What about pornography, videos, and magazines—are they friends or foes?

Pornography has different meanings for the sexes; reactions can be different as are sexual desires. For women, it may be degrading and demeaning showing women in compromising situations and may even affect their self-esteem by reinforcing feeling of inability to live up to the perfect depiction of the idealized women with perfect breasts and voluptuous body.

For men, it maybe an enhancement, an escape to fantasy without any further significance in sexual interest.

Porn gazing can become an issue with couples and can affect relationship intimacy and connectedness. For conflicted couples, pornography can be destructive, yet for some, erotica can be shared and can enhance sexual dynamics and repertoires between partners. Erotica, pornographic pictures, websites, and other fantasy material either in cyberspace or in print are readily available both on the Internet and at your local corner store. According to comScore, 66% of Internet-using men between the ages of 18 and 34 years look at online porn at least once a month. In a 2003 issue of Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Bridges and associates found that although most women weren't bothered by their partner's X-rated interests, a small few were extremely distressed by it. According to Psychology Today, a common response women may feel is a strong sense of violation including feelings of betrayal.

Men may explain pornography as an exploration of fantasy and curiosity. For men, looking at naked women may be done partly out of boredom, as a replacement or stimulus for self-stimulation, or as a substitute for infrequent sexual activity. According to David Schnarch, author of Resurrecting Sex and the Passionate Marriage, pornography can enhance or promote emotional and sexual intimacy. Schnarch says that couples can develop a deeper sexual connection with the use of erotic images. Erotica, and the couple's sensual fantasies, are used to help them grow, intensify their sexual relationship, and improve the dynamic between them. Fantasy is an important facet of the healthy sex life, and pornography can help create or inspire sexual scenarios and modify sexual scripts that have become stale and boring.

With the ease and privacy of the Internet, many women are now active participants in using erotica and pornography. There is little research on how men feel about their female partner's porn use. According to Pamela Paul in her book

Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families, many men hope their partners approve or tolerate their own use of porn but may be critical of a girlfriend or wife who uses pornography herself. Some men may get more aroused with their partners' active use of erotica whereas others are concerned by its implications in the relationship. In a 2004 .Elle-MSNBC.com poll, 6 in 10 men were concerned about their partner's interest in Internet pornography.

Some individuals are vulnerable to compulsive sexual behavior, and abuse of Internet pornography sites is not uncommon. Online pornography can become an obsession. Best advice is to examine what pornography means to the dynamic of your relationship, and to you personally. Why is there anger? Is the sexual repertoire scripted and boring? Predictable? Ask yourself whether you need more experimentation. Passion? Are you restless and discontent? What can you as a couple do about it? Open the lines of communication and begin a frank discussion. Pornography is not all bad or detrimental to the relationship. Pornography and erotica can be helpful in spicing up a boring or mundane, dry sex life. Exploration of your sexual fantasies can be a useful treatment tool to help nurture aspects of your sexual relationship.

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