Psychology

“We Felt Emotionally Closer:” A Qualitative Study of Couples’ Communication about Pornography Use

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Despite much empirical study of the complex association between pornography use and relationship health, little research has been conducted on the quality of communication about pornography use within relationships, which may meaningfully impact its association with relationship health. We used reflexive thematic analysis and behavioral intimacy theory to analyze responses to an online survey in which 146 individuals (77.3% women) in committed relationships described their communication with their partner about pornography use. Themes drawn from participants’ responses included: 1) Discussing pornography use is not vulnerable (anymore); (2) Asymmetrical vulnerability within the couple; (3) Disappointment and divergent values present in suppressive events; (4) Sharing the struggle of navigating unwanted pornography use; and (5) Selective reinforcement: encouraging some, but not all, vulnerable behavior, which included two subthemes: (a) Your pornography use is not okay, but I’m glad you told me; and (b) You can use pornography; I just don’t need to hear about it. Findings provide guidance to help couples navigate conversations about pornography use in ways that enhance relationship health. © 2023 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title

Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy

Publication Date

2023

ISSN

0092-623X

DOI

10.1080/0092623X.2023.2267546

Keywords

couples, pornography, relationships

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