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6 Ways Porn Can Hurt Your Sex Life

Viewing explicit content gives men unrealistic view of sexual performance, intimacy

En español │Many men love the fantasy world of pornography, a naked never-never land of unlimited sex. But back here on Earth, these kinds of sexual fantasies can become nightmares for men. Porn is so pervasive that it's now the leading sex educator for men — and it teaches sex all wrong. Here are six ways that porn misleads men:

1. Everyone Is Always Eager. This makes many men feel that others are far more sexually active than they are. Remember, porn is fantasy. The landmark "Sex in America" survey shows that coupled men 50 and older typically make love a few times a month, and single men less often. How many men 50 and older have sex four times a week or more? Only 2 percent.

2. All Guys Are Super-Sized. Male porn actors are selected for just one thing — and it ain't acting talent. They really are bigger than the rest of us. Now, pro basketball players are very tall, but the typical male doesn't feel inadequate because he knows that most men are about his height. Not so with what porn focuses on. Heterosexual men may see flaccid equipment across locker rooms, but other than their own, the only erections they view up close are those in porn. X-rated erections are the standard by which men judge themselves, and it's skewed toward Goliaths. As a result, the world's Davids can't help thinking they're "too small."

3. Their Equipment Works Better, Too. Porn actors never have problems with erection. They last as long as they'd like, and they always finish on cue. Talk about a fantasy! Real live men, especially those 50 and older, often have iffy, unreliable erections, and some suffer more severe erectile dysfunction. Twenty-five percent of men 50 and older complain of premature ejaculation, and about 20 percent have trouble ejaculating. "Pornography encourages men to have unrealistic expectations of their penises," sex therapist Marty Klein says.

 4. Sexy Women Are Exhibitionists. Female porn stars happily strut around naked anywhere. But in the real world, only 2 percent of women are exhibitionists. Now, with 120 million adult women in the United States, the exhibitionist 2 percent provide more than 2 million potential porn actresses. But chances are 98 in 100 that the woman in your life is not one of them.

5. No One Has a Care in the World. In the world of pornography, women are always enthusiastic and care nothing about pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted disease, relationships or even their own fulfillment. In real life, anyone who doesn't consider such things is completely clueless.

6. Porn Is All About Hardcore Action. Of course, the genitals are important in sex, but think about the best sex you've ever had. Chances are it included lots of leisurely, playful touching all over from head to toe. Want great sex? Then spend at least half your time in bed not using what's between your legs. "Pornography ignores whole-body sensuality," sex therapist Dennis Sugrue says. "That's a big reason why porn-style sex isn't satisfying. That's also a big reason why so many women hate it."

Longtime sexuality journalist Michael Castleman publishes GreatSexAfter40.com.

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