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How Taking the #NoPornovember Challenge Can Improve Your Life and Relationships

During #NoPornovember, we are putting a spotlight on real experiences that show porn’s harmful effects and providing support to those who want to quit for good.

By October 19, 2021No Comments

Here at Fight the New Drug, we base our educational resources that show the harm pornography can cause in consumers, relationships, and society strictly on facts and research.

However, while numbers and facts speak volumes, we know that there is great power in the words of personal experiences. That’s why we share anecdotal evidence to say what numbers can’t—to explain through stories the struggles and successes of those who have felt porn’s effects in their lives.

As #NoPornovember is in full swing, we are putting a spotlight on these experiences to help support the skeptics, the concerned, and the “I need help” group.

Related: Let’s Talk About Porn. Is It As Harmless As Society Says It Is?

Below, we’ve selected parts from more than 10 personal accounts of consumers who have struggled with porn and us messages. Their stories reveal porn that is far from harmless on personal levels and in relationships.

Don’t forget that both men and women can struggle with porn—the harms of porn do not discriminate.

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How pornographic content affects consumers

Porn consumers have reported that porn leaves them lonely, disgusted, or even filled with self-hatred.

In fact, a number of peer-reviewed studies have found a link between pornography consumption and mental health outcomes like depression,Harper, C., & Hodgins, D. C. (2016). Examining Correlates of Problematic Internet Pornography Use Among University Students. Journal of behavioral addictions, 5(2), 179–191. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.022COPY  anxiety,Wordecha, M., Wilk, M., Kowalewska, E., Skorko, M., Łapiński, A., & Gola, M. (2018). 'Pornographic binges' as a key characteristic of males seeking treatment for compulsive sexual behaviors: Qualitative and quantitative 10-week-long diary assessment. Journal of behavioral addictions, 7(2), 433–444. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.33COPY  loneliness,Butler, M. H., Pereyra, S. A., Draper, T. W., Leonhardt, N. D., & Skinner, K. B. (2018). Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bidirectional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 44(2), 127–137. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2017.1321601COPY  lower life satisfaction,Willoughby, B. J., Young-Petersen, B., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Exploring trajectories of pornography use through adolescence and emerging adulthood.55(3), 297-309. doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977COPY  and poorer self-esteem and overall mental health.Koletić G. (2017). Longitudinal associations between the use of sexually explicit material and adolescents' attitudes and behaviors: A narrative review of studies. Journal of adolescence, 57, 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.006COPY 

These studies have found that these links are particularly strong when pornography is consumed to try to escape negative emotions, and also when pornography consumption becomes heavy and compulsive.Levin, M. E., Lillis, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2012). When is online pornography viewing problematic among college males? Examining the moderating role of experiential avoidance.19(3), 168-180. doi:10.1080/10720162.2012.657150COPY 

Here are just a few comments from people we sat down with and talked with about self-esteem and shame spiral issues that porn can fuel:

“Since I’ve become a porn addict, my life is worse. I’m more anxious and I feel more depressed.” -K.

“When I consume pornography, I feel lonely, ashamed, miserable…I feel like scum.” -I.

“I crave more and more porn, and constantly new and more extreme. Honestly, at times I’m disgusted with what I end up watching. It’s something I try and stop myself from consuming, but when I get the craving and anxiety to watch it, it’s as if nothing around me matters…It’s changed my tastes and sexual preferences, even though it’s all fake and always behind a computer screen.” -A.

“I’m a compulsive porn consumer… Among other things, being addicted has implied energy loss, stress, dependency, and other physical problems and depression. I don’t feel capable of getting out of this pit on my own, and I’ve been trying to overcome this battle with porn for over two years.” -T.

Whether you or someone you know is struggling with porn, it’s so important to treat yourself or him/her with openness and kindness. In fact, reaffirming the shame felt is actually one of the worst things someone can do who is trying to recover.

Related: #NoPornovember Challenge: Instead Of Watching Porn, Do One Of These Five Things

Porn also can affect consumers in how they relate to others.

Fortify

Hear these consumers’ experiences about porn’s influence on their emotional and sexual health:

“I feel incapable of finding a romantic partner. No one is attracted to me because I give up on everything I start, and I’m sad. I don’t feel attractive. I don’t feel capable of building a solid romantic relationship.” -P.

