5 minute read.

Here at Fight the New Drug, we talk a lot about how porn actually hurts rather than helps. While porn can at first seem like an easy way to escape from reality and relax into sexual fantasy, and our society often tells us it’s “natural” to watch porn, we would like to take a look at who porn actually hurts and how.

1. Porn hurts family and friends

The cycle of porn can become compulsive or addictive. [1] As porn consumers get more and more involved with porn, they often find themselves in a cycle turning to porn more and more often in order to get that same “high” that the explicit material can provide, because of the dopamine which it releases in the brain. [2] This escalating habit can end up taking more and more time away from the things a consumer loves to do, as well as their friends and family.

We’ve heard countless stories of people who find themselves choosing to watch porn rather than doing their usual favorite pastimes, like hanging out with friends, playing sports, reading, etc., and we have heard countless stories of people neglecting their responsibilities to the people they love, like going to their kids’ sporting events or recitals, reading their kids bedtime stories, following through on their commitments to their friends, and so on.

Related: True Story: My Dad Chose Porn Over Our Family

And not only that, but those who are caught in an intense porn habit usually feel too isolated to open up about it, pushing them into further secrecy and isolation. That can take away from the close connection of families and friendships, disabling intimate relationships from progressing.

Many families and friends feel abandoned and betrayed by their loved one’s porn habit, as the porn consumer continues to choose porn over spending time with their family and friends.

2. Porn hurts significant others

The research is clear about the harm that porn does to significant others. Of course, no one intends to hurt their partner when they watch porn. Some do it out of a habit that started long before the relationship, and some watch it because they genuinely think it will help their sex life—a complete lie the industry would love consumers to believe.

Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman of the University of Alabama studied the effects of porn and media for over 30 years, and their studies found that pornography makes many consumers less satisfied with their own partner’s physical appearance, sexual performance, affection, and sexual curiosity. [3]

Other researchers have confirmed those results and added that porn consumers tend to be significantly less intimate with their partners, [4] less committed in their relationships, [5] less satisfied with their romantic and sex lives, [6] and more likely to cheat on their partners. [7]

Related10 Women Confess How They Feel About Their Partners Watching Porn

Research is also showing how porn does the opposite of helping a couple’s sex life because it can rewire the consumer’s brain so much so that they become less capable of positively responding sexually to their partner. Thirty years ago, erectile dysfunction was almost unheard of among men under age 40. [8] Now, it has become a common problem, largely because of frequent porn consumption. [9] More and more men are training their brains to respond to the never-ending variety of airbrushed and surgically enhanced women available through porn, who always desire sex, are always willing to do whatever their partner wants, never need a break or are never “not in the mood,” and never have needs of their own.

RelatedIs Watching Porn Like Cheating On Your Partner?

In reality, women are complex humans who have real needs, desires, and long for real intimacy with their partner. When the brain has been rewired to be attracted to the unrealistic porn performers that present sexuality at an unrealistic, unattainable level, and when the consumer is faced with a real partner, they can often have trouble climaxing during sex. [10] One can only imagine how hurtful this can be to the partner who then feels like they are not good enough, not sexy enough, or not adventurous enough to satisfy their partner.

The good news is, the brain can be rewired again by staying away from porn and replacing it with healthier habits[11] It is never too late to commit to real love!

3. Porn hurts you

Porn does not just hurt the other people in the consumer’s life but has very real and damaging effects on the consumer them self, too.

Because of the isolation porn causes from friends, family, and significant others, porn can cause great loneliness in its consumers. “The more one uses pornography, the more lonely one becomes,” says Dr. Gary Brooks, a psychologist who has worked with porn addicts for the last 30 years. [12] Dr. Ana Bridges says that as a porn user withdraws from his or her relationships, they experience “increased secrecy, less intimacy and also more depression.” [13]

For both male and female porn consumers, their habit is often accompanied by problems with anxiety, body-image issues, poor self-image, relationship problems, insecurity, and depression. [14]

RelatedTrue Story: My Depression Disappeared When I Stopped Watching Porn

They miss out on real intimacy with another human being, instead settling for one-sided sexual titillation with a screen. Real intimacy offers joy, love, connection, and an opportunity to come out of oneself and care for another. There is no replacement for sharing your life with other real people, and there is no substitute for healthy self-esteem and loving yourself.

Why This Matters

It is clear that porn harms many people, including the men and women on screen (see The Porn Industry’s Dark Secrets). Do your friends, your family, your significant other, yourself, and the world a favor—fight for real love for everyone in your life that’s important, including you. Watching isn’t worth it—real love is worth the fight.

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Get Involved

Watching isn’t worth it. SHARE this article and spread the word that porn hurts those in front of and behind the screen, including the viewer.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with an obsession or addiction to pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at Fortify, a recovery-focused platform that will allow you take a step toward freedom. Anyone 17 years and younger can apply for a free scholarship to the site, and it's an inexpensive fee for anyone 18 and older. There is hope—sign up today to get the help you need and join with an encouraging community.

