How Does Porn Affect Relationships?

Annie Holmquist | October 10, 2017

How Does Porn Affect Relationships?

The death of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine, left many wondering about his legacy. Some argued that the sexual liberation that Hefner helped lead was a good thing. Others, who saw his magazine as the mainstreaming of pornography (chart), said the opposite was true. Either way, both sides seem to agree that Hefner definitely made a lasting impact on the culture.

Porn Use: Weekly or More

One of the biggest arenas that Hefner’s promotion of pornography seems to have impacted is interpersonal relationships. Research suggests that negative effects occur in three types of relationships:

1. Relationships Between Adults

As research shows, marriage rates have been in decline in recent years. This is particularly the case for men, a fact which Pew Research has established. According to a paper published by The Institute for the Study of Labor, this decline may be spurred by the increase of internet pornography. Naturally, if sexual gratification can be obtained in a low-cost, non-committed way, then the temptation to forego the traditional path to sexual gratification is much stronger.

For those who do marry or pursue physical relationships, research finds that pornography drives down communication and sexual satisfaction.

In terms of communication, the secret nature of pornography is believed to undermine trust in a relationship. Pornography also creates conflict, particularly if a porn user’s partner disapproves of the practice or feels objectified by it.

With regards to sexual satisfaction, a survey highlighted by GQ found that younger porn users are “disinterested in sex with their partner” and are more likely to experience other sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction. Interestingly, these problems greatly improved once porn usage was stopped.

Because porn use hampers communication and sexual satisfaction, perhaps it is no surprise that it also appears to escalate break-up and divorce. According to one study examined by Psychology Today, porn usage correlates heavily to future romantic breakup, a fact demonstrated in the following chart:

Porn Use and Romantic Breakup

2. Relationships Between Adults and Children

Unfortunately, the romantic breakup and divorce which correlates with porn usage often affects more than the two individuals involved in the relationship. As the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is quick to point out, divorce has many negative side-effects for children as well.

But ACPeds also notes that pornography use can negatively influence the relationship between adults and children before the latter is even born. According to one study, women who used porn “experienced a decreased desire to have a daughter,” while men who did the same had decreased interest in procreation altogether. One can’t help but wonder if this development is driving the worrisome decline in birth rates which America and many other countries are experiencing.

3. Relationships Between Children

According to Psychology Today, exposure to pornographic material can come “as young as 8 or 9.” The effects of this are not contained to the child alone. These children are more likely to become sexual bullies to other children, either by assaulting or influencing them through the material they have seen.

G.K. Chesterton once said:

“There is such a thing as a system of deliberate erotic stimulants. It is called pornography. This is not a thing to be argued about with one’s intellect, but to be stamped on with one’s heel.”

Given the negative effects which pornography seems to inflict upon relationships of all sorts, would we be wise to follow Chesterton’s advice?



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