When it comes to pornography, women have differing opinions. For some wives, if their husband watches porn, it is seen as an assault on their marriage. For other wives, they join their husbands and bring porn into the bedroom.
Can married couples enjoy pornography together? Certainly many couples do, but is this what is best for their relationships?
The Psychological Impact of Porn
In her hearing before the U.S. Senate, Dr. MaryAnne Layden asserted that when men spend so much time in “unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid, and cyberspace,” they find it difficult to have sex with a real human being.
Is this an overstatement, or does the research bear this out?
- Researchers James Weaver, Jonathan Masland, and Dolf Zillmann have watched how after being shown only 26 photos and one six-minute video of attractive nude females exhibiting sexual behavior, men routinely rate their partner’s attractiveness lower.
- Dr. Dolf Zillmann and Dr. Jennings Bryant have also observed how after watching only five hours of pornographic videos over six week period, both men and women experience a decrease in sexual satisfaction. Study participants said they felt less satisfied with their intimate partners’ physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance.
- In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, for men, frequency of viewing pornography was correlated with a lower satisfaction with sex and relationships.
- Neurologist Serge Stoleru has found that overexposure to erotic stimuli exhausts the sexually responses of healthy young men.
- In a 2006 study among college men, Todd Morrison and other researchers concluded there was a significant correlation between exposure to Internet pornography and levels of sexual esteem.
- In 2007, a study of more than 2,300 adolescents found a correlation between viewing Internet porn and greatly increased uncertainties about sexuality and the belief that women are sex objects.
How much more is this effect experienced today among men and women who routinely watch porn every week?
Porn ≠ Intimacy
In his book The Centerfold Syndrome, Dr. Gary Brooks explains why a porn-trained mind finds it harder and harder to make love. Porn, he says, promises (and delivers) a rush of sexual excitement without all the mess of actually connecting with another human being. It trains a sort of “voyeurism” in men, where we find it easier and more satisfying to just look at women rather than interact with them.
Brooks says pornography consumption creates in men a greater fear of intimacy. Porn exalts man’s sexual desires over the desire for real connection: it develops his preoccupation with sex and handicaps his ability for emotional intimacy.
Porn, he says, trains a man to both objectify women and feel validated in his masculinity by trophy women. More and more he rates women by the size, shape, and harmony of their body parts. More and more, in order to be aroused, he has to imagine himself being validated by women with porn-star bodies and attitudes.
In short, porn changes a man’s sexual expectations.