Is Looking at Porn Cheating?

Is Looking at Porn Cheating?

neglected in bedAs a couple’s counselor specializing in intimacy counseling, I have been asked many times if I think that looking at, and/or watching, porn is considered cheating. With internet pornography being so widely available, it makes sense that I get this question often from both men and women.

Ultimately it is up to you, and ideally you as a couple. You need to come to your own conclusions on whether viewing pornography is cheating. I encourage you to have an open and honest dialogue with your partner concerning your feelings and comfort level around pornography, and together come up with a mutual agreement on what is and is not cheating as defined by you both!
However, because pornography is often watched in secret, these conversations do not come organically to most couples. So if you are asking yourself this question, I encourage you to consider the questions and thoughts below to help you both come to your own conclusions around porn and cheating.

Ask Yourself These Questions about Porn

  • If your partner does not know that you look at or watch porn, ask yourself how you think they would feel about it. Would they feel upset or excited? Would they feel closer to you knowing this, or would they pull away?
  • How would you feel if your partner told you that they watched porn? Would you consider it cheating?
  • What is the reasoning behind why you keep it a secret? Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed? If so, where does this come from? How secure do you feel in your relationship?
  • Do you find yourself justifying to yourself why it is OK to keep it a secret? Do you find yourself justifying other behaviors in your life?
  • What type of effect has pornography had on your sex life both privately and with your partner?
  • Does watching porn take away from time you could be spending with your partner? Do you prioritize porn? Do you prioritize your partner?

secretsSecrets Cause Disconnect

When working with couple’s around porn use, a common complaint is “I just wish they had told me.” It is the secrecy that can be most damaging to the relationship. When you keep secrets from your partner concerning porn, it send messages like “you’re not a safe person in my life,” and “you may not love me if you knew I watched this.” For the person who is left in the dark, those messages are often “if you watch porn, then you must not be satisfied with the sex we have” or “now I feel pressure to have porn-style sex and I can’t live up to that!” These messages you tell yourself often do not result in feeling more connected to your partner. Instead they lead to insecurity, both within yourself and within your relationship.

Sex is a Vulnerable Topic

Sex is already a vulnerable topic for most couples. And secrets around sexual practices can be very damaging to the security of your relationship. This is when open and honest communication is so vital to the overall health of your relationship. Being honest with your partner about why you enjoy porn, what type of porn you enjoy and the frequency in which you watch porn can be a scary but rewarding conversation to have with your partner. Often for couples it is the secrecy that feels dirty, not so much the pornography. If you find it too difficult to initiate the conversation on your own, I encourage you to reach out to a sex-positive therapist, like myself, to help facilitate a conversation that is safe and could result in you both feeling more connected to one another! Good luck!

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Etta Skoch is a marriage counselor who specializes in couples counseling, intimacy counseling and LGBTQ counseling.

6 Responses to Is Looking at Porn Cheating?

  1. 1)I told my husband from the get-go, its cheating in my book; he is factually seeking sexual forfillment outside our bedroom, Its insulting to me, it makes me fill not food enough,for him.
    2) several yrs ago, I discovered his secretly, renting pon on my cable acct. I repeated why I dont aprove of it.
    3) After 10,yrs & maried to this guy, I just got into a fight ,over rwcently discovering him doung it again.
    * His,sexual abilities are well intact.

    Sincwrly,
    Carol Roy

  2. I really am confused now..I have been with my boyfriend for some years now. We do not live together.and so we get away on the weekends to be together.i just walked into our hotel room..he left the door open accidentally.uh oh..anyway..I went on in and he jumped up pulling his pants up and there was a blonde girl(porn) on tv and he was masterbating…I walked in and said ..hmmmm..busted..oh so I’m not enough? That’s what I feel..maybe we should not be together if I don’t fulfill him..what do I do? I’m shaking inside and out..I love him but I don’t know what to do….

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