Besides women and low libido, a plenary of premature ejaculation sufferers, a big block of my practice involves problems related to the use of pornography and its effect on marriages. However you feel about porn you can’t argue how pervasive and how readily available it is. Sometimes called the “crack cocaine of the 21st century”, internet porn is dead simple, free and hits those pleasure centres in our brains. It appeals to the male need for newness and for visual stimulation. Pornographic images requires no work on your part to please a partner,and you always can find exactly what strikes your fancy at any given moment.
Here are the problems. Some people have real ethical issues with the material. I’m of mixed minds on this (having personally met many women who happily and cheerfully work in the sex industry and would shout up and down that they are NOT exploited). But some women find their partners viewing this material highly offensive. Many women also feel threatened by their partner fantasizing to images of women with perfect bodies. Some men masturbate so much that they aren’t able to help their partners out in the bedroom. I’ve had patients who need to go into the bathroom at work to masturbate, or miss outings because they were in the “porn haze” of extended sexual sensory overload. If it starts to interfere with real life, then “Houston we have a problem”. I do skype sessions around managing porn with men in all cultures and through out North America.
As a sex therapist I see some challenges. Porn is not real sex with real women and thus the perception of what is authentic sexuality gets distorted. Real women aren’t always perfectly waxed, go into throes of ecstasy when you touch their knee, nor like a 12 inch penis in their rectum. If you expect your partner to behave like a porn star, you can understand why there is a disconnect.
Unlike some therapists, I think there can be a place for adult material in a relationship. I find some of the female erotica directors depicting the funny, sexy, imperfect act of genuine sex endearing and a turn on. I find mindless banging with disrespected women offensive. I also understand that porn needs to be treated with respect. Just like drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, sex can impact those pleasure centres in the brain and become addictive.
Having a cart blanche that your partner can’t look at porn EVER makes it secretive and is setting them up to fail. In my opinion it doesn’t work. Finding a middle ground that invokes communication and creative dialogue about what really pushes your buttons is information that partners need to know about each other as to what they find hot. Porn can be a slippery slope of self loathing, secretive behaviour and diminished partner response. It can also be a fun, raunchy, silly way to add visual images to your love making. If you’ve caught your partner looking at porn don’t freak out. Come up with some boundaries, make your feelings heard and maybe get some help mediating this. It’s a complicated issue and far more powerful than most women realize. Oh, and 90% of men look at it. Be informed.