Porn is pretty much the equivalent of pooping in a relationship: You know it happens on the sly, but you probably feel a little uncomfortable talking about it.
And fair enough. This is personal stuff we’re talking about.
But attitudes toward porn are changing, as is porn itself. There are new types of films that are centered on female pleasure, and even some that are specifically made for couples to watch together—which, according to clinical sexologist Kat van Kirk, Ph.D., can actually be a good thing for your relationship.
Why? It enhances your sexual communication and can make your sex life hotter.
“When you see it, you can talk about it,” says van Kirk. “You can let each other know preferences or boundaries with ease as they come up in the film.”
She also points out that you can mine porn for ideas since adult film stars often get creative on-screen. And even if you don't use any of the as-seen-on-TV moves in real life, watching them together can get you both all worked up much faster than foreplay alone.
So, okay, you’re down with the idea. But clearly you have to approach the subject delicately.
That’s why Erika Martinez, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in the Miami area, recommends putting out feelers first. Ask your partner what kind of porn they've seen (assuming they've watched before) and whether they were into it.
If you get positive feedback, mention that you’re into the idea of watching it together and see what kind of reaction you get. “It's important to make clear that watching porn is meant to enhance the relationship and not [visually] replace/substitute either partner,” says Martinez. “If insecurities about body image, commitment, etc. come up during these conversations, then those need to be addressed before proceeding.”
You can also look for some kind of newsy hook, says van Kirk, like mentioning how steamy the episode of Game of Thrones that you just watched was before seguing into the porn convo.
Once you’re both on-board, she recommends having a date night at home while doing online shopping for porn together. It’s probably best to start with something that has more production value (like a regular feature film) and focuses on couples, she says.
As for the actual viewing party, van Kirk says you should feel free to fast-forward since not every scene will appeal to both of you. But she recommends discussing what you do and don’t like with your S.O. about that particular scene before blazing forward.
What happens if you do find something you never thought about but are suddenly interested in trying? “Seeing other people do things can normalize sex for you and your partner,” says van Kirk. “If you see a woman enjoying a little bondage play, for instance, you may not feel badly about wanting to explore it."
She also adds that it’s okay to laugh and joke about certain parts, as long as you’re still able to enjoy yourself and not let your discomfort to take over.
BTW—if you or your partner feels uncomfortable, Martinez says you should shut it down. “Both parties have to be 'all in' and willing to explore together,” she says. “One person cannot be doing this just going along to please their partner or because they feel not doing so will negatively impact the relationship.”
So if you feel uncomfortable at the idea of watching porn together, definitely don’t do it. But if you’re into it, bring it up. You might be surprised at how the conversation (and the sex) turns out.