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Can Watching Porn Impact Family Relationships?

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There’s a significant amount of research confirming how porn can impact people’s relationships.

While you may have thought about how porn could hurt your partner, have you ever considered how it can separate you from your loved ones outside of just romantic relationships—like your family?

How porn separates consumers from their family

Relationships require effort, time, and care in order to thrive, and porn can put a wedge between consumers and their families by making them withdraw from what matters most to them in some significant ways.

Research shows that porn can make consumers more aggressive and objectifying toward others—and that doesn’t just translate to those you’re in a romantic relationship with. People, in general, can become categorized as objects for use, and relationships outside of satisfying sexual gratification can seem to lose their value or importance.

Related: My Big Sister, The Porn Star: How Porn Changed Her And Our Family

Porn can make consumers withdraw mentally, emotionally, and physically by turning to a habit that thrives in isolation instead of spending quality time with those they love. There’s science behind how porn consumption can become a compulsive behavior and monopolize a large majority of consumers’ thoughts, energy, and time.

Feelings of intense guilt or shame and a perceived need to keep the habit a secret can also separate consumers from those they’re closest to.

Brain Heart World

Porn fantasies exploit family relationships

If those facts aren’t enough for you to see the impact porn has on family relationships, consider this: porn normalizes and fantasizes versions of real relationships that would never be healthy or accepted in real life.

Take, for instance, some of the highest-ranking search terms year after year on just one major porn site—like MILF, mom, stepmom, and stepsister. How is it possible for real relationships not to be affected if someone regularly consumes porn that sells fantasies that sex with their mom or your sibling is acceptable?

Researchers also did the largest study to date on porn titles, finding that one in eight porn titles on three popular porn sites describes sexual violence. The most frequent form of sexual violence in the sample—8,421 titles—was related to sexual activity between family members. Common terms included step, aunt, brother, cousin, dad, daughter, family, father, gran, incest, and mom.

In the study, representations of step relationships were actually less common than blood relationships, with the majority of titles describing sexual activity between members of the immediate family. Mothers were predominantly the family member depicted as engaging in sex with other family members—particularly with their sons.

Related: Bark: Introducing A New Way To Monitor Your Family’s Internet While Building Trust

Now consider the broader repercussions. There were 42 billion visits to just one major porn site in 2019—that’s more than 115 million visits a day, or 1,331 visits per second. Given that the top searched for terms on that site alone sell the idea that sex with a parent or a sibling is sexy and normal, it’s safe to say there’s a significant demand for this type of content, and that a lot of people are consuming it.

But is it healthy to repeatedly consume content that consistently sexualizes family members and normalizes unhealthy relationship dynamics like incest?

Bark

How porn can hurt future family

No one has the “perfect” family. Even if your current family relationships aren’t where you’d like them to be, you have the power to decide how you want to build your own family. You can make decisions and develop habits now to help you build healthy family relationships in your future.

Some people think that consuming porn is a switch they can turn on or off based on circumstances or relationship status, but the research shows something significantly different.

In fact, many people are surprised to find that giving up a porn habit is more difficult than they thought it would be. Because porn can become addictive, some continue consuming it when they’re in a committed, fulfilling, sexual relationship and they’re trying their best to stop.

Related: My Mom, The Porn Star: What It Was Like To Grow Up With A Parent In Porn

Plus, porn can negatively impact more than just the consumer. Many people share experiences about how their family member’s porn habit has hurt them and changed their life—like a parent choosing porn over their family, or the difficulty of having a sibling who struggles.

Even if a consumer doesn’t have a spouse or kids of their own but might want to someday, consider how consuming porn could affect future loved ones. The idea that someone can turn off a porn habit whenever they want isn’t consistent with the science behind how porn impacts consumers.

Truth About Porn

Fight for the love of your family

The temporary gratification of porn may seem desirable in the moment, but it’s not worth everything it might take—like relationships with the people who are (hopefully) really there for you no matter what.

Related: For Parents: How My 14-Year-Old Daughter’s Experience With Porn Brought Us Closer Than Ever

If this is something you struggle with, connect with a community that can help you heal, and open up to your loved ones about your porn habit so they can support you along your journey.

Family can give what porn never will—and that’s worth fighting for.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your compulsive behavior, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

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