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I Have More Respect for Myself After Quitting Porn

“I respect my body more, and I wear what I feel like wearing with confidence without feeling like I am on display. This is more liberating than any porn I have watched.”

This article was first published on nzgirl.co.nz and is republished here with permission from the author. This post has been edited for length and clarity.

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.

We received this story from a woman who was recovering not only from a relationship hurt by porn, but also her own porn consumption.

The aftermath of my break-up

It has been over a year since I cut porn completely out of my life, and the results have surprised me.

I did this due to the vicarious trauma of being in a relationship with someone addicted to porn, and due to my own sobering experience with porn.

Related: How Long Has Porn Existed, and How Is It Different Today?

When I walk down the street I now see people as people. An overly simple statement, but let me explain.

I no longer see bits of bodies that I judge on their level of sexual attractiveness. These used to flash before me, especially directly after watching porn. I see people as human beings without objectifying them, but the main difference is that I have more respect for myself.

I respect my body more, and I wear what I feel like wearing with confidence, without feeling like I am on display and being judged in the same way. This is more liberating than any porn I have watched.

I have had a life of an extreme amount of brutal challenges, but nothing has undone me as a woman as much as being the partner of someone obsessed with porn. Nothing.

Porn fantasies affect real-life relationships

So how does pornography affect our relationships, especially given most of us feel we deserve a bit of “spice”?

I’ll use my relationship as an example. The magic in my relationship was real, and it came back the longer didn’t look at any more porn images. Why would I want to kill that?

Related: We Need to Talk About Porn. Is It As Harmless As Society Says It Is?

The authenticity of me looking at and loving my partner’s body and feeling his unique magic is the point of our connection. Personally, I want to keep that alive in my relationships.

Porn can desensitize viewers by rewiring our brains to give us a new benchmark of what we find attractive, even if that new benchmark is completely unrealistic. Of how we desire, who we desire, and of control. Of having total control over our sexual entitlement that crosses over directly into our interactions with real people.

Considering that frequent viewing of pornography can make romantic partners appear to be less attractive, how is this a relationship-building activity for people to be doing?

All of that is up to you to decide. It’s your choice, but I hope you don’t learn through severe trauma like me.

Watching is not worth it

A lot of people feel entitled to porn, despite it hurting partners and contributing to aggression. Porn viewers may feel entitled to pick any digital person to have “sex” with, but where does this entitlement come from and what does it fuel?

Related: How Porn Can Hurt a Consumer’s Partner

What is cool is authenticity. Looking for all the facets in which a partner shines for you instead of comparing them to the last screen “partner,” whether consciously or unconsciously, that’s the stuff of real love. Love is keeping the magic alive and owning our story and our own reality, being accepting who we are, and not getting lost in the fantasy of porn that robs us of our vision, our integrity, and our self-esteem.

Join me in fighting for real love, because I’ve learned how it’s better than any porn out there.

T.

BHW - The Heart

Why this matters

Did you know that the average internet user spends over 40% of their waking hours online?DataReportal. (2020). Digital 2020 global digital overview. ( No. 1). Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/DataReportal/digital-2020-global-digital-overview-january-2020-v01-226017535COPY  40%! That’s a lot of time on the internet.

So, with that in mind, considering that an estimated 91.5% of men and 60.2% of women consume porn, let’s examine how porn may be affecting its consumers.Solano, I., Eaton, N. R., & O'Leary, K. D. (2020). Pornography Consumption, Modality and Function in a Large Internet Sample. Journal of sex research, 57(1), 92–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1532488COPY 

Decades of studies from respected institutions have demonstrated porn’s harms to those who consume it.

Related: How Porn Can Distort Consumers’ Understanding of Healthy Sex

When it comes to the topic of porn, one of the most common questions is whether porn can actually be addictive. The short answer is yes—it absolutely can be.

While it’s important to remember that most porn consumers—even many who may find it very difficult to quit porn—do not qualify as “addicts” in a clinically diagnosable sense,Willoughby, B. J., Young-Petersen, B., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Exploring Trajectories of Pornography Use Through Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Journal of sex research, 55(3), 297–309. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977COPY  many addiction experts and specialists agree that pornography addiction is, in fact, very real.Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 5(3), 388–433. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs5030388COPY Stark R., Klucken T. (2017) Neuroscientific Approaches to (Online) Pornography Addiction. In: Montag C., Reuter M. (eds) Internet Addiction. Studies in Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavioral Economics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46276-9_7COPY De Sousa, A., & Lodha, P. (2017). Neurobiology of Pornography Addiction - A clinical review. Telangana Journal of Psychiatry, 3(2), 66-70. doi:10.18231/2455-8559.2017.0016COPY 

Also, according to one 2016 study, researchers found that 46.9% of respondents reported that, over time, they began watching pornography that had previously disinterested or even disgusted them.Wéry, A., & Billieux, J. (2016). Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 257-266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.046COPY 

Get The Facts

Consider that 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 

Related: How Porn Can Impact Mental Health and Fuel Loneliness

In addition, 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  Porn consumers tend to experience more negative communication with their partners, feel less dedicated to their relationships, have a more difficult time making adjustments in their relationships, are less sexually satisfied, and commit more infidelity.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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-009-9585-4COPY 

Porn is not harmless. Decades of research and hundreds upon hundreds of studies indicate that porn can have serious negative consequences for individuals, relationships, and society as a whole.

Thankfully, there is hope for healing.

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.

Fortify

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