When couples argue about porn, they're usually arguing about something else.
“I caught him betraying me,” wailed the email from a stranger named Mary. “He’s been watching porn. Why? And how can I ever trust him again when he watches women do anything he wants?”
I get this email from Mary, or Maria, or Mishti every single week. The questions and themes are remarkably consistent:
- Why do men watch porn?
- Why do men promise to stop watching, and then keep watching?
- Why don’t men understand how their porn-watching breaks women’s hearts?
- How can I make love with a man who watches porn?
- How can I trust a man who watches porn?
- Aren’t there any men who don’t hate women?
I feel sympathetic toward anyone who feels betrayed, and so yesterday I responded:
- Men watch porn because it’s entertaining to watch naked women (and/or men) while they masturbate. It generally has nothing to do with how they feel about women (or men).
- Men don’t watch porn because their partners are inadequate.
- Some men are jerks. Some of them watch porn, others don’t. Most men aren’t jerks. Some of them watch porn, others don’t. Porn-watching doesn’t predict jerk-itude.
- Men promise to not watch porn because they don’t want to deal with their partner’s pain or anger. It’s an inappropriate promise to ask for, and it’s a foolish promise to make.
- Men shouldn’t break their promises.
- Women shouldn’t go hunting for evidence of men’s private behavior.
- Almost all conflict about porn is actually about something else. If your partner never watched porn, would you two have an ideal relationship? I doubt it, but if so, let go of the porn issue and enjoy paradise. If not, talk about the stuff you really need to talk about. If he refuses, let him know that not talking is a deal-breaker for you.
Some women seem to feel that there’s an implicit assumption that their partner won’t watch porn, even though he never suggested such a thing. Therefore, they feel betrayed when he “breaks” the assumed “contract.” That’s a mistake.
Some women seem to feel that because their partner watches porn that the woman finds disgusting, scary, or confusing, they have a right to object to him watching it. She has no such right, any more than he has a right to patrol the TV, novels, or videos she watches. In an adult relationship, whatever objection she has to his porn shouldn’t carry more or less weight than his objection to her romance novels or cat videos.
Some women seem to believe their partner has “left” them for porn. No sane person does that. People do withdraw from sexual relationships for many reasons, often passively or without adequate discussion. That’s a legitimate thing to complain about. Criticizing a man’s porn watching as the “cause” of a couple’s poor or missing sex life is as cowardly as a man withdrawing sexually without explaining his dissatisfaction.
I would never, ever blame a woman for a man’s porn watching. And while a few men do blame their partner, most men don’t. They don’t think porn watching needs an explanation.
So why do women blame themselves? Why do women say “his porn watching makes me feel fat?” Or “I won’t do what those actresses do, and it’s not fair to compare me to them.” Unless a man looks at a woman and says she should look like a porn actress or perform like a porn actress, the woman shouldn’t say it to herself. And if the man says that, don’t blame porn. The guy is a jerk.
Porn has been on earth forever, and it isn’t going away.
Plenty of couples manage a satisfying sex life while one or both of them is a porn-watcher. On the other hand, some couples can’t manage a satisfying sex life even though neither of them watches porn. To those couples, I offer my sympathy, and my book, Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex, and How to Get It .
For those couples who just can’t resolve their conflict about one partner’s porn use, I again offer my sympathy, and my new book, His Porn, Her Pain: Confronting America’s PornPanic With Honest Talk about Sex.
Some ways of thinking maintain couples’ conflict about porn. So to help—not to criticize—I also offer the following questions for women who are in agony about their mate’s porn use:
- Why do you feel that you have a right to a porn-free house, and why is that right more important than your husband’s right to have porn in his house?
- Why do you give your husband’s porn-watching meaning that he doesn’t give it? And why do you believe that your interpretation of his behavior is more accurate than his description of it?
- Why would you wreck a good relationship over his private behavior?
- Why would you wreck a good sexual relationship over his private behavior?
- Why is it OK for you to hack into your husband’s private stuff? Is it OK for him to hack into your private stuff if he doesn’t like what you’re doing?
Most importantly, if you’re unhappy about your sex life, why not talk about that instead of talking about porn?
