The lack of sex education is a real issue in our country, so often people turn to pornography to learn about sex, which doesn’t actually help our understanding of sex nor our relationships. In this episode, we’re diving deep into the topic of pornography and its impact on our understanding of sex and relationships. We’ll discuss why pornography isn’t a great way to learn about sex, the misconceptions and myths it perpetuates, and the potential problems it can create in our sexual relationships. While pornography is a common form of sexual entertainment, it’s not a reliable or healthy source of sexual education.
A few weeks ago I saw a post by an account I follow on Instagram that focuses on sex. The post said “The fact that porn has become a substitute for sex ed for so many people speaks to deficiencies in our education system. Porn isn’t the root of the problem. Inadequate sex education is the real issue.” – Justin J Lehmiller
I agree that sex education is a real issue in our country. We just don’t get the education in school or at home that we need and so many often turn to porn for that sex education. And porn is not a good substitute for a comprehensive sex education.
Today we’re diving deep into the topic of pornography and its impact on our understanding of sex and relationships. In this episode, we’ll discuss why pornography isn’t a great way to learn about sex, the misconceptions and myths it perpetuates, and the potential problems it can create in our sexual relationships.
Let’s begin by addressing the question, “Why isn’t pornography a great way to learn about sex?”
Pornography, though widely consumed, isn’t an accurate representation of real-world sexual experiences. Here are a few reasons why:
- Unrealistic Expectations: Pornography often showcases sexual encounters that are far from realistic. The actors in porn are selected for their physical appearance and sexual prowess, which doesn’t reflect the diversity of real people. This can lead viewers to believe that certain physical attributes or sexual desires and abilities are the norm when, in fact, they are not.
- Focusing Solely on Physical Pleasure: In porn, the primary focus is on physical pleasure, often emphasizing climax as the ultimate goal. While pleasure is a crucial aspect of sex, it’s just one component of a broader spectrum of sexual experiences. Emotional connection, intimacy, and communication are equally important, if not more so. And sex doesn’t end when he has an orgasm.
- Limited Body Types and Performances: Pornography tends to depict a narrow range of body types and sexual performances. This can create unrealistic beauty standards, causing individuals who don’t fit these ideals to feel self-conscious or inadequate about their bodies or spouse’s to expect their partner to look and act like a porn star, thinking it’s normal.
- Consent and Boundaries: Consent and clear communication about boundaries are fundamental in real-world sexual experiences. However, porn often blurs the lines between fantasy and reality when it comes to consent. In some scenarios, explicit consent may not be shown, which can send the wrong message about what’s acceptable behavior in sexual encounters.
Now, let’s explore some of the misconceptions that people can learn from pornography:
- Duration and Stamina: Porn often portrays sex that lasts for extended periods with seemingly endless stamina. In reality, most sexual encounters are not marathon sessions, and most people have varying levels of endurance. Sexual encounters can often be much shorter than depicted in porn. Understanding and accepting these variations is essential for a healthy sex life. It’s also important to understand that variations in duration are perfectly normal.
According to a 2005 study asked participants to time sex from penetration through male ejaculation. Within their very limited parameters, the study found that reports ranged from 33 seconds to 44 minutes, with the average session lasting 5.4 minutes.
- Instant Arousal: In porn, characters are instantly aroused and ready for sex at a moment’s notice. Real-life sexual desire doesn’t work this way for everyone. People have different triggers, and it’s normal for arousal to require time, context, and emotional connection. For example, most women need about 20 minutes of non-genital touch to be warmed up enough to even want their genitals touched. Then it’s another 20ish minutes to orgasm. That is not what is depicted in porn and can set couples up for expectations that just aren’t realistic, often thinking that something is wrong, when it’s actually not.
- Perfect Bodies: The actors in pornography often have idealized, flawless bodies, which can set unrealistic standards for beauty. Many individuals don’t naturally conform to these ideals, and feeling inadequate due to body image issues can hinder one’s self-esteem and sexual confidence.
You’ll also often find actors with larger than normal penises, often making men feel inadequate for their very normal sized penis. The average erect penis in America is 5.6 inches.
- Performance Pressure: Watching porn can lead to performance anxiety, as individuals may feel pressured to perform like the actors they see on screen. This pressure can hinder relaxation and enjoyment during intimate moments, making it difficult to connect with a partner on a deeper level. And often, if their partner isn’t acting like the actors do, they feel like they aren’t into it or aren’t enjoying it.
Understanding that sex isn’t always perfect, and it’s totally normal to have awkward and fun moments during sex.
Now, let’s discuss the problems that can arise in sexual relationships when individuals rely on pornography as their primary source of sexual education:
- Communication Breakdown: When couples base their expectations on porn, they may not effectively communicate their desires, needs, or boundaries. This lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, dissatisfaction, and even conflicts in the bedroom.
- Decreased Intimacy: Relying solely on pornography can create a divide between partners, leading to a decreased sense of intimacy and emotional connection. Real intimacy involves more than just physical acts; it encompasses trust, emotional connection, and vulnerability.
- Sex becomes transactional: Pornography often portrays sex as a physical transaction. She does something for him and he does something for her. And while transactional sex definitely exists in marriages, it’s not ideal and often creates a lack of intimacy.
So, what are some alternatives to pornography for learning about sex and enhancing your sexual relationship?
- Open and Honest Communication: Start by having open and honest conversations with your partner(s) about your desires, boundaries, and expectations. This is the foundation of a healthy sexual relationship.
- Sex Education Resources: Seek out reputable sex education resources, such as this podcast, books, articles, workshops, and retreats, that provide accurate information about sexual health and relationships.
- Therapy or Coaching: If you’re experiencing difficulties in your sexual relationship, consider seeking the guidance of a trained coach or therapist who specializes in sexual issues. Just a word of warning, most therapists don’t get much training on sex. Maybe 1 class is all. So if you want to look for a therapist, look for one that is Aasect Certified, and you can find those on Aasect.org.
While pornography is a common form of sexual entertainment, it’s not a reliable or healthy source of sexual education. It can perpetuate unrealistic expectations, hinder communication, and create problems in your sexual relationships. It’s essential to seek accurate information, engage in open communication, and prioritize emotional intimacy for a fulfilling and satisfying sex life.
If unwanted porn use is part of your marriage, please consider getting some coaching for both of you.