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How to Get Turned On by Porn

2022-05-17
min read
How to Get Turned On by Porn

When you picture porn, what comes to mind? Pop-ups? Sexist tropes and unrealistic beauty standards? If you had a less-than-ideal introduction to visual erotica, you’re not alone. This guide covers how to get turned on by porn (again, or for the first time).

First, the elephant in the room: is porn bad?

It’s nearly impossible to enjoy a sexy film if you’re worried that…

  • You’re doing something wrong
  • You’re hurting your relationships
  • Watching is a sin
  • The porn industry is exploitative
  • We could go on, but you get the idea

To start, let’s get one thing straight: porn, by definition, is not the same thing as image-based sexual abuse, and sex work is not the same thing as trafficking. Conflating sex work with abuse hurts sex workers and people in the porn industry, many of whom are women.

Why you might have heard porn is bad for you

First, anti-porn research is well-funded. There are only a few researchers who have studied the benefits of watching porn. Luckily, researchers like Nicole Prause, PhD, are debunking false claims created by the anti-porn movement. (No, porn does not “hijack” your brain, for example.)

Second, we live in a culture that teaches people (women, especially) that having sexuality is shameful, let alone porn.

You might be a sex-positive person. Even if you are, feelings of shame and guilt can persist. So, let’s talk about the benefits of watching erotic films.

Why do people watch porn?

Here’s what we know:

Ready to experience the benefits, yourself? Let’s dive in.

How to get turned on by porn

Alright, onto to the main event.

1. Think about your past experiences with and beliefs about erotic films

Porn can be a safe, fun, and sexy form of entertainment to explore.

That said, if you do hold strong beliefs against it, watching probably won’t make you feel great. And feeling great is kind of the whole point.

Reflect on your feelings

Here are some questions you can use:

  • What was your first experience with porn like? How did it make you feel?
  • When you think about porn, what feelings come up now?
  • What were you taught about sex and porn, growing up? Where did you learn about it? Was it from parents? Movies? A kid on the bus in middle school? Think about how these sources inform (or don’t inform) your values now

It’s important to remember that you get to decide your boundaries and comfort levels. You get to decide when, if, and how you want to challenge your beliefs or explore your boundaries. And you know what does and doesn’t makes you feel good.

Whatever makes you feel good (or doesn’t make you feel good) is okay.

Remember: sexuality, and a wide range of feelings around it, is normal. If these questions are challenging or bring up difficult memories, it can be really helpful to reach out to a licensed clinician or sex therapist. You can also talk to a trusted friend or partner.

If you ask us, it’s brave AF of you to explore your feelings, beliefs, and experiences around sex and porn.

2. Clarify your values — and find porn that aligns with those values

Now that you’ve explored your beliefs about erotic films and where those beliefs might come from, think about what’s important to you now.

Questions you can think about to clarify your values around porn

Is it important to me that…

  • Performers are paid fairly and promptly
  • Consent is happening (on or off-screen)
  • Physical and emotional safety practices are being taken, and if so, which ones
  • I can hear from performers directly about their experiences on-set
  • What I’m seeing on-screen feels realistic to me, or combines elements of realism with elements of fantasy
  • Diversity is depicted, including of race, gender, body type, ability, and sexual orientation
  • Women, gender minorities, and/or people with marginalized identities are behind the camera

If the answer to some or all of these questions is yes, you’re probably looking for ethical porn.

We’ve got a whole other guide that tells you what that is, but in short, ethical porn prioritizes the well-being of performers and creators: physically, emotionally, and financially.

Because performers and creators in the ethical porn industry are paid fairly, ethical porn typically is not free. The best way to ensure the porn you are watching is ethical is to pay for it.

Start watching

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How to find porn you like

If you’re re-discovering or exploring porn for the first time, it’s tricky to figure out what you like (and to find it). Google won’t get you very far, and the last thing you want to do is sift through a sea of pop-ups on a tube site.

At afterglow, films are sorted into categories. You can filter films based on moods like “intimate” or “rough,” categories like “heterosexual” or “lesbian,” or sex acts like “oral sex” or “spanking.”

You can also take our quiz to help you figure out what you like, or read lists like this top five porn videos for couples list to get some ideas.

3. Watch in a space that makes you feel comfortable

Before you watch, think about what you need.

Is your mind going to wander if your room isn’t clean? Does lighting a candle help you set the mood? Do you need to pick a time you won’t be stressed about work or distracted by what’s going on in your house? Would you like to watch with a partner?

The space you’re in and the people you’re with can make a big difference in how you feel.

4. Go ahead and press play

You set the mood. You found a film you’re excited about. The only thing left is to press play.

As you watch, notice how you feel and try not to judge your own feelings. Not into it? That’s okay; find another film or take a break. Feeling turned on? Go ahead and touch yourself. Incorporate a toy. Sext your partner. While you watch, there are no rules — you do you (pun intended). 😉

5. Reflect (and celebrate yourself)

Once you’re done, check in with yourself. What did you like about that experience? What didn’t you like about it? Would you do it again? What did you learn about yourself?

Self-discovery is a beautiful thing. We hope you feel good about taking the time to get in touch with your beliefs, your desires, and your boundaries.


60% of women are dissatisfied with their sex lives. We’re on a mission to change that

What if you didn’t have to search to find a body that looks like yours, a sex act that turns you on, or a guided exercise that helps you tell your partner exactly what you’ve been craving?

What if YOUR pleasure came first?

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