Everyone has their personal predilections, but research indicates a majority of women are turned on by “mutuality”
By Carrie Weisman
Published May 26, 2016 8:45AM (EDT)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
Rule 34 of the internet states “If it exists, there’s porn for it.” So when Angie Rowntree started the female-friendly porn studio Sssh back in 1999, she gained some unprecedented insight into a group oft overlooked in matters of sex and pleasure. Yeah, women.
“Anybody who expects there to be a standard set of genres which appeal to women, or who thinks there’s a convenient and defined answer to what women want in or from porn, would be surprised by how varied and ranging women’s taste in porn actually is,” she told AlterNet. “For many years, what the industry got wrong was believing there was no female audience for their products in the first place.”
In the 16 years since its launch, the site has become one of the web’s premiere porn-for-women platforms. According to Rowntree, most of her female members chose to log on alone.
Women, certainly, are not all alike when it comes to what turns them on. But some erotic interests fall under an umbrella that extends a little shade to everyone.
We reached out to Rowntree to help us sort through what those common interests might be. Check out the list below.
1. Our own pleasure.
“The single most popular depiction is something we term ‘female-focused foreplay,’ specifically foreplay involving a male partner,” says Rowntree. “What [the mainstream industry] often doesn’t do is emphasize the pleasure or enjoyment of the female characters; when it comes to the sex, it’s still primarily concerned with the masculine point of view and depicting sex acts which appeal to male fantasies.”
According to Rowntree, most mainstream flicks lack a specific focus on female pleasure. “The woman’s pleasure, her enjoyment, needs to matter, however it is being depicted or derived,” she says.
That insight might help explain some user trends unfolding on other platforms. Pornhub’s lesbian category is reported to be a leading favorite among female viewers. According to their analytics team the “for Women” category is 193% more likely to be searched by a woman than by a man. And if you thought that was an impressive stat, give this one a once-over: women are 900 percent more likely to search for the phrase “eating pussy” than men.
2. Kinky stuff.
“In the years since 50 Shades became a hit, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in interest in BDSM,” says Rowntree. “I think this is about more than just the popularity of the book, though; it’s also driven by the anonymity and privacy of the internet environment, which allows people to explore their sexuality more confidently and openly. I also think 50 Shades made make it more acceptable for people to talk about women as consumers of erotica and porn.”
Susan Wright, founder/president of a sexual rights organization called the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, once told AlterNet, “Being submissive is very compatible with feminism because it is choosing your own form of sexual expression. In the end, sexuality is empowering—and you can empower people in all the diverse ways that they enjoy sexuality. Power exchanges are one of those ways.”
Back at the Pornhub analytics blog, we find women to be 80-100% more likely to click on extra-explicit categories like hardcore, rough sex, double penetration and gangbang than men.
3. Something real(ish).
Though she introduced this bit as a “sweeping generalization,” Rowntree explained that one of the starkest contrasts between male and female porn habits revolves around the idea of connectivity. “From where I sit…women tend to want there to be more of a connection between the performers, whereas men are largely in it strictly for the sex acts depicted.”
In reference to the mainstream scene, Rowntree says, “A lot of scenes seem to go from the first kiss to full-blown intercourse in about 90 seconds.”
“I’m not suggesting that in order for a woman to enjoy a porn movie, the characters all have to be fully developed, or depicted in the context of a loving relationship, or anything like that,” she added. “I just mean women want to see more of a connection between the performers themselves, not necessarily the characters.”
4. The concept of mutuality.
“Women want to see more mutual enjoyment, pleasure and authenticity,” says Rowntree. “Porn in which the woman is a full and willing participant, rather than watching a woman who seems like she’s only there to give the man, or multiple men, something to penetrate. Unless, of course, that is what she enjoys.”
The desire to view something that depicts more mutuality is a growing trend.
“The most heartening thing I’ve seen in the years since I launched Sssh is a transition from women seeking feedback and information focused on pleasing their partner to women being interested in enhancing their own pleasure,” Rowntree said. “They’re putting their own enjoyment on the same level as their partner’s.”
I am tired of being frustrated, confused and lied to about men, pornography and lust. I am a college-aged girl dealing with the frustrations of dating. My first college boyfriend made me aware of the problems men have with pornography, masturbation and lust. He shared with me his struggles and asked for my help in keeping him accountable. This all crashed and burned a year later when our relationship ended, and I discovered I had been lied to all along about his “progress.”
