While many viewers of adult content don't seem to suffer ill effects, porn can become problematic for others. The Kinsey Institute survey found 9 percent of porn viewers said they had tried unsuccessfully to stop.
When pornography use becomes excessive, romantic relationships can suffer. Destin Stewart, PhD, and Dawn Szymanski, PhD, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, surveyed female college students and found that those who perceived their boyfriends' porn use to be problematic experienced lower self-esteem, poorer relationship quality and lower sexual satisfaction (Sex Roles, 2012).
But it's not always that simple. In a 2013 study, researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of Missouri surveyed heterosexual couples who were married or living together and found that men's use of porn was associated with lower sexual quality for both men and their partners. Female use of porn, however, was associated with improved sexual quality for women (Journal of Sex Research, 2013).
Bridges and Patricia Morokoff, PhD, reported similar findings: When men used porn, they tended to report lower levels of sexual intimacy in their real-life relationships. When women used porn, however, intimacy increased (Personal Relationships, 2011).