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Culture Spotlight

We asked a sex therapist: How can porn help better your relationship

Porn can contain unrealistic depictions of sex acts most people don’t engage in. But just because most people are not able to do that back flip, helicopter, Kamasutra fest happening on screen, couples should feel insecure. 
Rica Cruz | Feb 11 2019

Porn is everywhere. From the bangketa DVDs to the explicit porn sites that you can access from almost any mobile, this high speed proliferation of pornography is one of the biggest money makers in the digital age. Consequently, a debate has been ongoing (for decades now!) within the world of sex experts as to whether or not porn is healthy at the individual, relationship, or even the societal levels.

Some mental health professionals believe that porn shouldn’t be indulged at all. Why? There are those who argue that porn and sex addiction exist. With the addiction model, they believe that even a little porn can get you hooked. Some will even warn you about the dangers of what they call “porn-induced erectile dysfunction.” Thus, for them, it’s better to just stay away from temptation. (Disclaimer: A vast review of scientific literature gives no credence to that claim. Uh-huh.)

On the flip side, porn has been used for successful HIV prevention campaigns (which I really feel we should adopt in this country) to popularize safer sex, encourage MSMs to adopt less risky sexual behavior, and promote masturbation instead of engaging in high-risk casual encounters. By showing that safer sex is thrilling and pleasurable, porn has helped eroticize socially-responsible sexual behavior.

So what is it really? Should we or should we not watch porn?

A question of repression

Filipinos love porn. We love porn so much, we even go above average in terms of duration of watching, a whole three minutes more of holding that orgasm in. Talk about endurance and willpower. To add: The Philippines is number one when it comes to female viewers. See? Women love porn, too! 

One then might ask, how pornography, with so many negative connotations, continue to find itself in our phones, bedrooms, and even our relationships, every single day?

Simple: We are repressed when it comes to sex. More so, being a people with strong adherence to religion, we were raised to think of masturbation, nudity, and sex itself as taboo. The fact that we weren’t given anything but silence on topics such as anal sex, lesbian sex, men who have sex with men (MSMs), orgies, bdsm, sodomy, and the wide array of sexual acts offered by pornography, could lead to feelings of anxiety and guilt, and worse, getting compulsively hooked to the material because of these. Thus, we get enticed to watch these videos, scandals, and even movies.Think: “Masarap ang bawal.”

But is it really “bawal?” Yesterday, I met with a professor from the University of Toronto and after five hours of porn-discussion and going through scientific studies, we both agreed that… porn is not “bawal” nor is it good, mind you, it is “just is.”

Ah! A safe answer from a sex person, you might say. But not really. Porn, unless it’s used for illegal activities (but that’s another story), is just is. And as with anything else that’s “just is,” it should be taken in moderation. Think about your favorite drink, for example. With just the right amount, you’ll feel liberated, confident, and sexy. But go beyond that, the alcohol will take over, and you will end up feeling downright dirty. Same goes with viewing porn, especially in relationships: There’s the sexy side and there’s the dirty side.

Watching in tandem

Porn for an individual is a large subject matter in itself. It becomes even more complicated when you have to consider another person. Here are some things that couples need to know before introducing porn into the equation.

First, the bad:

1. Porn can make couples feel insecure.

Porn can contain radical, unrealistic depictions of sex acts that most people don’t engage in. Some may include scenes degrading to both men and women. Hence, because most people are not able to do that back flip, helicopter, Kamasutra style happening on screen, nor do they have that 8-inch organ, and melon breasts the porn stars have, they have this nagging feeling that they will never be enough. (Newsflash: What you see in porn is not real.)

2. Couples who watch porn tend to be less committed and are more prone to cheat.

As bad as it may sound, there are studies with this conclusion. Studies state that couples who regularly engage in watching porn see it as a way to think about other possible partners. And it doesn’t stop there, they also tend to act on impulse to cheat on their partners when given the opportunity. And even if their relationship is good enough, the fact that they feel there’s something better out there can be enough to send them looking.

3. Porn can make relationships go uh-oh.

Most men feel they cannot trust their women with their use of porn. Hence, they tend to hide it and lie about it. When found out, however, usually, the women feel hurt, betrayed and cheated on. Ouch. “My husband is watching porn behind my back, does he not love me anymore?” Sounds familiar? Yes. This could lead to not just problems with their sex lives, but also to major relationship issues as well. Mind you, this could also happen the other way around, and it’s no win-win situation at all.

And now the good:

1. Porn can be a substitute in times of destitute.

When you need sexual release, and your partner is not just up to it, watching porn can help you with your journey through self-pleasure. For many couples, this is a way for them not to resent their partners–allowing the SO to watch porn, when they can’t perform!

2. Porn can ignite your passions.

Some couples see porn as that one thing you need as a lubricant, to release inhibitions and help you take those clothes off. Porn can act as an igniter to tickle those sleeping desires, as something to shake things up. Add some sex toys, costumes, and a little bit of fantasy play and erotic storytelling, and porn can help couples bring excitement to the everyday, monotonous sex routine that they have. It’s like that wine, taken with a little bit of pepper and cardamom. Spicy, isn’t it?

3. Porn can help you discover those kinks together

Watching porn as a couple is a way for the both of you to explore what you like and what you don’t like in bed. Some couples even recreate what they see on the screen and laugh it all up when it becomes disastrous. It happens, believe me! By going through these, they feel more intimate, closer, and secure with one another. Hooray for couple points!

These are only a few of the arguments about pornography that even us professionals and experts have trouble finding a consensus in. (We all might need therapy for this!)

Porn can be a stress outlet and a sexual companion at the end of the day. It can also help rejuvenate sex lives. Porn can be used to learn more about one’s sexuality, which is essential for overall well-being. But taken excessively and deceitfully, it can lead to undesirable consequences. Just like that drink. It can make you feel good if you have a glass or two, but if you binge, and get out of control, then the problems start to kick in. And as with any of us who binge and get out of control—there’s usually something hidden underneath (not just sex!). I know you know what I mean!

So my advice before you start collecting those DVDs, and paying that monthly redtube subscription, try asking yourselves this: What makes you want porn? If it’s just to spice up your sex life, then so be it! But if you feel that there’s something deeper in the relationship that makes you want it, then put that payment on hold and go get help.
 

Rica Cruz is a psychologist, and a sex and relationship therapist. She is @_ricacruz on Instagram.