December 14, 2017 at 4:14 pm EDT | by Michael Radkowsky
The porn problem?
porn, gay news, Washington Blade

Porn has its charms, but it can also have some pitfalls.

Michael,
 
I feel like porn is ruining my sex life.
 
Ed and I have been together 15 years. OK, the sex does get kind of rote after awhile. We’re monogamous so sometimes I would look at porn on my own for something new and exciting. I knew Ed was doing the same thing. At some point we started jerking off together occasionally while watching. Before long porn became a regular part of sex with us. Meaning we’d use it to get aroused and then focus on each other.
 
But over the last few years we’ve stopped the “focusing on each other” part. A lot of times sex is just jerking each other off while our eyes are on the screen. Even when we’re having oral sex or intercourse we’ll be watching something.
 
I noticed recently that we don’t even come unless we’re focused on the porn. I didn’t like this realization and tried to see if I could come without looking at the porn, but I couldn’t. I had to play a hot scene in my head to actually get off. I feel like we’re just using each other’s bodies to get off to the fantasy we’re watching.
 
I think this is seriously messed up and want to stop. Ed disagrees. I wonder if he no longer wants to be exclusive but am afraid to ask. What should we do?

Michael replies:

Porn has its charms, but as you’ve discovered, it can also have some pitfalls.

With infinite variety instantly available, porn can give us exactly what we’re looking for and can always offer something new, making it potentially more exciting than a real-life person, especially if that person is our partner. So we may get more aroused more easily by a screen than by the person next to us.

Getting off to a hot scene can be a lot less complicated than having sex with another person.  We don’t have to deal with their imperfections or our imperfections, judgment around turn-ons and turn-offs, not having things be exactly the way we’d like, the boredom of routine, or the physical and emotional closeness. Closeness can be scary, even if it also can feel good.

Of course, some people do just fine with watching porn and having good, connected sex with a partner, if that’s what they are looking for. But you’re saying that porn leaves you feeling unable to connect to your partner, so pay attention to your concern.

Stopping your porn watching can help you let go of intrusive images and fantasies over time.  Focus on staying present during sex and on re-building a feeling of connection to Ed. You can start by keeping your eyes open, looking into Ed’s eyes and tuning in to the sensations in your body when you touch.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to come, as that will make you more anxious and less in-the-moment. Just enjoy what is happening between you.

You’ve got a problem, though, if you and Ed aren’t in agreement about taking porn out of your joint sex life. I get it that he enjoys watching porn while having sex with you, but if you tell him that you’re feeling disconnected as a result and want to focus exclusively on the two of you, what are his reasons for balking?

While you say that you’re afraid to pursue this question, it is where you need to go. Can you talk to Ed, not to change his mind but to understand his reasoning? If not, a therapist who specializes in relationship counseling can help you develop your ability to have difficult conversations.

One more thing:  I’m wondering if the standoff you are in where one of you says “no” to the other’s important request is only happening around this particular issue, or is a regular feature of your relationship. In either case, couples counseling could help the two of you get better at collaborating with each other, including collaborating on making sex between just the two of you more close and connected.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

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