Several years have passed, and I am currently being pursued by a wonderful and godly man; however, last night he opened up and shared with me his own struggles with pornography.
I am tired of being lied to, not knowing what to believe and what not to believe, how to forgive, and what to be OK with. I feel that this is such a taboo subject in the church that Christian girls such as myself are left confused and frustrated. I would love to get advice from a solid source for once.
I have been told that all men struggle with this. I have also been told that it is nearly impossible to overcome. Are there Christian men out there who are able to deal with their lust and don’t give in to porn and masturbation frequently? Should I continue to let a man who does have these struggles pursue me, or should they be waiting until they have overcome their issues before they pursue any woman?
I feel very naive about the topic, and honestly as a woman, have a hard time relating and understanding how to handle these situations.
You raise a lot of good issues in your question. I want to get to the specific questions you’ve asked, so I won’t take a lot of space to go over the horrible problems caused by the use of pornography (most of us would agree on them anyway), but just so I’ve said it: Pornography is a destroyer of lives. Its use is always sin, and there is no legitimate place for any use of it in the life of a follower of Christ.
As you say, honest conversation with single women on this topic is in short supply, so let me try to offer straight answers on a few of the issues you raised.
Do all men struggle with pornography?
Sadly, use of pornography is extremely widespread, even among Christian men. Do 100 percent of men regularly view pornography? No, but both secular and Christian surveys regularly indicate that the vast majority (over 70 percent) of men age 18-24 view it regularly (at least weekly) – and those are just the guys who are willing to admit it. Pornography use even among women has increased markedly in the last several years. In the two churches in which I have served in leadership in the last 10 years, we eventually had to make it a systematic practice to have pointed conversations with men we were considering for deacon or elder positions to make sure that they were not viewing pornography.
Having said all that, I personally know a number of brothers who have never viewed pornography regularly and some who have never viewed it at all. Still, as a practical and statistical matter, a single Christian woman looking to marry may well have to contend with a current or past struggle with pornography in the man she considers marrying.
Is an addiction to pornography impossible (or nearly impossible) to overcome?
No. Like most sins – especially those that grow to operate like an addiction – abandoning the use of pornography can be very difficult to overcome, but no sin is impossible to overcome with God. God’s Word tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” We will never be perfect in this life, but if we have the Holy Spirit in us, the Bible tells us we can fight any sin and have real victory with God’s help.
Much will depend on what a man is willing to do to be pure. Is he willing to be in regular accountability with another brother or brothers on this topic? Is he willing to have his computers/smartphone monitored by others? Is he willing to get counseling with a pastor or counselor who can help him fight that sin and the addiction to it and the heart issues that contribute to it? The bottom line is this: Many, many men overcome a sinful addiction to pornography, go on to have lasting victory in this area, and go on to have godly, God-glorifying marriages. It can be done, and it is regularly done.
How does this issue affect dating decisions?
There will certainly be differing views here, but let me offer what I and others I trust believe to be some wise principles. First, I would normally not counsel a single woman to agree to date a man who is currently in the throes of a full-on pornography addiction. If he means to marry you and to honor your marriage covenant, he must be fighting the good fight and seeing significant victory, though not necessarily perfection. As a rough guide, one-off stumbles should be measured in months or years, not days or weeks.
Also, as a single woman dating a man who is fighting pornography, it is not your job to keep him accountable, and it is unwise and unfair for him to ask you to do it. If he is serious about fighting the sin and honoring you, he will be in regular accountability with a brother or brothers who know him well.
What if, as may well be the case, you are deep into a relationship, or even engaged, before you find out about the guy’s struggle? Again, there’s no single answer here. Your question mentioned forgiveness. Remember that as those who have been forgiven in Christ, we can never withhold forgiveness from another. We are to forgive those who sin against us as Christ forgave us. Full stop.
Apart from forgiveness, however, your practical decision (made in consultation with a pastor or others whose wisdom and godliness you trust) about whether to move forward in the relationship should depend on factors like his level of victory over this particular sin, his commitment to the fight, and what you see in his character and godliness apart from this issue. We all sin, but how has he responded to his sin? Remember that as your husband, that man will be called to daily sacrifice himself for your spiritual good (Ephesians 5:25-27). Ask yourself whether his handling of this struggle gives you more or less confidence in his commitment and ability to do that.
I’m afraid nothing I can say here will change the fact that negotiating the minefield of pornography’s effects is tough territory for both single women and single men. But the Lord is faithful. He overcomes this and more in the lives of His people every day. I will pray that he does so for you.
P.S. Below is a list of resources I trust in the battle to understand and fight pornography. I hope you and others will find them helpful.
The latter is available in fuller form in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper.
This book does a good job of applying the Gospel to sexual sin.
This is a good workbook for one-on-one discipling with men who are struggling with pornography.
There are not many books focused more exclusively on temptation.
Full disclosure – the author is my brother, but don’t hold that against him. Still a good practical resource.
A few hundred years older than the other resources on this list. For the brave reader.
Helpful booklets from the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF):
Young women who report that their romantic partners look at porn frequently are less happy in their relationships than women partnered with guys who more often abstain, new research finds.
The study bolsters some anecdotal evidence that men’s porn use can shake the self-esteem of their girlfriends or wives, though certainly not all couples have conflicts over pornography, said study researcher Destin Stewart, a clinical psychology intern at the University of Florida. Stewart decided to investigate the effect of porn on relationships after some of her clients revealed that they were struggling with the issue.
Discovering explicit material on a partner’s computer “made them feel like they were not good enough, like they could not measure up,” Stewart told LiveScience.
What women think of porn
A number of studies that have interviewed women about pornography find a range of feelings on the topic, from “scathing to mildly positive,” Stewart and University of Tennessee psychologist Dawn Szymanski wrote online May 6 in the journal Sex Roles. Nevertheless, concerns about measuring up to the images found in pornography were a common theme. In one 1999 study, for example, a participant told researchers, “These men look at these pictures and say, ‘Look at her. She’s just beautiful. Why can’t you be like that?'” [Is Porn Bad For You?]
Few of these studies had hard numbers to back up the interviews, however. Stewart wanted to understand how widespread these feelings might be. She recruited 308 college women, ages 18 to 29 years old, to fill out online questionnaires about their current partner’s porn use as well as their relationship quality, sexual satisfaction and self-esteem. All of the women were heterosexual and most were white.
The results showed that women who reported that their boyfriends or husbands looked at more pornography were less likely to be happy in their relationships than women who said their partners didn’t look at pornography very often. When women were bothered by their partner’s porn use, saying, for example, that they believed he was a porn addict or that he used porn more than a “normal” amount, they were also more likely to have low self-esteem and to be less satisfied with both their relationship and their sex life.
Sex and self-esteem
The findings showed that the statistical link between frequency of porn use and relationship dissatisfaction was partially explained by low self-esteem among the women in these relationships. But that doesn’t prove that porn necessarily caused the women’s self-esteem to drop. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem, Stewart said: Women whose partners watch a lot of porn might begin to feel more insecure. Or women who feel bad about themselves might seek out or stay with porn-loving guys more often than secure women. [6 Tips for a Happy Relationship]
The study is limited to a youthful demographic, and most of the relationships were short-term, Stewart said. Because most of the couples weren’t co-habitating, the women might not know how much porn their partners actually watched, she said.
“You might be more dissatisfied knowing that your husband of 10 years is looking at pornography versus your 18-year-old boyfriend where you have no idea what he looks at on his computer,” Stewart said.
When pornography does become a problem in relationships, Stewart said she counsels women not to compare themselves with porn starlets. In couples counseling, she encourages communication and compromise.
“It’s just about trying to do some education about what is realistic and unrealistic and trying to get couples to be honest about what their wants and needs and desires are,” Stewart said.
You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.
Dear Gail: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a rocky two years, and things were finally starting to mellow out. But now we have this porn issue! He has watched porn occasionally over the years, but it never affected our sex life. So using the pick-your-battles theory, I’ve dropped it. But now that we’re living together, I find it increasingly hard to accept his obsession and I’m tempted to end our relationship.
