Porn-usage amongst people in relationships is a common practice.  It’s become even more pervasive, more affordable, more anonymous and easier to access than ever before. In some cases it’s viewed discretely while in other cases it’s openly-enjoyed without any guilt or shame.  How does this affect the relationship?

Regardless of how a couple feels about pornography, research suggests that porn use can lead to relationship disputes in both the short term and long term.  A partner’s use of pornography tends to lead to:

  • A general decrease in relationship happiness and satisfaction
  • Decreased sexual gratification within the relationship
  • Lack of contentment with the couple’s decision-making process

Female and male porn use affects a relationship different.  The negative effects of porn are more pronounced with male porn usage than female.  Studies showed that female porn use generally results in increased relationship satisfaction. The discrepancy is accounted to the fact that women are likely to view male’s porn use as infidelity, whereas men view female porn use as “hot”.

The problems ensue when no the topic is shunned. Some women seem to feel that watching porn is a betrayal, even if such boundaries have never been discussed.  Women who feel that porn is disgusting or scary or confusing feel that they have a right to stop their partner from watching it, however this is mislead.  People who oppose porn and feel that it is a betrayal need to realise that when committing to a relationship, there is no implicit contract that states the partners won’t watch porn.  The solution then, is to have an open, honest, shame-free conversation while being open to the other’s view, without judgements.


Matthew Bartolo is a counsellor specialising in Sex & Relationships. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples, and runs the sex education services within Willingness. He can be contacted on

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