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3 Problems With Saying “Watching Porn Doesn’t Actually Hurt Anyone”

1.2Kshares 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…

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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.

So, if the question is “Who does watching porn actually hurt?” these are the answers below.

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1. Porn hurts family and friends

The cycle of porn can become compulsive, or in more extreme cases, addictive. 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  As porn consumers get more and more involved with porn, they often find themselves in a cycle of 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. 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, JuneCOPY  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.

Studies have repeatedly shown that porn consumers tend to have lower relationship satisfaction and lower relationship quality, generally.Perry, S. (2016). 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  Additionally, porn consumers tend to be significantly less intimate with their partners,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/s10508-009-9585-4COPY  less committed in their relationships,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/s10508-009-9585-4COPY less satisfied with their romantic and sex lives,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.20009.09,002COPY  and more likely to cheat on their partners.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/s10508-009-9585-4COPY 

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.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.COPY  Now, it has become a common problem, largely because of frequent porn consumption.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.0102419COPY  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.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:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960COPY  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.Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books.COPY  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 themself, too.

Because of the isolation porn causes from friends, family, and significant others, porn can cause great loneliness in its consumers. In fact, several peer-reviewed studies have found that pornography consumption is associated with increased loneliness, poorer mental health outcomes, lower self-esteem, negative body image, and lower life satisfaction.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.2017.1321601; Noor, S. W., Simon Rosser, B. R., & Erickson, D. J. (2014). A Brief Scale to Measure Problematic Sexually Explicit Media Consumption: Psychometric Properties of the Compulsive Pornography Consumption (CPC) Scale among Men who have Sex with Men. Sexual addiction & compulsivity, 21(3), 240–261. https://doi.org/10.1080/10720162.2014.938849; 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.2017.04.006; Eric W. Owens, Richard J. Behun, Jill C. Manning & Rory C. Reid (2012) The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research, Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 19:1-2, 99-122, DOI: 10.1080/10720162.2012.660431; Brian J. Willoughby, Bonnie Young-Petersen & Nathan D. Leonhardt (2018) Exploring Trajectories of Pornography Use Through Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood, The Journal of Sex Research, 55:3, 297-309, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977COPY  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.”Weir, K. (2014, April). Is pornography addictive? Monitor on Psychology. 45(4) 46. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography.aspxCOPY 

Related: True Story: Quitting Porn Helped In My Fight Against Depression

They miss out on real intimacy with another human being, instead of 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.

Become A Fighter

Why This Matters

It is clear that porn harms many people, including the men and women on screen. 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.

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.

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

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