Tracey Cox says virtual reality porn will be the norm by 2026

I can usually predict the next sex trend from the emails and messages I get – and right now my inboxes are screaming ‘virtual reality porn’!

“I just found out that my partner is touching himself with a VR headset,” writes one woman, “now I know why he is no longer interested in having sex with me.”

The VR porn industry – computer-generated simulation of three-dimensional sexual interactions – is big business.

The global value of the VR adult content market is expected to grow from over $700 this year to $19 billion by 2026.

Pornhub is viewed on average half a million times a day out of the 3,000 free VR videos it offers. On Christmas Day, that can go up to 900,000. (Turkey and party hats are clearly either extremely boring…or exciting.)

Like most new things with technology, VR seems like sci-fi right now, but it will soon become the norm for many people.

Currently, VR porn is mostly aimed at straight men – which is probably why I get a lot of messages from concerned straight women.

I just went to an art exhibition (the Van Gogh Immersive experience) with a VR video of the painter’s experience in Provence, and I understand why.

It was one of the most extraordinary sensory experiences of my life – and that was without an orgasm.

So how threatened should we be by VR porn? Is it as popular as it claims – and what if you find out YOUR partner is watching it?

Should you feel threatened if your partner likes VR porn, and does this count as cheating? (stock image)

How easy is it to access?

For years, VR porn was expensive, scarce and a bit hit and miss. Subsequently, the porn industry has pumped a lot of time and money into making it more reliable and accessible.

However, it still requires effort and investment, both in money and time. You can access it on your smartphone, but it’s not easy (most providers aren’t porn friendly) and not very good.

Anyone serious about VR is investing in a wireless, self-contained device – the most popular retails for around £300. (Remember, porn isn’t the only thing you can use it for: gamers love it, and you can riding experiences” with friends.)

Most are simple plug-in-and-play devices: turn it on, go to a porn site and start watching.

Pornhub has thousands of free VR clips to explore. Or, for premium video quality and longer videos, you can subscribe to a VR specialty studio for $10 to $50 per month.

What’s so good about it?

Normal porn offers exciting images for us to watch. VR is an experience: the viewer has the feeling that he is present in the space and participates in what is happening.

Virtual reality uses many camera lenses to capture the same scene from hundreds of angles. When put together, you get a 180 or 240 degree view of what was filmed.

Tracey Cox says VR porn will grow in popularity because it offers the realistic 'experience' that the online variant can't match

Tracey Cox says VR porn will grow in popularity because it offers the realistic ‘experience’ that the online variant can’t match

In ‘normal’ porn, bodies are not life size – VR bodies are. The size and proximal distance is a big part of what’s so exciting for viewers.

“I’ve adored a certain porn star for years,” one man confessed to me. “It was like meeting her in real life – and interacting with her sexually. I couldn’t believe how realistic it was. It gave me the best orgasms of my life.’

There are also ‘extras’ added

VR porn is not all pre-recorded: you can watch live cam shows and interact with the girls. DreamCam is a company that broadcasts videos of adult stars talking and interacting with the public. Customers can also tip and influence what they do.

“It’s like actually having sex with other people, but without the fear of getting caught or seen in a lap dance club – which my wife forbids,” one man told me.

Another company has created a small canister that attaches to VR headsets and emits a sweet, musty smell during the action. There are also sex toys for men that can be synced to the video so they can physically feel what they see the person doing on the screen.

I am pro porn if it is ethical and used in moderation and appropriately. But VR takes it to a whole other level and raises all kinds of new problems and dilemmas.

For starters…

Is it cheating if your partner has sex with a virtual person?

I don’t consider passively watching 2D porn as cheating: watching a video of people doing sexy things doesn’t equate to infidelity in real life.

But once there is interaction, it changes.

Paying a camgirl to do things just for you – without your partner’s permission – definitely puts it on dangerous territory for most people.

VR porn takes things to an even more menacing level.

“The experience is so realistic, it feels like I’m in a real-life relationship with her,” one regular VR user told me. “I’m single at the moment, so that’s fine. But I wouldn’t do it if I was dealing with someone. It’s completely different from just watching a video.’

Cheating isn’t the only problem if your partner is a VR fan

If so, how does sex compare in real life?

