gay pornThanks to one-sided Sex Ed classes across America, the only way most gay men learn about sex is through porn. Thus, gay porn plays a big role in our lives during our formative years, and often stays there as we get older and move through different life stages.  Even when we find ourselves in long-term relationships, or even marriage, our good friend porn is still there.  Some couples are open about it, allowing solo play to further amplify sex when they’re together.  Others worry that too much time spent on Pornhub might lead to lack of pleasure between the sheets.  Should your relationship allow porn, and if so, how should you do it, and how much is too much?

Porn and intimacy

Porn’s effects on intimacy are twofold.  For the partner who doesn’t indulge, he can suffer from low self-esteem (a result of not feeling as attractive as the guys in your favorite videos), and he may allow your porn habit to snowball into a bigger trust issue.  For you, a reliance on porn for your solo time could lead to a dependence on hypersensitivity and novelty (i.e. you’ll get bored with just one person).  

But on the bright side, most of the studies out there focus almost exclusively on heterosexual relationships.  Plus, porn’s effects can vary greatly from couple to couple.  And we gays just view porn as an entirely different animal.

“It is common with gay male couples to openly discuss their porn practices, and even view it together,” writes HuffPost’s Joe Kort.  He blames mainstream culture’s problem with porn on a lack of sexual literacy.  Straight women don’t fully understand male sexuality, and often feel inadequate upon learning their partner or husband still watches porn.  Though gay men aren’t immune to these feelings, they’re less common among us.  Men understand male sexuality more completely, and thus, porn doesn’t cause the same friction points.

And quite frankly, our porn is the good stuff.  That’s why so many straight men, and some women, are watching it. Every 1 in 5 straight men incorporates gay porn into his watching habits.  His girlfriend or wife probably isn’t too thrilled about that, but we’re different.

Porn and your relationship

It’s important not to view this as a general issue, and instead, look at porn through the lens of your relationship.  Dissect the role it plays for you.  Is it an occasional stress reliever or a reward after a long day?  Is it a little mischievous treat when your partner’s away?  Or is it something more?

A lot of people, inclusive of those in our community, have written off porn and sex addiction as nonexistent conditions.  But these addictions are very real.  Some porn behaviors are compulsive and have little to do with genuine pleasure.  In porn addiction, satisfaction is only achieved through fantasy.  When you start watching too much, other parts of your life suffer.  You have lackluster sex with your partner.  You lose hours to porn at the expense of personal productivity.  Porn addiction grabs control of your life, and if this is how you feel, you should seek professional help to establish a healthy relationship with porn and your sexuality.

But porn can be sexy, too.  Some couples use it for safe exploration, in place of opening their relationship.  Individually, porn can help level the playing field when it comes to uneven sex drives.  If you want sex more often and he doesn’t, you still have an option.  But it’s important to make sure porn doesn’t replace sex with your partner.

Porn: yes or no?

Odds are, porn is already part of your relationship or marriage, whether you know it or not.  So, talk about it, set some parameters, and understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy viewing.

If you aren’t excited about, interested in, or present during sex with your man, it might be time to call it quits—the porn, that is.  Keep a close eye on your sex life, and be open and honest about your feelings.

Even though porn’s role in your relationship will be individualized to you, there are a few general rules you can follow.

Everything in moderation: It starts with one video then, 2 hours later, you’re still stuck in front of your laptop searching for that perfect scene.  Set some limits for yourself so you don’t get carried away. 30 minutes max per session.

Time out: Even if everything’s okay between you and your honey, it’s okay to take a porn sabbatical.  If anything, it gives your brain a reset.  Time away helps you get revved up about sex with your partner, and gives you a chance to use your imagination instead of relying on videos.

Mix it up: It’s easy to pull up the same videos repeatedly.  But don’t fall into this trap. Avoid the routine by cueing up some new material.

Pay attention: During porn sessions, you focus more on the visuals and less on your body.  Remember to pay attention to your pleasure, and keep the physical and visual aspects of the experience connected.

Recognize the fantasy: Regardless of how much you enjoy porn, it’s crucial that you recognize it as fantasy.  Whether it’s the positions, the dialogue, or the bodies, almost everything in these videos is staged, edited, and (poorly) acted.  Don’t use these videos as the basis for your real-life expectations in the bedroom.

Porn gets a bad rap among our monogamous, hetero peers, but it definitely has a place in our relationships.  Just be sure to understand your limits and keep the lines of communication open so you both reap the benefits.