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4 Ways a Porn Habit Might Disconnect You From Reality

Porn viewers can become so obsessed with chasing something that isn’t real that they miss out on relationships and building connections.

This article contains affiliate links. Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

People turn to porn for many reasonscuriosity and education, thrill, connection, chasing a high, or sexual gratification. On the surface, these may seem harmless, but over the long haul, porn can turn into a trap.

Whatever fleeting good feelings consuming porn might initially bring, they can slowly be replaced over time by their opposites. The consumer is left chasing ghosts of those first thrills. That first thrill can turn to frustration as the same kinds of porn fails to engage you as before and your brain acclimates to constant escalating content. Perhaps worst of all is the way that porn, over time, can leave its consumers increasingly disconnected from friends, family, and the world around them, especially if they carry shame from their habit.

There are many ways the exaggerated fantasy of porn takes the consumer further away from healthy perception and expectations of reality, but here are just four ways porn can create a disconnect and where you can get help if you need it.

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1. Porn can lead to and fuel existing depression

Pornography, along with other addictions, floods the brain with dopamine and can provide a temporary escape from feelings you’d rather not face, like sadness, fear, anger or boredom. It can serve as a momentary haven away from real-life problems, but in turn, it can worsen those problems over time.

Check out what a study published in 2017 found about developing a possible compulsion if someone turns to porn for coping reasons: “So far, the results are in line with the prediction that the dysfunctional use of Internet pornography to cope with depressive mood or stress might be considered as a risk factor for developing a pornography addiction.”

There’s more research to confirm that idea. Consider what one study published in 2020 found about people who turn to porn to cope with life’s negative emotions. According to this study’s findings, when porn consumers turn to porn to self-medicate and relieve negative emotions like boredom or stress, they’re much more likely to develop much more frequent porn habits. And when they’re more likely to develop frequent porn habits, they’re more likely to develop “problematic porn use,” meaning a porn habit that is disruptive to their life and well-being.

Related: How Porn Can Impact Mental Health And Fuel Loneliness

And what does cyclical problematic porn consumption fuel? More loneliness, more relational distress, more negative things in life that a consumer might try to escape from according to this other study published in 2017. Researchers found that while emotional attachment in relationships can center someone’s sexual expression and prevent them from forming compulsive porn habits, the long-term effects of a porn habit were found to be connected to more loneliness, more isolation, and more relational turmoil.

It can be a cycle, but you can break free from it.

The truth is, porn is a poor substitute for happiness. It presents a fake model of relationships that distort reality and the type of connections we need and are hard-wired for as humans.

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2. Porn can lead to and fuel existing anxiety

The toll pornography takes on mental health is real, and it can seriously disconnect consumers from reality. Many turn to porn to cover up the way they feel about their lives, themselves, and relationships. Comparing yourself—and your partner—to the performers in porn can prove to be damaging, causing you to think less of yourself and the person you love.

Take it from Jay Stringer, a researcher and licensed mental health counselor:

“When we’re anxious, our brains naturally seek out behaviors that provide us with an opportunity to find relief. What we actually need however is to develop an inner life capable of tolerating anxiety. Instead, porn offers us a shortcut to experience temporary calm and control. As a consequence of outsourcing a solution, we never develop the internal resources for growth.

When you pursue porn as a shortcut to reduce anxiety, your brain forms new neuropathways to connect what you’re doing to the pleasure you’re feeling.”

But that’s not all porn can cause. Research also shows that the increase of pornography in society is a cause for body image anxiety and is fueling an increasing number of women seeking plastic surgery to change their bodies, and the increase in young men seeking male enhancement procedures.

Related: What Happens When The World Mixes COVID-19, Anxiety, And Porn?

Driving the wedge between you and reality further, porn also presents a manufactured idea of what sex is supposed to be like. But the fact is, it’s impossible to measure up to airbrushed fantasy and overly exaggerated acting. But even so, consumers can often become obsessed with chasing something that isn’t real that they miss out on actual relationships and building real, authentic connections.

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3. Porn can harm your sex life and understanding of sex

Porn can lead to bad or less enjoyable sex. Ironic, right? Consumers turn to porn because it turns them on and shows them a fantasy world of nonstop sex. Then, when consumers are actually with someone, after being exposed to so much unrealistic sexual explicit content, their can body shut down—they can’t perform. The reality of a real person with wrinkles, flaws, and quirks who doesn’t necessarily act like or look like a porn performer just doesn’t measure up.

Welcome to porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED). Once upon a time, erectile dysfunction was something pretty much only middle-aged dudes got. Now, with the rise of internet porn, it’s the territory of binge-watching young guys. But don’t take our word for it, check out people like Gabe Deem of Reboot Nation or our Fighters who are opening up about their experiences with it.

The reality is, porn can inhibit consumers from not only being sexually healthy, but also from feeling socially able to connect to a potential partner, and cause them to shy away from real-life connections, at times. Real sex becomes not as exciting as the pornography, and soon the consumer is potentially dealing with serious sexual problems. This is just another way porn disconnects consumers from reality.

Related: How Porn Can Harm Consumers’ Sex Lives

4. Porn can cause crippling shame

If social media is any indicator, generally, people don’t feel very good or proud about their porn habit. You know the common movie or TV show scene, depicting porn consumers hiding their porn magazines under their mattresses or locking their doors as they power up their laptops.

We get messages all over the world from porn consumers who have expressed that they’ve felt like a “bad” person with no value because of their habits. Maybe that’s because, once you strip away the makeup, the camera angles, and the editing, porn doesn’t really make consumers feel very excellent about themselves and life. It’s a feeling that sticks with you after the video ends—the embarrassment, the self-loathing, the feelings of worthlessness linger. And to make matters worse, it turns out that self-inflicted shame is a breeding ground for more issues like social isolation, separating consumers further from a healthy lifestyle and reality.

Related: Why The Goal Of The Phrase “Porn Kills Love” Isn’t To Shame Anyone

As if that’s not enough, there are those who add to that shame by treating people addicted to porn as the enemies. This kind of shaming can result in crippling self-esteem and outright depression.

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Love and Understanding Are the Keys to Reconnecting

Bottom line—porn is never worth it. The power porn has to disconnect consumers from reality isn’t something to joke about. It can erode your mental health, and harm the quality of your personal connections, leaving you isolated and disconnected yet craving more.

Thankfully, if you’re struggling, there is hope, and there is help. You aren’t alone.

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 unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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