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Is Watching Porn Cheating?

December 01, 2020 16 min read 0 Comments

interracial couple holding each other in bed

CeraIs watching porn cheating? I don’t think it is.

Matthew: You don’t think it is? 

Cera: Nope. First of all, I don’t have an issue when people watch porn. I think I have an issue with the kind of porn people are watching. I have a lot of issues if it’s teen porn. But I think if it’s adults doing it, and it’s consensual, and they’re doing it to make money. I think it’s fine if the person who’s watching is paying for it. I think there is a way to make porn in ways that it’s ethical. And I don’t have an issue with that.

Matthew: That question is a whole other topic. Because there is certainly a breaking down of certain taboos there. I read this amazing essay by this woman for whom porn opened her eyes to things that she didn’t know she could enjoy.

After growing up in the Midwest in a very conservative household, she was thrilled to find that she could find expression through sex, and doing things like roleplay or whatever. And so that’s those things can be great when it’s fully consensual. And when it’s coming from a healthy place, it’s a totally different story. 

But let’s get back to this question of whether porn is cheating in a relationship?

Cera: I don’t think it is. If I found my partner watching porn, I won’t think it’s a big deal. It’s not a deal breaker. You watch porn and masturbate, do whatever you want to do. It just doesn’t seem like something that I would worry about unless it was affecting our relationship. But if I’m not home, or you are gone, I should be able to watch whatever I want to watch, you know.

Is There A difference Between Watching Porn and Watching Netflix?

Matthew: You just started to allude to something that it’s not necessarily a yes or no question, because, you said, unless it starts to impact my relationship, correct?

Cera: Sure, until then it’s like, if you’re watching porn, you could as well be watching Netflix.

Matthew: Well, the outcome is different. And I think this is why people bring it up is that if I’m watching porn, I’m also probably masturbating, and I’m masturbating, imagining other women and other situations. And I think that’s where some people would say, That’s cheating.

Cera: I don’t think so at all, let your imagination take you wherever it wants to take you.

Matthew: I think that’s a very valid point.

Cera: This is what would be a big deal. If my partner was asking me to behave like a pornstar. Like partners watching the porn and then bringing that into a relationship, that’s what I would have an issue with. But I don’t have an issue if my partner is coming off by imagining another woman when I’m not even there.

Matthew: Right. And I think that that’s one thing that you’ve taught me, which is that my thoughts are not necessarily me, and that an imagination, a fantasy, or whatever, those things are fully okay. And we talked about it before, not even in this realm. We talked about it as this idea of intrusive thoughts where I don’t think something and I do anyways, and I used to feel really terrible about that. But being able to get to the point where I realize, Oh, that’s like a psychological thing. People have thoughts all the time that that doesn’t define you. I think that’s really important.

Is Porn Empowering?

But then moving that over into this question of porn, which is that having a fantasy or imagination is normal. For instance, if I fantasize about winning a lottery, does that make me a greedy person?

Cera: No. And you know, a couple years ago, I used to fantasize about traveling, and I’ll just be sitting and I’m like, Oh, my God, like, I can see myself in Australia. And when I wanted to move back to Kenya. I would fantasize about moving back home, and how that was gonna look like. You know, and even now sometimes, I can close my eyes and like, go there. But are you gonna tell me that I’m not present, because I’m not enjoying where I’m leaving at the moment? Like, it’s just a couple minutes of like, I can fantasize about being in Australia, I can fantasize about living in Kenya back home. It’s not a big deal.

Although maybe some women who are watching this are like, girl you need to take this seriously. But I just never felt like my partner watching porn is a huge deal.

Matthew: But of course, we’re also reversed. To me, it has always been a slightly bigger deal. It’s not to say I don’t watch porn, but I don’t like to. When I do, I feel like I’m a little bit outside of my comfort zone. And generally, I don’t like it because I know there’s so much within the industry and everything that I don’t like. It can be very demeaning, even if you’re just like, on any porn site, and the stuff that pops up.

Cera: That’s funny because I think it’s empowering to women who are doing it, you know. I grew up in a tiny place where everyone knows everyone. And when I moved to LA, it was so freeing, I could be a doctor, I could be a lawyer, a businesswoman. And also like, I could be a porn star. And it’d still be okay. Although I must acknowledge, most people who end up doing it have gone through more issues than we can cover in this podcast. But I don’t want to think that every woman who is doing it is disempowered.

Or maybe I’m being naive, but some of those women are really empowered, and sometimes it can be empowering just watching it.

What Would You Do If You Found Your Partner Watching Porn?

Matthew: I think yeah. But, going back to kind of the original question, which is whether it is cheating? You said this thing, if I am less connected to you emotionally or sexually, because I’m watching porn, then it begins to become cheating in my mind. Right?