Is VR porn making people stop enjoying sex in real life?

The answer to that question is that it can lead to dissatisfaction.

Porn already makes it hard for real life sex to compete: there’s so much variety, for every whim, ‘twice a week and only in the missionary position’ style sex feels even more boring than it already is.

VR porn delivers all this and more in a multi-sensory format that is fantastically immersive.

CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR PARTNER’S PORN HABITS?

Here are some tips for people who are concerned that their partner may develop a dysfunctional porn habit.

Are you overreacting? Studies show that 95 percent of men watch porn. If you noticed the strange porn search when you click the history button (accidentally, of course), don’t think twice about it.

Are you still having sex? Porn sex is lazy sex. Most men have a few favorite sites and a certain type of porn that they know will push the right buttons. If you’re still having enjoyable regular sex, don’t worry about his solo sessions with porn. It’s when he’d rather watch porn and masturbate than have real sex with you, when the alarms should go off.

So why would he choose porn over sex with me? It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s ready when it is. Zero effort required. Porn is not affected by periods, fat days, moods or arguments. It’s predictable – people aren’t. If he has erection problems and is ashamed of it, he may opt for porn instead of what he sees as unbearable conversation. Ditto if he ejaculates prematurely.

How much time does he spend watching? Most studies indicate that men watch about 70 minutes a week, with each session lasting about five to 15 minutes. If your partner clocks a lot more than that, you may have a problem.

A good sex therapist or therapist who specializes in addiction can help solve the problem and there are also many dedicated porn addiction clinics around the world.

The user is not just an observer, he is a participant. The scenes can be so lifelike that you get lost in them and mistake them for reality.

This type of activity triggers a pleasurable release of dopamine that keeps users coming back for more.

In short: it threatens to be much more addictive than ‘regular’ porn.

VR porn is both effortless and highly satisfying. Faced with the choice of solving a sex problem with a real partner — something that requires effort, motivation and good communication — or putting on a headset to get your kicks, there are no prizes for guessing what many men go for will choose.

It’s new, exciting and can make real connections feel second-rate. “To be honest, I have a hard time getting an erection with my partner if I’ve looked at it too much,” another man told me. “Sex feels dull and colorless.”

What about the ethical issues?

Cash customers can customize avatars to look exactly the way they want. That could be an avatar that looks like an ex they never quite got over. Or someone they can only fantasize about. Someone who is sexually banned: a boss, your best friend’s partner. Some men ask for avatars of their girlfriend or wife because then they can make them do something they won’t do in real life.

If all of that sounds decidedly creepy and distasteful, that’s because it is! Revenge porn can be even more devastating to its victims.

It’s not all bad news, though.

VR porn can have a lot of pluses

Many couples already enjoy watching VR porn together for an enhanced erotic experience. It’s also a great way to explore a new kink before you actually try it (or satisfy one your partner doesn’t like, without going outside the relationship).

Always wanted to go to a sex party or experience a threesome? This is your chance to give it a spin, without the emotional risk to your relationship.

I struggled to find women who use VR porn regularly, but the few I spoke to did it with a partner and loved the experience.

Some sex therapists and educators hope the new technology will help people solve common sex problems.

‘How-to’ videos can demonstrate sexual techniques; there could be “lessons” teaching women how to masturbate.

Preliminary research found that VR porn results in much greater arousal compared to traditional 2D viewing, so it may be helpful for those with low libido.

In the future, we can have VR sex with our partners.

This will give a much-needed sexual boost to loved ones in long-distance relationships and make lockdowns and quarantines a lot more bearable. Even being physically together means you can still have sex even if a person isn’t feeling well or just doesn’t feel like it.

In moderation and especially for people who find it hard to have sex in real life or can’t find anyone to have sex with, VR porn is a great way for them to experiment and feel less alone.

Some experts believe that sex is so satisfying that men who find it difficult to connect with women in real life may give it up completely and settle for VR porn as a substitute for real life experiences.

However you look at it, VR porn – like all porn – is here to stay. It is up to us, as individuals, to make our way through the ups and downs and learn to live with them.

Visit traceycox.com for Tracey’s two product lines, her podcast, sex advice and her books.

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