Spark Conversations

This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography. When you rep a tee, you can spark meaningful conversation on porn’s harms and inspire lasting change in individuals’ lives, and our world. Are you in? Check out all our styles in our online store, or click below to shop:

Citations

[1] Meerkerk, G.J., Van Den Eijnden, R.J., & Garretsen, H.F. (2006). Predicting compulsive Internet use: it’s all about sex!, CyberPsychology and Behavior, 9(1), 95-103. doi:10.1089/cpb.2006.9.95; See also Korkeila, J., Kaarlas, S., Jaaskelainen, M, Vahlberg, T., Taiminen, T. (2010). Attached to the web—harmful use of the Internet and its correlates. European Psychiatry 25(4) 236-241. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2009.02.008 (Finding “adult entertainment” to be the most common reason for compulsive Internet use.)
[2] Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered in the Context of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 3:20767. doi:10.3402/snp.v3i0.20767; Pfaus, J. (2011). Love and the Opportunistic Brain. In The Origins of Orientation, World Science Festival, June; Georgiadis, J. R. (2006). Regional Cerebral Blood Flow Changes Associated with Clitorally Induced Orgasm in Healthy Women. European Journal of Neuroscience 24, 11: 3305–3316. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.05206.x
[3] Zillman, D. & Bryant, J. (1988) Pornography’s impact on sexual satisfaction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 18, 438-453. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1988.tb00027.x
[4] Park, B. Y., et al. (2016). Is internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysunction? A Review with Clinical Reports, Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. doi:10.3390/bs6030017; 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; Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnason, J., Ezzell, M., (2014). Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 1-12. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0391-2; 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/s10508-009-9585-4; 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
[5] 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; 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/s10508-009-9585-4
[6] 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; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations between Young Adults’ Use of Sexually Explicit Materials and Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, and Satisfaction. Journal of Sex Research, 48(6), 520-530. doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; 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/s10508-009-9585-4; Yucel, D. & Gassanov, M. A. (2010). Exploring actor and partner correlates of sexual satisfaction among married couples. Social Science Research, 39(5), 725-738. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.20009.09,002
[7] Braithwaite, S. R., Coulson, G., Keddington, K., & Fincham, F. D. (2015). The influence of pornography on sexual scripts and hooking up among emerging adults in college. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44(1), 111-123. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0351-x; 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/s10508-009-9585-4
[8] Park, B. Y., et al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. doi:10.3390/bs6030017; Robinson, M. and Wilson, G. (2011). Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction: A Growing Problem. Psychology Today, July 11.
[9] Park, B. Y., et al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. doi:10.3390/bs6030017; Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. doi:10.3390/bs5030388; Voon, V., et al. (2014). Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), e102419. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102419; Kalman, T. P., (2008). Clinical Encounters with Internet Pornography, Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, 36(4), 593-618. doi:10.1521/jaap.2008.36.4.593
[10] Carvalheira, A., Traeen, B., & Stulhofer, A. (2015). Masturbation and Pornography Use Among Coupled Heterosexual Men with Decreased Sexual Desire: How Many Roles of Masturbations? Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 41(6), 626-635. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2014.958790; Voon, V., et al. (2014). Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), e102419. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102419; Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnason, J., & Ezzell, M. (2014). Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(4), 1-12. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0391-2; Poulsen, F. O., Busby, D. M., & Galovan, A. M. (2013). Pornography use: who uses it and how it is associated with couple outcomes. Journal of Sex Research 50(1), 72-83. doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.648027; Stewart, D. N., & Szymanski, D. M. (2012). Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(5-6), 257-274. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0164-0; 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/s10508-009-9585-4; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations between young adults’ use of sexually explicit materials and their sexual preferences, behaviors, and satisfaction. Journal of Sex Research, 48,(6), 520-530. 8(6):520-30. doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Janssen, E., & Bancroft, J. (2007). The Dual-Control Model: The role of sexual inhibition & excitation in sexual arousal and behavior. In Janssen, E. (Ed.), The Psychology of Sex (pp. 197-222). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press; Zillman, D., & Bryant, J. (2006). Pornography’s Impact on Sexual Satisfaction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 18(5), 438-453. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1988.tb00027.x
[11] Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books.
[12] Brooks, G. R., (1995). The centerfold syndrome: How men can overcome objectification and achieve intimacy with women. San Francisco: Bass. Cited in Yoder, V. C., Virden, T. B., & Amin, K. (2005). Internet Pornography and Loneliness: An Association? Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 12, 19-44. doi:10.1080/10720160590933653
[13] Weir, K. (2014, April). Is pornography addictive? Monitor on Psychology. 45(4) 46. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography.aspx
[14] Flisher, C. (2010). Getting Plugged In: An Overview of Internet Addiction. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 46: 557–559. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1754.2010.01879.x; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography and Violence: A New look at the Research. In Stoner, J., & Hughes, D. (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Kafka, M. P. (2000). The Paraphilia-Related Disorders: Nonparaphilic Hypersexuality and Sexual Compulsivity/Addiction. In Leiblum, S. R., & Rosen, R. C. (Eds.) Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, 3rd Ed. (pp. 471–503). New York: Guilford Press.

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