Cover image Lacey Bee Photography.

When we first created the Porn Kills Love t-shirt and began using #PornKillsLove on social media years ago, we had no idea that it would turn into the movement that it has today. This phrase is now being used worldwide, not only when talking about Fight the New Drug, but about the anti-porn movement as a whole. But we don’t just say porn kills love just because it’s a catchy phrase, we say it because research and peer-reviewed studies are showing that one of the biggest harms of pornography is how it affects relationships and intimacy.

Our aim is to raise as much awareness as possible that porn isn’t natural, it isn’t normal, and it definitely isn’t a healthy part of any meaningful relationship. So many people in society, especially in our tech-obsessed generation, believe that porn really is just harmless and pleasurable entertainment, and that it can even be a satisfying substitute for love. In reality, we are learning that it is just the opposite. It is harmful the viewer and it makes single people even lonelier and relationships even more difficult. 

We’re here to tell you that love in real life is so much better and healthier than what porn has to offer, and we’re taking a stand to not settle for anything less than real. This is a movement for love fueled by science and research, so let’s look at the hard facts of what porn can do to individuals and their relationships. After all, love is the most important thing in the world right? If we don’t have it, we want it someday, and if we do have it, we want to always hold on to it. What society needs to realize is that porn is a serious threat to love. Here’s why:

Porn can tear apart romantic relationships.

Sharing your sex life with a computer is just about as relationship-building as it sounds. In fact, porn has the potential to drive a huge wedge in your intimate relationships. Two of the most respected pornography researchers, professors Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman at the University of Alabama, who have studied the effects of porn and media for more than 30 years, said that when it comes to porn use “no rigorous research demonstrations of desirable effects can be reported.” [1] In other words, in all the serious research that’s been done on porn, no one has found that it has any benefits. What several studies have found, however, is that porn use can cause serious damage not only to the user, but also to those closest to them—especially their partner. [2]

Why? Because just like many other multibillion dollar industries, pornographers feed viewers completely unrealistic expectations in order to keep customers coming back [3]. Real love isn’t any more like what happens in porn than the average Marlboro smoker is like a tall, handsome cowboy. But it works out well for pornographers since the more porn a viewer watches, the more their real relationships don’t seem exciting enough [4], which gives them a reason to turn back to porn. And the more they watch porn, the more likely they are to be indoctrinated with porn’s version of how relationships should go [5]. And it isn’t hard to see that real life isn’t actually like a porn clip. This is why frequent porn use can potentially mess with your real life relationships.

Porn actually does the complete opposite of “spicing up” your sex life.

For a skyrocketing number of male porn viewers, it becomes unpleasantly clear that they have a porn problem when they realize they can no longer have real sex with a real woman. [6]

Thirty years ago, when a man developed erectile dysfunction (ED), it was almost always because he was getting older, usually past 40, and as his body aged, his blood vessels would get blocked, making it harder to maintain an erection. Chronic ED in anyone under 35 was nearly unheard of. [7] But those were the days before internet porn. These days, online message boards are flooded with complaints from porn users in their teens and 20s complaining that they can’t maintain an erection in a real sexual encounter. [8] This issue has been unheard of since porn came around. Sites like NoFap and Reboot Nation are just two examples of huge online communities that are raising awareness on the reality of porn’s effect on sexual performance. And added to that, we receive thousands of messages every year from males around the world who are struggling with the same thing. They’ve spent years unknowingly training their brains to only be aroused by hardcore images on a screen, so they can’t get off to anything different—like actually being with a real girl.

For this kind of erectile dysfunction, the problem isn’t in the penis—it’s in the brain. [9] On top of all the reward-center hijacking that’s caused by watching porn, porn viewers have wired their brain to get aroused by pleasuring themselves alone in a room looking at virtual images rather than connecting arousal to being with a real sexual encounter. [10] And that’s definitely not something that contributes to healthy intimate relationships. Porn doesn’t sound so sexy when you put it like that, does it?

Porn can make viewers see their partner as less attractive.

No only can porn cause turmoil in and out of the bedroom, studies have shown that even casual viewing of porn can cause the viewer to feel less attracted to their partner. [11] And when a person frequently watches pornography, they’re far more likely to feel less satisfied with their partner’s looks, sexual performance, and willingness to try new sexual acts. [12] The research has spoken.

Why all the sudden disappointment with one’s partner? It’s likely due to the fact that porn promotes a completely fictional version of how people look and behave, and makes it look like an exciting reality—one that their partners often feel they can never live up to. [13] Given that the women depicted in porn are surgically enhanced, air-brushed, photoshopped, and exaggerating their behavior[14] it’s not hard to see why, according to a national poll, that only one in every seven women doesn’t think that porn has raised men’s expectations of how women should look. [15] And it’s no mystery that love can’t really develop in a relationship where one partner feels like the other isn’t really attracted to them.

Porn may temporarily ease the struggle of being single, but it can create serious problems in the long run.

