Study: Men's Porn Habits Hurt Women's Self-Esteem
When does a harmless habit become hurtful?
As a generation of men are growing up with virtual sex lives, their real-life partners are becoming increasingly unhappy, a new study finds. Specifically, young women with porn-loving partners feel they just can't measure up to Jenna Jameson—or whoever happens to tickle their man's fancy.
Destin Stewart is a clinical psychology intern at the University of Florida. After her clients began complaining about pornography use in their relationships, Stewart decided to study exactly how porn use is affecting those relationships.
She surveyed 308 college women (ages 18 to 29) and asked them about their current partner's pornography habits. She also wanted the women's perspectives on their relationship quality, sexual satisfaction and self-esteem. Stewart found that the ladies who reported their partners looked at porn more frequently were not only less happy with their relationships, they also had less self-esteem and were less satisfied with their sex lives.
Stewart told LiveScience that when some women discovered pornographic material on their partner's computer, it made them "feel like they were not good enough, like they could not measure up."
While one might argue that the men weren't there to confirm their habits in the study, it's apparent that pornography is negatively affecting an increasing number of relationships. Psychiatrist Norman Doidge studied the effects of porn use in his patients and then reported the findings in his book, The Brain Changes Itself:
"They reported increasing difficulty in being turned on by their actual sexual partners, spouses or girlfriends, though they still considered them objectively attractive." Doidge wrote about his patients. "When I asked if this phenomenon had any relationship to viewing pornography, they answered that it initially helped them get more excited during sex, but over time had the opposite effect."
Stewart says that when porn becomes a problem in relationships, she advises women not to compare themselves to porn stars. She also urges couples to communicate and compromise.
"It's just about trying to do some education about what is realistic and unrealistic and trying to get couples to be honest about what their wants and needs and desires are," Stewart said.
As much as we women would love our men to only have eyes for us, let's face it. As long as there are women willing to do anything, everything and put it out there for the world to see, men are going to look. But Aristotle said to seek moderation in all things, and while I don’t think he was referring to watching online porn, it's not bad advice.
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Photo: Patrick Sheandell O'Carroll/Getty Images
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