I often get letters from men whose female partners take issue with their consumption of online pornography or from women who don’t like the fact that their guy looks at online porn while in a relationship. Usually, their objection is something along the lines of: “Why does he need that if he has me? Am I not enough?” Or they feel he must have an unhealthy attitude towards women if he buys into this stuff because it’s unrealistic and degrading to women.

I agree that most porn is unrealistic. But one could argue that that is part of its charm. It’s all about fantasy. As for being degrading to women, well, that’s up for argument. Like any industry, there are undoubtedly bad labour practices. And, in an industry so morally reviled by our culture, forcing it to remain mostly under the radar, chances are, injustices are a little higher. But, I’ve met many women who are perfectly happy working in the biz. Honest.

As such, unless it’s interfering with your relationship, I think viewing online porn is mostly harmless But, what if you start to feel like he’d rather spend time with playing his computer mouse searching online porn than playing with you? Can viewing too much internet porn become another form of cheating?

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Crossing the cheating line
Determining what behaviour crosses the cheating line is certainly subjective. While most men and women would agree that any kind of sexually physical contact clearly crosses the line, the line gets fuzzier when you get into behaviour that doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact with another human being.

In my books, sexy online chatting with someone else is cheating. It seems pretty basic. You’re talking dirty with someone else and both likely getting off on it. Just because you can’t see each other, it doesn’t absolve you of guilt. It’s pretty much the same as if he brought another woman home and then lay beside each other and talked dirty while masturbating. And, as far as I’m concerned, talking dirty and masturbating with someone else, whether live or over the Internet, is cheating.

But can simply watching online porn be considered cheating? I certainly wouldn’t think my husband was cheating on me if he was watching online porn, especially if I knew about it, or better yet, did it with him. Then again, if he was watching so much porn that it was interfering with our relationship, that would be a problem.

Too much of a good thing
And therein lies the rub. Ultimately, cheating is less about engaging in certain activities and more about why you’re engaging in the activity. If you’re going to strip clubs to avoid your relationship, then, yes, I guess that could be construed as you being unfaithful to your relationship. It also depends on whether your partner knows about the behaviour. As far as I’m concerned, any intimate behaviour that is engaged in on a regular basis without your partner knowing about it and being okay with it is cheating.

Still struggling with the idea of porn?
If you’re someone who struggles with your partner’s casual use of pornography, there are a couple of good books out there that might help you work out some of the conflicting feelings you have about porn. These books get into the history of porn and talk about the emotional and physical reactions one might have to porn. They also list videos that depict more realistic looking women and genuine female pleasure. Good Vibrations Guide to Adult Videos and The Ultimate Guide to Adult Videos [goodvibes.com]
The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn by Violet Blue (cleispress.com).

Information is current as of the original date of publication.
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