Male Pornography Use in Heterosexual Relationships: The Female's Subjective Experience

Prof Doc Thesis

Deacon, C. 2017. Male Pornography Use in Heterosexual Relationships: The Female's Subjective Experience. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsDeacon, C.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This study is aimed at exploring how female partners experience their male partners’ use of pornography. It is reported that therapists are increasingly being called upon to support female partners presenting with difficulties relating to their male partners’ porn use (Hall, 2015), but that clinicians feel under-prepared to work effectively with these clients due to a lack of training and the limited availability of empirically based literature (Ayres & Haddock, 2009). Consequently, there appears to be a growing need for research in this area that can provide insight and guidance for clinicians.
The phenomenological epistemology and relativist ontology that underpin this study place an emphasis on understanding the subjective lived experiences of the participants; a focus which seems congruent with the philosophical underpinnings of counselling psychology.
Using a qualitative approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six female participants. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis through which four master themes were identified: ‘Pushing her limits of acceptance: The ongoing discoveries’; ‘The female partner’s meaning-making’; ‘A lonely experience’; and ‘The layers of loss’. New insights regarding the interplay between the female partners’ meaning-making and their responses highlight the multi-layered and complex experiences of these participants.
A number of implications for practice are discussed including the importance of clinicians moving away from a model of pathology to one of promoting well-being and validating female partners’ emotions and experiences regardless of whether a diagnosis (of porn or sexual addiction, for example) is present. The findings may serve to inform individual and group work with both female partners and male users, as well as couple work. Finally, it is hoped that providing insight into the lived experiences of female partners may encourage a more empathetic and understanding response from male porn users and society when female partners seek their support. The limitations of the study are discussed as well as further areas for research.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintJun 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Sep 2017
Publisher's version
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