He only watches porn alone, and he has refused my offers to watch it with him. Every time he’s home alone, he watches it. Then when I come home for some lovin’, he’s not interested. He has started lying and sneaking around. He basically told me, “I’m going to do this. I can either lie about it or you can leave me alone about it.” Can you give me some insight? —Weary Porn Widow
Dear Porn Widow: If your boyfriend feels driven to do something — whatever it is — behind your back, your relationship is in trouble. Another concern is the fact that you’ve been together for all of two years and he is no longer interested in having sex with you. You are right to question this relationship. As you probably can sense, these issues might or might not be surmountable.
Keep in mind that I am not addressing the social or moral issues of pornography, which generate great controversy and which people have strong feelings about. Whether a couple includes pornography in their sex life is a personal choice. Many people find pornography stimulating. (Men generally like visuals and acts, while women prefer romance and emotional content.)
Asking to be included in his porn watching was a good move. That could have been exciting for both of you. Unfortunately, and for some unknown reasons, he isn’t willing to do that. He is forfeiting a sex life with you in favor of a sex life with pictures and movies. This may mean that porn has other meanings for him. He sees it as something private, and possibly shameful, and he doesn’t want to share it with you.
You might try asking him about that. Find out why he doesn’t want you to watch it with him. It’s possible he will open up. Let him know pornography can be a turn-on for you as well. Porn can be an enhancement to your sex life, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for it.
Whatever you approach decide to take, make sure that you’re not judgmental. While you don’t want to condemn or criticize him for his interest in porn, it is fair to explain to him that when he doesn’t want to have sex with you and instead spends his time on pornography, you feel diminished and unwanted.
If you are able to discuss and resolve this with him in a nonjudgmental way, it will be good test of whether you can work out other important issues in your relationship. If you cannot, your problem boils down to one of two things: Either he is obsessed with porn in such a way that makes him exclude you, or he is not terribly concerned with your feelings. Either way, you can decide whether you want to stay with him or leave.
Dr. Gail’s Bottom Line: A man’s insistence on using pornography to exclude his partner from his sex life — and his life — can destroy a relationship.
Men who look at porn ‘damage their partner’s self-confidence’ – and habit can even break up happy relationships
- Strong statistical link between men viewing porn and women becoming unhappy
- Men watching porn damages women’s self-confidence
- Sex lives damage if partner prefers virtual version
Published: 14:15 BST, 1 June 2012 | Updated: 14:15 BST, 1 June 2012
Men who look at porn are making their partners miserable.
A study found that when their partners turn to X-rated films for pleasure it had a corrosive effect on a woman’s self confidence.
Women’s sex lives were also damaged if their partners preferred virtual ways of arousing himself instead of sleeping with them.
A study found that when their partners turn to X-rated films for pleasure it had a corrosive effect on a woman¿s self confidence
The study adds to the growing body of evidence that porn is damaging to relationships and can even causes people to break up.
A recent study found that one in five men ‘preferred the excitement of watching porn to being sexually intimate with their partner’.
Young children in particular can be damaged from an early age because it is so easy to get hold of sex films on their mobile phones.
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Destin Stewart, a clinical psychology intern at the University of Florida, looked at the problem after one of her patients explained she was having difficulty with her porn-addicted partner.
She asked 308 students aged 18 to 29 and asked them to complete online questionnaires about how often their partners viewed porn.
Women¿s sex lives were also damaged if their partners preferred virtual ways of arousing himself instead of sleeping with them
They were also asked about how sexually satisfied they were, how much self-esteem they had and how they rated the quality of their relationship.
All the women were heterosexual.
The results showed a strong statistical link between men viewing porn and women becoming unhappy.
When women thought that their partner was a heavy porn user or a porn addict it also had a negative impact on their self-esteem and general sexual satisfaction.
Stewart said that the key to solving the issue was to get couples to talk frankly about what they wanted, even though it can be tough.
She said: ‘It’s just about trying to do some education about what is realistic and unrealistic and trying to get couples to be honest about what their wants and needs and desires are’.
Previous studies showed that after viewing porn men tend to expect their partners to behave and look like porn stars.
In a response from one paper in 1999 study a woman participant told researchers: ‘These men look at these pictures and say, ‘Look at her. She’s just beautiful. Why can’t you be like that?’’
