We often get asked this question when working with couples as well as individuals. Pornography, now more commonly known as “porn”, has been around in various forms for thousands of years dating back to cave dweller paintings and well-endowed clay fertility statues.
On the positive side, we have found that pornography and erotica can enhance a couple’s sex life by getting them in the mood. In these all too busy stressful hectic times, couples often find themselves lacking the motivation to be intimate with one another and watching a few minutes of porn can set the ball in motion. Watching porn can revitalize things up when “sexy-time” starts to become routine. Couples often figure out what their partner enjoys and fall into predictable patterns. There is nothing like the excitement of not knowing what is going to happen next to spice things up. Viewing pornography can also give partners new ideas or permission to play out various fantasies. For those on the more inhibited side when it comes to discussing sex, it may be a way to teach you and your partner how to be a better lover or explore uncharted territories you find exciting. Sexsmartfilms.com, offers a wide variety of educational films on sex and intimacy. Additionally, for those with a more adventurous side Tristan Taormina’s web site, Pucker.com, also offers educational/instructional videos.
The downside of pornography is that with the emergence of the internet the face of pornography has drastically changed and continues to change at a rapid pace. What was just a few years ago considered “hardcore porn” is now labeled as “soft-core porn.” As pornography has gotten more and more hardcore it has little resemblance to what was once considered erotica. Porn increasingly intermingle angry, misogynistic, demeaning, and forced sex themes. This past year, New Sensations released a new line of pornography called “The Romance Series” which focuses on stories of sensuality, passion, romance, commitment and connection. The series is their best seller and one of the adult movies won the Feminist Porn Award this past year – “Yes, they have annual awards.” Other pornographic producers are following suit bringing the relationship and intimacy back to pornography.
One of the negative aspects of porn is that it often depicts unrealistic images of both men and women. The women are predominantly young, in great shape, and have often undergone plastic surgery. Women are also portrayed unrealistically in that they appear to be instantaneously aroused, orgasm quickly, easily and without any stimulation other than penetration. The men are well-endowed and have long-lasting erections. The end result may be that you, your partner or both of you may have unrealistic expectations about how you should look and perform sexually.
For some, another negative side effect is the possibility of addiction to pornography. Dopamine is often called the “reward” or “pleasure-giving” neurotransmitter and it is released when you are sexually excited. Additionally, endorphins are released when you orgasm giving you feelings of a peaceful, euphoric bliss. Over time neurons that fire together wire together creating neural maps in our brain that can link pornography, excitement and euphoric bliss together. This is the same area of your brain associated with other addictive behaviors. Additionally, for some viewers as the novelty wears off they become desensitized seeking higher and higher levels of stimulation for satisfaction which can lead to more graphic, aggressive, or fetishistic styles of sex as well as hours alone on the internet searching for that perfect combination.
Our word to the wise, proceed with caution. Know yourself, know your partner. If either one of you is prone to addictive behaviors or find yourself becoming more dependent on pornography as part of your sexual repertoire, you may want to ask yourself is it a prerequisite, a main course, or an occasional appetizer to spice things up?
Counter Attraction was founded by Lynn Valverde, MFT, and Leslie Davis, PsyD, in Los Angeles, California. Counter Attraction offers workshops and relationship counseling for couples. The goal of Counter Attraction is to help couples resolve relationship issues and re-kindle passion by teaching couples the skills they need to recognize where Counter Attraction exists in their relationship, how to attune to their partner through Couples Communication in ordered to come together and work through these difficult areas thereby promoting secure, resilient and successful relationships between partners. Our mission includes the ongoing expansion and refinement of the Counter Attraction model through implementation of the latest research in attachment, neuroscience, early trauma, and mindfulness.