fbpx Skip to main content
Blog

If You’re Waiting to Quit Porn Once You’re in a Relationship, Read This

"I was single and thought it wouldn’t affect me once I was in a relationship or married. Now though...I believe I not only made a smart decision in giving up porn after that, but a life-altering decision, too."

“I’m 32 years old, I’ve been married for 6 years, and I’ve only been off of porn for 2 of those years—and those 2 years have been tougher than you can imagine; I am frequently tempted to look at porn. What helps me fight is remembering how my use of it hurts my relationship with my wife—not only in our sex life, but in our everyday life, too.”

“Those were the words of my mentor, Mark, as I explained how I was using porn as an outlet while I waited for a committed relationship to develop,” Tim, 19, shared with us in an interview.

Tim was only 16 at the time Mark shared that valuable insight with him.

What Mark was getting at was this: porn is a cheap replacement for a real relationship and repeatedly consuming it, even temporarily, can lead to serious problems in the long run.

Related: How Men Can Confront the Negative Impacts Porn Can Have on Them

At the time, Tim had trouble understanding or seeing that, but now he does.

“I’d been using porn for around 3 years at the time of that conversation [with my mentor],” he said. “The main reason was because I was single and thought it wouldn’t affect me once I was in a relationship or married. Honestly, now though, seeing all the data and the stuff you guys at Fight the New Drug put out, I believe I not only made a smart decision in giving up porn after that conversation, but a life-altering decision.”

If you are using porn to ease the struggle of the single life like our Fighter Tim was, we invite you to consider the alternative.

Let’s take a look at why.

Porn can become addictive

One’s desire to watch porn doesn’t simply stop when they meet their S.O.

Many porn consumers are surprised to find that porn can be incredibly difficult to quit. While most porn consumers are not 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 experts agree that pornography consumption is a behavior that can, in fact, qualify as an addiction in serious cases.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 

Regardless of whether someone’s porn consumption is classified as an addiction, compulsion, or simply an unhealthy habit, quitting porn can be a difficult process.

Related: 3 Ways Porn Hurts Men and Fuels Their Insecurities

According to qualitative research involving individuals who wanted to quit porn, many reported feeling that they had “lost control over [their] own behavior.”Copy  Getting caught in an unhealthy or even addictive cycle of pornography limits the feeling of control a consumer has over their life. Although it may take some time, quitting porn can allow consumers to take back that control and live a healthier life.

But whether you’ve just entered a relationship, are married, or are single, porn doesn’t care.

Store - General

Porn desensitizes you to real sex

As we discussed earlier, your brain responds to, or is conditioned by, the stimulus it experiences.

In some cases, this conditioning is positive. When a baby cries because he is hungry and his mother responds to him by feeding him, the baby’s brain begins to create connections between his predominant communication form—crying—and his mother’s response to that communication form—giving him milk.

In other cases, however, this brain conditioning is negative. When the stimulus is porn, the brain has a tendency to become desensitized to the explicit content. This means that the brain begins to tolerate the powerful images it’s processing, eventually leading the porn consumer’s brain to need more images, and more extreme images, in order to achieve similar highs to before the desensitization process began.

Related: How Early Porn Exposure Traumatizes Boys and Fuels an Unhealthy Perception of Masculinity

Research indicates that porn consumers can become desensitized to porn, often needing to consume more porn, more extreme forms of porn, or consume porn more often in order to get the same response they once did.Banca, P., Morris, L. S., Mitchell, S., Harrison, N. A., Potenza, M. N., & Voon, V. (2016). Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards. Journal of psychiatric research, 72, 91–101. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.10.017Copy 

Over time, a porn consumer’s appetite can escalate to more hardcore versions just to achieve the same level of arousal. In fact 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 

Store - Trafficking

Because real, healthy sex is totally different from porn, the material’s more powerful and more extreme imagery can desensitize so much that porn “can actually overpower the brain’s natural [desire] to have real sex.”

In fact, porn’s imagery is so powerful and so extreme that even traffickers and predators use it to desensitize their victims to the real situations of sexual abuse they’ll soon face at the hands of sex buyers or other abusers.

Interest in porn doesn’t go away with a relationship

Aside from Tim, we also had the chance to sit down with another FTND supporter, 24-year-old John.

Recently married in 2018 to his girlfriend of three years, John still decides to meet weekly with a sexual accountability group, sends his computer and phone’s internet history to another friend, and frequently finds himself fighting off memories of the shocking images he looked at in his early teens.

“Although I struggled with looking at porn a bit in our dating relationship, I assumed that my desire to look at the stuff would go away once I was having sex with my wife—we decided to wait until we were married to do so,” John explained about his daily battle with porn. “However, that just didn’t happen.”

“While I have only looked at porn twice since we got married, I still feel like I’m struggling to be totally free,”  he said. “What’s more, the stuff I saw in porn is different from what I experience sexually with my wife, which sometimes makes that part of our relationship more difficult and less enjoyable for both of us.”

Related: Top 3 Reasons People Quit Porn, According to a Therapist (VIDEO)

Fortify

John and Tim are not alone

It can seem like an appealing argument, to only watch porn until you can have a partner for real, but take it from John or Tim—porn simply isn’t worth it.

Whether you’re flying solo, or you’re on your way to a lasting committed relationship, porn doesn’t discriminate. Consider the risks before consuming, and your life will be much better off without it.

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

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

Support this resource

Thanks for taking the time to read through this article! As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we're able to create resources like this through the support of people like you. Will you help to keep our educational resources free as we produce resources that raise awareness on the harms of porn and sexual exploitation?

DONATE