Couples Pornography: What’s In It for You?

An article in The New York Times last week reports that, come January, Playboy TV will begin “shifting from traditional pornography toward a higher-quality, female-friendly slate of of reality shows,” called “TV for 2.” Designed to appeal to women’s preferences for “contextualized sex” -- intimate scenes that are part of realistic stories that feature believable characters -- the new programming will have an emphasis on intimacy and “learning as a couple.”

It will be interesting to see how their new market responds.

Sexual advisors and therapists frequently recommend watching sexy movies together as a way for couples to stimulate or improve or add spice to monogamous sex. But finding “explicit sexual content” that appeals to both partners can be tricky.

As the Playboy Channel has (rather belatedly) learned, women are not typically turned on -- and many of them are downright turned off -- by the purely visual, graphic sex that men find arousing to watch. More than a few of my patients have told me that they felt less (sometimes much less) sexually attracted to their husbands after viewing pornographic material their partners had inadvertently left open on shared computer screens.

And for a woman in her 40s or 50s who may be starting to feel less confident about her own body and its appeal, the air-brushed young women who appear on the covers of men’s magazines can make it even harder to conceive of herself as someone who’s still  got what it takes to be a desirable partner in bed.

Of course, watching X-rated movies together -- even ones that don’t appeal to both (or either) of the people watching -- can help a couple communicate about what each of them likes or doesn’t like and what they both might be interested in and willing to try. And anything that helps a couple talk about sex has the promise of increasing their erotic connection and their understanding of each other’s pleasures and desires.

What do you think? Will the business of producing “porn aimed at couples” be a good thing for women who want to have an active and satisfying sex life in their middle years? What role, if any, does sexually explicit media play in your own relationships? Are you planning to check out “TV for 2?” We’d love to hear what you think!

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