3 minute read

Couples Using Porn: Does it increase sexual satisfaction?

Last Updated: March 9, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Many people claim porn can increase a couple’s sexual satisfaction—making us excited about sex with our partner and giving us fresh ideas in the bedroom.

The fact that people watch porn because they find it exciting and pleasurable isn’t up for debate. But is watching porn really conducive to true intimacy and real sexual satisfaction?

Porn Use Is the Norm

Among the rising adult generation, many men and women see continued porn use acceptable, even while in a longterm relationship. A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found, among young adults:

  • The largest group (70% of men and 56% of women) say porn use is acceptable while in a relationship, whether it is used individually or by a couple.
  • The next largest group (22% of men and 26% of women) say porn use is unacceptable because of being in a committed relationship.
  • The smallest group (5% of men and 13% of women) believe porn use is always unacceptable.

For the majority of young Americans, pornography use—at least as long as it doesn’t become obsessive—is not seen as a problem for couples in a romantic relationship.

Spicing Up the Erotic Climate

In one sense, it shouldn’t surprise us that couples who use porn in the bedroom might have seemingly high levels of sexual satisfaction. Compared to couples that have different convictions about whether porn is healthy or moral, or compared to couples where one partner is sneaking around to look at porn, couples that use porn together are at least on the same page.

The research bears this out:

  • One study in the journal Personal Relationships found the more men watch porn for personal masturbation, the less sexually satisfied these men feel, but the more men and women watched porn together during lovemaking, the more sexually satisfied men feel.
  • Another study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found when only one partner uses porn, this can lead to arousal problems in men and negative self-perceptions in women, but when couples used porn together to enhance their sex life, there is a “more permissive erotic climate” in the relationship—i.e. men and women communicate more about their sexual fantasies and desires.

Bigger Orgasms ≠ Better Intimacy

However, when we investigate the matter of couples viewing porn together, we are often asking the wrong questions—or at least making the wrong comparisons. The question is not whether shared porn use bodes well for relationships compared to solitary use for masturbation. The question is not whether honesty about porn use is healthier than dishonesty.

A better question is whether couples watching porn together is optimal for real intimacy.

In other words, there’s no doubt communication about sexual expectations and fantasies is good for couples. There’s no doubt honesty and eliminating secrecy is good for relationships. Of course couples can benefit from being adventurous or keeping things fresh in the bedroom. But why is porn needed for any of that? Moreover, what needless side effects can be avoided if we pursue sexual vibrancy without the aid of porn?

According to a study of unmarried couples published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, compared to those who watch porn alone and those those who watch porn with their partner, those who don’t view any porn at all have much lower rates of infidelity—and this should hardly surprise us.

If we are using the erotic images of others to turn us on in the act of lovemaking, the focus of our attention is not our partner. As couples watch porn together, they only reinforce the notion that attraction to others is expected and even encouraged. Instead of working to cement a bond where your partner is your standard of beauty, you communicate, “I need someone more to turn me on.”

According to research from Drs. Dolf Zillmann and Jennings Bryant, regular exposure to porn—even over a short period—can produce the following effects in both men and women:

  1. A decrease in sexual satisfaction – Individuals begin to rate their partner’s physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance next to what they observe pornographic films.
  2. A devaluing of commitment – Individuals begin to undervalue the importance of marriage, the idea of having children, or the importance of faithfulness in a relationship.
  3. A dehumanization of women – Individuals begin to believe all women are as hysterically euphoric about sex as porn actresses, and they show a drop in support for women’s rights in society.
  4. A desensitization to cruelty – Individuals begin to believe activities like anal sex, group sex, and S&M are more common in society, and they tend to trivialize sexual violence.
  5. A desire for more porn – Individuals begin to crave more porn, more varieties of porn, and harder material.

Better sex is not measured by bigger orgasms. The big O of sex is not orgasm; it is oneness. And we don’t achieve this kind of intimacy staring at pixels on the screen.

  • Comments on: Couples Using Porn: Does it increase sexual satisfaction?
    1. Caroline wanjiru on

      So because people are arguing to use porns to spice up things in bedroom and you say that’s not good, where else can they learn the new ways of keeping it fresh? Is the digital world making people lazy of thinking creatively & innovatively

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I personally don’t see anything wrong with married couples reading more about the subject of sexual pleasure, learning more about how the human body works and how our knowledge of it can help maximize our experience in the bedroom. There’s a lot of great information available on this out there, especially in books written by different physicians.