Concerns have long been raised over the effect that porn has on young children too.
A recent study in the U.S. found that schoolboys who develop an addiction to porn exhibit more problems such as poor grades, social isolation and behavioural issues.
Seven out of ten teenagers have viewed pornography on the Internet with boys at greater risk of it doing damage than girls, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in California.
Women are less often the focus of porn-use research. Here's what we do know.
When it comes to porn, many of us tend to hold a bit of a gender bias.
That is, when we think performers in porn, we might be more likely to think about women. And when we talk about consumers of porn (whether that be casually or compulsively), we more often think about men.
While research typically supports the idea that men report watching more porn than women, it is still common for women to report watching porn (and the numbers are most likely skewed due to increasingly outdated social standards, which still leave some women feeling uncomfortable disclosing their porn use).
And due to a lack of social discourse and empirical research, we just haven’t learned all that much about women’s experiences when watching porn. Until now.
In a new study published in The Journal of Sex Research, researchers provided a comprehensive overview of all qualitative research conducted on women’s experiences of watching porn between 1999 and 2016. After conducting a thematic analysis of 22 articles (based on 21 studies) spanning nine countries, the authors made a number of observations.
Here are some noteworthy highlights.
Women As Empathetic Porn Viewers
Across several studies, the authors concluded that women focused on more than just the physical sexual acts they were watching on screen. Rather, the authors noted that there were numerous examples of women experiencing empathy for the performers.
That is, women commented on the facial expressions and potential feelings of the actors during various sexual activities. For example, they might notice if a performer was experiencing genuine sexual pleasure versus whether a sexual activity looked to be less enjoyable or even unpleasant for the actors.
The women’s perceptions of the performers’ enjoyment had implications for their own arousal. When women perceived the sexual activity as “unrealistic” or not “genuine,” they also reported feeling less pleasure and sexual enjoyment themselves.
The Internalization of Porn
Given that porn exposes viewers to naked bodies (which most of us don’t tend to see in our day-to-day lives), it is perhaps no surprise that women in the studies reported evaluating the performers bodies and reflecting on how they felt about their own bodies. However, the ways in which women compared their bodies varied considerably.
Some women described feeling less secure about their own bodies after watching porn — feeling their own bodies did not measure up to some of the porn star physiques (i.e., breast size, pubic hair grooming, age). However, in contrast, other women said that seeing porn actors’ naked bodies helped them feel more normal about their bodies — seeing some similarities between themselves and the actresses — and some even reported feeling better about their bodies after watching porn.
Porn Use in Relationships
Across studies, women reported varying comfort levels and preferences for how porn use was incorporated into their relationship.
Some women indicated that porn was arousing to watch with their partners and helped to give inspiration and ideas for different types of sexual activities. However, other women described feeling threatened with their partner’s porn use, indicating that they did not like that their partner was experiencing arousal for someone else.
Finally, some women reported that they felt that porn was something their partner had a “right” to watch and were okay with their partner’s viewing behaviors, as long as it was done privately.
Finally, the authors noted that a number of women experienced cognitive dissonance when it came to watching porn. That is, a number of women reported holding a certain perspective of porn that did not necessarily align with their behaviors.
With regards to arousal, some women reported that watching porn was sexually arousing, but also thought their enjoyment of porn was socially inappropriate (believing on some level that women should not watch porn). In that sense, some women felt conflicted with what they enjoyed and what they felt was socially acceptable for women to enjoy.
Additionally, some women reported holding negative perceptions about porn or actors who perform in porn (particularly concerns about exploitation), yet still reported using and watching porn for their own sexual stimulation. In this sense, some women experienced difficulty in terms of reconciling how porn felt to watch (i.e., titillating, sexually arousing, etc.) with certain cognitive and moral beliefs about porn (whether it’s “ethical” or appropriate).
While it would be easy to make the argument that the majority of mainstream porn continues to target heterosexual men, it is common and natural for women to watch and enjoy porn.
The limited research on women’s experiences watching porn, particularity in comparison to the abundance of research on men’s experiences, leaves us with more assumptions and guesses about how women feel about porn than empirical research.
However, these findings offer some initial insights into women’s experiences and may be a useful step in normalizing women’s experiences and promoting a healthier and more open discourse about pornography use among women.
