Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | RELATIONSH­IPS - WORDS: JOANNE WIL­SON Joanne is a neuro-psy­chother­a­pist and re­la­tion­ship spe­cial­ist at The Con­fi­dante Coun­selling. Email jo@the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­ or visit www.the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­

We’re up to part three of the tribu­la­tions of in­fi­delity. Many peo­ple ask me if pornog­ra­phy is a con­tribut­ing cause and is it bad for re­la­tion­ships? This is an ex­tremely con­tro­ver­sial topic and al­ways will be. As a re­la­tion­ship ther­a­pist, I jour­ney with clients with­out judg­ment and re­spect their opin­ions and val­ues. With thanks to the con­tri­bu­tions on this topic to clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Clare Ro­so­man. Firstly, here are some in­ter­est­ing sta­tis­tics from Porn­hub. It is a porno­graphic video-shar­ing web­site and stated to be the largest pornog­ra­phy site but cer­tainly not the only one on the in­ter­net. The site at­tracted a to­tal of 28.5 bil­lion vis­i­tors in 2017 (around 81 mil­lion a day). The United States was the top coun­try by traf­fic. Australia maintained eighth place (in the face of ad­ver­sity of our ridicu­lously slow in­ter­net speed). The break­down of age groups are: 18-24: 30 per cent 25-34: 28 per cent 35-44: 18 per cent 45-54: 13 per cent 55-64: 7 per cent 65-plus: 4 per cent Fe­male users make up 26 per cent of world­wide Porn­hub traf­fic (Aus­tralian women make up 28 per cent of users.) Most fre­quent time for view­ing is be­tween 10pm and 1am. The most pop­u­lar day is Sun­day and the least pop­u­lar is Fri­day. The av­er­age length of view­ing time world­wide is about 10 min­utes. How­ever, this doesn’t ac­count for the num­ber of times per day. It’s a big prof­itable busi­ness. Over­all rev­enue is thought to be $13 bil­lion. Aus­tralian rev­enue is es­ti­mated at $2 bil­lion. Re­searchers Paul and Shim say the four main rea­sons for us­ing such ser­vices are for: Fan­tasy: sex­ual ex­cite­ment, sat­is­fac­tion, cu­rios­ity, ex­plo­ration and anonymity Mood man­age­ment: emo­tional reg­u­la­tion, stress re­lief, es­capism Ha­bit­ual use: habit and con­ve­nience Re­la­tion­ship: en­hance­ment, skills and nov­elty Some of the com­mon ef­fects of pornog­ra­phy use for those in a re­la­tion­ship are: Feel­ings of in­ter­nal con­flict such as shame, de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and ir­ri­tabil­ity. So­cial with­drawal and guilt over the fi­nan­cial out­lay With fre­quency, pornog­ra­phy can nor­malise and de­sen­si­tise as­so­ci­ated be­hav­iours that lead to the pur­suit of an­other per­son and pos­si­ble af­fair. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the part­ner not in­volved in the pornog­ra­phy may view it as a be­trayal to the re­la­tion­ship. Not only can the part­ner feel sex­u­ally in­ad­e­quate and threat­ened by pornog­ra­phy use but also find cer­tain new sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties ob­jec­tion­able. A new “sex­ual script” can be in­tro­duced and not wel­comed. Risqué images can start as en­ter­tain­ment, may es­ca­late to com­pul­sions then dis­torted be­liefs, ex­pec­ta­tions and ad­dic­tions. The user faces dif­fi­culty be­com­ing sex­u­ally aroused with­out pornog­ra­phy. They can lose in­ter­est and en­gage in fewer sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ences with their part­ner. Emo­tional close­ness wanes due to a de­crease in trust and pornog­ra­phy can be as­so­ci­ated with dis­hon­esty. Is there any ben­e­fit for re­la­tion­ships? Some stud­ies say it is not harm­ful and pos­i­tive, while oth­ers say it is detri­men­tal. The dif­fer­ence lies in how the ques­tions are asked and who you ask. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple in ca­sual re­la­tion­ships are far less likely to have a prob­lem with it than those in long-term re­la­tion­ships who have built a life to­gether. Re­search has found that mu­tual use of porn was re­lated to lower lev­els of dis­tress but un­re­lated to re­la­tion­ship sat­is­fac­tion in women. Some say that cou­ples us­ing porn to­gether found it eas­ier to dis­cuss sex­ual wants and fan­tasies with their part­ners and had higher re­la­tion­ship sat­is­fac­tion. Not sur­pris­ingly, peo­ple who only viewed porn with their part­ner re­ported more ded­i­ca­tion and higher sex­ual sat­is­fac­tion than those who viewed it alone. Con­sis­tent re­sults across stud­ies show the greater the dis­crep­ancy be­tween part­ners in at­ti­tudes to­wards porn, the greater the neg­a­tive im­pact on the re­la­tion­ship. Most dis­crep­an­cies in­volve a male part­ner us­ing more pornog­ra­phy than the fe­male, which low­ers her re­la­tion­ship sat­is­fac­tion re­duces pos­i­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cre­ates in­sta­bil­ity, more re­la­tional ag­gres­sion and lower fe­male sex­ual de­sire. In sum­mary, can it lead to af­fairs? Yes, but not al­ways. Is it good for your re­la­tion­ship? Ask your part­ner.

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