Why Watching Emotional Sex Between Real Partners Is So Arousing
In 2017, porn star Angela White’s “Angela 3” became the best-selling flick of her career and won six Adult Video News awards—not because of the 93 minutes of fornication it featured, but for the 13 minutes of post-sex tears she displayed as she and her partner discussed the experience. The “porn” in this case was less about thrusting and more about witnessing an intimate moment.
Intimacy porn is a growing genre within the adult entertainment world. Whether it involves real partners or actors, intimacy porn is “not your typical let's get down to business, have sex in all these different erotic positions, then have an orgasm,” said Jackie Golob, a sex and relationship therapist and mental health counselor at the Centre for Sexual Wellness in Minneapolis. “It's more so about experiencing that feeling of physical and emotional connection with your partner during sex.”
That emotional aspect isn’t present in the more standard, aggressive sex that is typically found in mainstream porn—but it can be enlightening to watch.
Intimacy porn creates more realistic expectations around sex.
A big reason for this shift toward emotional erotica is the fact that it brings realistic expectations to the forefront, said Nazanin Moali, a Los Angeles-based certified sex therapist. “Commercial porn is like watching a Hollywood movie wanting to learn about love," she said. "It misinforms people about what real-life sex looks like.”
Mainstream porn often includes over-the-top acting (think: faces contorted in pain, exaggerated moans). But intimacy porn, even when filmed with actors, provides a glimpse into the connection between two people, Golob said. When it comes to sex tapes between long-term, real-life couples, they’re getting it on without professional camera tricks or professional direction. That leaves room for fumbles and awkwardness and laughter and strange noises—all of which are a natural part of sex—and can help those watching relate their own experiences.
“You see in real time the way that intimate partners experience pleasure,” Moali said. “It can show people how different stages [of sex] are, and how much time it can take people to reach different phases of arousal and orgasm.” Then, it’s easier to translate those behaviors into your own sexual experiences.
Watching intimate moments leads to more intimacy in real life.
Emotional intimacy porn is a turn-on for people because it stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin, Golob said, adding, “When oxytocin—aka the love or cuddle hormone—is triggered in our brains, we feel connection, love and closeness with our partner.” Oxytocin also helps you form a connection between that feeling and the experience that delivered it—in this case, a more realistic depiction of sex. “And that creates this positive feedback loop in your brain,” Golob said.
Not only will you feel more turned on in the moment, but watching intimacy porn with a partner can lead to more in-depth conversations about what you saw, what you liked and what you’re curious about. And when you’re confident and comfortable enough with your partner to bring up those topics in conversation, it’s going to help expand your sexual intimacy—and what you’re willing to try in the bedroom, Golob said.
Intimacy porn takes comparison out of the equation.
One of the biggest problems with porn is when people start comparing themselves with the bodies and performances they see on the screen. It’s intimidating to watch professionals filmed in high-production scenarios and try to equate that with your own fumbling in the dark.
But when the focus is on intimacy instead of the size of someone’s private parts or how much (or little) hair they have in certain areas or how chiseled their muscles are, you can be more accepting of your own body, Golob explained. “Intimacy porn can help with normalizing all body types, body hair, ages, genders, sexes, disabilities, performance and more,” she added.
The more confident and comfortable you feel while with a partner, the less concerned you are about looking or performing a certain way, the more present you can be in that sexual experience. The best part? If your brain isn’t preoccupied with comparing yourself to another person, “You’re going to be able to feel even more arousal and desire,” Golob said. And isn’t that the whole point?