In a recently published paper draft, Ana Bridges, Ph.D., faculty at University of Arkansas’ Department of Psychology, writes about pornography’s effects within the context of romantic relationships. Below are some of her findings:
1. Pornography Use Can Be Addictive
Increasingly pornography use is becoming implicated in divorces. Porn addiction can have many negative effects on relationships, such as the loss of a job due to surfing adult websites on the company computer or loss of time with spouse and family (due to increased time online).
2. Women Are Reluctant to Enter into Relationships with Frequent Pornography Users
Studies have shown that the discovery of a partner’s use of pornography can be a very traumatic event. Bridges conducted a study in which 85 college men and 81 college women were asked to view numerous mock online dating website-like profiles of individuals and to rate their interest in pursuing a long-term romantic relationship with each person in the profile. The results of this study revealed that knowledge about a potential mate’s pornography use was a significant predictor of intentions to pursue a relationship for women, but not for men.
3. Pornography Leads to Decreased Satisfaction with a Romantic Partner
There is copious data to show the association between pornography use and romantic dissatisfaction. One study showed that couples who were “happily married” were 61% less likely to report visiting a pornographic website in the prior 30 days.
In another study, for both men and women, exposure to the female centerfold models, such as Playboy and Penthouse, significantly lowered judgments about the attractiveness of the “average” attractive persons. The study also showed that consumption of popular pornographic magazines may negatively affect a man’s commitment to monogamous relationships. The study validated the experience of wives and girlfriends who claim they are unfavorably compared: to the ideals which porn users hold for the porn star.
Another study showed that after repeated exposures to pornography, sexual satisfaction with one’s partner decreased in many areas: specifically, display of affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity and sexual performance.
4. Pornography Users May Not See Their Use as Problematic, However, Partners of Pornography Users Are Affected
In one study of over 9,000 Internet users, findings showed:
- 70% of respondents kept secret from their romantic partner how much time they spent online in their sexual pursuits
- 68% felt their online sexual pursuits did not interfere with any area of their lives,
- 93% of males and 84% of females admitted that others in their life had complained about their online sexual activities.
In another study of over 1,100 Internet users, participants without Internet sexual experiences were significantly more likely to rate the use of pornography as an act of infidelity compared to users.
In another study, 94 partners of identified “sexual addicts” were interviewed. The affects of their partners’ cybersex use included feelings of hurt, betrayal, lowered self-esteem, mistrust, decreased intimacy, anger, feeling unattractive and objectified, feeling their partners had less interest in sexual contact, pressure from the partner to enact things from the online fantasy and a feeling that they could not measure up to the women online.
Bridges’ study includes many more interesting bits of data which make it well worth further investigation.