Porn. What’s the big deal? Everyone looks at it, so it must be totally fine. Right?

Not exactly. Watching porn isn’t actually a habit without consequences or real-life effects (and no, not “everyone” watches porn).

American author Peggy Orenstein was interviewed in the Washington Post about her work with researching today’s dating, love, and sex culture for young people. Her findings? According to her research interviews, porn culture is seeping into the sex lives of youth, and the results aren’t pretty:

“Porn is much more accessible, and at much younger ages. Because there’s so much of it, and because it’s trying to be competitive with itself to get more viewers, it becomes more extreme. It presents an image of sexuality that is about as realistic as pro-wrestling and an image of women and women’s bodies and women’s pleasure that is about as accurate as ‘The Real Housewives’ is to marriage… Everything in porn is a performance, and it’s encouraging girls to see sex as a performance and boys to see girls’ sexuality as a performance.”

It’s scary to think that the harmful effects of porn are encouraging the upcoming generation to forget about connection and love, and instead make sex about appearance and performance. We’re not cool with this because our brains are wired for relationships, and to put escaping from reality and real relationships over intimately connecting with another person via a relationship is to seriously miss out of what life has to offer.

And this is just one of the many prices consumers pay when porn is normalized.

– Porn Can Cost Childhoods

Remember when kids used to play outside? These days, most kids either own or have access to some form of iPad, computer, or cell phone. This is an easy opportunity for porn industries to target kids while they’re young, and gain lifelong customers. Yikes.

Related: Sex Before Kissing: 15-Year-Old Girls Dealing With Porn Addicted Boys

Studies show a 1-in-14 chance of a child typing in a misspelled URL and stumbling upon a porn site by accident. Unfortunately, that’s all it takes to start. Now, children as young as 9 years old are getting hooked to pornography and it’s changing the way kids are growing up. We get far too many messages from people saying their life changed when they were just 9-10 years old, innocently playing on the family computer. Porn costs the innocence of the upcoming generation.

– Porn Can Cost Relationships

Research shows that porn consumers report less love and trust in their relationships, are more prone to separation and divorce, and often see marriage as a “constraint.” [1] Overall, they are less committed to their partners, [2] less satisfied in their relationships, [3] and more cynical about love and relationships in general. [4] They also have poorer communication with their partners and are more likely to agree that, in their own relationships, “little arguments escalate into ugly fights with accusations, criticisms, name-calling, and bringing up past hurts.” [5]

And if all that weren’t enough, porn also drive a wedge in a couple’s sex life. [6]

– Porn Can Cost Sex Satisfaction

Obviously, porn doesn’t show how real women look or how real sex works in a real-life relationship. And yet, whether they realize it or not, porn consumers are affected by the portrayals they see in porn. [7] That’s why, after consuming explicit material, they are more critical of their partner’s appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance. [8]

RelatedHow Porn Kills Love

In an ironic twist, watching raw, unfiltered sex on screen can lead to less sex and more unsatisfying sex in real life. Watching someone else’s cheap fantasy is actually keeping you from living your own with another human. While porn promises the fulfillment of sexual ecstasy, it can never fully deliver. It only leads to endless searching for more pornographic content in more hardcore versions.

– Porn Can Cost Lives

Sex trafficking. It’s a global problem, and it’s heavily linked to the porn industry. For example, not long ago, police arrested a major Japanese adult talent agency’s president and two others for forcing multiple women into appearing in adult films by threatening to punish them financially. This was just one case of hundreds of reports. There are likely thousands more cases in Japan, and globally.

RelatedWhy Fighting Sex Trafficking Absolutely Includes Fighting Pornography

Too often, men and women are tricked, threatened, coerced, and blackmailed into making porn, and supporting the porn industry is indirectly—and directly—contributing to their exploitation with clicks, views, and downloads. Porn costs lives, and livelihoods of so many people around the world. How can we be okay with that?

– Porn Can Cost Happiness

Porn is a temporary false substitute of happiness that leaves consumers feeling empty and lonely. Watching porn provides the momentary satisfaction that never truly lasts. It’s like pouring water in a bucket with a hole at the bottom of it. It may look full at first, but it will drain out again and again, never truly getting filled.

Related: True Story: My Depression Disappeared When I Stopped Watching Porn

That constant void can be depression, isolation, or feelings of loneliness that are compounded by compulsive porn consumption. Anyone who has ever suffered from obsession or even addiction will be the first to tell you that happiness always seems one fix away, but it never comes and only puts you in a worse place than before.

– Porn Can Cost Self-Esteem

The performers in porn don’t represent real life. They represent the most exaggerated, maxed-out version of sex possible. Their bodies don’t look like the average human’s body, and research confirms that watching all that air-brushed performing doesn’t lead to sexual self-confidence or positive body image.

