Porn and relationships

It is common for individuals and couples to view pornography….in moderation. Concerns arise when porn is no longer viewed in moderation and becomes out of control or problematic in a relationship.

According to Worldwide Pornography Revenues 2006, every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography, every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created, and every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography.

Porn is like a drug; it gives a “high” and has a tolerance level. The more people use it the more they need it and then the amount they need to "get high" increases.

Porn in moderation for many couples doesn’t impact intimacy and can often help gay couples sexually connect. For others however, it can damage and hurt the relationship in several ways.

A couple’s intimacy is damaged with compulsive and out-of-control porn viewing. The body builds a tolerance to the sexual stimulation and may need a higher level or different types of arousal (similar to drugs). There may be a need to change up the sex, such as changing the sexual acts, role playing, verbal language (offensive, degrading, sexual descriptions, etc.), change in sexual positions, etc. Even worse, people who watch “too much porn” can end up finding themselves unable to be sexually intimate with their partner, unable to achieve erections, incapable of having an orgasm or lacking sexual arousal.

Not only can compulsive pornography viewing send a message to the partner that they aren’t “good enough”, it can also create a body image issue for either partner, which is an ongoing issue in the gay community. Porn stars often have the “perfect body” and a great sexual bond, without the communication.

Dr. Murray Drummond, a professor at the University of South Australia, estimates that 5% to 10% of people with eating disorders are men and psychotherapist Abigail H. Natenshon states that 20% of those men are gay. Porn can influence body image issues, decrease self confidence, and/or give false hope about communication in relationships.

Is your Porn viewing a problem? Do you…
- Need pornography to get aroused?
- “Use” porn to alleviate stress, handle painful emotions, or decrease anxiety?
- Say “this is my last time” and then find yourself on the internet again? You just can’t seem to stop?
- Find that you are compulsive and unable to go without porn or masturbation?
- Notice porn hurting work, relationships, school, and/or finances?
- Waste hours at a time on the internet, and then feel horrible after?
- Have a secretive lifestyle?

The internet surfing of sites, such as Adam4Adam, Olivia, Poz.com, or Craigslist, can take over, hurt relationships, drown the finances, and/or potentially hurt your job success. Not only is the secret life of internet surfing a lonely journey, it is also compiled with shame and guilt. Life doesn’t have to be this way… seek professional help before porn damages your life and your relationship.

To learn more about the author Jennine Estes, San Diego’s Marriage and Family Therapist, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her San Diego Couples Therapy website.

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