Stressed? You watch porn. Happy? Porn. Got an extra minute? Porn. If you worry that porn addiction is a thing that might be happening to you and want to quit watching so much of it, here’s what to know.
First off, porn addiction isn’t recognized as an official disorder, meaning it’s not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), so you can’t really be diagnosed with it. Experts think that’s a good thing. “I try not to pathologize masturbating or watching porn,” says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., sex therapist and author of She Comes First.
Let’s get another thing straight before we go any further: despite what certain conservative segments of society would have you think, there’s nothing inherently wrong with watching porn. In moderation, porn can be a great way to get aroused and explore your fantasies. You only need to worry about watching less porn if you notice it impacting your life in a negative way.
According to Megan Fleming, Ph.D., sex expert for Lovehoney, you should ask yourself: “What are the negative consequences of watching porn?” Is it interfering with your work? Are you unable to get an erection with your wife because you’ve become desensitized to flesh and blood stimuli? Do you bail on seeing friends last minute to stay home and watch porn? Do you mean to sit down and watch for 10 minutes, but find yourself watching for hours on end?
If it turns out your smut habit is taking you farther away from the life you want to lead, then it might be worth exploring how to stop watching porn—or at least watch less of it. Here are 6 tips from sex and relationship experts on how to do it.
Get clear on what you’re trying to avoid.
Usually, watching a lot of porn isn’t about porn; it’s about something else that’s going on in your life that’s worth paying attention to. Often, porn is substituting for something, taking your attention from something, or preventing you from something—meaning it’s getting in the way of your life or your IRL relationship.
“If you’re using porn as a way to self-medicate or numb out, it’s important to get clear on what you’re distracting yourself from,” says Vienna Pharaon, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Really get to the bottom of “’I’m watching porn instead of feeling X.’ That prompt can be confronting and difficult to answer, yet deeply valuable. It’s far easier to distract than to get present with things that are uncomfortable for us, yet that’s exactly what we ought to explore,” she says.
In a similar vein, Fleming recommends learning what your triggers are. When does the urge to watch porn really hit? This can give you a sense of what it is you’re trying to avoid.
Substitute in another behavior that has a similar effect.
People often watch porn and masturbate as part of mood regulation, Fleming says. “And while masturbation can decrease tension and anxiety, so can cardio,” she adds. “What are other behaviors that might help you have a similar response physiologically the role of an orgasm?” Instead of watching porn, why not do a home workout that’ll release endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters?
Get a porn blocker on your computer.
Fleming recommends an accountability program and porn blocker app called Covenant Eyes, which makes it very difficult to find and watch porn on your laptop or phone.
It’s similar to not having alcohol in your house when you’re trying to quit drinking, Fleming explains. The point of Covenant Eyes is to take away the ease of and accessibility to porn, just as not having alcohol in the house makes it more difficult to drink. You have to get up, walk down to the corner store in, purchase it, and then head back home to drink it.
“In that window of time, you have the opportunity to ‘ride the wave of the crave,’” Fleming says. In other words, your porn craving likely won’t last for hours. It’ll be intense for a few moments, and if you can get past that, then your desire to watch porn will be weaker.
Join an online or in-person community for folks who want to quit watching porn.
“There are numerous recovery programs for porn addiction that you can find from Googling,” Fleming says. (While the DSM-V doesn’t recognize porn addiction, it might be helpful to search those terms while looking for a support group.)
There are also online communities and support groups you can join, such as the subreddit Porn Addiction. These online spaces offer a community and you can meet other like-minded men who are going through the same thing as you are, which can be beneficial.
We asked real people about relationship dealbreakers:
Ask yourself what else you’d rather be doing with your life in the time you spend watching porn.
And then use watching porn as a reward for doing those things. Maybe wait to do it until you’ve finished your workout. Or until you’ve made plans with someone to connect in real life. “Then it feels like it’s been earned or it’s a reward as opposed to something that’s squandered or wasted time,” Kerner says. Watching porn becomes a potential source of energy, not a default.
Look at what, besides porn, turns you on.
