Does Watching Porn Ruin Your Sex Life? 7 Ways It Affects Your Relationship, According To Science

There are a lot of people with strong opinions on how porn affects relationships. On the one side, there are those who are totally pro-porn and say it does great things for your sex life, from helping you get in the mood to giving you new ideas to try. On the other side, there are those who say porn makes people less interested in their real-life partners and could even amount to cheating. As usual, the truth is more nuanced than “porn is good for your relationship” or “porn is bad for your relationship.” Instead, its effect depends on who you are, who your partner is, and how you’re using porn.

One generalization we probably can make is that porn will hurt your sex life if you view it as sex ed. “The issue is not porn,” Make Love Not Porn creator Cindy Gallup tells Bustle. “The issue is this total absence in our society of an open honest healthy conversation around sex in the real world, which if it were had, people would then bring a real world mind set when they view what is essentially artificial entertainment.”

We can also say with some certainty that our culture’s fear of porn is overblown. Sex researcher Nicole Prause, Ph.D. tells Bustle that people have come to her with worries about porn addiction when in reality, their porn habits were totally normal and healthy. Whether your porn habits are helping or hurting your relationship, chances are they don’t indicate any underlying pathology.

If we put moral beliefs aside and look at the research, here’s how porn can actually affect our relationships and sex lives.