Kim GregoryComment

Is porn ruining your love life?

Kim GregoryComment

With X-rated material easily accessible online, many couples have started to find it is affecting their relationship…

Your partner doesn’t hear you enter the room. He’s engrossed in something on his phone.

As you walk up behind him and peer over his shoulder you catch sight of something on his screen that makes you gasp.

He fumbles and tries to put his phone away. But it’s too late.

You’ve caught him viewing X-rated material.

Some women are relaxed about their partners viewing porn. But others feel it is affecting their love life.

Psychosexual and relationship counsellor Krystal Woodbridge says that she finds this problem often.

‘A high proportion of men watch pornography,’ she says. ‘And I see cases where it is causing problems — either because the man is compulsively viewing pornography or the woman sees it as a betrayal.’

Krystal says that many women get angry because their partner hides it from them. 

‘Secret porn-watching makes the woman feel she has been lied to,’ Krystal says. 

‘But it depends on each relationship. If a couple is enjoying a healthy sex life with lots of intimacy, then pornography might not be such a big problem. 

‘For many men and women, using pornography is a healthy expression of their sexuality. However, if a couple isn’t having any intimacy, then it can compound any problems if the woman finds out her partner is viewing porn in secret.’

One difficulty, Krystal says, is the unrealistic bodies, acts and scenes featured in pornography.

‘Many women find this upsetting because they feel it shows that women have to look a certain way or perform acts they wouldn’t want to do themselves,’ she says. 

‘This can make women feel inadequate and question whether their partner prefers that “type” of woman to her.’

It can also be a problem for men who develop unrealistic expectations of how they should look or perform.

Men and women often view pornography in different ways. 

Women might see it as a betrayal or that her partner prefers other women. Whereas men often watch it because it’s something they have always done, or for sexual release.

‘This is where it can often cause relationship problems,’ Krystal says. 

‘If a woman cannot tolerate porn, then the couple need to talk and come to an agreement.’

They could discuss boundaries, for example the man might agree not to view pornography while his partner is at home, or not to view certain types of pornography.

‘The trouble is, if a man has been watching pornography in secret, then he will already have a sense of shame. It’s helpful not to shame him further or he might hide it even more.’

The trouble is, of course, that adult material is so accessible.

‘Years ago men might have had the odd rude magazine, but now pornography is everywhere,’ Krystal says.

So what can a couple do if porn is becoming a problem?

Krystal says: ‘Porn isn’t always a problem. In fact, many couples use it together to enhance their own sex life. 

‘But if one of you is strongly against pornography or sees it as a betrayal, it’s important to agree what is acceptable. 

‘It’s also important to look at what’s going on in the relationship. If your sex life and intimacy are good, then perhaps your partner viewing porn occasionally is acceptable. 

‘But if you’re not having sex and find your partner is only able to get aroused with pornography, then that can cause problems.’

Edited by Julie Cook

 

How to talk about X-rated material

Don’t shame your partner further — he’s probably ashamed already if he’s viewing porn in secret.

Look at your own relationship — are you having sex and being intimate?

If you are completely morally against pornography, discuss this with your partner and if you cannot agree, it may be best to part.

If you’re more relaxed about pornography but want to set rules, agree on where, when and how often your partner should view porn.

If you worry your partner is addicted to porn or prefers it to real sex, seek help from a couples counsellor.

 

Porn ruined my relationship

When I met my boyfriend Ben he seemed perfect. We got on so well that we moved in together six months later. 

But then I noticed that every morning he’d disappear into the bathroom — for 40 minutes.

I asked him if he had a medical problem, but he just laughed.

Weeks passed and our sex life fizzled out. We had no intimacy at all. He kept disappearing off to the bathroom all the time.

Then one day I looked at his phone and found history of a website. It was porn.

The films he’d been viewing were about women or men cheating on each other and were graphically sexual. 

I confronted him. He said: ‘It’s natural for men to view porn.’

But I disagreed, and I also worried that the cheating element of his fantasies meant he’d cheat on me. 

He was so immersed in porn we had no sex life.

I tried to carry on. But then I looked at his phone history and saw he’d often look at pictures of female friends on Facebook and then view porn. 

I found that disturbing.

I felt so inadequate compared to the women he watched. It affected my self-esteem.

We split up.

Now I’ve met someone who doesn’t view porn. Our relationship is so much better and I trust him 100 per cent.

I can never accept someone who watches porn and I think it destroys relationships. I believe porn is cheating.

From Amy Wood, 21, of Putney, London

Ben’s name has been changed.