What can be done about using porn

22 April 2016

Anyone concerned about their partner’s interest in porn may take a little reassurance from the fact they aren’t alone. Watching porn is a ‘go to’ place for many people, men and women alike.

Relate’s 2012 sex census with Ann Summers found that 41% of women and 76% of men admitted to watching porn once a month or more, and that 19% of women and 58% of men watched it once a week. Many more said they would prefer not to say whether they used porn, suggesting the real numbers of porn usage are even higher.

But of course these are just statistics. When it is personal to us – maybe we’ve just found out that a partner is watching porn or have known what’s been happening for a while and haven’t felt able to say anything – it can really hurt.

The bottom line is that lots of people enjoy porn. It’s not necessarily an individual pursuit either because many couples find that using porn together can enhance their sex lives. And that seems to be the start of the problem… you may feel isolated and alone while your other half blithely carries on and ignores your feelings.

When we find out that a partner is doing something that feels detrimental to us, we should be able to talk directly about our concerns and have a clear expectation that we will be heard. Maybe that leads directly to changes being made, but even if that doesn’t happen, at least the other half knows how we think and feel.

But when we desperately want an explanation, or for something to just stop, we can get into seriously unhelpful dialogue that just ends up with accusations flying around which get us nowhere. So, when faced with a partner looking at porn, try to take a step back to think about your own thoughts about it before you confront your partner.

Is it that you think it is disgusting and has no place in a relationship? Is it that you don’t mind but feel excluded? Or is it that you suspect your sexual relationship isn’t satisfying your partner and they’ve decided to find out if porn is more alluring?

There’s no doubt that porn can create unrealistic perceptions of men and women against which ‘ordinary’ sex gets unfavourably compared. Perfect bodies, Herculean stamina and endless orgasms are not things that most couples would feel able, or indeed want, to aspire to at the end of a long hard day at the office or with the kids. Instead many prefer to focus on tenderness and intimacy as the major contributor to good sex.

Maybe your partner simply takes it for granted that you are OK with their porn use because you haven’t ever said anything. If that’s the case, then relying on telepathy isn’t likely to help, and arranging to make time together to talk about how you feel is the first step to sorting things out. Perhaps you are concerned by the sheer amount of porn they are watching and worry that it is impacting negatively on their everyday life.

Whatever your angle, begin by talking to your partner. Be clear about how you feel – being vague is only going to cause more confusion and what needs to be said could get ‘lost in translation’. It is important to listen carefully to what your partner is telling you too.

If you would like to talk about such issues with one of our counsellors give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.

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