Dear readers of The Unlaced Librarian will likely not be shocked to hear that I have a hard time finding good books at the juncture of relationships and pornography. Most books that discuss pornography in long-term relationships are quite direct: Porn is bad and the person in the relationship who is viewing porn should stop. The end.
I don't hold this view. I believe porn, erotica, and sexual fantasy can play a healthy role in long-term relationships, if people can communicate honestly about these things.
That being said… drum roll please… I really liked this book!
Love and Pornography: Dealing with Porn and Saving your Relationship by Victoria and Garry Prater is a personal and balanced approach to communicating about the role pornography plays in long term relationships.
The authors, who are partners in a long term relationship, wrote this book together. They each take turns throughout the book explaining their views on the issues at hand. Each voice is distinct and independent, but has a compassion for the other and a drive to reach a mutual understanding.
I really liked this book because the authors take a holistic look at their relationship. Instead of just talking about the issue of porn or demonizing the porn itself, the narration looks at the unique relationship and focuses on the needs therein. They examine communication, security, trust, attraction, sexual fantasy, past experiences, the role of language, and how to navigate advice or opening up to others.
I really can't categorize this book as either anti-porn or pro-porn. The authors really do put their relationship before the social judgments levied against porn. This was definitely a refreshing outlook on working through an issue that I have found impacts pretty much every relationship at one point or another.
This book also discusses Non-Violent Communication and models several conversations which I think is a really important resource considering how emotionally-charged the topic of porn can be.
The book includes a needs and feelings inventory in the back appendix which are both very valuable.
My one quibble with the book was one brief comment about how porn performers are abused or only go into the adult industry because they lack other healthy choices for work. I would encourage anyone discussing pornography to seek out resources where porn performers or those involved with the adult industry tell their own stories. The book Coming Out Like a Porn Star is a good place to begin.
Overall I highly recommend this book to couples who are genuinely looking to make a mutual connection and work through the conflict concerning the role of porn in relationships. Rather than arguing about porn or spreading shame, this book takes a compassionate approach that does not belittle the voice of the porn viewer and acknowledges the sexual needs of both partners.
The website associated with the book is www.gethelpwithporn.com Though the site appears to have little activity, there are articles and other resources that may be of help to couples.
Even if you are not in a relationship but have a conflict about porn, I highly recommend checking this book out. I feel it is a great space to work through personal problems in a way that models excellent communication and helps manage emotions in a healthy way.
Finally, the ending of the book is left open so couples can continue to focus on the needs of their own unique relationship. I give this book 5/5 stars and gladly loan it to those who are dealing with porn in their relationships.