Many people tell us that they watch porn because they can’t get a real relationship. While we understand that this is something that a lot of people do, and porn can help them feel less lonely in the moment, let’s break down how flawed this really is. If you want a relationship, your chances of getting in a relationship are higher when you go out and meet real people. In fact, you up your chances by a much larger percentage if you put yourself out there and meet people in the same time that you’d be home, watching porn by yourself. And the reality is, your chances of finding a relationship and falling in love for real are lowered significantly when porn is a constant habit because porn can add to already existing feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Research shows that porn offers users temporary relief from anxiety, depression, and loneliness in exchange for making these same problems much worse in the long-term. [16] These types of feelings don’t make looking for a real partner a positive experience, and porn create serious issues when you actually do get in a relationship.

Porn can make viewers even more lonely, depressed, and anxious.

“Any time [a person] spends much time with the usual pornography usage cycle, it can’t help but be a depressing, demeaning, self-loathing kind of experience,” says Dr. Gary Brooks, a psychologist who has worked with porn addicts for the last 30 years. [17]

Naomi Wolf, an author and political activist, has traveled all over the country to talk with college students about relationships. “When I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike,” she says. “They know they are lonely together … and that [porn] is a big part of that loneliness. What they don’t know is how to get out.” [18]

Studies have found that when people engage in an ongoing pattern of “self-concealment,”—which is when they do things they’re not proud of and keep them a secret from their friends and family members—it not only hurts their relationships and leaves them feeling lonely, but also makes them more vulnerable to severe psychological problems. [19] For both male and female porn users, their habit is often accompanied by problems with anxiety, body-image issues, poor self-image, relationship problems, insecurity, and depression. [20]

Porn teaches that both men and women are only worth the sum of their body parts and how much sexual pleasure they can offer. [21] Whether porn viewers realize it or not, those perceptions often start creeping into how they see themselves and also regular interactions in their everyday life. [22] The harder it becomes for the viewer to see themselves and others as anything more than sexual objects, the harder it is to develop real, meaningful relationships. [23]

As you can see, it’s like we said: porn kills love isn’t just a slogan, it’s a fact that’s backed by an ever-growing field of research on the real harms of porn. Fight the New Drug is all about fighting for real love and rejecting its hollow counterfeit: porn. We know from the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who contact us to share their story that a porn-free life is the best life.

Porn may seem like an awkward topic, but it’s one we have to be bold and shine a light on. Pornography is robbing people of meaningful relationships and genuine happiness. By taking a stand and fighting for love, we are not only bettering our own lives and protecting our relationships with those who mean the most to us, we are bettering our world as a whole.

What YOU Can Do

Spread the word that porn kills love and add your voice to this important movement. SHARE this article and raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography.

Grab a tee and rep the Porn Kills Love movement:

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Citations

[1] Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vorderer, And G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch Der Medienpsychologie (Pp.565–85). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag.
[2] Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 160; Ryu, E. (2004). Spousal Use Of Pornography And Its Clinical Significance For Asian-American Women: Korean Women As An Illustration. Journal Of Feminist Family Therapy 16, 4: 75; Bridges, A. J., Bergner, R. M., And Hesson-McInnis, M. (2003). Romantic Partners’ Use Of Pornography: Its Significance For Women. Journal Of Sex And Marital Therapy 29, 1: 1–14; Bergner, R. And Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance Of Heavy Pornography Involvement For Romantic Partners: Research And Clinical Implications. Sex And Marital Therapy 28, 3: 193–206.
[3] Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered In The Context Of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 3, 20767; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 91.
[4] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 91.
[5] Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Carroll, J. S., Padilla-Walker, L. M., And Nelson, L. J. (2008). Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance And Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal Of Adolescent Research 23, 1: 6–30; Layden, M. A. (2004). Committee On Commerce, Science, And Transportation, Subcommittee On Science And Space, U.S. Senate, Hearing On The Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction, November 18; Marshall, W. L. (2000). Revisiting The Use Of Pornography By Sexual Offenders: Implications For Theory And Practice. Journal Of Sexual Aggression 6, 1 And 2: 67; Mosher, D. L. And MacIan, P. (1994). College Men And Women Respond To X-Rated Videos Intended For Male Or Female Audiences: Gender And Sexual Scripts. Journal Of Sex Research 31, 2: 99–112; Brosius, H. B., Et Al. (1993). Exploring The Social And Sexual “Reality” Of Contemporary Pornography. Journal Of Sex Research 30, 2: 161–70.
[6] Wilson, G. (2013). Adolescent Brain Meets Highspeed Internet Porn; Http://Yourbrainonporn.Com/Adolescent-Brain-Meets-Highspeed-Internet-Porn Robinson, M. And Wilson, G. (2011). Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction: A Growing Problem. Psychology Today, July 11; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 105.
[7] Robinson, M. And Wilson, G. (2011). Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction: A Growing Problem. Psychology Today, July 11; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 105.105.
[8] Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 105.
[9] Capogrosso, P., Colicchia, M., Ventimiglia, E., Castagna, G., Clementi, M. C., Suardi, N., Castiglione, F., Briganti, A., Cantiello, F., Damiano, R., Montorsi, F., Salonia, A. (2013). One Patient Out Of Four With Newly Diagnosed Erectile Dysfunction Is A Young Man—Worrisome Picture From The Everyday Clinical Practice. Journal Of Sexual Medicine 10, 7:1833–41; Cera, N., Delli Pizzi, S., Di Pierro, E. D., Gambi, F., Tartaro, A., Et Al. (2012). Macrostructural Alterations Of Subcortical Grey Matter In Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction. PLoS ONE 7, 6: E39118; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 105.
[10] Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered In The Context Of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 3:20767; Robinson, M. And Wilson, G. (2012). Are Sexual Tastes Immutable? Psychology Today, November 8. Http://Www.Psychologytoday.Com/Blog/Cupids-Poisoned-Arrow/201211/Are-Sexual-Tastes-Immutable
[11] Bridges, A. J. (2010). Pornography’s Effect On Interpersonal Relationships. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 89-110). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Bergner, R. And Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance Of Heavy Pornography Involvement For Romantic Partners: Research And Clinical Implications. Sex And Marital Therapy 28, 3: 193–206.
[12] Zillmann, D. And Bryant, J. (1988). Pornography’s Impact On Sexual Satisfaction. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology 18, 5: 438–53.
[13] Bergner, R. And Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance Of Heavy Pornography Involvement For Romantic Partners: Research And Clinical Implications. Sex And Marital Therapy 28, 3: 193–206; Senn, C. Y. (1993). Women’s Multiple Perspectives And Experiences With Pornography. Psychology Of Women Quarterly 17, 3: 319041.
[14] Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered In The Context Of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 3, 20767; Paul, Pamela. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Holt And Co., 145.
[15] Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute.
[16] Flisher, C. (2010). Getting Plugged In: An Overview Of Internet Addiction. Journal Of Paediatrics And Child Health 46: 557–9; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 82; Kafka, M. P. (2000). The Paraphilia-Related Disorders: Nonparaphilic Hypersexuality And Sexual Compulsivity/Addiction. In S. R. Leiblum And R. C. Rosen (Eds.) Principles And Practice Of Sex Therapy, 3rd Ed. (Pp. 471–503). New York: Guilford Press.
[17] Interview With Dr. Gary Brooks, Oct. 23, 2013.
[18] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 105.
[19] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 105; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 104.
[20] Interview With Dr. Gary Brooks, Oct. 23, 2013; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 105.
[21] Wolf, N. (2004). The Porn Myth. New York Magazine, May 24.
[22] Laird, R. D., Marrero, M. D., Melching, J. A., And Kuhn, E. S. (2013). Information Management Strategies In Early Adolescence: Developmental Change In Use And Transactional Associations With Psychological Adjustment. Developmental Psychology 49, 5: 928–937; Luoma, J. B., Nobles, R. H., Drake, C. E., Hayes, S. C., O’Hair, A., Fletcher, L., And Kohlenberg, B. S. (2013). Self-Stigma In Substance Abuse: Development Of A New Measure. Journal Of Psychopathology And Behavioral Assessment 35: 223–234; Rotenberg, K. J., Bharathi, C., Davies, H., And Finch, T. (2013). Bulimic Symptoms And The Social Withdrawal Syndrome. Eating Behaviors 14: 281–284; Frijns, T. And Finkenauer, C. (2009). Longitudinal Associations Between Keeping A Secret And Psychosocial Adjustment In Adolescence. International Journal Of Behavioral Development 33, 2: 145–154.
[23] Flisher, C. (2010). Getting Plugged In: An Overview Of Internet Addiction. Journal Of Paediatrics And Child Health 46: 557–9; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Kafka, M. P. (2000). The Paraphilia-Related Disorders: Nonparaphilic Hypersexuality And Sexual Compulsivity/Addiction. In S. R. Leiblum And R. C. Rosen (Eds.) Principles And Practice Of Sex Therapy, 3rd Ed. (Pp. 471–503). New York: Guilford Press.
[24] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 80; Mosher, D. L. And MacIan, P. (1994). College Men And Women Respond To X-Rated Videos Intended For Male Or Female Audiences: Gender And Sexual Scripts. Journal Of Sex Research 31, 2: 99–112.
[25] Interview With Dr. Gary Brooks, Oct. 23, 2013.
[26] Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Hold And Co., 79; Lyons, J. S., Anderson, R. L., And Larsen, D. (1993). A Systematic Review Of The Effects Of Aggressive And Nonaggressive Pornography. In D. Zillmann, J. Bryand, And A. C. Huston (Eds.) Media, Children And The Family: Social Scientific, Psychodynamic, And Clinical Perspectives (P. 305). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum Associates.

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