    2. A Counter Perspective on

      I look at this article and I see parts that just ignore reality. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but if we are going to talk about this subjects, let’s talk about it truthfully.

      Women in porn average 47 pounds less than regular women in society. Go look this up. Data is everywhere for this. It indicates a very real problem in our society that is not being addressed. So yeah, people are going to see that and compare.

      Porn does not only devalue marriage and family, but life does and so does feminism. It is more feminism than porn doing this. From divorce courts to abortion, feminism has crushed the family. I will argue feminism has been much more destructive than porn. Marriage has been on the decline since feminism took root. The data is very clear on this. Forty years of extreme feminism has decimated the family.

      “A dehumanization of women – Individuals begin to believe all women are as hysterically euphoric about sex as porn actresses, and they show a drop in support for women’s rights in society.” So, what you are saying is women in real life don’t really like sex. Gee, I wonder why guys gravitate towards porn if the women they are with dont like sex!! Also, there are millions upon millions of women doing porn. I mean come on. You literally see them doing it. Those women aren’t imaginary. So telling it like it really is — does not amount to less women’s rights. I dont see the jump here to this statement. So I am just supposed to believe all these women are poor victims. NO! They are making choices.

      Anal sex is very common — especially among church going women. Never dated a girl who didn’t do it. Group sex is not that prevalent really. S&M depends on a person’s definition.

      “A desire for more porn – Individuals begin to crave more porn, more varieties of porn, and harder material.” Reality …..Relationships get boring over time. Sorry, this is the truth. For a man, you basically become a servant to a woman. A lifetime of servitude. This gets old and people question. As I said, if prostitution was legal, men would seriously consider never getting married because right now, we are just paycheck providers so a woman can live out her fantasy life. It is all about her. Until women treat men better in society, this is going to get infinitely worse. Really this is just the start.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hey there, Counter Perspective. Let me see if I can reply to some of your thoughts.

        1. “Women in porn average 47 pounds less than regular women in society…So yeah, people are going to see that and compare.” Not sure if the exact statistic is correct (or where it comes from), but assuming it’s right, I agree this is one of the draws of pornography—idealized images of women. I don’t see why this contradicts the article, however, or why mentioning it would have been all that helpful. As I said above, when one watches porn more and more, “Individuals begin to rate their partner’s physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance next to what they observe pornographic films.”

        2. “Porn does not only devalue marriage and family, but life does.” Agreed. Since porn is part of “life” (however you mean that) that would make sense. Again, not sure the relevance, but yes, many things in our culture devalue marriage.

        3. “It is more feminism than porn doing this.” As “feminism” is an extremely broad array of philosophies, it is really hard to reply to this. What brand of feminism are you talking about? Even if this is true, it really isn’t on target with the purpose of the article. If I wrote an article about how asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, of course other things can cause lung cancer (like smoking, etc.), but going in depth on those other causes would be off the topic of the article.

        4. “So, what you are saying is women in real life don’t really like sex.” Nope. Not what I’m saying at all. I’m merely reporting what the researchers said. What they meant is people begin seeing women as “porny” in their attitude toward sex, or as I said, “hysterically euphoric” about sex. Perhaps you’ve never watched porn before (and I hope this is true), but if you have, then you know the meaning of the phrase: the notion that all women have a nymphomania about sexual passion, ripping their clothes off for the random pizza delivery guy, turned on by each and every part of the sexual experience, behaving like cats in heat.

        5. “Also, there are millions upon millions of women doing porn. I mean come on.” Yes. I agree. But I’m just not sure how relevant it is to this article. That said, even among the minority of women who make porn, many don’t do it for the love of sex but for the need for money or the desire for fame.

        6. “Relationships get boring over time. Sorry, this is the truth.” They certainly can, but this doesn’t mean that other behaviors don’t escalate this sense of boredom. Why would you think this?

    3. SLS on

      I NEED HELP, is there anyway I can tell you what has been going on in my marriage without telling my story to anyone who wants to read it? I would like to keep it private. I have been in marriage counseling for 3 years now. I believe my problem is out of my pastors field. I need advise in a married couple sharing porn, I am a believer he is not. I want to stop he does not.

      Reply

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