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Foot Fetishes and Chocolate Sauce-Covered Lesbians: When Couples Watch Porn Together

It feels like every few weeks some article comes out asking whether pornmakes us bad lovers, asking whether it's making teen boys into cumshot-obsessed mouth-breathers, or teen girls coerced puppets who think anal is standard second-date fare. According to PornHub, everyone around the worldwatched about 4.3 billion hours of people groaning and slamming their genitals into each other on their site last year, which has no doubt contributed towards the moral panic.

This concern about skewed expectations in the bedroom as a result of pornography contrasts with the advocacy for the benefits of couples watching it together. So we decided to just cut out the middle man and ask two couples and one newly single woman about how they navigate watching porn while in relationships.

"We used to watch bondage shit for ideas, but it's all so Hollywood and fake"

Hannah and Jake
Ages: 26 and 24

VICE: How many nights a week do you two spend together?
Jack: In theory every night: we rent a basement flat together in southeast London, though about three nights a week we will do our own thing.

What are your porn-watching habits like, now that you live together?
Hannah: Well, we've been together for nearly four and a half years so it was never really a shock that we'd both watch it separately sometimes. That's how we do it now I think—well that's what I do! I'm assuming Jack's the same.

Jack: I watch it alone, but a lot less than I used to. Maybe it's an age thing or a time thing, but we don't really try it together anymore.

Why's that?
Jack: We tried it and it just wasn't right. It was weird at first, but we got into it. We used to watch bondage shit and got some ideas from it, but it's all so Hollywood and fake, so it detracted from the experience. When we're together it's about us, and we both seem to feel that that's how we should keep things.

Hannah: We've always been pretty open about what turns us on, so there's never been any embarrassment or secrets. But I think we both like to keep our deepest fantasies as fantasies, if you get me. There are things we like the idea of or like to see, but wouldn't like to do with each other. I personally think that watching stuff and playing along alone is a completely different thing than being with the person you love. I think lust is natural and porn is a way to get it out without cheating or stuff like that.

How open are you about what you like to watch alone?

Jack: We don't really talk about it, and I don't think we need to. I don't ask her what she had for lunch every day, and I don't ask her what she got off to either.

Hannah: As long as it is just fantasy then I think it's healthy that we keep it as our own business.

So how does it affect your sex life?
Jack: When we first started it was more out of a desire to mix things up, and it helped at the time. But it didn't last, and started being more of a negative. We were both into different things and it caused more issues than it solved, so we just stopped, and now have our own times alone. Not that we announce it, but it's just an understood thing, I think. Even though we don't mind each other getting off to porn alone, it does seem a bit like betrayal even if it shouldn't, so we keep it to ourselves. At least that's the conclusion I've come to.

"I checked his browsing history and he'd been watching some videos about strange shit"

Megan
Age: 25

I recently broke up with my boyfriend, after three years together. I sort of watched porn behind his back at first while working freelance from our flat—alone time wasn't much of an issue. He only ever caught me in the act once: I managed to close the browser at the last minute and play it off casual, but it was kind of obvious.

After a while, I felt like it might help if we tried watching some porn together, so I awkwardly put the idea forward over dinner as we watched TV. By that point, I'd been psyching myself up for about a week, and decided that no scenario could be worse than carrying on with the token sex life that we'd slumped into.

I just blurted it out. There was some presenter on TV, so I said something like: "Oh she's pretty, I wonder if she's ever been in any porn?" He was like, "Erm, I dunno, probably not if she's on evening TV." So that didn't really work. I left it for a couple of minutes then just came out and said we should try watching porn together. He didn't really react, but just carried on looking at the TV and said something like: "Yeah, why not?"

To move things along, a few days later I left my laptop in plain view with an X-rated page open. He saw it and was like: "What's this all about?" So I said I'd been finding something for us to watch. I thought he looked kind of embarrassed, but he said OK and we tried it that night. It was weird, because it was so... normal. He was really into the actual sex, but didn't seem to care much about the porn—he didn't look at it or talk about it at all. He just seemed so disinterested, so I knew something was up.

I let it slide and we went back to normal. But one weekend I went to grab some stuff for lunch, and when I came back he was in the shower. His work laptop was open and unlocked so I had a sneaky look at his files, which were boring, and then at his browsing history. Literally a couple of minutes before his shower he'd been watching some videos about, like, strange shit.

Nothing illegal or anything, but just very fetish-y. There were searches based around bondage at first, then there was one about feet. But the one that sticks in my memory that I've not been able to find since involved three women getting off while covered in gunk—like the brightly-colored slime or goop they used to dunk celebrities under on children's TV. Then out came the baked beans. It was basically a threesome with tinned foods and neon gunge. Admittedly, there's a lot weirder stuff out there but it was a shock.

We broke up for other reasons not that long after that. Basically it turned out he was into some really odd shit, and all that time I'd been looking at soft missionary stuff.

Illustration by Dan Evans

"We tried using food, like chocolate sauce, and it was just a bit gross"

Amy and Duncan
Ages: 20 and 22

VICE: So, you've told me you and your girlfriend watch porn together. What brought it about?
Duncan: She just asked me if I watched it, and I was like: "Well... yeah.' Then we discussed how it would be quite good to watch it together, so that's how it started. She may find some of the stuff I like a bit weird, but we can always talk about that. Overall, it's definitely been a positive thing. We've done it for about two years—half our relationship.

Let's talk logistics. How often do you watch it together? And do you still get some alone time?
Amy: We might watch it once or twice a week, sometimes as more of a precursor and sometimes with more focus on it. But it really depends on how busy we are or if we don't like each other that night for some reason. We both haven't actually talked about if either of us still watches it alone... Maybe it's better to keep that secret?

How much do you find that it enhances or detracts from your sex lives?
Duncan: Well we're still theoretically living apart, but I'm renting a place that's quite big, and Amy stays over more nights than not in a typical week. We cook together most nights and it feels like we're living together really.

How open are you about the kinds of things you like to watch?
Duncan: After two years of doing it I think we're fairly open about what makes us tick. I'd say most of what we watch involves things like couples "sharing" their partner, or the guy watching as his girlfriend gets with something else. Also stuff like the babysitter or the housewife and gardener. It's weird because I'm not into the idea of sharing, but it's different when it's porn.

Tell me about the first time you watched X-rated stuff together.
Amy: I think I just asked him point blank. I read an article on Cosmopolitan or something (don't judge) about watching porn as a couple. I'd done it solo for a while every so often, and wanted to know if he did too. I'm pretty sure we'd just been out for drinks so chatted about it openly.

When we tried it first I think we'd been drinking again, which made it less awkward than you might have thought. I remember we half-watched something quite tame to get the mood going, then it moved from being on in the background to taking a more central role in sex. Like copying what we were seeing: positions and places—the kitchen, car, etc.—and some tying up and teasing. I've always liked that sort of thing, and I think it's a lot more common since 50 Shades of Grey.

So how does it affect your sex life?
Duncan: We don't watch it every single time, but use it to keep things more varied. It's also definitely allowed us to open up about our kinks, and given us some ideas—though not all of them work in real life. We tried using food, like chocolate sauce and it was just a bit gross, and shower- or bath-related stuff isn't practical. Also I don't think we'll ever experiment with candle wax again.

Amy: It can also make it more of an event rather than a quick token thing. We can pace ourselves and take our time, plus there's so much stuff on the internet—it can take a while just browsing.

Name of author: 
By Tim Noble; Illustrations: Dan Evans

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