Viewing Party

How to Watch Porn With Your Partner

If both of you are interested in it, viewing porn together can bring a new level of fun and intimacy to your relationship. Here’s how to bring it up — and a few best practices to keep in mind.

couple lying in bed watching their tablet together
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Pornography is often exclusively relegated to people’s solo sex lives — that is, they only ever watch it when they’re alone. But in addition to being a very helpful masturbation aid, viewing porn can be a fun erotic activity to share with a partner. The question is, how should you bring up watching porn with your wife or husband?

Now, first thing first: There’s a lot of research out there about the impacts of porn, and the results are fairly mixed — some find negative effects on people’s relationships, some find positive ones, and some find none at all. When it comes to watching specifically with a partner, however, a lot of research has found good news: One study published last year in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, for example, found couples who watched porn together actually report happier relationships and higher sexual satisfaction than couples who don’t.

I’ve picked the brains of various sex therapists about porn use over the years, and while it can be a controversial topic for some couples, it can also be a surefire erotic boost for others. Jessa Zimmerman, a licensed couples counselor and AASECT-certified sex therapist based in Seattle, notes that lots of couples enjoy consuming adult content together, and it can be a healthy part of a couple’s sex life if both partners feel good about the activity. Some sex therapists even recommend viewing sexual media as one of many ways to help couples reinvigorate intimacy.

“Porn, like any other erotic media, can be fun and interesting for many people. What we choose to watch or consume reflects what we find erotic and arousing,” Zimmerman tells Fatherly. “And imagery in our minds — whether from viewing a video, imagining the scene we are reading in a story, or our own fantasy — engages our brain as if we are in the scene, as one of the actors or as an observer.”

Sharing this experience as a couple can help partners become much more intimate with what turns each other on, Zimmerman notes, not to mention serve as powerful fuel for arousal to kick off a sexual experience together.

How to Talk About Porn With Your Partner

If you’ve never talked to your partner about watching porn together before, Zimmerman suggests bringing it up when you have time to discuss it. Suggest it as an idea that might be fun to explore together, and ask them what they think.

You might also consider trying to bring up the concept of porn into the conversation first and then segue into the idea of watching together. Or you can bring it up during a conversation specifically about trying new things in bed.

When you do have the discussion, pay attention to the energy in the room and your partner’s mood and body language — make sure this is something that’s interesting and exciting for you both before you proceed with actually trying it.

As you probably know, porn can sometimes be a divisive subject. Some people feel very uncomfortable with the concept of it or the idea of their partner watching it, so it's important to check the temperatures before you suddenly suggest the idea of viewing it together.

That said, conversations about pornography, while potentially uncomfortable, are important for couples to have, especially if you suspect your partner might have a problem with it. Much of the research that’s found watching porn can have a detrimental impact on relationships is in fact not about the impacts of the media itself but rather the impacts of the lying, secrecy, and feelings of betrayal that can stem from discovering a partner’s porn habits years into a relationship.

“It’s important to understand someone’s objections to porn,” Zimmerman adds. “If they are concerned that it involves other people at all — like, ‘you should only imagine me’— that might be a bigger conversation.”

If you’re struggling to move through these big conversations, a few sessions with a sex therapist can be helpful.

Watching Porn Together: Best Practices

If you do decide to try watching a few clips as a couple, here are a few best practices to keep in mind to keep.

1. Figure out where your interests overlap

“You want to make sure that whatever content you choose is appealing to both people,” says Zimmerman. “Often, we find different things erotic than our partner does. So what you may enjoy on your own may not turn your partner on (and may even turn them off). That’s why it’s best to talk first about the idea of watching something together and what type of content you’d like to view.”

She suggests swapping links to the kind of material you each enjoy to see where there’s mutual interest. “I certainly advise doing this with an open mind and no judgment. The goal is to understand what is erotic to your partner, and for them to learn the same about you. Then you can look for the places where there is overlap between what you each find arousing.”

2. Make it a bonding activity

Watching porn together should be a way for the two of you to connect as a couple over shared erotic stimuli and learning each other’s fantasies. Talk about the scenes as you’re viewing them, identify what’s hot and interesting to you, and feel free to touch each other if you get inspired. Importantly, most people don’t find it fun to feel like your partner is absorbed by an actress on the screen and just using your body as a stand-in. Keep your focus on sexually connecting with your partner and pleasuring each other. The porn is just there for arousal and inspo.

3. Remember the fantasy principle

It’s important to remember that porn is just a fantasy, and it’s often not representative of how sex works in real life between real people — or even what people would want to actually do in their real lives.

“We can find things appealing in fantasy but have no interest in actually doing them,” Zimmerman notes. “Be aware that your partner may find your interest in porn or erotica as a symbol of what you must want in a partner or want in real life, and they could find that scary or worry that they don’t look like the people in the films. You may need to find ways to describe why something is arousing to you and why that doesn’t impact your enjoyment of your partner and of your sex life.”

4. Consider other formats

Some people find it easier or more fun to opt for other types of erotic media, such as written erotic stories or audio erotica. These non-visual formats allow couples to explore sexy themes and fantasies without having to look at specific other people’s bodies.

5. Keep checking in

Watching porn can be a lot of fun. It can also stir up some complex emotions and worries, especially when doing it with a partner and suddenly seeing in vivid detail what gets them off. If you do decide to explore this as a couple, make sure to keep checking in with each other before, during, and after to make sure you’re both continuing to feel good about it. Remember to stay connected to each other throughout the experience, and keep each other feeling sexy and satiated.