Have you ever noticed a perpetual need to do or consume something? Addictions come in many different forms, but they all have a similar cycle. You think about it, plan to do it, do it, and then (sometimes) regret it. This cycle repeats over and over again.
Types of Addiction
There are two main classifications of addictions: Substance and Behavioral. Substance addictions may include excessive use of alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs. Behavioural addictions may include gambling, hypersexual activity, shopping, video games, food, etc. The use or participation in these alone does not constitute an addiction, but it is important to identify if someone falls into the addiction cycle. Some individuals are more prone to addiction, but it is often a coping mechanism for underlying causes and is frequently replaced by other addictions if the fundamental origins are not addressed.
Pornography: One of Many Possible Addictions
Pornography can be a touchy subject for some people. I have personally struggled and have been in several relationships with individuals who have had porn addictions. In my early 20’s, I had the opportunity to speak to over 500 men about pornography, sexual health, respect for women, etc. A friend of mine, a male ER doctor, invited me to be a co-host with him, as he felt that my personal experiences and take as a woman would be helpful to the men at this seminar.
How Pornography May Affect Sexual Desires
The sad thing about pornography is that much of it is fake. It gives people false expectations of what sex should be like and often focuses on the wrong things. Now, that is not to say that pornography in the right context can’t spice things up in the bedroom (and maybe provide new ideas) for both partners, but it can also ruin a previously healthy sexual relationship as well. Many men at the seminar had a commonality that decreased their ability to fully climax without additional stimulation outside of their partner.
One man said he had to be watching porn or looking at pornographic magazines to orgasm while having sex with his partner. This often destroys a woman’s sense of self-worth and sexiness. People frequently wonder why their partners lose interest in sexual relations with them, and this could be a piece to that puzzle. Many times, the addiction escalates, and people need something different and more exciting to feel aroused.
I watched a documentary many years ago called “Hardcore” about a woman who moved to L.A. for a job opportunity and found herself in the porn industry. She started out saying she would never do certain things and after only a few months, she was doing much more than she ever expected. The industry pushes the boundaries of what actors/actresses are comfortable doing initially, tries to make them look younger, and digitally manipulates their appearances to make them look “perfect.” Some of these behaviors and modifications play into the false expectations people have when they participate in actual intercourse. In my early teen years, I never imagined I would have said or done many of the things I chose to do later in life, but there is a certain power to suggestion when people persistently push.
There was one man who attended my seminar that was unable to talk to me personally because he was on probation for sexually assaulting a woman. He told my co-speaker how greatly impacted he was by my presentation about respect for women and the impact of pornography. He shared with my friend that he believed pornography played a role in his mental preparation for what lead to an assault.
It Can Go Both Ways…
You will find varying statistics, especially because many people will not admit to watching pornography, but both men and women are consumers. When I was younger, I used to enjoy chatting with strangers online. This opened me up to “meet” many different types of people (including my now husband). One of the individuals that I chatted with introduced me to pornography around the age of 18 and this quickly spiraled into an addiction. I spent countless nights watching pornography and/or having sexually related conversations online and it was draining the life out of me. It took me many years to overcome this addiction with the help of a good friend, but it later caused problems in the bedroom.
Although there were other factors at play, pornography and a certain level of religious guilt played a huge role in my inability to orgasm. I had so many false expectations of what sex was supposed to be like (I was still technically a virgin at that time). It took seeking a professional counselor and a very understanding and helpful partner (my amazing husband) to overcome this obstacle and to fully enjoy sexual pleasure. Women, primarily, feel a need to fit the stereotypes casted in pornography – physical appearance, the noises they make, the way they act, etc. Unfortunately, some men expect that as well and it is not a realistic expectation. There are many things that can impact the ability to achieve orgasm, including medications, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, lack of time, etc.
If you have an addiction or know/suspect that a loved one is addicted to porn (or anything for that matter), seeking support is important. Addiction can be a relationship killer on either end of the spectrum. I remember confronting a boyfriend about their frequent use of pornography and my concern of a possible addiction. They initially denied it, but finally admitted that they were at least on the path of addiction and sought professional counseling. Reach out to a friend you trust or seek professional treatment if you find yourself in the addiction cycle. There are many resources available with a quick internet source, but this website has a list of possible helplines: https://www.projectknow.com/porn-addiction/helplines/
Author wishes to remain anonymous.