Porn And Infidelity – Is There A Link?

infidelity

This is a guest post by Helen, a former healthcare worker who now writes about relationships, gender issues and health.

##

With the growth in and increasing availability of online pornography, many people are starting to think more deeply about the issues associated with it. Within Europe, the debate tends to focus upon the psychological effects use of online pornography has on young and sexually inexperienced people, and what it may mean for their future sex lives. The discussion in the USA, meanwhile, focuses upon that old American obsession – sexual morality. A growing area of concern is a potential link between porn use and infidelity – or whether porn usage itself constitutes infidelity.

Does Porn Cause Infidelity?

This is a vexed question, with no clear answer. Some would say that watching porn allows spouses who would otherwise seek sexual thrills elsewhere to gratify their urges without physical contact with another person.  Others claim that a porn habit can predict infidelity with reasonable accuracy. Ultimately, it probably depends upon the person, the nature of their relationship with porn, and their motivations for watching it.

Infidelity is a very common phenomenon – an estimated 30-60% of all married individuals will be unfaithful to their spouse at some point during their marriage. Should the infidelity be discovered, some people will try and make things work, try to patch up their relationships and move on. For others, it’s a burned bridge and there’s no going back. Ultimately, a lot depends upon the relationship of the couple in question.

Couples who openly watch porn, particularly if they do so together and incorporate it into their own sexual lives are perhaps less likely to commit porn-related infidelity than those who do not. However, there is some evidence to suggest that porn itself can influence the way in which a user views sex and relationships, which could set their moral compass awry when it comes to things like infidelity.

Dehumanization                                                                 

If you get too used to watching porn, it’s likely that sex acts will start to become trivialized in your mind. As NPR puts it, habitual porn users begin to view “as normal what was once considered repulsive or immoral”. More worryingly, the people carrying them out get dehumanized.

We all know that people get desensitized to sex due to porn to such an extent that libido and the ability to get aroused are greatly reduced. The flipside of this desensitization is that it can also result in people thinking that sex – however it happens – is not that big a deal.

A troubling study detailed by Dolf Zillman and Jennings Bryant noted that “massive exposure to pornography resulted in a loss of compassion towards women as rape victims and toward women in general”. Pornography had effectively trivialized sex and its practitioners to such an extent that the impact of the act and the humanity of the participants was lost.

Extrapolating from this, it can be seen how, when the opportunity to cheat on a partner presents itself, those with a prolific porn habit may be more likely to take it. They’re less used to viewing those from whom they get sexual kicks as fully human, and less likely to afford much emotional import to sexual acts. As such, they’re less likely to think of the impact upon their partner or their relationship if they have sex with someone else. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to some serious problems.

Porn Personalization

Another of the major questions facing Western society today is that of whether the act of watching porn itself constitutes infidelity. This is perhaps more relevant to American than to European audiences, as America is admittedly much more influenced by the puritanical streak of Christianity than most other nations (the Biblical proscription that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” rings a lot louder in America than elsewhere).

However, even with the Christian angle put aside, there are certain concerns which could be raised everywhere regarding porn as infidelity. For a start – where does one draw the line? Is watching free videos online infidelity? Perhaps not. Is going to video chat rooms and watching porn performers do their work live infidelity? That’s a bit less clear cut. What about paying a porn star to perform sexual acts purely for you, which you watch over video link from your own armchair? You’re not actually touching them, physically – but you’re still arguably enjoying sexual gratification from another person which you yourself have solicited. Is visiting a prostitute or rent boy infidelity? If so, then why is paying for remote services from a porn star not?

Of course, some partners may feel that something as simple as watching pre-filmed porn from a free site is infidelity, while others may think that a lack of emotional connection means that everything is fine, no matter how physical you get with someone else. Still others are quite happy to let as many people as they like into their relationship – it’s all a matter of perspective. However, in an age in which porn is becoming increasingly personalized to the individual viewer, it seems that the lines between what does and does not constitute infidelity in this arena are getting very blurred.

A Matter Of Perspective

That porn has an indelible effect upon the brain and the attitude we have towards sex has been admirably detailed elsewhere within this blog, so I shall not go into too much detail here. However, it certainly would seem that an extensive porn habit could feasibly prime someone to cheat on their partner. The trivialization of sex and the compulsive need to seek new thrills (perhaps due to desensitization) could lead to unfaithful behavior.

Whether or not porn viewing itself constitutes infidelity is a question for those couples affected and their personal morality – and their decision on this matter is not up for outside judgement. However, the changing and increasingly personalized nature of pornography means that more and more couples are likely to face difficult moral decisions and heartache due to pornography in the future.

About Brian

Brian overcame a long-standing addiction to Internet porn and fully recovered from serious porn-induced erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety. For more about Brian, see my story.

Speak Your Mind

*