Dr. Stephen Petteruti shares how mutual porn watching can support deeper erotic intimacy.
There’s nothing quite as fun and wholesome as a night at home watching movies. Get that fire going, pop-up some popcorn, then plug-in your favorite pornographic movie. See how long you can watch until passion overwhelms you and the movie becomes simple background noise to the real thing.
Pornography can be part of the tapestry of a couple’s healthy sexual life. Through the use of pornography we can safely explore our sexual interests, our turn-ons and our turn-offs. We can stretch the boundaries of our sexual relationship learning new ways to keep things alive and fresh. But what happens if your interest in pornography starts to displace your interest in your partner? How does this occur, and what could be done about it? There is a continuum of self-stimulation and the use of erotic literature and videos. At one end, its occasional use can be supportive to healthy relationship balance, at the other end it becomes destructive.
First I’d like to highlight some positive uses of self-stimulation and pornography. If for whatever reason your partner is unavailable, perhaps he’s physically incapacitated, perhaps she is away on a military deployment; in circumstances like this physical needs can be safely met without causing harm to the relationship through the use of fantasy and self-stimulation. While a broad range of fantasy can enhance arousal, it is my recommendation that in these circumstances you frequently insert your partner into the imaginary play. This will help to reinforce your partner’s presence as a co-factor in your own stimulation.
While this approach represents a healthy balance, in other cases, things can go off the rails a bit. Many people find that masturbation affords them a more intense orgasm. This is a known fact. While masturbating, you don’t have to be distracted by concerns about your partner, about how you look, about the intensity of physical stimulation. You are in control of all the variables.
This control can lead to a fairly intense orgasm; oftentimes intensity of that orgasm will exceed the intensity of an orgasm that occurs with your partner. Such an outcome is not an indictment of the relationship. Therefore you should not interpret orgasmic intensity as a barometer of relationship viability.
If you find masturbation to be more intense than sex with your partner, this is most likely normal. However if you afford yourself frequent exposure to pornography and masturbation, the intensity of the experience can grow and impose on the health of your relationship. Seeking time away from your partner so you can masturbate or watch pornography is a sign of developing trouble in your sexual life. If left unchecked, this pattern can lead to a preference for masturbation over couple’s intimacy. At its most extreme, sexual arousal or orgasm in the presence of your partner becomes difficult if not impossible.
If you find yourself currently at this extreme, it would be wise to seek some professional counseling. Admitting to your partner that you are no longer sexually aroused by her can be devastating and do irreparable harm to the relationship if not handled delicately.
The underlying motive for isolating sexual behavior can be summed up as a lack of trust.
You may find it hard to believe that anybody could embrace you and all of your sexual weirdness if they knew everything that you were thinking and doing. The only way out of this box is to take the risk of being open. You are likely to find that by disclosing your dark sexual secrets, it actually builds and enhances relationship eroticism.
The best way to disclose sensitive and intimate details of your person hood is incrementally over time. In the proper setting share with your partner something relatively innocuous, but new to him. Perhaps you could phrase it in this manner, “Sometimes when you’re not around I get aroused thinking about ….” This can open the topic up and allow for further disclosure. If you’re met with acceptance, that’s a green light to proceed. If your partner recoils in horror or disgust you may need couples counseling to move forward, otherwise you’ll retreat into private eroticism and your relationship will erode.
In the course of this gradual disclosure, you should consciously limit your private exposure to pornography and limit your use of masturbation while you continue to nurture sexual exploration within your relationship. Invite your partner into your erotic world. Yes, this can be a leap of faith requiring great trust, but isn’t it better then hiding who and what you are?
If you’re loved and valued, this process will be embraced.
One game to help facilitate this type of opening up is for both of you to take index cards and write out sexual fantasies. When you’re done, swap the cards and read them. You can then reflect upon the degree of interest you have in each others fantasies. The end objective is to have your partner become a joyful participant in the full range of your sexual interests. This can even include the honest disclosure that it is difficult to achieve orgasm in the context of traditional intercourse.
I have known many couples who use masturbation in order to achieve climax after having very satisfying sexual contact together. Achieving orgasm through penetration, despite Hollywood’s depictions, is not the only way to enjoy sexuality as a couple. Encouraging the act of mutual masturbation, or even enjoying the pleasure of watching your partner masturbate to climax both require enormous degrees of trust and confidence and are signs of a well-grounded relationship.
Physical intimacy is part of the glue that holds relationships together. Building trust requires fearless honesty and a willingness to open yourself up to possible rejection and pain, but the odds are stacked in your favor for a blissful outcome if you take that risk.
To your best health,
Dr. Stephen Petteruti