Can Your Relationship Survive Internet Porn?

Photo by Public Domain Photos - http://flic.kr/p/8t2kwd

Long-term romantic relationships were never easy, but Internet pornography is now becoming a problem for all too many couples. The key to defeating online smut is to understand and counter its allure.

The Dirty Little Problem

There has never been any lack of threats to relationships, and pornography has been around very nearly forever. Look at a fertility statue from prehistory and see if you don’t agree. Yet the Internet has transformed pornography from something rare and hard to access — perhaps a few aging magazines or videotapes stashed out of sight — to a Las Vegas-like non-stop sexual buffet that never closes and never hesitates to cater to even the smallest and most extreme interests. Given the accessibility, the anonymity, the variety and the intensity of modern pornography, it starts to make sense why more and more people would choose porn over their committed partner.

One thing I want to make abundantly clear is that even though I’m speaking to people feeling betrayed by their partner’s use of pornography, I don’t make the implication that it’s one partner’s fault that the other partner is looking at porn. I’m unable to think of a case where the secretive viewing of pornography is a healthy response to a disappointing relationship. Yet even thought it’s not your fault that your partner is on the computer instead of with you, I hope to explain why someone might choose porn over their partner and how to detect and meet those needs in a healthier way.

Know Your Enemy

For someone just discovering that porn has invaded their relationship, the question of what their partner is looking at, and more importantly, why they’re looking, may be the last thing they want to think about. Chances are, they just want their partner’s attention back. Understanding motivations not only opens avenues for change, but also understanding why they’re looking may take some of the sting out of the discovery.

Try Online Counseling: Get Personally Matched

I heard a story about a researcher who tried to do a study on the effects of online pornography on men but had to abandon his study when he could not secure a “control group”, that is, a population of males who had never viewed pornography through the Internet. It’s no accident that Internet pornography is so prevalent.

The biggest draw of online pornography is availability. It is available 24 hours a day from nearly any computer in the world. Meanwhile, back in real life, the demands of work, school, and family cut away at time couples spend with each other. Perhaps because strengthening a relationship doesn’t put food on the table, money in the bank, or bring the kids home from soccer, there’s the risk it will be pushed off indefinitely. If porn is the problem, raising your availability as a partner may be a big down-payment toward a solution.

Not only is pornography on the Internet always available, it is also very easy to find. One could even say that porn is massively undemanding. There’s no skill required beyond clicking on links and even more, there’s no chance of rejection. How about your relationship? Is date night a big production number? How often are you saying “no” to your partner’s bids, sexually or otherwise? Relationships do take work, and no one can say yes all the time. However, lowering the real or perceived difficulty of reconnecting and saying “yes” to your partner as much as possible could help him spend less time with the computer and more with you.

If you hold the belief that your sexual fantasies and interests are unique in the world, chances are that Internet pornography will quickly convince you otherwise. Because online porn caters to so many different kinds of sexuality, there is an unspoken acceptance of almost every kind of erotic expression. I have to wonder how many people turn to porn because they feel that their interests won’t be accepted in their primary relationship. The question to ask is not “do I accept my partner?” but “does my partner deeply know and believe that I accept him or her?” This point is particularly tricky for a couple of reasons. First, discovering your partner looking at porn tends to bring out the righteous indignation in us all. Unfortunately, no matter how deserved the outrage, if your partner was looking at porn because there was no fear of rejection, now he or she has even more reason to turn to it. Second, people often confuse “acceptance” with “agreement”. You don’t have to like what your partner likes, let alone agree to satisfy his interest in order to accept your partner has the interest. The need for satisfaction and the need for acceptance are two entirely different things, and meeting the acceptance need may be the more pressing of the two.

No Comparison

Given online pornography’s instant and endless availability, its boundless diversity, and the promise of anonymity and tacit acceptance, how can any flesh-and-blood human being compete? The truth is no real human being can contend on these grounds, but there’s no need to compete exclusively in these areas. No website can replicate the history two people create together when they date and become a couple. No image or video can listen or understand how someone feels. Most importantly of all, porn is an illusion, and you’re the real thing.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

No Comments Yet on “Can Your Relationship Survive Internet Porn?”

Would you like to start a discussion on “Can Your Relationship Survive Internet Porn?”?

Overseen by an international advisory board of distinguished academic faculty and mental health professionals with decades of clinical and research experience in the US, UK and Europe, CounsellingResource.com provides peer-reviewed mental health information you can trust. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. CounsellingResource.com is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation.

Copyright © 2002-2022. All Rights Reserved.