What if you and your partner like very different types of porn?

There are few things more intimate than the sex we have with our partner and the sex we have with ourselves. For some people and some couples, these are totally separate entities. The things we do, think about and want when we masturbate don’t really affect our sex live, beyond learning what feels good and what doesn’t. We think of masturbation as a separate place, one just for us. But sometimes in relationships, we share everything — including what happens when we’re the most alone.

It’s nice to imagine that every time we learn more about each other, the more we explore each other’s sexualities, everything is magically in sync — but that’s just not always the case. When we find out that our partner likes something that confuses us or turns off, it can be incredibly jarring — or even send us into a bit of a tailspin. And this is definitely true of each other’s porn habits. When it comes to porn, one person’s “Yes!” is another person’s “Really?”. But, like so many things in a relationship, you’ll often find out that you have common ground if you don’t freak out and focus on talking things through.

So what should you do if you realize you and your partner like different kinds of porn? Here’s where to start.

Don’t panic 

Firstly, don’t freak out — that’s the most important thing. Sex is such an intimate, vulnerable area and there’s a lot of pressure to feel like you have a naturally explosive sex life — that it’s always magic, fireworks, and wanting exactly the same thing, without even trying. But that’s total bull. Very few people are totally in sync, and even if they are, they’re going to have to work at keeping things interesting. So don’t look at every divergence that you and your partner have as some insurmountable challenge or a sign that you don’t have an amazing sex life- it’s just natural that you might have some slightly different inclinations from time to time.

Remember porn isn’t real life 

One of the reasons you really shouldn’t freak about your partner’s porn habits is that what we like in porn is often very different from what we want in real life. Some lesbians love gay male porn. A lot of straight women love lesbian porn. Some people might like watching BDSM porn, but have absolutely no interest in trying anything other than the most vanilla of all vanilla sex in real life.

Why? Well, fantasies are funny things. Sometimes they’re things that we’re dying to explore in more depth, but just haven’t found the right way to do it yet. Other times, however, they’re fantasies because we like the idea of exploring them in theory without ever having to actually try them. You need to talk to your partner about how they feel about the porn they watch and how it relates to their sex life.

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Use it as a jumping off point

Even if you feel like you like really different porn, you can probably find more common areas than you think. You may want to use the types of porn as a jumping off point for larger conversations. What do you like about them? The power dynamic? The position? The act? The role play? Even if it seems like you different things, start to explore and there may be common ground.

Talk about any larger issues 

In some cases, it may be that you have larger issues with the kind of porn your partner watches. For example, if you’re not into rough sex, you may find it difficult if they watch BDSM porn or porn that you perceive as degrading to women. If there are issues like these, be sure to talk them through — that’s not something you want to let fester. Ask your partner what appeals to them about this type of porn, explain what you don’t like about it, and see if you can get to an understanding of each other. It might bring up much bigger issues about your relationship, but it’s a conversation worth having.

Decide where the boundaries are going forward 

Finally, you and your partner may want to set some boundaries around porn going forward — especially if you and your partner often have a lot of overlap between your masturbation habits and your sex life. For example, if you tend to watch porn as a couple during sex (or as foreplay), then you should decide what types or categories of porn you’re both happy to watch. You may decide that you want porn to play a bigger role in your sex life so you can help get to know what the other likes — or you may want it to play a smaller one and keep it more as your individual domains. The choice is totally yours, but make sure that going forward you have some ground rules that you’re both happy with.

Porn is a weird and wacky world — and something that seems amazing to one person can be totally off-putting to the next. If you and your partner don’t share the same preferences, don’t panic. Instead, talk it through and look for common ground — and remember, porn preferences and what you want in real life are often very, very different. And that’s OK — we all need our little private spheres from time to time. 

Originally posted on Bellesa Collective