New Study Asks How Watching Porn Affects Relationship Satisfaction

Funstock/Shutterstock

Pornography is now never more than a few clicks away. In turn, this easy access to explicit adult content has caused many to wonder and worry about how porn is changing our minds, relationship, and culture. 

In a quest to dig deeper into these ideas, a new study has looked at pornography use and romantic relationships, concluding that watching porn does not appear to harm couples’ satisfaction with their relationship. It also shows that porn use can vary massively between people and can often mean different things for different couples. 

The research can be found in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Sexual behavior experts and clinical psychologists in Canada asked 217 couples, including 140 mixed-sex and 77 same-sex relationships, to fill out a 35-day diary to understand their pornography use along with their relationship satisfaction. 

The findings showed that 80 percent of couples had at least one person in the relationship who watched pornography at least once during the 35 days. This was further specified to over 97 percent of men partnered with men, 75 percent of men partnered with women, 56 percent of women partnered with women, and 40 percent of women partnered with men reporting some level of pornography use. Participants reported using pornography an average of 3.45 days out of the 35 days, although this ranged from zero days to 31 days. 

Women, regardless of their partner’s sex, tended to use porn more if they had sex with their partner more often. Porn use was also associated with higher sexual desire, in regards to their own and their partner’s sex drive. 

For men coupled with women, higher porn use was generally associated with lower odds of sexual activity with their partner. For men coupled with men, the opposite was found, with higher porn use associated with higher odds of sexual activity with their partner.

“Some studies suggest that pornography users will come to prefer arousal from pornography instead of from one’s partner,” the study authors write in their paper. “This was not the case for women and for men in same-sex relationships. Hence, for some couples, using pornography may create an erotic climate that paves the way to, or is included in, partnered sexual activity.” 

For all participants, however, pornography use did not appear to have any link to wider satisfaction with their relationship. Regardless of an individual’s pornography use or their partner’s pornography use, general relationship satisfaction was not effected across all different types of relationships.

"For all participants, pornography use was unrelated to relationship satisfaction," concludes the study. 

There were some limitations to this research that should be noted. For one, the data was self-reported and the group of participants voluntarily opted into the study. It’s fair to assume this would attract people who are more open towards pornography or couples that are not shy about their porn use. Equally, the study period was relatively short, lasting little more than a month.

With that in mind, the research provides insight into pornography use and how it isn't necessarily always the boogeyman it's portrayed as (at least with respect to its effects on relationships). 

Comments

If you liked this story, you'll love these

This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By continuing to use our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.