Do you or your partner watch porn? If so, you’re among the many people in the country who do.

The pornography industry is one of the biggest in the country generating $13 billion each year. Many people – both men and women – watch it. One study found that the vast majority of men watch porn at some point in their life. About 30% of porn viewers are women.

Regardless of gender, it brings up a good question – is watching porn considered cheating?

Kathleen wasn’t worried about this until recently. She has been with her partner for seven years and he has always watched porn. It never bothered her until a group of her friends brought it up. She says, “There was a debate and some of my girlfriends felt that watching porn is unacceptable if you are in a relationship. They believe this is a form of cheating. This made me feel anxious. I never thought of my partner as a “cheater.” Can you please give me advice on porn? Do you think it’s a form of cheating on your partner?

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My advice: There is no definitive yes or no answer to this question. It’s subjective. Consider how it affects your relationship before you decide if it feels unfaithful or not.

Kathleen’s girlfriends probably feel that intimacy shouldn’t be shared in any capacity while in a relationship. Or, they might worry that their partner will get caught up in the fantasy world of porn, making it harder to get excited when it’s time to be intimate.

On the other hand, others may not be concerned about their partner watching porn. Instead, they might find that the fantasy world of porn inspires and may also satisfy their partner particularly, if they have a stronger sex drive.

Neither side is right or wrong.

In some cases, porn can help relationships by inspiring sexual experimentation and discussion. Many of my male clients have said that they felt watching porn is not necessarily about lusting over the people but using it to get excited. They compare this to the way women use romance novels to get excited.

Here are the main questions to focus on when trying to distinguish what’s best for your relationship:

• How do you feel about your relationship? 
• Are you and your partner satisfied with your sex life? 
• Is your partner turning outside of your relationship to meet a need that should be met within the relationship? 
• Has your partner become dependent on porn or does s/he watch it more often than you two are intimate?

These are revealing questions that can help you gauge whether porn is a problem in your relationship or not.

If you and your partner have a satisfying sex life and are happy in your relationship, watching porn now and then probably isn’t a concern. However, if you’re struggling with intimacy and your partner is watching porn more often than you’re being intimate, you might need to address this issue with your partner.

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