Cera: Okay, let’s ask a different question. If you found me watching porn, would you have an issue with it?

Matthew: Oh, this is such a good question. Because if I found you watching porn, I would not have an issue with it. However, if you found me watching porn, I would be humiliated. This doesn’t make sense at all. I’m not saying it makes sense. I’m just being honest about that’s what my reaction would be if you did. I mean, with you I might feel a little bit like, What is she watching, I’m gonna come in and I could probably also make a joke about it or something. Or I’d have to kind of get into it in some ways, so I didn’t feel like an outsider. Because if you were, let’s say masturbating and watching porn, I would come in and be like, I’m an outsider, either. I need to become an insider by saying, Oh, this is cool. I’m gonna watch whatever you’re watching or I’d be like, you know what, I’m gonna leave and let you do your thing, I’ll come back in 10. Okay. So I got to know exactly how I would react.

But I know that there would be a little bit of wondering, Why is she doing that? Like we actually have sex frequently. And so I might consciously know that there would be no problem with that and it’s not a referendum on my ability in the sack or the frequency or whatever. But I know that there would probably be something in me that would be like, why is she doing that? And I think a lot of women probably come to ask the same question, why does he have to go somewhere else for sexual pleasure? Am I not enough?

Or you have this other thing, which I’ve seen a lot in men’s circles, men kind of trying to figure out their own place in the shifting world that we’re in. Like, my wife doesn’t want sex as much as I do. So therefore, I have to go there, right. But if I tell her that, she’s not going to be happy about it, so therefore, now I have to withhold telling her that I watch porn and I masturbate to porn, because there’s something within my relationship where I’m not being satisfied. I’m also going to say that very often, some of that can also be as a man sort of having a certain need for things to be like this in order for me to be satisfied, as opposed to saying, I like something a little kinky, and you like something a little less kinky, or you like it kinky this way.

You might just have to come to a place where you really both feel really great and comfortable and work through whatever hang ups you have. Or any sort of pathologies that might be leading you to, say, watch something super violent or nasty in order to get off. You might say, Okay, well, what do you need to explore about yourself?

Cera: That’s the difference between the way I think about watching porn: I’m not thinking about what’s getting them off, I usually just think of it as this is what they want to do right now.

Do You Have To Tell Your Partner Everything?

Matthew: So I guess then, the other issue around cheating to me comes is, do you feel comfortable telling your partner or your husband/ wife or your girlfriend/ boyfriend, that you watch porn? And that you masturbate to porn or that you just are like, Bill Clinton with marijuana? You’re like, I watch I just don’t masturbate. I smoke marijuana, but I didn’t inhale.

Cera: Did he really say that? Bill Clinton said that?

Matthew: Yes.

Cera: Okay… here’s the thing, if you’re embarrassed or you’re hiding it from your partner, then that’s cheating.

Matthew: That’s what I think too.

Cera: And also, I don’t mean you need to tell them, either. So if it’s a weekend, and your partner is away and you watch porn, I don’t feel like the first thing when they come back is you need to report yourself. Like, you know, on Saturday, I just wanted to let you know that I watch porn, and then I masturbated after that. I don’t feel like you have an obligation to tell the other partner. But then if you feel that if they asked you, you’d be embarrassed and want to hide it, then I think that’s a problem.

Matthew: I think it’s one of those things that should also be part of the conversation you have before a relationship. Like, you can agree you can watch porn whenever you want, I can watch porn whenever I want. I don’t know how many times you’ve watched porn since we’ve been together the last four years. For me, it hasn’t been very often. And when it has happened, almost every time it was only we’re gone from each other for like three weeks or more, which doesn’t happen very often. So it doesn’t happen much. But because we also have the understanding that that’s okay. It’s not like I have to report.

But the other day, you were gone all day. And I masturbated. And you asked like, what did you do today? And I told you other things. I just didn’t say that. I was like, do I have to say that? I don’t

Cera: You do. Because I asked you.

Matthew: But I also didn’t tell you that I urinated and that I went and washed my hands. And then I stepped outside and I brought out the trash. I didn’t say any of those things. So now of course I did say something afterwards, but it was after a moment of deliberation, do I say it? Do I have to say it? Sure it wasn’t gonna impact our relationship at all. It’s not something but it is kind of a thing somehow…

Cera: So, were you embarrassed to tell me?

Matthew: It’s not that I was embarrassed.

Cera: I just wanted the details.

Matthew: I know. Maybe I was a little embarrassed. That’s possible. And also, I think if we have sex afterwards, we’re like, in the same place. But if within a 24 hour period, one of us has had a sexual experience without the other, it puts us in a slightly different place.

