Porn or Rom-Coms. Which Damage Relationships More?

We’ve heard plenty from people who say that porn is giving people unrealistic ideas of what sex is supposed to be like. And I’ve been saying for a while that I think that a lot of media also skews our notions of sex, romance and relationships. So I was interested to read a reuters.com post reporting an Australian survey showing that romantic comedies are affecting relationships.

Apparently, “[o]ne in four Australians said they were now expected to know what their partner was thinking while one in five respondents said it made their partners expect gifts and flowers ‘just because’.” The idea that we’re supposed to be able to read our partners’ minds is one of the most difficult and challenging hindrances that people face in their relationships. It makes it harder to communicate and negotiate about your needs and desires.

And while it’s certainly nice to get gifts and flowers sometimes, there are a lot of other ways to show and express love and care. Unfortunately, we don’t see them as often, perhaps because they’re harder to film. By not reflecting the diversity of human interactions, rom coms reinforce the idea that there’s a “right way” to be in a relationship and it’s the sort of thing that ends up sending couples into conflict.

OK, so I am exaggerating somewhat. But given how much the anti-porn folks flip out about the supposed harmful effects of porn, can we expect them to start a “Stop Rom Com Culture” organization? After all, copying what you see on the screen, not communicating about your partner’s actual desires & needs, and modeling your relationship on unrealistic media depictions are some of the negative effects that some folks blame porn for. It only seems fair to me that Gail Dines, Donna Hughes, Shelley Lubben should get right on this.

Just sayin’.

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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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