Related: How Watching Porn Leads to Bad Sex and Low Self-Esteem

Porn consumers tend to believe that what they see in porn is normal and acceptable, even as their tastes in porn grow more extreme over time. [9] (See How Porn Affects Sexual Tastes.) And as people adopt the unrealistic standards of porn, they end up feeling bad about themselves [10] and dissatisfied with their partners. [11]

For both guys and girls, porn does nothing to boost the self-esteem of the one watching it. The sex in porn is not realistic, and it only promotes damaging ideals that you have to look like a porn performer to have mind-blowing sex.

Why This Matters

These are just a few examples of the bills porn leaves us with after claiming to be “educational,” “harmless, or “fun.” While seemingly free in the short term, porn can actually cost you valuable things in the long term. In the end, watching isn’t worth it.

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Citations

[1] Henline, B. H., Lamke, L. K., & Howard, M. D. (2007). Exploring Perception Of Online Infidelity. Personal Relationships, 14, 113-128. Doi:10.1111/J.1475-6811.2006.00144.X; Stack, S., Wasserman, I., & Kern, R. (2004) Adult Social Bonds And The Use Of Internet Pornography. Social Science Quarterly, 85, 75-88. Doi:10.1111/J.0038-4941.2004.08501006.X; Schneider, J. P. (2000). Effects Of Cybersex Addiction On The Family: Results Of A Survey. Sexual Addiction And Compulsivity, 7, 31-58. Doi:10.1080/10720160008400206
[2] Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078; Perry, S. (2016). Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence From Longitudinal Data. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 549-559. Doi: 10.1007/S10508-016-0770-Y; Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnason, J., Ezzell, M. (2014). Pornography And The Male Sexual Script: An Analysis Of Consumption And Sexual Relations. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 45, 1-12. Doi:10.1007/S10508-014-0391-2; Poulsen, F. O., Busby, D. M., & Galovan, A. M. (2013). Pornography Use: Who Uses It And How It Is Associated With Couple Outcomes. Journal Of Sex Research 50(1), 72-83. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.648027; Stewart, D. N., & Szymanski, D. M. (2012). Young Adult Women’s Reports Of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use As A Correlate Of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, And Sexual Satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(5-6), 257-274. Retrieved From Https://Yourbrainonporn.Com/Young-Adult-Women%E2%80%99s-Reports-Their-Male-Romantic-Partner%E2%80%99s-Pornography-Use-Correlate-Their-Self.
[3] Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysunction? A Review With Clinical Reports, Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017; Perry, S. (2016). Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence From Longitudinal Data. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 549-559. Doi: 10.1007/S10508-016-0770-Y; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48,(6), 520-530. 8(6):520-30. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (2006). Pornography’s Impact On Sexual Satisfaction. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 18(5), 438-453. Doi:10.1111/J.1559-1816.1988.Tb00027.X
[4] Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Disposition Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27(2 Suppl), 41-44. Doi:10.1016/S1054-139X(00)00137-3
[5] Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4
[6] Perry, S. (2016). Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence From Longitudinal Data. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 549-559. Doi: 10.1007/S10508-016-0770-Y; Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysunction? A Review With Clinical Reports, Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48,(6), 520-530. 8(6):520-30. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960
[7] Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48,(6), 520-530. 8(6):520-30. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960
[8] Zillmann, D. And Bryant, J. (1988). Pornography’s Impact On Sexual Satisfaction. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 18(5), 438–53. Doi:10.1111/J.1559-1816.1988.Tb00027.X
[9] Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, Normalization And Empowerment. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6) 1389-1401. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9592-5; Doring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s Impact On Sexuality: A Critical Review Of 15 Years Of Research. Computers In Human Behavior, 25(5), 1089-1101. Doi:10.1016/J.Chb.2009.04.003; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27, 2: 41–44. Retrieved From Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pubmed/10904205
[10] Steffens, B. A. And Rennie, R. L. (2006). The Traumatic Nature Of Disclosure For Wives Of Sexual Addicts. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 13, 2 And 3: 247–67; Wolf, N. (2004). The Porn Myth. New York Magazine, May 24; Wildmom-White, M. L. And Young, J. S. (2002). Family-Of-Origin Characteristics Among Women Married To Sexually Addicted Men. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 9, 4: 263–73.Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27, 2: 41–44. Retrieved From Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pubmed/10904205
[11] Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48(6), 520-530. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4; Yucel, D. & Gassanov, M. A. (2010). Exploring Actor And Partner Correlates Of Sexual Satisfaction Among Married Couples. Social Science Research, 39(5), 725-738. Doi:10.1016/J.Ssresearch.20009.09,002

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