May 15 2014

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Study Shows Watching Porn Hurts Marriage – Users View Extramarital Affairs as Normal, Even Rewarding


The data on the health benefits and risks of watching pornography is mixed, with some clear benefits and some clear risks. But the bottom line has always been that the acceptance of watching porn while in a relationship usually has to do with the level of acceptance between the parties involved.

For some couples, watching porn together is a way of furthering sexual intimacy; for others, watching porn can be seen as a “slap in the face” when it comes to self-esteem. Of course, it can all become much more complicated if one person seems obsessed with watching porn or a partner is against it completely.

SEE ALSO: Is watching porn bad for your sex life and sexual performance?

Studies are coming out all the time, however, examining different aspects of sexual health, and a new project published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture takes a closer look at how watching porn affects a marriage.

After evaluating a group of more than 550 married adults, researchers concluded that the more an individual watches porn, the higher the likelihood that they view extramarital affairs as acceptable. Given that infidelity is the number one cause of divorces in the nation, experts compiling the data say it is reasonable to conclude that yes, watching porn can be considered “bad” for a marriage.

“If pornography consumption leads to more positive extramarital sex attitudes as the results of the panels suggest, pornography consumption may be a contributing factor in some divorces via extramarital sex behavior,” the study states.

The research was based on information collected via the General Social Survey (GSS) , a national, personal interview survey examining social beliefs in the U.S. Participants were asked questions like, “Have you seen an X-rated movie in the last year?” followed up with, “What is your opinion about a married person having sexual relations with someone other than the marriage partner?”

According to the responses, individuals who viewed pornography frequently tended to view non-marital sex as rewarding and “normal.” Watching porn may solidify common belief that intimacy with a spouse eventually becomes boring and marriages often become sexless with longevity.

In an interview from the New York Times with Denise A. Donnelly, associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University, the sexual habits of married couples interviewed for the GSS were evaluated, and Donnelly indicates that “boring married sex” is a common fear for both men and women.

“Some people become accustomed to their spouse, bored even, and sex slows,” explained Donnelly. “For others, it is the demands of raising a family, establishing a career, and mid-adulthood. And there are people who have very low sex drives, and may even be asexual. They may have some sex with their partners to begin with, but it becomes unimportant to them (and usually not so unimportant to their spouses). These folks may also be dealing with guilt, issues with the human body, or feel that sex is ‘dirty’ or only for procreation. A small number of couples showed a mixed pattern, where they would have periods of ‘feast’ and of ‘famine.’”

SEE ALSO: Teens and porn” The psychology behind a new trend

Unfortunately, a lack of sex in a marriage may ultimately lead to more watching of pornography, creating a cycle that can often spell disaster for a marriage. A sexless marriage is already a complicated one, and the new data indicates that watching porn may be the catalyst in when a person decides to have an extramarital affair.

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