• Dr. Butch Losey

Porn Effects You and Your Relationship

Updated: Feb 3



Last week, I presented a two-day workshop on pornography and sex addiction at Xavier University. The audience was mostly grad students and a few school counselors. For most, there was surprise in learning about the ease of access to pornography, type of pornography, how technology is assisting virtual sex and pornography's effect on the brain.

So is porn bad for you? Your relationship? And to go a step further, is porn addiction really an addiction? I asked the group at Xavier to identify what would be the most perfect type of recreational drug to sell, from a seller's perspective. Here is the answer: Its easily accessible, affordable, it keeps getting better, looks harmless, it's anonymous, and of course, it's addictive. These characteristics also describe pornography.

There are some troubling stats that indicate the growing problem of porn use. Twenty percent of men admit to accessing porn at work; thirteen percent of women admit the same. Ten percent of adult porn users are suspected to have pornography addiction. This use comes with a personal toll.

Compulsive Porn Use

Porn use can become habitual, ritual and compulsive. With the advent of tube sites, novel pornography is a one-second click away. Compulsive porn users are strongly affected by the thrill of the hunt, leading to compulsive, out of control use. Compulsive pornography use impacts an individual's physical, mental and social health. For men, depleted testosterone levels accounts for many of their problems, including chronic fatigue and lowering motivation, since porn use is associated with masturbation. By the way, masturbation while viewing porn compounds the problems. Masturbation amplifies the addictive power of pornography, bonds the brain with sexual release; connecting porn to the highest pleasure, orgasm. Chronic porn users also experience increasing social discomfort, isolation, emotional numbness, depression, irritability and sadness.

Is Porn Use Effecting Your Relationship?

Pornography and it's Effect on Relationships

A 2007 study found that just looking at a series of images of sexy females caused a man to devalue his real-life partner, as less attractiveness, not as warm and even less intelligent. In a 2006 study, after viewing porn, men reported less satisfaction with their intimate partner—including the partner's affection, appearance, sexual curiosity, and performance.

Compulsive pornography use can indicate more systemic issues in the relationship. With porn use, the user can control the sexual experience, there is no performance anxiety and the sex can be more satisfying. It takes more work with an actual partner. Compulsive use can indicate failure to resolve ongoing conflict, resentment, or a waning or unfulfilled sexual relationship.

Couple's counseling can be useful for couples struggling with one partner's porn use. Some strategies of the therapist can include dealing with the couple’s sex life and their "erotic contract", strengthening intimacy, discussing the legitimacy and use of masturbation, assessing and strengthening their communication and conflict skills, and helping the couple assessing their power dynamics.

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