Why Does My Partner Watch Porn?

Answers to all the questions you've ever wanted to ask about your relationships

Wow, folks... well it's challenging to see an upside among all your comments, but I am glad that you care so much. The idea for this column came from the fact that since day one, we've always done some off topic and even weird stuff that works into the personal life of the home AND I really loved meeting Evie and hearing all of her frank answers to sticky questions. I want you all to know that you are all HEARD, loud and clear, and I'll definitely think about where we take this weekend column in the future. We don't want to turn people off, but we do want to stretch the boundaries of how we cover the life of our home. Thanks again so much for all of your comments. There are some really memorable zingers in there. :-)

Best, Maxwell

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Q. Why does my partner watch porn? We have a passionate sex life...I don't understand why I'm not enough...

Welcome to a new weekly column by the our own, super experienced professional in this home area, Evie Cohen. FYI, she is also a grandmother, so she's seen a lot.

A. The content of pornographic movies and books is self-centered sex unhindered by love or romance. It allows your partner to feel released to experience pure pleasure.

We are all different in what triggers our desires - or is our default "turn on". Sometimes it's our partner, sometimes a smell, favorite scene in a book, or a memory. Lots of men and women like to arouse themselves by reading or watching pornography. For them porn is the default turn on.

In a romantic relationship, we like to think that we are the exclusive turn on for our partner. So the question becomes, why does the porn bother you? Are you bothered that you're not the exclusive source of arousal? Over time it's not realistic to believe that there is only one source of arousal for your partner. This could be called obsessive behavior, and generally not the way human sexuality works. A more realistic expectation is to WANT to be the only object or outlet for that passion.

On the other hand, for some people porn is a turn off.

They may watch it once or twice to see what's all about, but it bores them, and it begins to make sex boring. Or it may disgust them, for all kinds of political religious and moral reasons. But they don't want to risk making their partner feel bad by making a conflict out of it. Or they don't want their partner to feel guilty by branding behavior as bad. People who have a porn prone partner may feel frustrated.

If they ignore everything will it feel alienating? Will an emotional charge be missing from lovemaking?

Perhaps, but it may be worth it to maintain a loving relationship.

If we talk about our disgust or boredom, will we make things worse by making our partners and ourselves feel badly? Maybe, but if it does, remember that talking doesn't mean winning or losing. Instead it means talking about yourself and why the porn bothers you. You may need assurances that you are a source of passion for your partner. You are entitled to your needs too, and may want to set some limitations, for example, "don't watch when I'm around," or "focus on me during sex."

Discussion will most likely bring some change and experimentation with other means of arousal that are mutually more satisfying.

- Evie Cohen

Author of Couple Fits, psychotherapist and marriage counselor in New York City

(Image: Man in Bedroom via Shutterstock)

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.