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Pornography: To Watch Or Not To Watch? That Is The Question

Below are answers to many of the questions I get asked in regards to pornography and porn addiction:

Aren’t all men porn addicts? Or Doesn’t every male watch porn? The simple answer is “no” to both questions; not every male watches pornography and not every male becomes addicted to pornography. However, there is a high percentage of men addicted to porn, especially those in younger generations. Approximately 1/3 of my clientele are couples and individuals coming to therapy due to porn addiction issues.

Why is porn addiction so prominent? In the “good old days” it was much more difficult to get a hold of porn. Sure there were magazines that one could get, but to get a pornographic video, one had to go to video store, duck into the back room and hope no one saw them. To watch a video at home you had one option of watching it on a TV. However, with the invention of the internet, porn addiction has become somewhat of an epidemic. Approximately 50% of all websites are pornographic in nature so there is a large amount to choose from. Most websites are inexpensive or even free. You can be whoever you want to be and with a smart phone you can watch it anytime, anywhere. This makes internet pornography highly appealing.

So what or when does watching porn become an addiction? There are two components that help define addictions: withdrawal and tolerance. In terms of pornography this means that the person watching porn has tried to either watch it less or not watch it anymore at all and struggles to stop. Tolerance means that the same material that used to work no longer does or the amount of time has increased. For example, maybe you started out by only looking at naked pictures, but then you started watching soft core porn and now you are watching hard core porn or feeding into fetishes.

So, how can watching porn be a problem? Don’t get me wrong, pornography is not a problem for everyone or for every couple. However, due to the often secretive nature of viewing pornography the significant other can often feel as if they have been cheated on. Furthermore, it often leads to unrealistic expectations in the bedroom. In the movie Don John, the main character, questions why women in real life do not go down on him like the women in the videos. Expectations on how long a person should last sexually or penis size are also often compared. Many men become no longer sexually attracted to their partner. I also see many couples who waited until later to have sex now struggle due to the amount of pornography and masturbation done before hand. They become accustomed to the feel of their own hand and someone else’s or even the vagina just does not feel the same. That isn’t to say that masturbation is bad, in fact, it is healthy and normal for both men and women to masterbate and explore their bodies.

That all being said, there is hope. Talk to your partner about your concerns and reach out for support. There are sex addicts anonymous groups and therapy that can help you and your partner to get back on track. Most cannot break the cycle of porn addiction alone and because sex is often seen as an integral part of relationships, porn addiction can be hard to stop. But like I said there is hope and many of the clients I see are able to maintain healthy relationships with some work.

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