Vitality

Can't Get No Satisfaction: Watching Porn Decreases Chances Of Tying The Knot With The One

Young man is sitting in bed and watching pornography on laptop
Your love of porn may actually be ruining your chances of marrying "the one." Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

If you quietly find yourself in your bedroom with the lights low, hands on your body, and glaring at porn on your computer, chances are that is all the action you’ll ever get. Although watching porn can help feed your sexual appetite, it can also be a tough pill to swallow when it comes to marriage. According to a recent study forthcoming in the Eastern Economic Journal, the rise of free Internet porn is not only linked to the decline in young adult males who are married, but could actually be contributing to the trend.

Traditionally, one of the primary reasons to enter a marriage was sexual gratification. However, with the growth of substitutes for martial sexual pleasure, like Internet porn, marriage’s function to serve this need has steadily been decreasing. Virtual pleasure could be a means of “easy sex” with stimulating variety. “Men, who can ejaculate in about two minutes with the right imagery, today have endless access to fast sex every day — and any time of day,” wrote psychotherapist Laurie J. Watson in Psychology Today.  

"We asked ourselves, what is helping determine whether people are married or not?" said Dr. Michael Malcolm, author of the study and a professor at the University of West Chester, Pa., The Washington Post reported. "One of those things, we thought, could be the use of pornography."

Malcolm and his colleague George Naufal, author of the study from Timberlake Consultants sought to examine whether substitutes for marital sexual gratification may impact the decision to marry. More than 1,500 participants were recruited from the General Social Survey (GSS) — a comprehensive, nationally representative survey — to analyze how 18- to 35-year-old men used the Internet between 2000 and 2004. The researchers wondered to what effect, if any, pornography use negatively affects marriages in the U.S.

They focused on how many hours each participant spent on the Internet per week and how many reported having used the Internet to view pornography in the past 30 days. Other activities such as the use of religious websites were also observed. Malcolm adjusted for a number of variables, including age, income, education, religiosity, and employment, which have all been shown to be linked with marriage. He also adjusted for the possibility marriage has an impact on porn use, but not the other way around.

The findings revealed higher Internet usage was linked to lower marriage rates, but porn use was more closely linked to the participants who were not married than any other form of Internet use. This included the regular use of financial websites, news websites, and sports websites, among many others. The researchers found the opposite was true for religious website use, which was positively associated with marriage.

"The results in this paper suggest that such an association exists, and that it is potentially quite large," the researchers wrote. Porn for these men may be viewed as a means for alternative sexual pleasure, which could be decreasing the need for marriages to serve this function — especially during a young age. It’s a gateway to premarital sex.

Although the findings of this study suggest porn could delay or even prevent marriage initiation, it doesn’t always have negative repercussions on relationships. A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found couples who engage in watching porn together and have a mutual agreement on what’s considered to be acceptable porn are more likely to have thriving relationships because of their level of honesty and communication. This is all contingent upon whether both partners choose to be honest or be discreet with each other about their porn use.

The proliferation of free porn accounted for about 13 percent of all Internet searches between 2009 and 2010. It seems more people, specifically men, have greater access to porn and are using it as a means of premarital sexual gratification. The issue may not lie within the direct influence of porn on marriage but the societal connotations of porn use in relationships.

Sources: Malcom M and Naufal GS. Are Pornography and Marriage Substitutes for Young Men? Eastern Economic Journal. 2015.

Alderson KG and Resch MN. Female Partners of Men Who Use Pornography: Are Honesty and Mutual Use Associated With Relationship Satisfaction? Journal of Sex Marital Therapy. 2013. 

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