Mindful Sexuality

3 Common Fears Around Porn Watching and Solutions for It

August 18, 2021

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Too much porn during COVID! Need some help!

Recently, there has been some increase among my clients who are reaching out for help with what they call “porn addiction” or “porn obsession”. Being isolated at home alone or with family and partners has raised the desire for pornography in some households. Some people have started to worry that it may impact their relationship and their lives. And so, I decided to write this blog for those who are worried and lost in the world of porn usage.

I want to start by backing up a little bit and say that, when porn was introduced to the mainstream, we certainly were not prepared. Furthermore, up to present days, we still lack educational and proper information on porn use. Additionally, since we continue to keep porn in the bag, people around the world are trying to figure out how to use this unknown entertaining tool and not to get hooked, caught, or “damaged”.

 

3 things that are common when it comes to communication around porn:

 

  • Not every couple has the communication skills to talk about porn openly, without discomfort and pain. Therefore, they choose to avoid these conversations, which causes more negative effects than porn itself. Creating secrecy, feeling shame and guilt creates walls around intimacy.
  • The same goes for kids and parents. Most parents do not bring up the topic of porn, and kids surely don’t bring it up either. The lack of sex education and discussion drives children to seek answers on their own, and more often than not they seek it in porn. By not having any guidance or explanation, some children end up confused.
  • People are ashamed to admit that they watch porn because it is not “normal”. By hiding their true sexual desires and creating shame, they naturally may want to distance themselves due to shame, thinking that porn is the cause of that.

 

But is it really porn that causes all these issues? Would things magically change if we remove porn? 

 

There is not enough research to answer most of our questions. Despite what religious and “moral” institutions praise, there is no legitimate research to show that porn itself has any negative impact on relationships or sexual health. 

 

Now, although there is no research proving this, we still live in a world of erotophobia and pornophobia. We are afraid that viewing erotic images can change our sexual behavior. We are afraid of sexuality and sexual power over us. We are afraid of losing control and other people losing control. 

 

3 Common Fears Around Porn Watching 

  1. Porn is ruining our relationship
  2. My partner will not desire me after porn 
  3. Porn creates unrealistic images

 

  1.  Porn is ruining our relationship

I hear people say: Porn is ruining our relationship. The conversation generally starts like this:

 

Common stories that are attached to porn ruining relationships sound like: 

 

“They watch porn instead of helping me”

“They masturbate instead of having sex with me”

“We do not connect because they watch too much porn”

“I feel alone and they have porn”

 

Now, can we blame porn for all of these issues? In my experience, most of the time no. As I mentioned before, our lack of erotic and porn literacy, combined with misleading magazine titles, create the idea that porn has significant power to impact our relationships. 

 

In reality, what many sexuality professionals including me find, is that porn is used as any other escape modality, such as, among others, binging on TV series, searching for intimacy by flirting, escaping communication with partners by working, etc. Porn itself might not be as impactful as you think.

 

There is an opportunity to look at what is actually affecting our relationships. Maybe one or more of the following were present before we or our partners turned to lots of porn usage: 

 

  • Inability to have uncomfortable conversations between partners 
  • Lack of intimacy 
  • Dissatisfaction in our sexual life and an inability to communicate about it
  • Depression or lack of excitement in life 
  • Trying to deal with stresses in life and not reaching out for support 

 

Any of these and more can turn someone to porn, as it would to any other internet or entertainment consumption. 

 

Therefore, the important thing to ask ourselves is: Is it really porn that is ruining relationships? Or perhaps there are things we are not willing to look at.

 

  1. My partner will not desire me after porn 

If you are having trouble with your partner's porn usage, you might want to dig deeper and get curious about why. 

 

  • What do I truly feel when my partner watches porn?
  • What are my fears? 
  • How can I have an honest and open conversation around my fears and experiences? 

 

Some of the common answers I get: 

 

“They all look perfect there, and I am not”. “I can’t compete with people in these videos”

 

Then, my question is, how do you feel about other mainstream celebrities when you watch movies? When you see people like Angela Bassett, Scarlett Johansson, Jamie Chung, Jenna Talackova, Jamie Foxx how do you feel? 

