Can Porn Improve Sex With My Partner?

Can online porn improve the sex in your long-term relationship? An Atlanta sex therapist breaks it down.
Amy Howard

Amy Howard

An Atlanta Sex Therapist unpacks the truth about online porn and your long-term relationship

Porn is such a loaded word. It carries many different meanings for so many people. It encompasses a wide spectrum, from romantic and cheesy to violent and degrading and everything in between.

Because of the charge of the word, when discussing porn I prefer to use the more neutral term “online sexual imagery” but will use the word “porn” and “pornography” for simplicity.

When evaluating whether to introduce porn into your long-term relationship, answer these four questions:

1. What are your intentions?

First, let’s look at your motivation for introducing online sexual imagery into your relationship. After all, it’s hard to know where you’re trying to go if you don’t know where you are right now.

Are you bored with what’s happening (or not happening) in the bedroom? Are you looking for some ideas to flip your sexual script? Perhaps you’d like to introduce your partner to a specific sexual interest you haven’t had the courage to mention in conversation.

What about your own private use of porn? Are you only able to become aroused through online imagery? Is partnered sex not cutting it for you any longer?

Let’s face it: a lot of people view online sexual imagery when masturbating.

74 percent of all men and 49 percent of all women report that they masturbate, according to the Journal Of The American Medical Association.

There’s no scientific evidence that porn is any different to your brain than any other form of entertainment, from television to video games, writes David J. Ley Ph.D. in Psychology Today.

Frequent masturbation and porn consumption does affect men’s sexual satisfaction*, but that’s due to the masturbation, not the porn consumption.

*Men who masturbate while watching pornography may become accustomed to a “tighter grip.” For those men, partnered sex may not provide that same level of intensity, leading to a less satisfying experience. Asking the partner to “adjust their grip” is the cure.

Our solo experiences are different from sexual encounters with our partners for many reasons.

When self-pleasuring, we can go at our own pace, we know just the right kind of stimulation we like, and we don’t have to worry about the person lying beside us.

Partnered sex adds a whole new set of variables to the mix. So when we introduce the element of online sexual imagery viewing to our partnered sexual encounters, the likelihood of it being similar to our solo sessions isn’t that high.

That’s not to say introducing pornography into your relationship won’t be satisfying. It will just be different than experiencing porn solo.

2. Do you have similar values around pornography?

Are you and your partner on the same page when it comes to viewing online sex? If one of you feels negative about it, it’s likely not a good idea. Get curious about your feelings — whether they’re pro- or anti-porn. A sex therapist can help make sense of your beliefs and possible hang-ups.

3. Check your Porn Literacy level?

When you enter the world of online sexual imagery, are you able to zoom the camera lens out and realize that this is a production?

There’s lighting, a camera crew, make-up, sometimes even prostheses. Some women in online sexual videos these days have prosthetic vulvas! It’s crucial to recognize that what you’re seeing online is not reality and cannot be compared with partnered sex because it isn’t real life. 

Take a moment with your partner and acknowledge the lack of realism on display. This will go a long way to avoid making unrealistic comparisons.

4. What do you mean by “improvement?”

Are you looking for a short-term fix or more of a long-term solution? Watching online sexual imagery with your partner likely isn’t the silver bullet you’re hoping for. Perhaps it can add an element of novelty and interest now and then. But it could also have negative effects. Porn can cause you or your partner to feel like they don’t measure up to what they’re seeing on the computer screen.

All this to say, only you and your partner can determine if incorporating online sexual imagery into your bedroom is a good idea for the two of you. Perhaps before you pop open your computer, discuss these points with your partner.

If you need some help starting a conversation about introducing pornography into your sexual relationship, give me a shout. I can help.

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