A guy's first foray into the world of porn is like a coming of age.

Unlike puberty, though, it usually lasts through manhood. Or, you know, forever.

And the tricky thing is, porn can become somewhat problematic, particularly for relationships.

Some people believe watching porn counts as cheating. Others become addicted to viewing dirty flicks and lose the intimacy in their relationship, since a porn addiction can repel the real person they could be having sex with. (Speaking of which: Are your masturbation habits normal?)

Meanwhile, advancements in the adult entertainment industry—like Pornhub's new interactive videos that sync with sex toys—can complicate a situation that's already complicated for a lot of people.

Ultimately, though, handling the sensitive topic of porn in your relationship is totally navigable. And, these days, it's probably a conversation most people should have. Here, Michael Aaron, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist, sexologist, and sex therapist, highlights the positive and negative ways porn can influence your love life, as well as how to keep it from derailing your relationship.

Should you ask your girlfriend if she's cool with you watching porn?

In short: yes. It's important to discuss potentially divisive topics early on in a relationship. (You know, things like: Hey, I run a profitable business selling fake IDs on the deep Web, or My mother has a key to my place and free range to stop by whenever she pleases). You want to feel comfortable expressing your opinion, even if it's coming out and saying you enjoy watching strangers romp every now and again on your computer.

"If you're sneaking around trying to watch porn because your partner feels uncomfortable, that's a recipe for disaster," Aaron says. Again, this is why you want to have a conversation in the beginning of the relationship, even if it's awkward. "If you're not on the same page about porn, you're probably not on the same page about many things related to sex," he adds. That said, assume nothing going into the conversation (meaning don't think she'll automatically shun you from watching porn or doesn't watch it herself). People are surprising. And porn isn't automatically damning to a relationship.

"Porn helps people explore their fantasies in confidential, non-judgmental ways," Aaron says. "You can learn more about your sexuality and the kinds of things that appeal to you without taking any major risks." It's also a helpful way to get you both in the mood—whether you watch porn together or separately.

5 ways porn can hurt your relationship:

1. Porn stars can make regular people feel inadequate and insecure. Mainstream vanilla porn features a lot of hairless statuesque men, fake-breasted Barbies, and expertly applied wax-and-fake-tan treatments. These idealized bodies and the formulaic model of what's "sexy" or "attractive" can make a lot of people, both men and women, feel inadequate. Typically, men get into porn because they've got inordinately large penises and chiseled physiques (it's part of the job description). They're casted to perpetuate stereotypes of what women "want" in a man, even though these qualities are superficial. (Coy dialogue in pornography doesn't really count as relationship-building.) And here's the thing: Over and over, research has shown that women don't care about how much heat you're packing, as long as you know (or are willing to learn) how to satisfy her. Stop wondering if your penis is normal-sized. It's self-destructive and obliterates your confidence—and that is a turn-off, according to women.

2. Porn is completely unrealistic. "In porn, the women are all willing and available to engage in sex immediately, and that's not realistic," Aaron says. "But the problem isn't in porn, but in a lack of sex ed." Your partner isn't always going to be in the mood, or willing to engage in crazy, acrobatic sex acts. You're both going to be tired and lazy some nights. You're not going to be able to get it up or maintain rock-hard erections every single time. And that's OK. Really. Stop stressing about performing like a sex god and giving her mind-melting orgasms every time. We promise you: No one is that good. 

3. Pornos aren't teaching you any tricks. "Porn is a fantasy, so it doesn't replace accurate sex education," Aaron says. "It's like someone trying to learn about geopolitics by watching Bond movies." The scenarios are nonsensical and misleading. You can't just bang your masseuse. Women don't orgasm in two minutes flat. And if you ever treated a woman in the degrading manner some of these films thrive on, you'd be hard-pressed to ever see her again. Problem is, a lot of guys buy into this because they have little real-life experience to compare anything to. Leave the ridiculous porn tricks to the pros. Shower sex doesn't work and you'd have to have the size and strength of The Rock to pull off standing-against-the-wall sex. Instead, learn her favorite sex positions and fine-tune your foreplay skills.

"Porn is a fantasy—it doesn't replace accurate sex education. It's like someone trying to learn about geopolitics by watching James Bond movies."

4. X-rated films encourage unsafe sex. Pornos rarely feature birth control. You don't see the average woodsman stopping to slide on a condom while his companion's arching her back and howling like a demonic cat. But stupid mistakes like this get women pregnant. So gents: Power through the I-need-to-have-you-NOW moments and wrap it up. And for the record, no climax is worth chlamydia (or any other STIs).

5. Watching porn takes away from the real sex you could be having. We get it if you want to blow off steam after a stressful day, or if your girlfriend is on a work trip. Masturbation can actually have a number of health benefits, so have at it. But if you become dependent on porn and find you can't get off unless you're watching a flick, then you could actually be chipping away at the integrity of your relationship.

"I think it's also important to get away from rigid, quantitative values on what's 'OK' in terms of masturbation frequency," Aaron says. "The most important variable is your quality of life."

If you enjoy porn and feel it's integrated with the rest of your life, cool. If it's interfering with multiple facets of your life, you should probably ask for some help.

"At the extreme, I've seen people stay up all night, lose sleep, and become unable to work the next day," Aaron says. "Or people isolate themselves so much with porn they lose out on real-life relationships." If you relate to either of these, you need to pinpoint the root of your problem. Viewing too much porn is just a symptom. The most common culprits are depression, anxiety, and OCD, Aaron says.

If you find you're struggling to maintain a healthy balance, seek professional help.