Online porn ‘addiction’ isn’t causing relationship break-ups

Jan 18, 2013
Internet
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That well-known bastion of academic integrity, Cosmopolitan, has come up with some sex research. No, not the sort you’re probably thinking of (hilariously sent up by The Onion). Rather they’ve been dipping their pedicured toe into somewhat more serious waters, putting questions to 68 ‘sex and relationship experts’ (therapists, mainly… at least they don’t call them ‘sexperts’) about the effects of porn on relationships. According to Cosmo, 86 per cent of the therapists questioned believe porn has had a negative effect on relationships – on what basis in unclear – while 90 per cent claimed an increase in relationship problems due to porn in recent years.

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The problem with surveys like this – I hesitate to call it research, though no doubt the figures will find their way to a Government consultation document in the not so distant future, as has often happened with other sex-related issues – is that it tells us very little. Questioning therapists on their interpretation of their patients’ experiences, a vital degree away from the actual patients, is problematic from a scientific perspective. So too are the questions themselves, which do not account for degrees of change. Where are the comparative data sets?

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