Devil’s Advocate: It’s OK for your partner to watch porn

In Opinion

Pornography is not something the vast majority of people talk about. You don’t stop by the coffee shop in the morning and have friendly discussions about the weather, gas prices, international crisis and conclude with how nasty your favorite new adult talent is.

If you’re committed to someone, however, that subject should probably come up at some point or another, since, if you’re a man, statistically you’re looking at it anyway.

For the sake of being fair, let us dismiss the general knowledge that far more men enjoy pornography than women. Whether man or woman, if we are in relationships in which we know our partners consume porn, we have some moral and ethical decisions to make.

The simple answer to whether it is acceptable to allow your partner to view porn is: yes, of course it is. We’re not all going to be 12 years old forever – adults enjoy sex.

We enjoy having sex, thinking about it, talking about it and, whether some people admit it or not, watching it. But just like everything else we do or allow others to do, there are boundaries, conditions and circumstances we must consider.

If your partner comes home every day from work, avoids looking you in the eye, waits for you to go to sleep and begins silently gorging on hardcore porn for hours with headphones on, then you definitely have a serious problem to deal with.

A 2003 article published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, titled “Romantic Partners’ Use of Pornography: Its Significance for Women,” concluded that within the subjects polled and interviewed in the study, the majority of women had neutral or mildly positive feelings toward pornography itself.

A significant finding, however, is that the minority of women who found pornography offensive had two major concerns in common. The length of the relationship and the extent to which their partners viewed pornography were factors that most affected their attitudes.

The women who didn’t like the idea of their partners viewing pornography were either in long-term relationships with their partners, or perceived their partners as spending too much time viewing pornography.

Big surprise. We all know what happens as relationships age. The frequency of sexual activity goes down and down, and Viagra’s stock value goes up and up.

As far as spending too much time viewing porn, shame on those men. Shame on many of us men, at certain moments of our lives.

So, how can people enjoy their porn responsibly, without letting it become destructive to themselves and to their relationships? They need to think about what they’re watching with intelligence and interpret it in context with their circumstances.

A major challenge in all of our lives is to be more than the things that influence us. Many formal studies exist about the psychological and social effects of pornography, and many of them conclude that the effects are largely negative.

If you and your partner are having any combination of intimacy, communication or priority issues, then somebody resorting to pornography as an escape is almost definitely going to make things a whole lot worse.

But if you are in a healthy relationship, are on the same page with your partner and can communicate comfortably with your partner, pornography can be a very enjoyable media for both of you.

Ideally, people in relationships prioritize the relationship, not themselves. Whether porn is acceptable or not depends on the motivation. Is your partner ignoring you for porn, or is your partner talking to you about new ideas inspired by porn?

If your minds are open about sex, then by all means enjoy it together.

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