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Watching porn is likely to ruin your relationship, study says

(Source: sg.theasianparent.com)

Worried about your partner watching porn? A new study suggests that there’s a correlation between pornography consumption and breakups between couples.

Watching porn can negatively affect a romantic relationship as those who consume pornography develop unrealistic expectations. In turn, it develops feelings of jealousy and undue pressure on the other partner.

According to a working paper presented at the American Sociological Association, married couples who start watching porn are twice as likely to be divorced in the following years than those who don’t. Meanwhile, women who watch porn are three times as likely to break up. To the surprise of nobody, porn appears to have less negative impact on marriage if couples watch it together.

The paper also found that the likelihood of divorce goes down when women stop watching porn, but the same is not true when men stop.

Watching porn and the likelihood of divorce

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The study analysed results from more than 2000 participants over three time periods, focusing on participants whose porn-watching habits changed during that time.

For example, some individuals did not have a porn-watching habit when first interviewed but took the habit up by the second interview. Others were watching porn at the time of the first interview then stopped by the second.

Upon further analysis, the researchers found that 11% of people who started watching porn between the two time periods were divorced by the second interview. Meanwhile, 6% of people whose porn-watching habits didn’t change divorced by the second interview.

A woman’s confession

This topic was spurred by a woman’s admission about discovering her husband’s porn-watching habit. It was published in The Singapore Women’s Weekly.

First of all, I’m not the kind of woman who snoops into their husband’s phone, or checks his messages. We’ve been married for 15 years and I trust Paul*… well, I used to trust him more than I do now. Because a few months ago he was working in his study and I went in to ask if he wanted another cup of tea; he loves to drink tea while he works. But when I went in I realised he was in the toilet – we have an ensuite.

I do not snoop usually, but as I was picking up the half-empty teacup beside his mouse I saw a few tabs at the top of the computer screen. I couldn’t stop myself opening a few… but I wish I hadn’t. They were nearly all porn sites, or those sites where you pay to have a “live chat” with slutty-looking naked women from places like Thailand or Russia. Several even had messages like “welcome back!” So I knew he had been visiting them more than once!

Then I heard the toilet flush and I quickly shut the tabs. When Paul walked out of the toilet I was leaving the room, holding the cup. I hid my face and muttered about tea and I didn’t think he suspected anything.

I was shocked – and so stunned that I didn’t feel anything at first. But then I started to feel really hurt. I know our sex life isn’t as “red hot” as it used to be – we have two growing children and two busy careers, so we can only find private time on weekends. And I admit I’ve never lost all of my ‘baby weight’… and that makes me feel self-conscious.

But it’s no joke looking after two active pre-teens and handling my job. Sometimes I am so tired at night all I want to do is sleep. Plus, Paul travels for work, and sometimes it can be a few months before we find time to be intimate. But we sometimes laugh and joke about it and we kiss and cuddle, so I just assumed he was okay with it.

But seeing those websites really shocked and worried me… did my husband want more in bed? Did he look at their hot bodies and then look at me and feel disgusted? Am I an old fat ‘auntie’ to him?

And it’s no wonder he didn’t pressure me for sex that often anymore. He was taking care of himself with those girls and some ‘one-hand typing’…

Her worry is real

It’s been eight weeks since I saw the websites and I could not stop worrying. Every time Paul goes into the study I follow him with my eyes and wonder what he is doing. Is he really working, or reading news online… or is he browsing porn sites? And how much money is he spending on them? I am not naive and I know some men like porn. But I just assumed he wasn’t one of them.

But now I realise there are maybe a lot of things about my husband I do not know so well… even important things like how much money he has saved. I am starting to feel angry and insecure, and I know I am snapping at him and the kids more often. I also take comfort in eating so I’m feeling even fatter and more ‘auntie-looking’ – and that doesn’t help. Just the other day, my cousin asked me if things were okay with me? She said I seemed ‘very tense’.

Sometimes my mind runs away… I fear Paul will become so tempted that he’ll cheat on me in real life. Or he’ll stupidly hand over all our money in some online sex scam. You hear about that sort of thing happening. Because when men are thinking with their pants off, most of them don’t think well!

But I can’t tell anyone about this. I don’t want anyone talking about me or pitying me. Though I used to feel smug when I heard about silly men who had been tempted away by a bimbo. I thought it could never happen to my family. But now I feel I have been too trusting for too long.

Maybe all my husband will ever do is ogle at women on the computer. Maybe it will never go any further. But I can’t be sure. And for now, it’s slowly eating away at me.”

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Breaking expectations

A number of women in the study started watching porn alone, and 16% among them divorced by the second interview.

Females who watch porn and then gave it up were a third less likely to divorce compared to those who kept the habit.

The likelihood of divorce for males who abstained from watching porn are not that different from guys who stuck with the habit. However, the authors of the study made a disclaimer that there were so few men in the study who gave up watching porn that the sample size is too small to be reliable.

Impact on women

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The paper’s lead author, Samuel Perry, doesn’t think that it’s a couple’s relationship quality that leads to pornography consumption and divorce. The University of Oklahoma assistant sociology professor said, “We are pretty confident about establishing the directional effects.”

Perry also couldn’t explain with any certainty why the impact of watching porn is stronger on women than men, as it ran counter to previous studies on pornography use.

“That’s a bit surprising because everything else I’ve seen on porn use in relationships suggests that men’s marriages are more negatively affected by their porn use,” he says, “primarily because they’re using it more often for the purposes of masturbation rather than intimacy.”

Even previous studies have found that watching porn can accelerate the deterioration of marriage. Husbands in a poor marriage are more likely to watch porn, and watching porn leads to a poorer marriage. This only becomes a cycle that further degrades marital relationships.

Held under scrutiny

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It’s worth mentioning that Perry is also a member of the religious faculty at the University of Oklahoma. Naturally, we would ask, “Are his beliefs colouring his approach towards pornography?”

Far from calling for the prohibition of porn, he said that “I certainly have moral beliefs about whether I’d want my kids to watch porn. Or my wife. But you counter that by subjecting your data to scrutiny, which I’ve done. I’ve sought to remain as neutral as possible.”

His findings also come in conflict with the findings of another paper from the University of Western Ontario, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The paper found that a significant portion of people in a relationship who consumed sexually explicit materials said that it had no ill effects on their relationship.

“While a similar number of positive and negative perceived effects were identified, generally speaking, positive effects of pornography use were reported more frequently than negative consequences by participants,” the study says, “and there was a predominant tendency for participants to reject the view that pornography contributes to negative consequences.”

Positive effects depend on context

For some people, watching porn can have a positive effect on their relationship. Partners learn about their sexual preferences or what they like and dislike. It helps them talk more openly about sex, and can enhance their sexual intimacy. A number of women have also said that their partners watching porn took some of the sexual burden from them.

“All of these issues seem rather obvious in hindsight,” says the paper’s lead author Taylor Kohut, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology. “But here’s the thing, these perceived effects of pornography use are not really being studied in a serious way. They’re just not on the radar.”

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More Info: sg.theasianparent.com

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