The Porn Gap: Differences in Men's and Women's Pornography Patterns in Couple Relationships


pornography, couples, marriage, gender differences, emerging adults, conflict


Perhaps the most notable finding of pornography research to date is the sizeable gender gap that exists between men and women when it comes to their personal use and acceptance of pornography. This disparity raises a number of questions about couple formation patterns and the relationship dynamics that arise between men and women related to pornography use. In this study, the authors used both a nationally representative weighted data set of individuals who are in committed heterosexual couple relationships (n = 21,555) and a subset of matched heterosexual couples (n = 2,972 individuals; 1,486 couples) to examine romantic partners' pornography use rates, patterns of viewing pornography alone or together, relationship boundaries related to pornography acceptance, and pornography-related conflict. The authors found that there is indeed a notable “pornography gap” between many partners and that for some opposite-sex couples there is significant conflict related to pornography. These findings highlight the importance of studying pornography as a couple issue that is contextualized by partners' relationship scripts and negotiated boundaries related to sexuality, compatibility, and fidelity.

Original Publication Citation

Carroll, J. S., Busby, D. M., Willoughby, B. J., & Brown, C.* (2017). The Porn Gap: Differences in Men’s and Women’s Pornography Patterns in Couple Relationships. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 16 (2), 146-163.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor