Porn Might Have More Negative Effects on Men Than Women (Go Figure)

Mar 17, 2017 at 5:52 p.m. ET
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Porn is a much-discussed topic, especially when it comes to relationships. Does it help them? Hurt them? Have no effect at all? Well, it turns out that while watching porn can cause men to be less happy in relationships, the same doesn't hold true for women according to a large new meta-analysis published in the journal Human Communication Research. (Men struggling in areas where women seem to do just fine — such is the case in most of life, right? Kidding.)

The researchers performed a meta-analysis of 50 studies involving 50,000 participants in different countries. Some participants were asked questions about their porn habits, while others were shown X-rated material in a lab setting (yeah, awkward). Ultimately, the researchers aimed to find out how porn impacted relationship and sexual satisfaction, and the answers among the sexes were clearly divided, with men feeling worse about their relationships and unhappier in general, while porn had zero negative effects on women whatsoever.

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According to the research, it's all about how we watch porn. Generally, men watch most of their porn alone, while women are more likely to watch it with a partner. This may be why men find themselves feeling more disconnected from their partner as a result of porn, whereas women get the benefits of a shared experience and feeling more intimate.

It's interesting — and gratifying — that the study's findings contradict the myth that women don't enjoy porn because it makes us feel bad about ourselves. That may be true for some women, but not for most. Many women are perfectly able to separate porn from reality and don't experience negative or distorted views of sex just from watching an unrealistic fantasy scenario.

It seems that while women should still be mindful of porn consumption because so much of it is made unethically and has misogynistic overtones, the good news is that most of us don't have to worry too much about porn messing with our own relationship happiness. (Though, if you're worried porn might be getting your male partner down, you might want to forward him this article.)

More: What everyday men and women really think of porn

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