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If You’re Stressed, Bored, or Lonely, is Watching Porn a Healthy Escape?

There are ways to relieve stress or pass the time, but not every option is a great idea. In the case of porn, it’s worse than just internet junk food.

People consume porn for any variety of reasons. A common one for young people growing up today is that they’re (understandably) curious about sex or the human body and want to know more about it. But people turn to porn for other reasons, too.

What’s often quoted in surveys is the idea that many believe porn to be a “safe outlet” from the world’s troubles. In other words, some people feel they can turn to porn for stress relief, a distraction from real life, and an outlet for grappling with the experience of growing up and a changing body.

There’s a whole lot that makes a teenager’s life a real struggle, including the age-old pressures to fit in, desire to feel loved, yearning for independence, and need to find themself. Not to mention that our generation today is unique, what with being the only ones who have grown up with the internet and all of its benefits and imperfections, an obvious example being readily accessible porn.

But given all of the challenges they face, turning to porn isn’t the healthiest answer. Out of all the things that could help relieve the tension and manage daily life, according to research, porn is far from a “safe” outlet.

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The myth of “harmless” porn

Firstly, porn is not exactly as harmless as your peers may have told you in high school. Many people would like to believe watching it does no harm, that it’s just a bit of private and harmless “fun” every now and again. The reality, based on the facts, is quite different.

The porn industry is infamous for poor working rights and conditions for performers. There are endless stories of performers being coerced, tricked, abused, and sometimes drugged so they can comple a scene—actions that often fit the definition of sex trafficking. Consent and contracts have been ignored. That’s the side the audience doesn’t see, the story behind the performers pretending to enjoy their work on set.

Related: How Porn Evolves With Tech To Be More Accessible, Affordable, And Aggressive

As for consumers, porn has a number of features that don’t help a healthy mindset, such as limitless novelty and easy accessibility, that can influence a person’s sexual template to prefer what they see in porn to what’s more real. This does not readily transition to real-life partners, meaning real-life sex may not meet porn-inspired expectations. This is one of many ways that porn can harm relationships.

A recent study reiterated this idea by examining romantically involved people (most of whom were not married) and found that those who used porn frequently were more likely to have lower satisfaction and intimacy in their relationship.

Based on these factors, it doesn’t seem like porn is the harmless escape it’s often marketed to be.

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A reinforcer, not a reliever

There are lots of ways to relieve stress or pass the time, but that doesn’t make every option a great idea. In the case of porn, it can cause more issues than it relieves.

Like other potentially habit-forming substances, porn triggers the reward center of the brain. While it is usually stimulated by doing something healthy like exercising or eating tasty food, it can be tricked. Watching porn tells the rewards center to send off a cocktail of chemicals giving you a temporary buzz. It is a short high that admittedly feels great, keeping you glued to your screen longer.

So if you turn to porn because of stress or boredom, it may seem like a great distraction, but it won’t last.

Related: 5 Ways Porn Can Harm Your Brain, Body, And Quality Of Life

Due to the neurochemicals released while watching porn, the craving to consume more can linger, pulling the consumer back for more. Even more concerning is the fact that using porn to self-medicate those feelings can actually lead to and fuel existing depression.

The irony here is that as you turn to porn to deal with life, porn actually makes you feel worse. There’s a temporary high followed by dissatisfaction.

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The alternative

Everybody has their own set of struggles through life—no human is exempt. But porn is not a cure or solution.

In fact, 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, even unwanted habits or compulsions.

Look for other ways to channel energy that builds you up instead of tears you down. Teach yourself a new skill, go outside for a walk, read a book, or turn your attention away from yourself completely and help a friend in need. There are endless opportunities for you and your unique abilities to learn, grow, and learn to manage stress.

Related: 5 Things You Can Do Today Instead Of Watching Porn

Sometimes, it may seem like a great idea to turn to porn when you don’t feel happy. It’s easy. But as you numb yourself with graphic images and videos, you can miss out on building relationships with friends, family, a partner, and your community. And if you’re not activley missing out on relationship opportunities because of porn, porn can negatively impact consumers’ expectations for relationships when they do come round.

No amount of porn will take away those stressed or bored feelings. Porn is not an outlet, it’s another layer to the problem.

But if you’re struggling, there is hope. Porn is trash, and you deserve better.

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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