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When is the Best Time to Bring Up Porn in a Brand New Relationship?

By May 23, 2019 No Comments
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Fight the New Drug is an awareness organization educating about the harms of pornography on individuals, relationships, and society. We share research, facts, and personal accounts to help promote understanding for various aspects of this multi-faceted issue. Our goal is to maintain an environment where all individuals can have healthy and productive conversations about this issue, while acknowledging that this issue can impact any person or relationship differently.

Picture this: you’ve met someone awesome, the first few dates have gone really well, and you’re sitting down for dinner together at a new restaurant. You’re both full of new relationship anxieties but still want to impress each other.

You place your order, smile across the table, and say: “So I think porn kills love. Do you watch porn?”

You might just have a Michael Scott getaway situation on your hands.

The truth is, bringing up porn in a new relationship is really important, especially if this issue is a dealbreaker for you, but it’s also a delicate situation. Talking to a potential partner is not like talking with someone like your best friend—saying whatever comes to mind without thinking might cause more harm than help. After all, this new relationship matters to you and you’re both still figuring each other out. This topic matters, so it is worth discussing, but it deserves some tact, consideration, and empathy.

Related: 3 Reasons Why People Who Watch Porn Are Not “Bad” People

Each person and each relationship is unique, so you’ll need to do your own navigating. But here are some tips, cautions, and suggestions to consider as you build a deeper connection with a new love interest.

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1. Bringing up the subject as a passion of yours is a softer intro.

When you’re getting to know a new romantic partner, it’s easy to talk about what you both do outside of work or school, discuss what interests them, and see what makes the other person tick. Bringing up this movement as a cause that excites you and a passion that drives you can help the subject of porn and relationships to fall naturally into any broader conversation about hobbies and involvements.

This will flow more easily than discussing porn in terms of belief. Consider how these two statements come across differently:

Passion statement: “I really care about this pro-love movement that spreads awareness about the science behind how porn consumption can negatively affect people’s lives. The organization is called Fight the New Drug—I love reading their articles and talking about the research. It’s fascinating. Any cause that fights for love and sex-positivity has got my vote.”

Belief statement: “I definitely believe porn is wrong. It causes deep problems in relationships and messes up consumers. There’s so much research that shows how bad it is; I can’t think of any time it would be acceptable. I feel really strongly about that. Anyone who looks at porn basically deserves for their relationships to suffer because, let’s face it, it’s clear how bad it is.”

Can you tell the difference?

Related: Tips For Opening Up To A Loved One About Your Struggle With Porn

Now of course, if you get far enough into the relationship, the two of you will explore your respective beliefs on all kind of subjects more deeply, and it will become more appropriate to use “belief” statements. But see how much more inviting the passion statement would seem during that 3rd-date dinner talk?

In fact, we have seen time and time again how judgment-packed words are rarely effective or healthy, so this is generally good practice when talking about porn with anyone.

2. Some questions could unintentionally invoke shame.

Who hasn’t had personal experience with this issue on some level?

Porn, and sexuality in general, can be very sensitive and personal topics. Consider how people tend to get pretty defensive and have the most emotional response to personal topics. Bringing porn up in terms of how you are involved with the movement in your life could be a softer opening to the topic. Talk like you’re telling your own story, and they’ll ideally respond with theirs.

Because of the widespread accessibility and acceptance of porn today, chances are incredibly high that your date has some background with porn, whether brief or continual. And that’s enough to put them immediately on the defensive.

Hat - Consider Before Consuming

Questions that move the focus from your passion to your date can give off vibes of confrontation or shame. Many questions—from “Do you watch porn?” to “What do you think about porn?”—when asked out of the blue can come across as shaming, judgmental, or just plain invasive.

Related5 Ways You Can Support Your Partner As They Kick Their Porn Habit

So consider leaving questions for later, and letting your new partner volunteer information as you both open up to each other. That way they will be less likely to wonder if you have a hidden agenda or if there is a “right or wrong” answer. (And if they perceive what the “right” answer is, they might be more likely to only tell you what you want to hear since the relationship is so new.)

Giving space for your date to share according to their comfort level can help to lay the foundation for deeper conversations later.

3. There’s a happy medium between “too soon” and “too late.”

While being relaxed and natural is a must, that doesn’t mean timing isn’t important. Every person is different, and every relationship moves at a different pace. If introducing the topic of porn seems forced, unnatural, or awkward based on your particular dynamic with your new partner, save it for a later time.

On the other hand, never bringing it up can also be problematic, if this issue is really important to you. This is a subject that can reveal some pretty significant differences between two people—it can be worth exploring earlier than later, depending on how porn ranks in your deal-breaker issues.

Related: How To Talk About Porn’s Harms Without Sounding Like A Jerk

If partners wait to bring up porn until the relationship is ultra-serious, the conversation could be tenser, feel more “personal,” or just be trickier because it feels like more is riding on the outcome.

Every person is different and every relationship is unique. Trust your gut, be honest, and be thoughtful about the timing of a conversation that is an important part of who you are and an important piece of a healthy, thriving love relationship.

Conversation Blueprint

What happens if your new partner doesn’t feel the same way you do?

And if it comes up that the date sitting across from you does watch porn? Doesn’t care about fighting sexual exploitation? Generally doesn’t share your views on sexuality?

The next part is up to you—but it doesn’t have to shatter your universe. This is part of dating, to learn about each other and figure out whether or not you fit well together. Is it worth a conversation, seeing if they’re open to learning about the facts even if your relationship doesn’t continue?

RelatedIt’s Okay To Not Be Okay: What Partners Of Porn Viewers Wish You Knew

Most importantly if that happens, don’t tell your date he or she is a “bad person” or “wrong” for not being informed—here are some tips to help you not sound like a jerk when setting the record straight. See it as a chance to share your thoughts and the science behind the issue with someone who hasn’t heard them and might find it interesting. Also, check out this article on creative ideas for changing the conversation about porn.

Maybe this relationship doesn’t end up being the one you hoped it would be. Or maybe this sparks more conversation, and you learn and grow together. Either way, if handled carefully, talking about porn with your potential significant other doesn’t have to be the scariest thing in the world. At the very least, it will likely open up doors to other great conversations.

And what’s more, your date might be surprising—you might learn something from him or her and leave even more inspired.

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