A lot goes into the decision to get married: loving a partner enough to spend the rest of your life with them, liking them enough, financial stability, the desire to start a family, balancing what your family wants and what you want, and of course, porn. No, really.

Research published in the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany states that the rise of free porn on the internet is both correlated with the decline in the amount of young adult men who are married and might actually play a role in the decline. Researchers surveyed more than 1500 men between 18 and 35, analyzing how they used the internet between 2000 and 2004. The researchers took a look at how many hours each participant spent and how many looked at porn versus religious sites, adjusting for variables like age, income, education, religiosity, and employment. Roberto A. Ferman at Washington Post writes:

Broadly, higher Internet usage was associated with lower marriage rates. But pornography use in particular was more closely linked to those participants who were not married than any other form of Internet use, including regular use of financial websites, news websites, sports websites, and several others. The opposite, for comparison, was true for religious website use, which was positively correlated with marriage.

Sure, it could be argued that married men look at porn less because they're married (though, do they really?), and the researchers maintain the results are shy of conclusive though they do state relationship between porn use and marriage "likely runs in the direction that we assert." One of the study's authors, professor at University of West Chester, Pennsylvania Dr. Michael Malcolm explains that the study could point to marriage and sexual gratification. Ferman continues:

If pornography is viewed as a means of alternative sexual gratification, then it could be undercutting the need for marriages to serve this function, at the very least during a younger age. Think of it as a milder form of premarital sex.

So what, porn is supposed to be the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! of marriage because dicks gotta do what dicks gotta do?

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Of course, the study didn't look at women at all despite women being one half of all heterosexual marriages. It's certainly interesting that porn could contribute to dudes holding off on marriage, and there is probably also a similar trend for women embracing porn and a sexual gratification that precludes the idea of marriage.

But then again, the decline of marriage in the US has been a thing for a while, and it also coincides with women's advancement in society, so there could be roughly a bajillion factors in play here. Either way, it's a little weird to think that that the very decline in marriage that some attribute to women pursuing their careers is, on the flip side, also attributed to how much porn dudes watch. Clearly the only way to balance this out is for women to watch more porn, right?

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