Porn is sexy. And it's just a click away. But what if you find it on your partner's computer? Is it addictive? And how could it affect your sex life?
One day it was like porn woke up, looked round, and decided to take over the world. It's everywhere. And everyone seems to be watching it. According to a TheSite survey, 31% of you watch it regularly, and 32% watch it occasionally. But what is this easily accessible hardcore material doing to us?
I found porn on my boyfriend/girlfriend's computer
Whether you were deliberately snooping, or stumbled across it by accident, finding your partner's porn stash can be a shock. And now you've got all sorts of questions, like:
- Does this count as cheating?
- Does this mean they're not fulfilled by our sex life?
- Do they want me to have sex like that?
Rachelle*, 24, found porn by accident on her boyfriend's computer. "I know it's a common thing for men to do, but I immediately doubted my sexual attractiveness," she says. "Maybe if he'd spoken to me about it, or suggested watching it together, I would've felt more comfortable finding porn splattered all over his search history. But I just felt betrayed, sick, and unsexy."
If you're upset, it's worth talking with your partner about how the porn discovery has made you feel. "There's no right or wrong opinion about porn," says Paula Hall, a sex therapist. "Share and discuss your feelings and see if you can find some kind of compromise."
People have different attitudes toward porn. Some women may feel it's just 'a guy thing' and harmless, some may have issues with the exploitative nature of the industry, some hate the thought of their loved one masturbating over someone else, and some love it and incorporate it into their sex lives.
If you're really against it, it's a tricky one. You need to balance keeping your values against your partner's entitlement to a private masturbatory life. You might feel so strongly that it's a relationship deal breaker. Or just talking about it may calm you. Perhaps you could choose porn together that you don't find so upsetting. Remember, whatever your opinion is, it's valid.
Do they want me to have sex like a porn star?
After seeing that your partner has jacked off to images of brutal anal sex, big breasted blonde blowjob-machines, foul-mouthed dirty talk, and maybe even rape fantasy stuff, it's common to think, "Oh my bloody God. Is this what they're really into?" The thought can be terrifying, shocking and ego-damaging, but it's important to remember that most people can distinguish between fantasy and reality.
"Men especially get aroused by watching porn stars, but that doesn't mean they want to make love to them," says Dr Lori Boul, author of DIY Sex and Relationship therapy. "Chances are, if they had the chance to re-enact a masturbatory fantasy in real life it would completely freak them out and they wouldn't even be able to get hard."
It's important to remember that most people can distinguish between fantasy and reality
Again, talking about what you both want out of your sex life is important. Every couple will have their personal boundaries - it's just a case of finding them together.
Can porn make you lose your erection?
It sounds ironic, but the answer is yes. "Because porn increases your arousal threshold, I see a lot of men who can't get aroused by real people," says Paula.
The vast majority of Paula's clients come to her with porn-related problems and she believes excessive ogling causes erection issues - although this hasn't yet been scientifically proven, and isn't the case with ALL men.
Is it possible to be addicted to porn?
Do you spend a significant amount of time with one hand on your mouse and the other on your erm... mickey? The issue of porn's addictive nature is still being debated, but sex therapist Paula thinks she can see a link.
"Pornography is definitely addictive because of the dopamine it releases into your brain," says Paula. "Watching it makes you feel good so you want to watch it again."
How do you know when you've got a problem? Here are some signs to look out for:
- Paula believes watching more than 11 hours of porn a week is a sign you're addicted
- Neglecting things that are important to you to watch porn i.e. your partner, family, studies
- You need to watch more porn and are seeking out more hardcore material to get turned on
- You have problems getting an erection with real people, and often have to fantasise about porn to get hard.
I think maybe this is me, what can I do?
Stop watching porn. Your brain needs to wean itself off these images. "Try at least to cut back, if you can't stop completely," says Paula. "It's hard though because even thinking about porn triggers the same dopamine responses in your brain."
You may go cold turkey initially, but brains are like dogs in that they're quite responsive to training. So train it to stop watching and thinking about pornography then your arousal threshold will usually return to normal levels.
However, if you're struggling it might be worth seeing your GP who can put you in touch with local counselling services, or contact a national organisation such as Sexaholics Anonymous UK for advice.
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