Dr. P

“I recently learned that my boyfriend looks at a lot of porn.  Should I be concerned about our relationship?”

There are two ways of answering your question.  The first is by examining the behavior of your boyfriend, and the second is regarding your response to this behavior.

Today we find porn readily available in an extremely wide variety of niche themes and topics, media incarnations (print, videos, DVDs, cable, and internet sites) and in quality and quantity.  Its accessibility is facile and free in many cases, although some sources have stated that 10 percent of e-commerce is adult site related and constitutes a multi-billion dollar industry.

It is not unusual for men, and women to a lesser degree, to use visual or narrative porn for a variety of reasons.  Porn imagery generally is primarily used as an aphrodisiac and as such results in erotosexual arousal.  However, this is effective only if the imagery and theme of the porn matches or is congruent with the lovemap specifications of the observer.  Everyone’s lovemap is a template in the mind and the brain that specifies the physical, behavioral, and personality characteristics of one’s idiosyncratic idealized lover and scenario of activities either in fantasy or in actuality. The lovemap is of the perfect mate and situation of your dreams.

Most porn is not congruent with our lovemaps and only has entertainment, educational, or curiosity value and does not arouse.  Noting what themes or images are erotosexually effective provides an insight into one’s personal lovemap.  Learning what porn your boyfriend favors will give you an insight into his lovemap, which can either empower you in your relationship—if your own lovemap is complementary with his—or it will cause you to move on to a better match.

Porn can be an acceptable component augmenting a healthy relationship (as Dr. Ruth often claims) or it can be intrusive to the point of replacing or substituting for sexuoerotic interactions between the partners.  Porn is used rarely to become an issue in the heat of a new and passionate relationship.  If there is an imbalance in libido or sexual appetite, then porn may provide a substitute outlet for the person with the stronger sex drive.  It’s great to have your main meals together but sometimes a snack alone might be acceptable.

There is a problem, however, in how the excluded partner might regard this “snack.”  Some consider any eroticism that is not shared within a relationship as a form of infidelity or cheating—”sex with some (imaginary) one other than me.”  People also are made to feel inferior when compared to the specially selected appearance and performances of the porn pros.

What is “a lot of porn?”  Some people find any porn offensive, and a little is too much.  For others, it is an enjoyable leisure-time activity that may consume several hours a day.  Like devotion to sport, music, or reading novels, if the time consumed gets in the way of efficient living or relationships, then it is too much.

How comfortable are you personally about some of these issues?  You have to talk to your boyfriend about your concerns and see what he has to say.

Graphically yours,

Dr. P