Cera: One person is horny than the other?

Matthew: But I don’t even know how much of that is just imaginary.

Cera: I think it’s imaginary.

Matthew: I think it probably is

Cera: Because sometimes I’m stressed out, and I don’t want to have sex. And sometimes I’m in a great mood so I want to have sex.

Matthew: Or sometimes you’re stressed out, and therefore you want to have sex.

Cera: Yeah. So I don’t think we’re ever at the same place sexually all the time. Because different things are happening. Sometimes I’m just ovulating.

Matthew: Life happens. I mean, I know guys who will say that at least once a day, they have to go into the bathroom even when they’re working and beat one off because it just gets too much. I also think that a lot of that can be an addiction to your own hormones, if that’s something that you just do every day.

Cera: That I think is an issue, when it comes down to addiction. Yeah, at that point, now we’re speaking about a bigger thing. So when I say porn here, I think of it in terms of a healthy way in a healthy relationship where it hasn’t gotten to that place where it’s this problem.

What To Do If You’re Addicted To Porn?

Matthew: So I guess you got this other thing, too, is like, how many times a week? Should we be having sex? Or in a healthy relationship? How often do you have sex and those become these kind of questions. And then if you have sex less often, because you’re masturbating more, you’re watching a lot of porn, then it could be impacting your relationship.

Conversely, if one partner wants sex more than the other, then there are other questions that can be involved, like, what do we what do we do? There are definitely times where you want sex, maybe and I don’t or vice versa. And then it’s like, oh, well, if you want it, and I’m not necessarily in the mood, I might actually just get myself in the mood. Right? Because I’m happy to meet you. And there might be times where I’m just not gonna get myself in the mood. You have to either go masturbate or just wait. Yeah.

So I think that’s what it comes down to is this question of, Are you fully aboveboard with it? Is it in understanding of this bigger thing is, and I’m going to speak for men here, I want sex more than my wife does. And therefore in order to have my sexual needs met, I’m going to watch porn. But if she knew I watched porn, she wouldn’t like it. But she also knows that I want it more than she does. And she kind of rejects me more often. So therefore, I’m fully justified. And to me, you might be more justified, you may be justified, but you’re still not justified to not be fully aboveboard about it. Which means if I was gonna say, Hey, you know what I masturbate several times to porn several times a week. And you might say, That’s makes me really uncomfortable. It’s like, Well, the reality is that I want sex more often than you do. And you might say, how do we sort of work with this? And I might say, Well, can we have sex more? And if you would say, yeah, I think we should have sex more, because I get that you have that sexual need. And maybe now we’re gonna have sex more, but maybe I would like to do it every day, and you want to do it every other day. So you know what, that’s fine. I can avoid watching porn on my every other day, and I’ll keep that sexual energy alive for you tomorrow.

Or conversely, I know, I’ve been watching porn almost every day, and you’re uncomfortable that I’m going to reduce it, and I’m going to not do it as often, that way have more sexual energy for you, and you’re going to come back. And so I think these conversations are essential.

Although I hear men sometimes say I don’t want to talk about it, because I have this sexual need, but she’s not going to meet my sexual needs, therefore, I’m justified. That’s a deeply unhealthy way to be in a relationship.

It’s the hiding of something that is cheating. Like, it’s kind of cheating for me if somebody is a shopaholic, for example, and they’re going to buy things that you know, we have a budget, and someone’s breaking that budget or someone saying, you know, we have $100 a week or $200 a week or whatever, for groceries, and I’m going to go and I’m going to always take 20 bucks out at the ATM when I’m buying groceries and I’m going to put that away for something else because I don’t have a healthy relationship with our money. That’s also cheating.

Cera: That is cheating. And I think so even when it comes back to porn is like, if you’re doing it, and you’re not comfortable letting your partner know that I don’t think he’s cheating on me.

Matthew: Actually you and I, we don’t have to tell each other. Because it’s an understanding, that’s totally fine. Just like I don’t have to tell you if I go take a crap. Like, we have full permission. I probably do tell you that as often as I tell you that I masturbate. So I think that becomes this thing of like, are we withholding something?

And I also feel like sometimes it’s also okay to withhold something, right? We don’t have to share everything. But I just don’t want to ever have to hide it. Yeah. So if I don’t want to tell you every time, that’s totally fine. And I shouldn’t actually have to tell you every time

Cera: I’m thinking about another thing, like I would have an issue with my partner watching porn if it was affecting their work. One of the reasons like I personally don’t watch porn as much is because I feel like it’s a waste of time. Same reason I don’t watch movies as much. Because if I go on Netflix and I’m just like searching and searching, it becomes an endless search. So if I will go on those porn sites, by the time I settle on what to watch, two hours are gone, and I’m like, I should be walking on my business, I should be cleaning the house. Like, I don’t want to do this. 

