According to a 2018 Gallup poll, porn use is viewed as morally acceptable by a growing percentage of Americans, from 30% approval in 2011 to 43% in 2018. This trend follows the general movement towards beliefs more liberal in all areas. When it comes to pornography, the biggest changes were seen among singles and adult males under 49. Factors such as religion and political orientation affect acceptance of pornography, with a much lower percentage of conservative and religious people finding pornography morally acceptable.

Despite growing acceptance, there are serious concerns that pornography is causing real harm: exploitation and risk to performers, impairing the ability to maintain healthy relationships, and interfering with relationships and sexual satisfaction. , potential for addiction, illegal activities conducive to human trafficking and child abuse, and contribution to the general tendency in society to objectify and present unrealistic expectations for physical attributes as well as what sexual behavior is healthy. These are public health and human rights issues, which overlap with moral concerns and calls for ethical pornography, just as trauma and moral injury overlap, requiring greater attention and attention. greater activism

Pornography and long-term relationship

Of particular interest is the impact of pornography on marriage. According to a study in the Sexual Research Journal (2018), pornography negatively impacts the most engaged relationships. There are exceptions, but they are not typical. Examining more than 6,000 couples, they found that relationship anxiety (anxious attachment) was associated with greater relationship satisfaction with men’s own porn use and lower satisfaction when male pornography was used. women used pornography.

Men were three times more likely to report pornography use and slightly more pornography acceptance. In general, they found that low acceptance of pornography among porn users was associated with lower relationship satisfaction, although for men, only higher acceptance was associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Pornography use was generally associated with anxious attachment and lower relationship satisfaction. However, the work on how pornography use affects sexual satisfaction requires further study.

To understand the link between pornography and sexual health, Vaillancort-Morel and colleagues, in their recent study in the Archives of sexual behavior (2021) surveyed 217 couples, including 72 same-sex couples, together for at least a year, and sexually active, who completed about a month of daily reports.

They felt porn use, and whether it was lonely, with their partner, or both; sexual satisfaction on days of sexual activity, using the aggregate measure of sexual satisfaction; Sexual distress using the Revised Female Sexual Distress Scale (also validated for men) which assesses distress related to sex life, feelings of inferiority due to sexual problems and sexual concerns; sexual function via the Monash Female Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire (with the men’s version), asking about sexual desire, receptivity, ease of arousal, quality of erection or lubrication, orgasm and experience of pleasure; and the frequency of masturbation.

Results

In terms of basic statistics, in this convenience sample, over 35 days, half of couples reported consuming pornography on the same day they had sex. Overall, porn use was unrelated to sexual health on most of the study measures. While future research is warranted to examine a more diverse sample, porn use here was not associated with sexual satisfaction, ease of sexual arousal, orgasm, or pleasure, and no. was not strongly related to sexual distress in general. Masturbation was not related to the person’s or their partner’s sexual satisfaction, distress, or function.

However, there were two important conclusions. First, solo porn use on days when couples were having sex was linked to increased partner sexual distress. The negative impact on partner distress was true for both men and women, suggesting an increased sense of inadequacy and potentially lower quality of sexual engagement (e.g., the partner who used porn may have had changes in behavior and emotions during sex) on days they had sex when their partner was using pornography without them.

The study authors note that some people who use pornography alone on days they have had sex may have had sex with partners before using pornography, in which case partner distress may be related. to subsequent pornography use.

Second, women reported better lubrication on days porn was used, while men did not report better erection, the analogous measure. The authors note that previous research indicates an entourage effect, where use of pornography by couples is associated with greater sexual openness, that it can help couples normalize, talk about and act out fantasies. sexuality and, in general, to facilitate sexual positivity.

This is in line with research showing that women’s sexual satisfaction is directly related to how women express what works for them (2017), and couples talk and maintain a positive attitude towards sex (2017). This can be further facilitated by couple groups in which couples talk to each other about intimate issues, thus increasing overall relationship satisfaction (2017).

Additional considerations

Sexual and relationship problems are on the increase, driven by stress, loneliness and depression related to COVID-19, with increased conflict and decreased intimacy (2020). For many couples, pornography has a corrosive effect, much like infidelity in some ways. As with infidelity (2019), open marriage, or parental marriages, sexual activity outside the couple can also be stabilizing, a factor strongly affected by moral and social norms.

For other couples, those who are more accepting of pornography and who are generally sexually positive, with a more secure attachment to each other, pornography can be a useful and enjoyable part of their sex life, as long as it is not. does not cause insecurity in partners or has no negative impact on sexual behavior and attitudes. The research discussed here, while preliminary, serves as a springboard for discussion and may offer insight for some couples.

As the acceptance of pornography is a crucial factor, finding out how partners align with pornography is a key part of talking about sexual and relationship satisfaction. Since sexual satisfaction tends to decrease in the majority of marriages over time (2019), it is important to speak openly about sex for couples seeking long-term stability and satisfaction.

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