In my work as a sexuality educator, I don’t describe pornography as exclusively good or bad. It has its benefits (useful for sparking imagination and erotic inspo, for example). But it also has some less-than-helpful impacts—particularly around our expectations of what sex is “supposed to” be like.
Since porn is, by default, one of the only ways many of us learn what sex looks (and sounds) like, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the sex you have should be similar to how it looks on the screen.
But porn isn’t real.
Say it with me! PORN! ISN’T! REAL!
The people you see in porn are actors. They are acting. In other words, they are faking it! The positions they twist themselves into are useful for the camera angles, but not necessarily useful for pleasure… or comfort for that matter! The storylines might be fun but are often unrealistic, just like in rom coms or action flicks.
From almost the moment the engagement ring slips on our finger, we are accosted with bridal mags; we change our Facebook relationship status to “engaged” and the wedding advertisements immediately flood our sidebar and newsfeed; and somehow “Say Yes to the Dress” binges become more frequent.
Yet, the fabrication of the porn industry doesn’t make it inherently bad. It serves its purpose. It does, however, mean that we have to consume it with a critical eye. We have to be media literate enough to see through the bullshit. Otherwise you will set yourself up for disappointment by expecting your IRL sex to emulate porn sex.
The same holds true for the wedding industry.
The images are just about impossible to escape. From almost the moment the engagement ring slips on our finger, we are accosted with bridal mags; we change our Facebook relationship status to “engaged” and the wedding advertisements immediately flood our sidebar and newsfeed; and somehow “Say Yes to the Dress” binges become more frequent.
Just like with sex porn, however, it’s not about placing a “good or bad” value judgment on the industry. It’s our responsibility to become critical consumers of what we’re seeing.
Be honest with yourself about how much you’re surrounding yourself with wedding porn. The more we consume, the more our brain starts to think that the depictions reflect reality. So consume responsibly.
As much as it might look like it, those casual Pinterest photos aren’t just a rando bride posting her dress. Most of the time, they are models participating in styled shoots—just like the porn performers are acting! Indeed, the dress might be gorgeous, but it might not be comfortable. Or might not even be that gorgeous in real life – for that matter – without the extra pins and constant train-fluffers and two-sided tape and Spanx.
It’s a facade. And just like with sex, if you expect your IRL wedding to emulate the wedding porn you’re seeing everywhere, you’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment.
- Limit your consumption of wedding-related media. I’m not saying to avoid it altogether! But be honest with yourself about how much you’re surrounding yourself with wedding porn. The more we consume, the more our brain starts to think that the depictions reflect reality. So consume responsibly.
- Consume real wedding depictions! Look at photos from the weddings of friends and family that were taken by non-photogs. See what everyone and everything looked like before editing and filters and before only the best-of-the-best were compiled into an album. Remind your brain what real weddings look like.
- Make time to connect with your fiancé without discussing wedding-related things. Go on dates! Make out! Do things that you did before you were engaged. Intentionally reconnect with what is most important about the wedding.
- This tip is borrowed from my therapist, but make a list of ways you want to feel on your wedding day (in addition to your list of tasks, people, purchases, etc.). Reflecting on your desired feelings will give you a better handle on your planning priorities, absent of wedding porn influence.
Colby Marie Z is a sex & relationship coach, educator, speaker and blogger based out of Providence, RI. She is a doctoral candidate in human sexuality, an avid (slash obnoxious) football fan, and has been proudly talking about sexual pleasure, confidence, and satisfaction for 10+ years. You can find out more about Colby at sexloveandallthefeels.com, or connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.