“When I have real sex, I can’t have firm erections that last.” -A.

“I have a problem with porn. I have a lot of issues in my life because I’m unhappy, and I only see problems in my studies, sex life, and my social life.” -H.

“Being a porn addict has changed the way I think about women. For example, when I see a good-looking girl, I see her as an object. I start to imagine what it would be like to have sex with her. This makes me feel terrible. I’m unable to talk to classmates that are girls without feeling anxiety. I try to look away, but my thoughts win out.” -O.

How relationships can be impacted by porn

Consumers aren’t the only ones impacted by porn, though. Oftentimes, the partner they are in a relationship with, their family, and even strangers around them can be affected.

See, consuming porn doesn’t just affect the consumer alone. Dozens of studies have repeatedly shown that porn consumers tend to have lower relationship satisfaction and lower relationship quality.Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., Kraus, A., & Klann, E. (2017). Pornography consumption and satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research, 43(3), 315-343. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/hcre.12108COPY Perry S. L. (2020). Pornography and Relationship Quality: Establishing the Dominant Pattern by Examining Pornography Use and 31 Measures of Relationship Quality in 30 National Surveys. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(4), 1199–1213. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01616-7COPY Perry, S. (2017). 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-YCOPY 

According to research, porn consumption can complicate relationships by introducing shame, isolation, and mistrust into a relationship.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/s10508-009-9585-4COPY  Additionally, porn has been shown to foster unrealistic expectations that partners feel they can never live up to in a real relationship.Tylka, T. L., & Kroon Van Diest, A. M. (2015). You Looking at Her “Hot” Body May Not be “Cool” for Me: Integrating Male Partners’ Pornography Use into Objectification Theory for Women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39(1), 67–84. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684314521784COPY 

Listen to what these consumers had to say regarding the effects of their porn habits within their relationships:

“I recognize I have a problem with porn…My wife found explicit images on my phone, and from the bottom of my heart I just want to be free of the chains porn has on me. I need professional help…I can’t do it alone.” -T.

“Not too long ago my partner left me because of my porn addiction.” -R.

“I have felt crushed and devastated ever since I found out. I feel like I can never trust her when I leave her alone. I don’t know what to do anymore.” -C.

Related: How You Can Quit Watching Porn Today

Whether you, your partner, or your friend struggles with porn, support is key. These real personal experiences reveal the sad realities of porn’s tangible effect on consumers.

The fallout from porn can cause relationship problems, and cause lasting pain and hurt for a partnership.

Store - General

What do the experts have to say?

We sat down with Madrid psychologist and sexologist Maria Contreras, who offered some of her experience in treating patients struggling with porn.

She says that those who struggle to give up porn often give the following reasons why they kept continuing the cycle of going back to it:

-To avoid dealing with uncomfortable or sad emotions
-To relax
-To help their partner and sex life
-Out of boredom
-To feel pleasure
-To improve their sex knowledge and skills
-To deal with or overcome personal problems
-Because everyone does it
-To escape from reality
-When they feel sad, down, or lonely
-Out of habit

Related: Why Porn Can Be Difficult To Quit

For those struggling with a compulsion or even addiction, she offers these questions to guide a reflection about their consumption:

What does consuming give you or do for you? What is it you’re after? What motivates you?

Do you find satisfaction? What benefit do you gain?

What would happen if you stopped consuming? How would you feel? How would your life change? Would it improve in some way? Would it get worse in some way? Would you find a void or emptiness?

What is your goal when you consume porn?

Do you think you’d gain anything if you stopped consuming?

BHW - General

Get help and discover there’s is hope

This #NoPornovember, we want to offer more resources, give more support, and fight more for love than we ever have before.

We want to provide the resources you need if you are struggling, and by shining a spotlight on using personal experiences and science and research, show that you are not alone and you can get help.

Related: #NoPornovember Challenge: Could You Give Up Porn For 30 Days?

To do that, check out our friends at Fortify, an incredible recovery platform specially designed to give users a supportive and helpful community while they break the cycle of going back to porn. We’ve also designed a thorough and comprehensive platform, made to help you navigate conversations of all types, no matter the relationship type.

We want to change the conversation about porn, and have it be one of respect, kindness, and love. We’re making the first move to impact change, and inviting you to join us in the process. You with us?

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.

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