Sex & Relationships

Is Porn The Secret To A Better Married Sex Life?

The first time I watched porn with a partner, it was my idea. My college boyfriend, equally surprised and excited at my suggestion, quickly opened a browser window, typed in his favorite porn site and then stopped before filling in a search term.

“What should I search?” he asked.

I remember what I wanted to say. Rough gangbang. I also remember what I said: “Sexy secretary?”

His eyes lit up as he typed in the term and we entered a new, more satisfying territory from which we’d never return. Sex with porn was far superior to sex without porn.

We eventually broke up after college, but porn was always present in my long-term relationships. After the sizzle of new infatuation wore off after the first few months, porn always managed to get us going again.

Sex Science

Researchers would not be surprised. A 2018 study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that couples who used pornography together and couples in which both members used pornography alone had more sexual interests, preferences, and values in common than couples in which one partner used pornography and the other did not.

This feels true to me to a certain extent. Admitting my desire to watch porn with a partner allowed us to have more sex, and better sex, because it led to other conversations— like what kind of sex talk we liked, or which new positions we wanted to try. But there was another component that often got in the way: admitting the kind of porn we each wanted to watch.

Porn Preferences

As a person who has been using porn since I was 12, and even abusing it at different points in my life, my preferences were often changing. The more I watched, the more I leaned towards toward fetish and niche categories. Where milder scenes of “sexy secretaries” and “busty nurses” used to do it for me, as time passed, I started wanting something more hardcore.

Yet, when I peeked at “porn for women” I often didn’t see the scenes I was after. All the softcore, beautifully shot, story-driven fantasies I found lead me to wonder if there was something wrong with what I desired. Was I bad feminist? Would my partner think I was sick and demented? Feeling ashamed, I decided to keep quiet about my preferences and defer to what my partner wanted, or what I thought he wanted.

Hard-Core Hang Ups

It wasn’t that I never enjoyed what he ended up watching—the mere act of doing it together was usually a turn-on—but there was something missing. This refusal to speak openly and honestly about all aspects of my sexuality mirrored a refusal to speak openly and honestly about other things in our relationship, eventually leading to breakdowns and break-ups.

In 2015, PornHub released a study of site data that proved I was not alone in my love for hardcore scenes. Its data showed that women on the site were 113% more likely to watch hardcore porn than men, but they just aren’t talking about it as much. What I thought was a problem with my desire for many years turned out to be a problem with shame.

Difficult Discussions

When I first met my husband in 2012, I’d been bouncing from one relationship to the next, never really feeling like I could be myself, and mostly keeping quiet about the kind of sex I watched (and wanted) behind closed doors. But 2012 was also the year I turned 30 and something about that milestone made me want to live more honestly, especially when it came to my relationships since so many of them had gone nowhere.

I acted out on my resolution one lazy afternoon while lying in bed next to my then-boyfriend (now husband). He’d just asked what my favorite porn scene was. I still remember the lump in my throat as I launched into a detailed description of one of the most hardcore scenes of degradation I’d ever seen, one I happened to love.

At first, it didn’t go too well. His response was to contort his face into disgust; he hadn’t expected me to describe something like that. And this disgust mirrored the disgust I had in myself.  I feared I’d gone too far, and that he’d pull away from me.

But something in my face must have shown him how vulnerable I was, and how honest I’d allowed myself to be. Instead of pulling me away, he pulled me closer. So began one of our first, most honest discussions about sex—the kind I wanted but never felt comfortable requesting, the kind he wanted, and how we both might compromise to meet each other’s needs without judgment.

Open Attitudes

Now, having just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, we still have these conversations, not just about the kind of porn we like, but the kind of experiences we want to explore within our marriage, sexual or not. We try to talk about even the most difficult topics, knowing that not talking about them will, in the end, just make us unhappy. We like to think of our marriage as a happy one.

And though we don’t always fulfill the fantasies we talk about or watch the same kind of porn together, our insistence on being open and accepting is sometimes the hottest thing about our sex life.

 

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