real life

When you're in a relationship, is watching porn cheating?

In the “naughty crowd” of four-letter sex words, porn divides opinion like its pal ‘anal’ and has the shock value of its friend ‘c**t’. But it has no letters in common with cheating.

Earlier this year, my boyfriend had lower back surgery that left him bed-bound for two months and sent our sex life on sabbatical, destination: chastity. Of the many things he couldn’t risk doing, boning was up there with breakdancing.

 Is it wrong to be getting off to someone if they aren’t your partner?

During the first week, his medication was so numbing that not even a visit from Victoria’s Secret angels in nurse uniforms could have raised an erection. The other seven weeks were an exercise in how not to die of frustration, and two things got him through: completing Playstation games, which occupied his hands for most of his time awake, and watching porn, which occupied his hands for less time – but probably had an even more satisfying completion rate.

You might also like: A letter to my son about porn.

I told this to a friend who enquired how he was getting along. Concerned, she asked if I minded.

I said yes: Playstation games cost $68 each and she wouldn’t believe the rate he was getting through them.

That, of course, wasn’t the aspect of my boyfriend’s regression into teenage-boy behaviour that she was uncomfortable with. Internet forums are awash with porn-related debates that move beyond the industry’s ethics, into how personally we should take someone using it.

Read some views, and the answer is ‘very’:

“If my other half ever watched porn I wouldn’t be able to stay with him. The thought of him getting off to another woman makes me sick.”

“I would be fuming. I don’t see the need for porn if you’re good enough for each other.”

Watching porn= money saver and time waster.

“Porn is betrayal. When you are with someone you should be with them mind, body and soul.”

“If you are married and masturbating to porn, it’s not only cheating, but adultery, because you are sexually pleasing yourself with an image that isn’t your wife.”

ADVERTISEMENT

You might also like: The world is searching for a new word for female masturbation.

But the thought of my partner in bed watching porn didn’t elicit sickness, anger or betrayal. I genuinely thought, He’s so bored, good on him. And the reason why wasn’t just because he was on his sickbed, but because of this:

People masturbate.

Whether they have a partner or not. The motivation can be lust, it can be to relieve boredom or stress or insomnia, it can simply be because you’ve got a 20-minute wait until dinner’s ready and touching yourself beats putting a load of washing on.

Porn gets you there, fast.

The reason why 88% of men and 45% of women watched porn in the last year is this: it works. You use a vibrator because sometimes you need the power of 2AA batteries to get you there. Porn does the same thing – it’s just made of images, not rubber.

It isn’t personal.

People don’t watch porn because they wish their partner had no pubes, writhed around like they were being tickled by an octopus, or were hung like a farm animal. They watch porn because it’s there – and once they’re done, they’re done with it. Forgotten. Just like you may have enjoyed reading about 50 Shades’ ‘red room of pain’ but have no plans to convert your en suite into one.

We all need something to do with our hands, right?

Of course, taken to an obsessive level there is the potential for porn to be a threat to a relationship – just as any obsessive behaviour, such as drinking or gambling, possesses a potential threat to a relationship.

You might also like: PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Sex emoji are finally here.

It’s our self-confidence that betrays us when we feel threatened by a partner’s healthy use of porn.

Because porn isn’t about us – it’s simply about an end result. Which reminds me, I must add batteries to my shopping list.

Do you agree? How do you feel about your partner watching porn?

00:00 / ???