Is Watching Porn Cheating?

by | May 29, 2023 | Let's talk about Sex

How to navigate the difficult conversation with your partner?

You have probably heard of OnlyFans, used primarily by sex workers to sell their content. The subscription service was founded in 2016. Not long after, just last year, it was named by Time as one of the top 100 Most Influential Companies in the world.

Producing porn has never been easier – and more people are happy to pay for personalised content. 

Porn within a relationship

An Ofcom snapshot survey from September 2020,  found that approximately half of UK adults said they watch porn, which is really not that surprising.

Watching porn is seen as the norm for many of us, especially as we are part of a generation who have grown up with the extent of  accessibility that comes with technology. Porn can easily be  accessed by anyone, anywhere within a matter of seconds.

 However, for how mainstream the industry is, within sexual and intimate relationships the subject for some of us can begin to feel  like a slippery slope. 

Discussing your personal boundaries in any capacity within a relationship  is important,  to ensure you are on the same page as your partner and understand each other’s  expectations. 

Porn, even if it is a taboo subject, is no exception.

I quickly found that when I began to ask others for their opinion, raising the subject of porn made a lot of  people uncomfortable, even my closest friends and housemates clearly felt a bit awkward. 

But, I wanted to speak to a range of adults aged 18-25, all from around the UK to open up a non judgemental discussion ; do they think watching porn is cheating and how do they navigate awkward conversations in their own relationships?

What is the consensus?

Matthew, he/him

Age : 19

‘It isn’t cheating, but in a healthy relationship it shouldn’t be needed. I get it if it’s a long distance relationship though, like we all have needs to fulfil and that’s ok.’ 

Trin, she/her

Age: 20

“I would view it as cheating. I’m not a porn star, I don’t look like one or act like one.

“As a girl I feel like you are seen as overbearing to address it to a guy because of how normalised it is. Some of them start watching porn at 11, it’s part of their daily routine. I was with a guy who said that he didn’t really view the women he was watching as real, real people and that hurt a lot. If I’m with you, staying at your house and seeing you most days it would feel like a bit of a betrayal.

“Ethically as well I just don’t agree with it and I’m sure there’s loads of girls who don’t care , but yeah  I do. If things got serious with a guy and we are exclusive, then I would want to be like ‘hey this is not something I’m comfortable with’.”

Emma, she/her 

Age: 24

“It is not cheating, because it’s not real. I watched porn throughout a four year long relationship,  I think it’s fine.”

Ciara, she/her

Age: 20

“It’s a sticky one. I would let my partner watch porn, it’s not cheating at all and I wouldn’t mind it. But I would probably judge them if they were watching it a lot because I just really hate it.

“My girlfriend and I talk about everything. It’s not a massive deal to talk about this kind of thing, you can do it in a chill way. It is really important to have these  conversations with your partner or just  anyone you are having sex with.

“I also do think that because she is a woman she would be aware of the misogyny in some porn, I think if I was with a man I’d feel like the  porn would impact how he views me, potentially. Sex scenes even in films don’t ask for consent enough, nevermind porn.”

Sadid, he/him 

Age: 23

“It depends on how extreme or how frequent you are watching. A guy I knew was constantly watching it but also sleeping with his girlfriend a lot. If porn is affecting your sex life and relationship with your partner then that’s where I would draw a line.

“At the end of the day it does desensitise you and there is some like, fucking weird things out there. It’s about discussing it with your partner.

“If I was with someone and watching it more than I was having sex with them, I would see it as cheating in a sense, because it’s like, what are you getting from that that you aren’t getting from real life?”

What do experts say?

Dr Nichola Marchant ( she/her) is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist who specialises in all things sex related and also with trauma related issues. She said:

“Having an open conversation with your partner about porn is part of having a healthy adult sex life. 

“Feeling safe to express your views (whatever they are) and to feel listened to and understood is a key part of a relationship.

“Masturbating is a healthy sexual pursuit and enables us to explore what we enjoy and don’t enjoy in a safe environment without the complications of another person’s needs. However, like all things, we can have too much of a good thing and an over-reliance on masturbating (and often porn) can lead to a variety of issues particularly when it comes to having sex with another person in real life.

“For me, some of the most important things about talking about porn are as follows. It is important to not feel shame about your sexual interests. It is important to not feel pressured into or to pressure others into engaging in sex that you are not comfortable with. 

“If we grow up in environments (families, communities, schools etc.) where sex isn’t talked about in a positive and healthy way we can learn that sex and all things sex related are shameful or embarrassing or anxiety provoking.

“A poor sex education can lead to sexual difficulties and it might be that we seek out our knowledge of sex in places that aren’t necessarily healthy or representative of the real world. Learning about sex through porn is a prime example of this.

“Please note that this isn’t that I am saying that porn itself is necessarily problematic, just that learning about sex from porn and expecting that real life sex is like the sex you might see online can often be problematic.

“The sex that you have doesn’t need to replicate the kind of sex you might have seen online.

“The best times to talk about sex with a sexual partner or potential sexual partner are when you are fully clothed and nowhere near getting down and dirty. We should practise talking about sex and our sexual boundaries when we are in a place that is safe and contained.”

Dr. Nichola Marchant

 “If we can’t talk about sex with someone I would go as far as to say we shouldn’t be doing anything sexual with them at all!”

Edited by Yoan Shterev

Floozy Talk

Send us your Floozy Confessions

15 + 7 =

Meet us on the ‘gram