If you only ever watch porn to get turned on, Kerner says, “sometimes men get over-accustomed to that stimulation.” Sex—even with yourself—is a richer experience when you have more to draw on, like going through your mental library of images and partners, reading erotica, or noticing things in your environment that turn you on.
If you are using porn in an unhealthy way, stop worrying about it and use the strategies above. Kerner says, “everything is really correctible.”
Do you have suspicions that make you question — “Is my husband gay?” Maybe you have a mild alarm bell that rings occasionally or noticed a few signs in his behavior that gave you reasons to worry and question his sexual orientation.
If you have had any notion at all that this is a possibility, it might help you to know these 6 signs that may suggest that your husband is gay.
1. Lack of passion
When he’s in the moment with you, he’s mechanical and doesn’t seem to be passionate or interested in any acts of foreplay. Again, this could be caused by other things as well, but could be present if your husband is gay.
2. Lack of interest in sex
Issues concerning sexual desire alone are not a sure-fire sign your husband is gay, but women who report that their husbands turned out to be gay often say this was something they noticed first.
If you notice that your husband struggles with getting interested in or engaging in sex in addition to some of the other signs discussed here, it may be possible that your suspicion is correct.
But remember, there can be many reasons why sex in a marriage is less than satisfying, other than the fact that your husband may be gay.
3. Online encounters
How do you know if your husband is gay? If your partner’s behavior is worrying you, then the internet is the right medium to find out the truth.
The Internet has made it easier for people searching for information about others. His browsing history may give you a clear picture and can be one of the many signs your husband is gay.
- His phone or computer browsing history is always ‘clean.’
- Pop-ups of gay pornography have appeared on the computer he uses, even though he claims he has nothing to do with it.
- His social media contacts are unusual and full of people, or new friends that you don’t know how he knows them and many of which are gay.
- He has a profile on a gay dating site.
The last point is one of the glaring signs that your husband is gay. It’s highly unlikely that, if your partner is straight, he would want to put his picture and information on a gay dating site.
6. Behavioral patterns
There will also be signs your husband is gay such as his behavioral patterns, especially concerning other gay men. Few obvious signs your partner is gay include the following –
- He visits gay bars frequently even though he will claim that he’s just there to socialize with his gay friends.
- He watches or seems to be comfortable watching pornography with gay male scenes.
- He seems to relish compliments from gay men.
- He talks a lot about gay people in conversation – more than is usual.
- He might even appear to be homophobic and make a lot of comments about gay people in a derogatory manner.
- You don’t notice him checking out other women.
- You have noticed him checking out other men.
- He makes eye contact with another man that seems to linger a little too long.
- He goes out of his way to get a hug out of his pals.
- He initiates activities with his pals where they might be naked together such as getting in a sauna or hot tub.
- He obsesses on the sexuality of others.
Of course, some of these examples can indicate other situations or problems in a marriage, or even just the usual practices of a slightly effeminate straight male.
However, if you notice a number of these signs, then there might be more to the situation than your husband might like you to believe. These are signs your spouse is gay and there is no room for further doubts.
The future course of actions
In most cases, if your husband has been hiding gay tendencies from you, it’s probably because he is in the closet and doesn’t know how to come out to you or anybody else in his life. It’s not easy if you have built up life with good intentions that you now find difficult to sustain.
When you ask yourself questions like, ‘how can I tell if my husband is gay?’, you need to observe your partner closely and look out for possible signs in his behavior and approach. And, if you do find out signs your husband is gay, then the first thing that you’ll need to do is to sit down and talk to him.
It is entirely possible that he might deny that he’s gay from the offset, without giving you any satisfactory answers to your questions.
If you find yourself in that situation, you will have to decide what you would like to do. If you can live in a marriage where you are sure that your husband might be gay, some personal counseling might help you work through this so that you can find the right way forward for you.
If your husband does admit that he is gay, it’s important to remember that he didn’t choose this life to hurt you.
Keeping that in mind, you may experience a sense of loss and heartache which you’ll need to process, but perhaps you could seek out some help and support or counseling to help you navigate this situation together, in love and kindness.
So, next time if you have similar doubts in mind, just study your partner, check out his browsing histories and find information about his friends and you will come across signs your husband is gay. Once your doubt is realized, you need to plan your next course of action carefully since these are sensitive matters that need to be handled with care.