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RELATIONSHIP: I’m Upset My Partner Watches Porn; What Should I Do?


Anyone concerned about their partner’s interest in porn may take a little reassurance from the fact they aren’t alone. Watching porn is a real ‘go to’ place for many people, men and women alike.

Relate’s 2012 sex census with Ann Summers found that 41 per cent of women and 76 per cent of men admitted to watching porn once a month or more and that 19 per cent of women and 58 per cent of men watched it once a week. Many more said they would prefer not to say whether they used porn, suggesting the real numbers of porn usage are even higher.


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But of course, these are just statistics. When it is personal to us – maybe we’ve just found out that a partner is watching porn or have known what’s been happening for a while and haven’t felt able to say anything - it can really hurt.

What are the potential issues here? Starting at the beginning of this conundrum, let’s think about the porn use itself. The bottom line is that lots of people enjoy porn.


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It’s not necessarily an individual pursuit either because many couples find that using porn together can really enhance their sex lives. And that seems to be the start of the problem here, in that you may feel isolated and alone while your other half blithely carries on and ignores your feelings.

When we find out that a partner is doing something that feels detrimental to us, we should be able to talk directly about our concerns and have a clear expectation that we will be heard. Maybe that leads directly to changes being made, but even if that doesn't happen at least the other half knows how we think and feel. But when we desperately want an explanation, or for something to just stop, we can get into seriously unhelpful dialogue that just ends up with accusations flying around which get us nowhere. So when faced with the partner who is looking at porn, try to take a step back to think about your own thoughts about it before you confront your partner.


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Is it that you think it is disgusting and has no place in a relationship? Is that you don’t mind but feel excluded? Or is it that you suspect the sexual relationship isn’t satisfying your partner and they’ve decided to find out if porn is more alluring? There is no doubt that porn can create very unrealistic perceptions of men and women against which "ordinary" sex gets unfavourably compared. Perfect bodies, herculean stamina and endless orgasms are not things that most couples would feel able, or indeed want, to aspire to at the end of a long hard day at the office or with the kids. Instead many prefer to focus on tenderness and intimacy as the major contributor to good sex.

Maybe your partner simply takes it for granted that you are OK with their porn use because you haven’t ever said anything. If that’s the case then relying on telepathy isn’t likely to help, and arranging to make time together to talk about how you feel is the first step to sorting things out. Perhaps you are concerned by the sheer amount of porn they are watching and worry that it is impacting negatively on their everyday lives and relationships.


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What can you do about it? Whatever your angle, begin by talking to them. Be clear about how you feel – being vague is only going to cause more confusion and what needs to be said could get lost in translation. It is important to listen carefully to what your partner is telling you too. But what if you feel you can’t speak to them about it? What is it that might stop us from being honest with a partner about this or even anything else? Sometimes it is because we actually fear that our own opinion might be so different to our partner’s that by expressing it they may end up deserting us.

Also, if you are in a relationship where you feel that you are never listened to or that your needs aren’t usually met, it is easy to get out of the habit of having any real expectation of change. This can quickly descend into a ‘what’s the point’ conversation and then of course nothing does change except that the sadness, anger and resentment just get bigger.


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Porn is a personal thing. If it is not for you, then be clear about this. Ultimately a partner who can’t hear this and still wants to indulge in heavy usage may not be the partner for you.

Equally, don’t necessarily exclude experimenting with it together either. As with anything to do with sex, agreeing how far you want to take things is a definite requirement in any healthy relationship, so don’t let anyone insist you look at or re-enact the things they’ve seen if you are not comfortable.

Equally, it’s probably better to give anyone who suggests you are weird for not wanting to look at porn a very wide berth because humiliating someone in this way is generally a very negative reflection of that person.


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So, don’t hold back, be bold and say how you feel and what you want and expect from your partner. If you can create a positive conversation together and you’re both games, a mild flirtation with porn may be just the thing to reignite the passion.


Credit: Ammanda Major


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