So when the thought of watching porn comes up, I’m always like, I didn’t want to spend two hours doing that? I don’t want to spend even an hour doing that.

Matthew: Oh, so that’s why? It’s not because you have a man who satisfies your sexual needs?

Cera: Oh, and that too. But my watching porn has nothing to do with you.

Remember: Your Partner’s Behaviors Sometimes Have Nothing To Do With You

Matthew: And I think that that’s really important to point out. Mostly when I watch, it actually just has to do with your absence. Like when you’re in America once for two months, and I was in Germany for three weeks, and we’ve been apart for extended periods of time, then it’s definitely because of your absence. So I will certainly blame you and not be there. Every time I have watched porn in the last four years.

Cera: And if I walked on you watching porn, that it has nothing to do with me. No, it’s not because I’m not good enough. It’s not because I’m not beautiful enough. It’s just like, you’re watching it because you want to watch it. I think for me as a woman, too, when you have those clear boundaries, like people will sometimes do things just because they can. It’s not because of me, you know.

I think people take things too seriously and too personal. When you start taking things too personal, and making it all about you it can become very detrimental.

Matthew: That’s a really very good point. But then I would also kind of ask you, at what point would you think that it becomes a problem? You know, like, how many times a week? Is there a number or? Like if you watch porn every day, is that too much? If you watch porn weekly, is that too much? I don’t know.

Cera: I don’t think I can answer that question. I think that is a question every couple should find their own answer to, is this affecting our relationship? And in which ways? You know, if it starts to impact our relationship, could it be that we’re not having sex? I don’t know.

So I don’t think it’s a question that I can answer until it impacts me. And it impacts every relationship differently. What do you think?

Why Do Men Watch Porn More Than Women?

Matthew: I don’t know if it’s cultural, or biological, or some combination thereof, but it seems men want to orgasm more often. Apparently it’s a more vital part of sex to men. And I actually think that’s a bit of a bummer. 

You know, one of the things that I actually love is having sex and not having an orgasm. Just bringing myself right up to the edge and kind of allowing that sensation to echo and reverberate through my body without just being located in my groin. And I think also, there’s so much power in sexual energy. And to actually hold it and to learn how to work with sexual energy, I think can often get overlooked, and it’s really too bad. And we can see how that impacts women negatively, like, men masturbating a lot. I mean, you go on virtually any porn site, there’s millions of views on all of these videos. It’s crazy when you think of how much time people spend watching by pornography.

Cera: And, before you finish that thought, I think that’s one of the reasons I don’t want to demonize porn, it’s because of those millions of views. Those are actual people watching them, and I think we need to have even deeper conversations about why those porn videos have millions of views, yet we tell people it’s not good.

Matthew: Yeah, that’s a good point. And consider this: most of the time when people watch porn, they are masturbating to it. They’re not just watching it for the artistic abilities of the actors. And so there’s all this sexual energy that is really empowering when it gets held in or transferred. There are meditations of actually taking that energy and bringing it up your spine and it’s super enlivening.

I know a lot of a lot of men say, I wank off to fall asleep. Okay. But the other thing is, that’s also energy. What if you don’t sleep for a few days, and let that energy drive something else?

I think that’s a totally different story as to whether it’s cheating or not. But I would even say that one of the things that it can also be is cheating yourself. What about actually saving that for when you’re with somebody? What about figuring out how I can have control over my own sexual impulses, instead of saying, Oh, it’s biological, therefore, I need to do it. 

No, as human beings and as men, we can have control over our biology. That’s what’s so neat. Like, the lion doesn’t say, I don’t want to have sex today I think I’ll skip today. The lion doesn’t get to do that. It’s fully driven by its nature. And we actually have this amazing power to be greater than our nature. And when we just kind of say, you know what, I’m just gonna do it because biologically, I want it, we’re now giving away our power. And so that’s something that to me is important. 

And I recognize that it’s in the balance of this game of how do I actually respect myself, and respect the people that are in it? How do I respect my partner? And how do I really respect myself if I’m keeping any of that from you? I’m actually disrespecting myself because that means I’m walking around with a secret or something I don’t want to share with you. And that doesn’t benefit me at all. I don’t get to live in full freedom. 

And to me, I would rather share it with you. If you don’t like it, I’d still rather share with you and work through it for me or with us. Rather than being burdened with a secret that I’m either ashamed of, or a secret that you would be ashamed of.

Cera: Yeah, so I guess that we answered the question: is watching porn cheating? We think it depends. It depends.

Matthew TempleAll right, we’d love to hear your thoughts and your comments. To you, is porn a form of cheating?