If you’ve ever heard the ultra-basic, pro-porn argument that consuming porn is an entirely personal habit, know that research doesn’t back that up at all. Porn affects not only the consumer, but also their partner, or future partners. Don’t buy the lie—porn isn’t actually a personal problem. It’s an everyone problem.

“Porn is a personal choice.” “Mind your own business, porn doesn’t hurt anyone.” “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”

These are pretty basic pro-porn arguments we hear all the time, and they bring up good points…but they’re points that are easily refuted by facts.

Not just a personal habit

Here’s an inconvenient truth: porn is something anyone can choose to consume by them self, but watching explicit videos of strangers having sex doesn’t just affect them—it affects their partner too, and not for the better.

Two of the most respected pornography researchers, professors Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman at the University of Alabama, who have studied the effects of porn and media for more than 30 years, said that when it comes to porn use “no rigorous research demonstrations of desirable effects can be reported.” [1] In other words, in all the serious research that’s been done on porn, no one has found that it has any benefits. What several studies have found, however, is that porn consumption can cause serious damage not only to the consumer, but also to those closest to them—especially their partner. [2]

Studies have shown that even casual porn consumption can cause the consumer to feel less attracted to their partner. [3] And when a person frequently consumes pornography, they’re far more likely to feel less satisfied with their partner’s looks, sexual performance, and willingness to try new sexual acts. [4]

RelatedWhen My Husband Listed All The Things Porn Women Had That I Didn’t

Why all the sudden disappointment with one’s partner? It’s likely due to the fact that porn promotes a completely fictional version of how people look and behave (see Porn Is a Lie), and makes it look like an exciting reality—one that their partners often feel they can never live up to. [5]

Given that the women depicted in porn are surgically enhanced, air-brushed, and photoshopped, [6] it’s not hard to see why, according to a national poll, that only one in seven women doesn’t think that porn has raised men’s expectations of how women should look. [7]

Degradation affects relationships

But it’s not only physical looks of both men and women that get distorted in porn. Women are also generally portrayed as anxious for sex anywhere, at any time, with anyone, and they are delighted to go as long and aggressively as one man or multiple men want. They always climax, usually loudly and ecstatically, and then are immediately ready for more. They never get tired or sore. They never need a break. In fact, they never seem to need anything at all except endless sex. They are depicted as happy with whatever a man wants to do, even if it’s dangerous, painful, or humiliating. [8]

If you think those unrealistic depictions don’t work their way into consumers’ beliefs, expectations and actions—think again. [9] In a recent survey of 16 to 18-year-old Americans, nearly every participant reported learning how to have sex by watching porn, [10] and many of the young women said they were pressured to play out the “scripts” their male partners had learned from porn. [11] They felt badgered into having sex in uncomfortable positions, faking sexual responses, and consenting to unpleasant or painful acts.

The real issue of betrayal trauma

Of course, the pain caused by porn can go far beyond a bad experience in the bedroom.

Individuals who learn of their partner’s porn habit often internalize their shame and confusion, asking themselves why they aren’t “enough” as they are. They may feel undesirable, unattractive, and worthless. [13] Many partners of porn consumers even start showing physical symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. [14] And while it’s true for both men and women, studies have shown that because of the shame they feel and their worry about being blamed for their partner’s problem, the majority of women who learn of a partner’s porn habit isolate themselves at least somewhat from their normal sources of social support, just when they need that support the most. [15]

RelatedThe Science Of Betrayal: The Emotional Trauma Of Having A Porn-Addicted Partner

If you want to do a huge favor for the Love of Your Life, decide now that you won’t bring the potentially devastating effects of porn into your relationship. Or, if you’re already caught up in a toxic porn habit, make the decision to get help. Click here to find out how you can give them the gift they really want: You. All of you. Heart and Mind.

Trust us, it’s worth the fight.

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Citations

[1] Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vorderer, and G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch der Medienpsychologie (pp.565–85). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag.
[2] Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography and Violence: A New look at the Research. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 160; Ryu, E. (2004). Spousal Use of Pornography and Its Clinical Significance for Asian-American Women: Korean Women as an Illustration. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy 16, 4: 75; Bridges, A. J., Bergner, R. M., and Hesson-McInnis, M. (2003). Romantic Partners’ Use of Pornography: Its Significance for Women. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 29, 1: 1–14; Bergner, R. and Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance of Heavy Pornography Involvement for Romantic Partners: Research and Clinical Implications. Sex and Marital Therapy 28, 3: 193–206.
[3] Bridges, A. J. (2010). Pornography’s Effect on Interpersonal Relationships. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 89-110). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Bergner, R. and Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance of Heavy Pornography Involvement for Romantic Partners: Research and Clinical Implications. Sex and Marital Therapy 28, 3: 193–206.
[4] Zillmann, D. and Bryant, J. (1988). Pornography’s Impact on Sexual Satisfaction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 18, 5: 438–53.
[5] Bergner, R. and Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance of Heavy Pornography Involvement for Romantic Partners: Research and Clinical Implications. Sex and Marital Therapy 28, 3: 193–206; Senn, C. Y. (1993). Women’s Multiple Perspectives and Experiences with Pornography. Psychology of Women Quarterly 17, 3: 319041.
[6] Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography addiction—a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 3, 20767; Paul, Pamela. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 145.
[7] Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography to Porno to Porn: How Porn Became the Norm. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute.
[8] Layden, M. A. (2010) Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In Stoner, J. & Hughes, D. (Eds.), The Social Cost Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57-68). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Ryu, E. (2004). Ryu, E. (2008). Spousal Use Of Pornography And Its Clinical Significance For Asian-American Women: Korean Woman As An Illustration. Journal Of Feminist Family Therapy, 16(4), 75. Doi:10.1300/J086v16n04_05; Shope, J. H. (2004). When Words Are Not Enough: The Search For The Effect Of Pornography On Abused Women. Violence Against Women, 10(1), 56-72. Doi:10.1177/1077801203256003
[9] See, E.G. Peter, J. & Valkenburg, P. M., (2016) Adolescents And Pornography: A Review Of 20 Years Of Research. Journal Of Sex Research, 53(4-5), 509-531. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441 (Pointing Out That “Existing Research Has Produced Consistent Evidence That Adolescents’ Pornography Use Is Related To Their Sexual Attitudes.”)
[10] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908
[11] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908
[12] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908
[13] Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078; Bergner, R.M., & Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance Of Heavy Pornography Involvement For Romantic Partners: Research And Clinical Implications. Journal Of Sex And Marital Therapy, 28, 193-206. Doi:10.1080/009262302760328235
[14] Steffens, B. A., & Rennie, R. L. (2006). The Traumatic Nature Of Disclosure For Wives Of Sexual Addicts. Sexual Addiction And Compulsivity, 13(2-3), 247-267. Doi:10.1080/10720160600870802; Wildmon-White, M., & Young, J. (2002). Family-Of-Origin Characteristics Among Women Married To Sexually Addicted Men. Sexual Addiction And Compulsivity, 9(4), 263-273. Doi:10.1080/10720760216042
[15] Manning, J. C. (2010) The Impact Of Pornography On Women: Social Science Findings And Clinical Observations. In Stoner, J. Stoner & Hughes, D. (Eds.), The Social Cost Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3-20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute.

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