 

Many times, it is not about porn stars or the porn industry, it is about our own work that we need to do. When we forbid our partners from watching porn, or exclude erotica from our relationship because of our insecurities, it is harmful not only to our relationship but also to our own freedom. 

 

Competing and comparing oneself to cinematographic characters, or professional stars is irrelevant. It is their job. These people work hard to look and act a certain way. In the same way that you do not compete with university professors and CPAs with their job.

 

“I am afraid my partner is thinking about porn stars during sex” 

 

Don’t we all from time to time have thoughts running through our heads about richer, taller, rounder, darker, younger partners? It is natural for these types of thoughts to come into our heads, and they do not necessarily mean we want to take any action on it. We still happily choose our partners, because a) we love them and b) no fantasy or porn can take the place of touch, heat, breath, eye contact, a slow kiss, or a hair pull. Being present in the experience with one’s partner will always take place over ideas in our head. Electric magic can only exist when the energies of people connect. 

 

We all change. Bodies change, age changes, etc. In a relationship, through our sexual growth, we get to see how we can play and eroticize the body we are in now, rather than trying to get back the one we had 5 years ago or the one somebody else has. 

 

If your partner has issues with you watching porn, you also might want to get curious: 

 

  • What is creating this issue for them?
  • What are the discomforts they are going through? Encourage them to share how they feel. 
  • What impact do they feel it can have on your relationship? 
  • What fears do they have? 
  • How do they feel about relationships in general?
  • What do they imagine that you feel when you watch porn? What do they imagine you think when you watch porn?

 

Your partner has their own theory about you watching porn and the reasons you have for it. They also have their own theory about what can happen. Here are some ways to talk about porn with your partner: 

 

  • Help your partner to feel understood.
  • Help them to feel heard. Intimacy is created when we see into our partners, and when we see their pain without judgment or righteousness (it’s not always easy, but that is where our growth happens). 
  • Acknowledge their experience and help them to see their value in your life.
  • Talk openly about what is going on in your inner life, things you are going through.

 

For people who think or say out loud to their partners: “Why can’t you look like a person in porn, or act like a person in porn”. Listen dear, these are actors who are trained to act. They are ACTING. There is research and scripts designed to make you hot for them. People who cook for you or make money to pay bills have no time for professional makeup and research-based sexual behavior. Criticizing and putting down will not get you to loving and enthusiastic sexual experiences. Love, curiosity, and connection will.

 

Your partner or you might feel “not invited to the party” – Are you feeling like you're not invited to the party? You do most things together and now your partner gets excited and happy about something without you? Yeah, that can hurt. A partner experiencing intense pleasure without us can feel like they are abandoning us. 

 

It is something to discuss. Can you allow your partner to experience it without you? Can someone you love experience pleasure? How strong is your desire to control your partner? How strong is your need to be there to make sure you can control them? All of these are invitations to explore. 

 

  1. Porn creates unrealistic images 

Yes, and so do romance movies. They create images of toxic or addictive relationships and spontaneous love. Novels create butterflies in the bellies. We create illusions about our life whether we watch porn or not. But if I see an Aston Martin or a Lamborghini on the street, does that mean I am not able to drive my car ever after? Sports create unrealistic images about masculinity but still are promoted and endorsed. Fairy tales promote unrealistic images about women and still are okay to read and watch. We need to understand and learn to separate reality from entertainment and fantasies. 

 

If you find yourself lost in the world of porn (the same happens to someone watching too many romance movies), try these steps to get back: 

 

  1. Know that porn is fiction. 
  2. Bring yourself back to the present with your partner. Focus on their body, smell, taste, color, shape, lines, dots...take it slow.
  3. Practice mindful sex.
  4. Give yourself time to play and enjoy it. 
  5. Remove perfectionism and things you saw in porn. Allow things to be messy, real, and authentic in life.
  6. Talk, laugh, kiss, make love, feel the energy.

 

I am neither for nor against porn watching. However, if there is discomfort and pain in the relationship, and we think it is caused by external factors, like porn, it is an opportunity for us to look deeper. 

 

If we talk more about what actually is going on and what we feel, instead of attacking what seems to be the problem, we have a better chance to transform and create change. 

 

Good read on the topic: “His Porn, Her Pain” - Dr. Marty Klein