; 191-197.