I look at porn sites every now and then.
“I only look at it every now and then, It’s harmless fun. We don’t make love anymore so I have to do something. It’s not really a pornography addiction problem, is it?”
Is pornography just harmless fun?
Pointing out to my client, If it were just ‘harmless fun’, we wouldn’t be having this conversation trying to rebuild the relationship, and stop his wife from walking out the door.
In writing this article while trying to research statistics it was almost impossible to land on a website which was genuinely not promoting pornography.
- It is said in Australia the industry is worth a staggering $500 million per year.
- In the U.S. 1 in 5 internet searches on a mobile device are for pornography.
- 20% of men admit to viewing pornography at work.
- 88% of porn scenes contain abuse or physical aggression towards women, 49% contain verbal aggression.
- Hong Kong has the highest number of pornography page views or visits.
- The US supplies 25% of the worlds pornography sites compared to the UK 5.5% and Australia 1.5%
Can pornography be healthy?
This is a topic for debate. Having heard experts and watched various documentaries on the subject and working with many couples, in my experience, I am yet to see any long term tangible benefits, only long term harm.
What is pornography addiction?
The definition of Porn addiction, which falls under the category of sex addiction, refers to behaviour which is carried out to excess, and negatively impacts ones life or relationships.
Porn addicts need a regular fix, like any drug addict except their drug of choice is pornography. Most addicts satisfy their needs in isolation, either late at night or early in the morning. Some clients I have worked with take time out at lunch or schedule to leave later for work to arrive home earlier so no one is around.
Signs of addiction
Ones inability to stop using pornography after repeated attempts to do so.
Showing irritability or anger if asked to stop viewing pornography.
Going to great lengths to cover up the addiction.
Continuing use of pornography even though the consequences are severe – loss of relationship, friends, family or career.
Negatively affects your relationship as arousal becomes increasingly difficult.
Romantic or sexual behaviour between you and your partner becomes more emotionally disconnected, aggressive, domineering.
Using pornography to change your mood or mind state to avoid unpleasant feelings, like anxiety or depression.
Why is it so addictive?
Pornography taps into one of our basic human behaviours – sex. Therefore it is very easy to become addicted because of the reward, or pleasurable experience at the end. The gratification can also be easier to obtain rather than going out to find a mate to fulfil this desire, or it seems going through the build-up and foreplay with your partner.
In relationships, viewing of pornography by one partner often occurs when the partnership becomes disconnected and the person feels their ‘needs’ are not being met. Pornography can be seen as an easy ‘go-to’ rather than working on the relationship problems.
Problems occur when seeking sexual pleasure becomes excessive, impulsive or at the expense of of valued behaviours or your relationship.
Other influencing factors
Genetically you may have a predisposition to impulsivity or sensation seeking behaviour.
You may have higher levels of sex hormones like testosterone or oestrogen.
Childhood trauma or other life altering events can contribute to some of the underlying traits in porn addiction.
Mental health conditions:
- Personality disorders
- Poor impulse control
- Performance anxiety
Social isolation or distance – this can be prevalent in overseas postings for military personnel or where one partner works away for extended periods of time.
Rejection in a relationship or bad experience.
Peer influence – having friends who regularly engage in watching pornography, which can have a normalising effect and influence your behaviour.
The consequences of porn addiction
The effects on a relationship when one partner has a pornography addiction and it’s impacting on the relationship, can have dire consequences.
If you suspect your use of pornography may be more serious than you think, consider the following questions:
Are you using more now than in the beginning?
Do you anticipate or dwell on the use beforehand?
When you are not using pornography do you spend large amounts of time thinking about it?
Have you experienced an irresistible urge to use against your conscious wishes?
Have you made plans or promises to not use but gone back to old habits?
Do you sense you are not in complete control of your use of pornography?
Are you spending increasing amounts of time in an altered state?
Have you lied to yourself or others about your use?
Do you hide your use form your partner or others?
Has your viewing pornography changed your sexual desires or how you desire your partner?
Have you missed commitments, taken time off work or declined invitations because of your use?
Are you in denial of the money your spending on pornography?
If you answered yes to 3 or more of the questions then you need to look at how pornography is seriously impacting your life.
Are you a partner of someone who is addicted to pornography?
Below is an excerpt from a correspondent received from a client whose husband has a pornography addiction. The client struggled with the deceit and lies after countless questioning over a period of time – her husband repeatedly denied the accusations and continually lied.
His wife felt for him to seek sexual gratification outside the marriage was tantamount to having an affair. The word betrayal was used several times.
“Two days ago I came home much to his surprise, and discovered him watching pornography. This was something he had engaged in from time to time since before our marriage. Historically I have encouraged him to share this facet of his sexual life with me but he has chosen not to.
Over the life of our marriage I have seen a steady decrease in the frequency of our sexual activity until now when we only make love once or twice a month. His enthusiasm for sex has decreased as well.”
The effects on the partner of a porn addict can be quite traumatic. Women who live with a porn addict can meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a serious anxiety disorder. Feelings such as:
Are often common amongst partners.
Whats the next step?
Like any addiction the first step is for the addict to recognise that there is a problem. “How do I get him to…..” or, “I’ve made an appointment for you to…” , very rarely works. The addict has to be accountable and take responsibility for their own actions.
Depending on the degree of disconnection the addiction has caused, and how hurt the partner is, the partners role can be crucial in the rehabilitation process.
Talking to a trusted friend, professional or a group about the addiction is a major step in recovery.
Abstinence comes first on the list. You cannot begin your recovery process without abstaining from viewing pornographic material. Remove any temptation, change your habits, have an open phone policy or move your computer into the family area. Make sure your history on the computer is available and your partner knows how to access it.
Work on a relapse prevention plan, have an accountability partner?
Above all else, take action.
For more advice on pornography addiction or help with this condition call Dave now.