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Can Your Porn Habit Stay Separate from Your Relationships?

Porn is something you can choose to view by yourself, but watching explicit videos of strangers having sex doesn’t just affect you—it affects your partner.

By January 5, 2023No Comments

Despite the massive amounts of research that indicate that porn is unhealthy for consumers, their relationships, and the world in general, there are still some people who don’t fully agree.

For example, check out this tweet:

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Clearly, a portion of society is under the impression that porn doesn’t affect them, and it certainly doesn’t affect the people around them.

We absolutely respect people’s differing opinions, and we aren’t here to police, shame, or judge anyone’s sexual choices. Still, naysayers won’t change our mission to give visibility to the existing research that tells a different story and offer individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision on porn.

Related: How Porn Can Negatively Impact Love And Intimacy

Porn doesn’t only affect consumers

Here’s an inconvenient fact: while porn is something you can choose to consume by yourself, watching explicit videos of strangers having sex doesn’t just affect you—it can affects your partner too.

Two of the most respected pornography researchers, professors Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman at the University of Alabama, who have studied the effects of porn and media for more than 30 years, said that when it comes to porn use “no rigorous research demonstrations of desirable effects can be reported.”Zillman, D. & Bryant, J. (1988) Pornography’s Impact On Sexual Satisfaction. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 18, 438-453. Doi: 10.1111/J.1559-1816.1988.Tb00027.XCopy 

In other words, in all the serious research that’s been done on porn, no one has found that it has any benefits. What several studies have found, however, is that porn can cause serious damage not only to the consumer, but also to those closest to them—especially their partner. Henline, B. H., Lamke, L. K., & Howard, M. D. (2007). Exploring Perception Of Online Infidelity. Personal Relationships, 14, 113-128. Doi:10.1111/J.1475-6811.2006.00144.XCopy Stack, S., Wasserman, I., & Kern, R. (2004) Adult Social Bonds And The Use Of Internet Pornography. Social Science Quarterly, 85, 75-88. Doi:10.1111/J.0038-4941.2004.08501006.XCopy Schneider, J. P. (2000). Effects Of Cybersex Addiction On The Family: Results Of A Survey. Sexual Addiction And Compulsivity, 7, 31-58. Doi:10.1080/10720160008400206Copy Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078Copy Perry, S. (2016). Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence From Longitudinal Data. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 549-559. Doi: 10.1007/S10508-016-0770-YCopy Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnason, J., Ezzell, M. (2014). Pornography And The Male Sexual Script: An Analysis Of Consumption And Sexual Relations. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 45, 1-12. Doi:10.1007/S10508-014-0391-2Copy Poulsen, F. O., Busby, D. M., & Galovan, A. M. (2013). Pornography Use: Who Uses It And How It Is Associated With Couple Outcomes. Journal Of Sex Research 50(1), 72-83. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.648027Copy Stewart, D. N., & Szymanski, D. M. (2012). Young Adult Women’s Reports Of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use As A Correlate Of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, And Sexual Satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(5-6), 257-274. Retrieved From https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-21057-001Copy Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysunction? A Review With Clinical Reports, Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017Copy Perry, S. (2016). Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence From Longitudinal Data. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 549-559. Doi: 10.1007/S10508-016-0770-YCopy Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4Copy Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48,(6), 520-530. 8(6):520-30. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960Copy Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (2006). Pornography’s Impact On Sexual Satisfaction. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 18(5), 438-453. Doi:10.1111/J.1559-1816.1988.Tb00027.XCopy 

Related: How Porn Can Hurt a Consumer’s Partner

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Can you have it both ways?

The truth is, in healthy relationships, reputable research in general shows you can’t have it both ways. Studies show consumers can’t have the instant gratification of thousands of virtual sex partners and a satisfying long-term committed relationship.

The long-term studies paint a very different picture than what you might be hearing from pro-porn advocates. The preponderance of evidence from a dozen or more in-depth, longer-term studies consistently shows porn consumption lowers relationship satisfaction, emotional closeness, and sexual satisfaction.Wilson, G. (2013). Studies Linking Porn Use Or Porn/Sex Addiction To Sexual Dysfunctions, Lower Arousal, And Lower Sexual & Relationship Satisfaction; Retrieved From https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/relevant-research-and-articles-about-the-studies/porn-use-sex-addiction-studies/studies-linking-porn-use-or-porn-sex-addiction-to-sexual-dysfunctions-and-poorer-sexual-and-relationship-satisfaction/Copy 

Related: How Porn Can Distort Consumers’ Understanding Of Healthy Sex

Let’s take a look at some more info.

• A 2012 study by Amanda Maddox and her team concluded that individuals who never viewed sexually-explicit material reported higher relationship quality (on every measure) compared with those who viewed the same explicit material on their own.Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441–448. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-009-9585-4Copy 

• In one of the few studies to follow married couples and their pornography consumption for several years, researchers found that porn did, in fact, harm relationship quality and satisfaction. The researchers concluded:

“In general, married persons who more frequently viewed pornography in 2006 reported significantly lower levels of marital quality in 2012… Pornography’s effect was not simply a proxy for dissatisfaction with sex life or marital decision-making in 2006. In terms of substantive influence, the frequency of pornography use in 2006 was the second strongest predictor of marital quality in 2012.”

• A new study published in 2017 examined the impact of couples where one partner consumes more porn than the other—which is a pretty common pattern. The researchers concluded that “greater discrepancies between partners in pornography use were related to less relationship satisfaction, less stability, less positive communication, and more relational aggression.”Willoughby, B. J., Carroll, J. S., Busby, D. M., & Brown, C. (2016). Differences in pornography use among couples: Associations with satisfaction, stability, and relationship processes. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 145-148, doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0562-9Copy 

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Related: How It Feels To Finally Be In A Relationship With Someone Who Doesn’t Watch Porn

Study after study has shown that contrary to popular belief, porn itself is bad news for long-term relationships. Not an unsupportive and porn-disapproving partner, but the porn itself. The majority of research reflects that porn negatively affects satisfaction within the relationship and ultimately can lead a person to withdraw from a loved one.

As porn becomes more normalized, we want to be a source of information pointing out that porn is not harmless. This isn’t a moral argument. This comes down to you and your personal relationships and the opportunity to make an informed decision about what will make them indefinitely thrive.

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Why this matters

The myth that porn is a “natural” relationship booster is everywhere in our culture. We’re out to change the conversation using the facts and let people know that they deserve better than the toxicity of porn in their lives.

Related: How Porn Can Harm Consumers’ Sex Lives

Choosing real love means choosing to fight for the healthiest relationship possible—research makes it clear that porn isn’t part of that. Do yourself and your partner a favor and ditch porn for good. We think you’ll be more than glad you did.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

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