Is porn cheating? Or is porn a reasonable choice?
Men looking at porn on the internet, and increasingly women too, has become a regular occurrence by many. But what does that mean for a relationship? Is porn cheating if it's looked at so much?
In considering that question there are a few things to think about. Is it something watched together or alone? Are both partners aware that porn is being used in their relationship, or is one partner watching in secret? Do both partners understand and accept the impact that porn is having on their relationship? Most don’t.
The fact is that porn is almost always watched alone and secretly. So does the secrecy make porn cheating? People will argue that since it’s all on a screen it isn’t in the same as an affair or cheating. But others will say that it’s sexual pleasure being derived by another person (or people) outside the relationship so, virtual or not, it’s still cheating.
Whether we recognize it or not, looking at porn has a big, negative effect on us and our relationships. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to see that effect until it is too late. It seems innocent enough -- no one is really getting hurt, right? Wrong. Regular porn viewers become desensitized to normal sexual experiences which changes the sexual relationship with their current or future partners.
Here are a couple of ways porn harms us and our partners. Porn gives a high that is very addictive, leading to the need for more and more in order to feel satisfied. Women can become especially hurt by their partners who watch porn. Female porn stars are paid to behave as they do on screen -- they are actors of male fantasies and not representative of most normal female behavior in bed. Watching porn can create unreal expectations and when these expectations aren’t met there is disappointment, disconnect and a breakdown in intimacy.
Many people struggle answering the question "is porn cheating?" Ultimately, each person has to decide for themselves. But if your relationship is suffering because porn has negatively affected it, such as with secrecy and deception, it certainly fits into the problem category if nothing else.
Renowned psychologist Dr. Phil addressed the subject of porn as cheating. Here are his thoughts from the article Is Internet Pornography Cheating? to help you in answering the question for yourself:
Internet pornography is a growing trend that has many people worried about their relationships. Is it cheating? And is it a "normal guy thing"?Here's what Dr. Phil believes [emphasis added]:
- It is not OK behavior. It is a perverse and ridiculous intrusion into your relationship. It is an insult, it is disloyal and it is cheating.
- Consider how it makes your partner feel. If it makes your partner feel ugly, hurt, deceived, lied to or inadequate, then it needs to stop. If it is eroding your relationship, it's gone too far.
- Pornography isn't real, it's a fantasy. It's makeup, beauty lenses, hair extensions, camera angles, lighting and silicone! It's also somebody's daughter who has taken a really, really wrong turn. She's demeaning herself, debasing herself, humiliating herself and she's being exploited by people who are funded by you. It is a sick, demented, twisted world. It's not healthy, it's not natural and it's not normal.
- Viewing internet pornography or engaging in cybersex is a short step to taking cheating to the next level.
- You need to tell your partner that viewing pornography is absolutely, unequivocally unacceptable in your relationship. Draw a line: Your partner needs to choose between the pornography or the relationship.
Ask yourself or your partner:
- Would you do it with your partner standing right there?
- Are you turning outside of your relationship to meet a need that should be met within the relationship? You can't change what you don't acknowledge, so find out if you or your partner have a problem.
- Do you justify the behavior by saying, "It's harmless," "Everyone does it," or "It's just the internet"?
- Does it intrude on your relationship?
- Which is more important: pornography or your relationship?
So what do you think -- is porn cheating? Opinions will vary and that’s understandable. But be careful not to go to the easiest conclusion and accept many people’s belief that there's nothing wrong with looking at porn.
You will need to decide for yourself if porn is normal and how you feel about it as an influence in your relationship. It’s okay to reject it and place it in the cheating category if it makes you feel betrayed. If this is the case, however, you will need to have a frank and open conversation with your partner.
Porn is a very difficult topic to talk about, especially with your partner. Get the guidance and understanding of an expert in counseling men, experienced in dealing with porn addiction to assist you if you believe porn is cheating and it has become a stumbling block in your relationship. You may need professional assistance in changing your behavior if looking at porn has become a habit you want to stop, and you want to learn how to effectively talk to your partner about porn as well.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on July 3, 2012 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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