Porn has become the ubiquitous other woman. The porn debate is intense and complex for many people. I hear people talk about the role they think porn is playing in their sexual lives and I’ve noticed a big pattern where many women feel like it gets in the way of their being able to be intimate with their partners. Maybe that’s true, but I think there are other factors going on that I want to address in this article.

We could debate all day long about how pornography depicts unrealistic images of women’s bodies, men’s penises and sex itself, and how that creates all sorts of unrealistic expectations for many people when they actually have a real sexual relationship. Porn is there for entertainment and arousal and it fulfills something in people who watch, otherwise it wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry. But let’s talk about the ideas that many people are attaching to their partner’s love of porn.

If you are threatened because your partner or lover watches porn, you need to ask yourself why. When women profess that their partners shouldn’t watch porn because they should just be enough, or because it makes them feel insecure, or because they are now questioning their partner’s integrity or even their attraction, big red flags go up for me because I know that the issue isn’t the porn.

The issue is insecurity, an unstable relationship, or unrealistic expectations. Let’s break each one down.

Insecurity

You need to be your best self and show up as your best self in your relationship. If you are destabilized because your partner watches porn, you are not at home in yourself, you are projecting your own insecurity and you are not being your best self. So, your parnter enjoys porn. Why do you want to put the kibosh on that because you don’t like it.

You need to deal with your insecurity. No amount of porn can replace a loving, sensual, playful, adventurous, real-life sexual partner. Porn doesn’t caress your partner and give him or her human touch. You do. Why are you comparing yourself to porn? If your insecurity is flaring up, ask yourself if you are insecure about yourself or the relationship. It’s one or the other.

If the insecurity is about yourself then your complaints about your lover’s porn watching are a projection. How does it serve you to do that? Your insecurity is your issue to deal with. Don’t project it onto your partner or you will seriously douse the flame of the relationship. Total relationship killer.

Unstable Relationship

If you are insecure in the relationship, then the two of you had better talk and figure out how you are going to address and get help with that. It will NOT fix itself. You must deal with the insecurity because it means there is not trust and that’s an awful place to be. Why be in a relationship where you can’t trust your partner? If you are not working on mending the insecurity, then the relationship is dying and you need to get real about that.

If your relationship is unstable and you are feeling insecure about it, then that will show up everywhere. Again, the porn is not the problem, the issues in the relationship are. The porn watching could be a symptom of what’s going on if your lover uses the porn to escape and not deal with the real things that are going on for you in the relationship. Or, it might just be something your lover likes to do. In that case, why are you judging it?

Unrealistic Expectations

You may also have totally unrealistic and unfair expectations of your sexual partner. If you expect that YOU will be the SOLE source of your partner’s erotic excitement you are not only kidding yourself, you are expecting that your lover will just put away his or her sexuality and bring it out only for you. Is that what attracted you to them in the first place? I bet not.

If you need to be the center of your lover’s universe, and that’s how you feel your own self-worth, you have work to do. People are sexual by nature. Our sexuality is. We don’t turn it on or off at will because it makes someone feel uncomfortable. And no one should expect us to. You don’t decide not to wear your sexuality today because you have a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment, or lunch with a friend that might make your partner jealous. You are always sexual and if you or your partner is putting your sexuality away to "protect" the other from feeling bad, insecure, jealous, hurt, threatened or even angry, that’s problematic. You are squashing the most powerful energy you have, and that doesn’t serve you or your relationship.

Can I coexist with porn in my relationship?

Your partner can love you, desire you and want to have mind-blowing sex with you AND enjoy watching porn. The porn itself takes nothing away from you. It’s another means of sexual expression that your partner likes. You don’t have to like it the same way, but why do you need to zip their lid and guilt them into feeling bad because sexy images turn them on? That will do more damage than any amount of porn watching ever will. They’ll just learn to hide things from you and they’ll be clandestine about it - they won’t stop watching porn. You are just creating future trust issues.

If this is an issue for you there are some patterns you’ve got to look at. You are enough. You are not competing in a pageant with pornography. (Get another take on pornography in Porn: Love It or Leave It?)

This article has been reprinted with permission from Amy Jo Goddard. You can view the original piece here.