When I first sat down in my life coaching certification program, our instructor invited us to forget everything we knew about life for a day and try on a new mentality like trying on a new pair of pants.
While real cognitive change takes at least a few months with practice (especially with a coach’s help), making the commitment to rewire ourselves was a monumental first step toward that transformation. We automatically opened our minds to possibilities, feeling lighter and more empowered like we were floating on a cloud. I invite you to do the same.
With that said, let’s talk about porn!
I don’t know about you, but after much thought on this subject, I see porn as a double-edged sword, like social media. Since just about everything in life operates on a spectrum, I see both “good” and “evil” in such sexually explicit material, and I think the way porn is made or viewed often falls on intent. (For example, was it made to empower women to own their sexuality, or does it teach men to objectify women?)
You’re welcome to disagree with me, but again, we’re trying on new pants.
Anyway, a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (version for mere mortals here) asked 200 couples in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships to basically journal about their porn use over 35 days, responding to questions delivered to their smartphones every evening. (You can learn about the variables the researchers assessed here.)
Here is what the researchers found:
- Women in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships seemed to like using porn as inspiration or foreplay and were more likely to follow through on their desires than men. However, they watched porn less frequently than men.
- Men in same-sex relationships also showed increased desire to make love to their partners and were more likely to have sex on the days they viewed porn.
- Men in opposite-sex relationships were less likely than those in same-sex relationships to have sex with their partners after viewing porn.
“It’s quite possible that people in traditional mixed-sex relationships easily fall into socially accepted ways of thinking about sexuality and intimacy,” the Psychology Today article on the study reads. “In contrast, those in same-sex relationships, because they defy social norms, are also more likely to be open about their sexuality and discuss sexual issues with their partner more readily.”
I want to call attention to the “defy social norms” part. What can we learn from trailblazers, from people who think differently, from misfits? How can we throw away mental roadblocks that have been holding us back, become more open-minded, and apply these lessons to our love lives (and beyond)? How can we stretch ourselves like elastic?
Let’s relate porn back to mindset.
Porn and Mindset
Since you (hopefully) started this article with a clean slate, let’s start treating it like a blank canvas and paint in some new ideas about how this porn study might relate to your relationship. (Keep in mind that we might not solve all problems and build Rome in one post. Consider this a starting point, and then consider working with me as your coach if the need is there and the time is right.)
First, if porn has been an issue in your relationship, whether you think your partner has been viewing too much of it or you think your partner would rather watch porn than make love to you, let’s make a few things clear:
- It’s completely normal to feel uneasy about your partner’s porn habit.
- Don’t assume your partner thinks you’re unattractive just because he watches it. (I mean, there could be a deeper issue there, such as your partner feeling lonely and resorting to porn, but let’s start here.)
- Like I said, look at your partner’s intent, and sexuality happens on a spectrum.
Now that we’ve gotten those mental roadblocks out of the way, let’s try to think differently and ask ourselves the following questions:
- Where does porn rank among your values?
You can look at values as “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” (Thanks, Google Dictionary!)
For example, someone who values “novelty” but has a low sex drive might need inspiration to get horny (like the women mentioned in the study). Porn can help!
- How can you redefine porn’s role in your relationship?
Every relationship is different, so if you, for example, value open communication, then opening a conversation about porn’s role in your relationship would align with that value.
Do you two like porn in moderation? What kinds of boundaries can you establish (such as the type of porn you watch together)? If one of you likes porn more than the other, how can the non-watcher welcome or accept this behavior? You could say this is an opportunity to pick your battles and practice self-love.
- If your partner’s excessive porn-viewing is hurting your relationship, how can you work together to save your relationship?
Yes, this implies that your relationship is a team, so you need a team mentality.
Given how easily accessible porn is these days, your partner might be like the straight men in the study who watch porn but don’t necessarily act on it (perhaps because he’s de-sensitized to it, depressed, and/or lonely), and you might have found out about his addiction the hard way (by stumbling upon his digital stash).
It’s easy to react to such an unpleasant surprise like you might if you accidentally saw your least favorite uncle naked. (“Oh my god! Somebody give me something to gouge out my eyes!”) It’s easy to get angry like Adam Sandler’s character Dave in the movie Anger Management and feel betrayed.
Don’t panic. In fact, like therapist Dr Buddy Rydell says in Anger Management to calm Dave, “Goodfraba…” Relax. No jumping to conclusions. You’re allowed to feel angry and betrayed, but like those mentioned earlier who defy social norms, try calmly talking to your partner about his porn habit and establishing that you’re willing to listen. (You’d want him to do the same, yes?)
It might open a much larger conversation about your relationship, but it’s better to tackle the situation now than to let it boil and explode later. Feel free to see a couples therapist, but the bottom line is you’re going into this as a team. The worse-case scenario is you don’t resolve the issue and you find yourself someone else with whom to team up.
How does it feel to try on new pants? After walking around in them, we’ve learned that we have more power than society likes to admit.
Also, like social media, porn can make us feel more isolated than intended; however, we can choose to use both intelligently, healthily, and in ways that align with our values.
If the time is right and you need help trading in your relationship anxiety and insecurity for peace of mind, then hit me up here and I’ll be in touch ASAP.
Interested but not ready to commit to a coaching relationship? Take this “Relationship Insecurity Quiz” to see where you stand romantically, get tailored results, and get a special surprise afterward!