Anxiety over the effects of extensive porn-watching is not something altogether new, but it does beg the question, what are the negative effects?
Men’s Health’s article “Is Porn Bumming You Out?” by reporter Kiera Aaron explores the link between viewing porn and depression. The article highlights the results of a recent study that included 500 subjects who were asked to complete a survey on the importance of pornography in their lives, their thoughts on personal health and feelings of depression. The study concluded that those who watched porn on a regular basis took more days off from work and admitted to feelings of depression compared to those who watched porn very rarely, if at all.
Co-author of the study Dr. Duane McBride, professor at Andrews University, told Men’s Health that porn may be a cause of mental health problems because of the isolation it involves, but admits that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between the two. Rather, as the article’s writer puts it, “porn might not cause isolation but rather be a symptom of isolation—meaning those who are already antisocial tend to rely more on pornography.”
To find out how Concordia’s students feel, The Concordian spoke with students Chris Herbert and Melissa Park.
Herbert agreed that sometimes porn made him feel depressed and admitted to only watching it in a positive state of mind. “Masturbation is not a substitute for actual sex,” he said. “It will often make me feel lonelier afterwards.”
Both students agreed that porn served as a good educator and felt it never diminished their sex lives. If anything, Herbert said he believes porn has helped him appreciate his partners more. “I’ve learned a lot about how much better real-life sex with a real person can be,” he added.
So let us look at the effects of porn if we were to remove the isolation factor.
A Norwegian study observed relations between couples and porn habits. Hands down, the most dysfunctional relationships were the ones where only one member used it. Surprisingly, the most satisfied couples were the ones who both incorporated it into their sex lives and shared the experience with one another. Researchers found these couples were more capable of communicating their fantasies to one another, experimenting and being open minded when romping around between the sheets.
A study done in the University of Denver also concluded that couples who are open about, and even join their partner in their x-rated movie nights, are more likely to keep relationships going strong.
McBride agreed, saying that “experts believe that face-to-face social interactions improve mood and perceptions of physical health while social isolation has the opposite effect.”
The application of the open-porn relationship expressed in the Norwegian survey, however, seems easier said than done.
“I’ve never watched porn on a regular basis with a partner,” said Herbert, adding that this was because his partners were not interested in watching it. Park, however, said her experiences have been mixed among partners.
“One boyfriend was really not cool with [porn],” she said. “Others were a lot more receptive and adventuresome.” She also echoed the importance of a partner’s personal preference on the topic.
“I’ve talked about it pretty openly with past partners,” she said, “but it really depends on how they feel about it.”
According to the studies, the bottom line seems to be intimacy and connection, something Herbert and Park both feel is most important.
“My relationship with porn definitely affected myself personally, but never my relationships in a direct way,” said Herbert.
In moderation, and with the right partner, porn can be just thing to strengthen your relationship and get a little kinky. On the other hand, it is advisable to watch porn only in a positive emotional state, because if not you might risk feeling lonely and depressed afterwards.
Names of the students interviewed have been changed to protect privacy.