Just in case there wasn’t enough evidence already, a new large-scale study found that viewing pornography significantly decreases men’s relational and sexual satisfaction with their partner.
The study, led by Dr. Paul Wright at Indiana University and published just this month in Human Communication Research, statistically analyzed the results from 50 studies involving more than 50,000 participants from 10 countries. The study concluded that men’s pornography use is significantly related to their being less satisfied with their sexual and interpersonal relationship with their partner. In other words, the more men view pornography, the less happy they are in their current relationship, the more they think about dissolving their current relationship, and the worse they think their current relationship is going. In addition, the more men view pornography, the less satisfied they are with their sex life.
This study found that many studies define pornography as viewing pictures or videos showing nudity or of people having sex. We’ll discuss this definition in depth in a future blog post, but now, let’s talk about what this means for our kids.
First, we need to let our children—especially our daughters—know that their self-worth is not in any way tied to their future partner’s use of pornography. Such parent-child discussions have been shown to protect the self-esteem of women whose partners view pornography.
And second, pornography is so pervasive in our society that we probably won’t be able to entirely shield our kids from being exposed to pornography in some form. But, parents can talk to their kids about the dangers of pornography and about why they think pornography is bad for kids. These types of conversations, when had during middle school and high school, have been shown to reduce kids’ future pornography use.
What should these conversations look like, you ask? It might surprise you but my wife and I have talked about pornography with our kids as young as age 6. Yes, we had the porn talk with our kids before we had the Santa talk. Without getting too specific with our daughter, we told her that whenever she sees body parts of boys or girls that are supposed to be covered by a swimsuit, she should stop what she’s doing and tell a grown-up, preferably us. She knows why we feel this way too. As she grows we’ll have to repeat the message, likely in increasingly sophisticated ways.
But in today’s society, our kids can either learn about sex and relationships from the media, or they can learn it from parents. I’d much rather it be from media literate parents.