Can Pornography Affect Your Romantic Relationships?


    As watching pornography becomes more and more normalized in Western society, many experts and activists are also on a journey to unveil the detrimental effects this habit has on healthy, loving relationships. The question is if people are in happy relationships, why are they turning to porn? Are they not satisfied with their sex life? 

    The answer depends on the person you ask. Yes, it can be a response to feeling unsatisfied in their relationship, but it can also be for entirely different reasons. Some individuals will watch porn as a unique way to relieve stress, and sometimes it’s just a private self-care activity for someone to enjoy their “me” time without involving their partner. 

    Watching pornography together is merely a way to inject some spice into their sex life for some couples. The concern, however, emerges when someone in the relationship becomes too dependent on porn to be intimate or stops them from wanting to be intimate all together. 

    Negative Impacts of Porn 

    Several studies have pinpointed some key issues that porn dependency creates in intimate relationships. Some reports even suggest that porn consumption is a strong indicator of poor relationship quality, with some even pointing to its role in divorce. But what about it exactly is causing couples to break up? 

    Here are some of the negative influences pornography can have on a relationship:

    • It can upset the foundation of trust between a couple. If someone is sneaking around and keeping their porn watching a secret, it could come as a violation of trust to their significant other. More so than if they were open about it in the first place. 
    • For most couples, porn usage can actually decrease the level of satisfaction in their sex life. 
    • Much of porn is performative and removes the emotional vulnerability it takes to have romantic sex. If one partner derives too much from porn, they can be emotionally detached and avoid having authentic, bond-building sex. 
    • In the same vein, porn can create unrealistic expectations about sex, such as overestimating the ability of women to have vaginal orgasms or how normal naked bodies are supposed to look. 
    • Lastly, when held up to those impossible standards, it can be easy for a regular person to begin to feel subpar and take a blow to their self-esteem when they can’t live up to those expectations.

    Are There Positive Effects? 

    But it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of pornography consumption, and some studies reveal that porn can do some good for a relationship. Here’s how: 

    • One study in 2012 found that while heterosexual men watching porn harmed their intimate relationships, women who watched porn had a better sex life. 
    • In 2018, another study found that couples who watched porn together found that it had positive effects on their sex life, such as creating an environment that supported open and honest communication, interest in sexual experimentation, and overall more comfort around sex. 
    • For the men out there who struggle with erectile dysfunction, some clinicians say that it could effectively overcome the condition. 
    • According to sex therapists, if you’re still learning about your sexual preferences, porn can be an excellent avenue to learn more about yourself and what turns you on. 

    What to Do if Porn Becomes a Problem in Your Relationship

    While porn is something you and your partner can mutually enjoy, it doesn’t mean that you should feel pressured into being okay with it if it’s not something you approve of. If you’re currently in a relationship and think that porn consumption negatively affects your connection with your partner, you must speak up and address your concerns.

    If you’re nervous about broaching the subject, here are some tips for how you can start this conversation with your partner:

    • Don’t go into the conversation with judgment or resentment. Sexuality is a tricky subject, and starting off being too aggressive can make your partner feel alienated, particularly if you have no additional information.
    • Ask your partner questions, such as what their sentiments about porn are, or what they enjoy about it. They might have similar beliefs to you but don’t know how to stop.
    • Calmly explain why you feel negative about your partner watching porn. Let them know if you have any concerns about its effect on your relationship or the insecurities it brings up about your sex life. You can also visit for more advice on the subject. 

    If this issue is much larger than what the both of you can tackle on your own, consider getting couples’ counseling to address it or other underlying problems that could be affecting the quality of your relationship. 


    Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.


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