Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.
This Fighter's story shines a light on how porn can drive a wedge between partners and harms the consumer's self-esteem.
Just wanted to write and say thank you for fighting for real love!
I viewed porn for the first time when my boyfriend (now husband) borrowed my laptop for college and I found it in the search history. I didn’t understand how someone could go from wanting to be with me to watching someone else’s body but I was also intrigued.
Watching porn was such an intense rush; I didn’t like that I couldn’t control it, and tried to stop many times but at the same time the urge to watch would suddenly pop into my head and I couldn’t get it out until I clicked through a few videos.
I finally spoke to him about it and we promised one another we wouldn’t watch it again.
Shortly after this, we found out that we were pregnant and got married a few months later.
The feeling of betrayal—for him, and myself
After our first son was born, I found it in the search history again, I felt betrayed and sick to my stomach scrolling through descriptions of women that looked nothing like me. I developed intense body image issues that left me in tears many times, and deep distrust of my husband which led to unhealthy habits like snooping.
I confronted him again and he promised to stop, all while I continued to struggle with it myself.
One day scrolling social media, I came across an organization called FTND that a friend had posted about, and started reading the articles about other people in similar situations, the effects of porn on the brain, and how normalized and acceptable it is in our society and began a 3-year long fight to end my addiction.
During times I could stop watching, I still had to recall images of movies I had watched in order to be aroused enough for sex and didn’t think I would ever be able to be intimate without doing that.
Today, I’m officially a little over one year porn-free and it’s absolutely thanks to seeing that post about your organization and through that learning about the real harms and statistics of porn!
Quitting porn has made a huge difference in my self-esteem and marriage and gives me confidence that as my sons grow, I’ll be able to continue guiding them to real love. I’m encouraging my husband to join the fight, too.
I wish I could tell anyone wondering if they should quit that it IS worth it!
That you can have healthy sex again that’s not fueled by images of a body that you’ve never even seen, and you can WIN!
Is the porn to blame, or are the partners just insecure?
This woman’s story is as common as it is heartbreaking, but many in our society would say that the porn itself isn’t harmful and it’s just each partner’s insecurity.
But if porn wasn’t actually harmful to relationships, then the majority of available research would reflect that it is partners’ insecurities that cause issues, rather than the porn itself.
So what do the experts have to say?
Allow us to introduce you to Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Co-founders of The Gottman Institute.
The Gottmans have conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. Dr. John Gottman was one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century by the Psychotherapy Networker. He is the author or co-author of over 200 published academic articles and more than 40 books. Dr. Julie Gottman is a highly respected clinical psychologist, she is sought internationally by media and organizations as an expert advisor on marriage, sexual harassment and rape, and domestic violence.
Together, they are considered some of the most influential and brilliant world-renowned experts on relationships, and their resources are all about how to build and maintain successful marriages and partnerships.
So, you can see they’re both experts. But how do they feel about the effects of porn in relationships?
In 2016, they released an open letter on pornography and relationships. In a nutshell, they have concluded that, “Pornography poses a serious threat to couple intimacy and relationship harmony.”
From the letter: “Research on the effects of pornography use, especially one person frequently viewing pornographic images online, shows that pornography can hurt a couple’s relationship. The effect may be true, in part, because pornography can be a “supernormal stimulus’… In fact, use of pornography by one partner leads the couple to have far less sex and ultimately reduces relationship satisfaction.”
As you can see, porn isn’t healthy for relationships. The fact is, porn reshapes expectations about sex and attraction by presenting an unrealistic picture.
In porn, men and women always look their best. They are forever young, surgically enhanced, airbrushed, and Photoshopped to perfection.  So it’s not hard to see why, according to a national poll, six out of seven women believe that porn has changed men’s expectations of how women should look. 
As writer Naomi Wolf points out, “Today real naked women are just bad porn.” 
If you think porn’s unrealistic depictions don’t work their way into consumers’ beliefs, expectations, and actions, think again.  In a recent survey of 16 to 18-year-old Americans, nearly every participant reported learning how to have sex by watching porn,  and many of the young women said they were pressured to play out the “scripts” their male partners had learned from porn.  They felt pressured into having sex in uncomfortable positions, faking sexual responses, and consenting to unpleasant or painful acts.
Relationships are all about being in love with an entire 3D person, not a tailored image or influencer. Sure, a partner will not always be up for sex like in porn, but real connection and real intimacy offer so much more. It’s a risk, yes, to be vulnerable with another person. Sometimes even frustrating, as no partnership is perfect. But where porn is easy, relationships are rewarding.
So the next time you hear the argument that porn isn’t problematic, it’s just the insecurity of the non-porn watching partner, stick to the facts and show them this research.