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How Pornography Affects a Couple's Sex Life!



Intimate couple has great sex life without porn addiction
Porn Free Couple's Sex Life Creates Lasting Intimacy


Pornography is more accessible than ever and there has been a huge increase in the number of men and women who watch it on a regular or even daily basis. Watching porn negatively affects a person’s life in many ways and this is especially true when it comes to people in a relationship.


Relationships are fundamental to our wellbeing, and sex between two people who love each other strengthens their physical, emotional and spiritual bond. When a couple can be free and exploring in their sexual relationship with open and honest communication, it enriches the relationship and strengthens their overall happiness. When porn is brought into a relationship, it not only destroys a couple’s sex life but also their relationship.


Watching porn has become somewhat normalized in society today and many people believe there is nothing wrong with their porn consumption. Both men and women watch porn and some even watch it together, but the men are still the highest consumers of pornographic material on the Internet. The wives or partners of porn consumers are often told that it’s a ‘normal’ male behavior and are thereby silenced. Meanwhile, porn is slowly chipping away at the health and happiness of both partners as well as the relationship as a whole.


Research of the effects of pornography on relationships shows an alarming picture. Rates of divorce for couples who consume pornography are twice as high compared to couples who don’t, with a rising rate of 5% to 11%. This isn’t surprising as people in a relationship where one or both partners regularly watch pornography have lower levels of satisfaction – sexually and generally. In this article, we will unpack some of the mechanisms and reasons behind this.



Sexual Desire


Pornography destroys sexual desire between a couple.
Sexual Desire



A study that followed couples over several years to find out what things influence the quality of a marriage (including their sex lives) found that porn was the second biggest predictor of feeling unhappy, especially when porn was viewed once a day or more. Many men admitted that they found their partners less sexually attractive and were less satisfied with their sex lives and overall relationship. This is because porn alters a person’s sexual preferences and creates a false picture of what sex is like in real life. The types of acts, the way the actors behave and their appearance become the unattainable standard expected of wives whose husbands have a porn addiction.


Sexual script theory explains how pornography has become the guideline to sexual behavior and conduct in sexual encounters. A person’s understanding of their own sexuality and sexual desires (sexual script) determines what kind of sex someone wants and consequently determines how much they enjoy it. According to this theory, these choices and wants are socially constructed and the widespread consumption of porn plays a major role in this. For example, a survey that was conducted on 16 to 18 year-olds showed that a significant number of young men learn what sex is through watching pornography while their female partners feel pressured to act out what is depicted in porn.


This means that men become less responsive to sex with their partners even though they can still get aroused by what they see online. It’s not surprising therefore that partners of porn addicts often feel depressed, rejected and as though they can never measure up to the standard of porn. But porn is fake and does not reflect people or sex in real life. It distorts the consumer’s view of women and people in general, reducing them to body parts and to objects of sexual gratification.


This also leads to porn addicts becoming increasingly disrespectful and uncaring towards women because most porn features aggression and violence towards women. So not only is porn bringing impossible standards into a couple’s sex life but it can also lead to the desire and/ or expectation to have dehumanizing, aggressive and potentially dangerous sex.


Sexual Dysfunction


Pornography alters view of what sex and creates sexual dysfunction in performance with a real man or woman.
Sexual Dysfunction

Another way that porn can negatively affect a couple’s sex life is the impact it has on someone’s ability to actually have sex. If someone has been conditioned to only become aroused by watching porn or particular types of sex seen in porn it can cause erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation or the loss of the ability to orgasm all together. Porn causes such a surplus of dopamine and endorphins that the natural production of these chemicals is significantly reduced so unless porn is involved, the body no longer responds.


Sexual dysfunction is generally seen in people who are above the age of 50 or 60 but there is a growing number of young men who are experiencing these problems – because of their addiction to pornography. These men have damaged their natural ability to have sex physically as well as their ability to form truly intimate and emotional connections. Bu through getting the right help, and rediscovering their sexuality in a healthy way, the damage can be reversed.



Porn rewires the brain

Pornography triggers addiction receptors within the brain
Porn reshapes brain functioning


The brain has certain ‘hacks’ to make life easier, and in order to make sense of the world around us, the brain makes associations and categories that are activated by particular prompts. So when you experience something good, the brain will create a pathway to link what you are doing to the positive feeling. The more you repeat that experience, the stronger that connection will become. It works the same way with porn: the brain will create an association between what is being viewed and the feeling of pleasure.


These associations become stronger the more they get used and can even replace other pathways. It’s like going down a snowy mountain with a sled. The more you slide down the same path, the easier it becomes to use it. When you stop going down that path, the snow will soon cover it and it will become harder to sled down that way. So, the more someone uses porn, the stronger the association between pleasure and porn will become. At the same time, the association between arousal and normal sex will become weaker and eventually the porn consumer can’t get turned on by anything but porn.


The good news is that the brain is not hardwired and we can re-build the connection between pleasure and healthy sex. Achieving abstinence through sex counseling and restoring your relationship and healthy sex with your partner is entirely possible! Reach out to us today to discuss how we can help!



Infidelity



Porn Addiction can lead to infidelity or an affair, destroying the relationship.
Infidelity, affairs destroy relationships and families

Watching pornography while masturbating is a sexual act so could it therefore constitute a form of infidelity? It’s certainly often the case that the porn consumer conceals their habit and even lies about it. A happy and healthy marriage or relationship is based on open and honest communication, but a pornography habit will inevitably lead to dishonesty and deceit. And feeling guilty about lying to your wife or partner is far from a turn-on – in fact, feeling guilty has been found to decrease the level of sexual desire a person feels for their partner.


While it significantly reduces the desire a person feels for his partner, it will increase their need for watching porn as well as the chances of a real life affair: people who consume porn regularly are more likely to cheat on their partners. This is because porn is addictive and the consumer has an ever increasing need for higher levels of stimulation – initially this will mean kinkier and more aggressive porn but is likely to escalate into real life affairs including the use of sex workers.


The impact of porn on a partner is illustrated by Mary’s story, a common story of people living with a porn addict:


I knew Joe watched porn even before we got married and I just accepted it because I thought it’s what all men do. My girlfriends told me that their partners watch porn too so I thought it was normal. But as time went on, he seemed to lose interest in me more and more. We went from having sex regularly to him avoiding me and telling me he wasn’t in the mood or that he felt too tired.


One day I walked in on him masturbating to porn and I felt confused – he wants to watch other women but he doesn’t want to be with me? So I decided to take matters into my own hands and watched some of the stuff I found on his Internet browsing history. I went on a diet, changed my hairstyle, bought lots of kinky outfits and lingerie, wore more make-up and even considered getting my breasts enhanced. All I wanted was to be desired by my husband. I thought if I look like the porn actresses then he would want to be with me again; I felt I was constantly competing with those women.


It did work and we started having sex more but it always felt like I was putting on a show. I dressed up and performed like the women he was watching and tried my best to resemble what he seemed to be into. I couldn’t be myself anymore, I felt like an object and never good enough. The love between us disappeared and I became more and more anxious and depressed - I felt humiliated!


Eventually I decided to speak to Joe about it. He showed compassion and was actually a bit shocked by what I said and promised me that he would stop watching porn immediately. But at this point, my self-esteem had taken such a hit that I struggled to know how to behave in the bedroom and doubted whether or not he found me attractive - to be honest, I didn’t find myself attractive anymore and felt worthless unless I looked a certain way. I became obsessed and I searched his phone and laptop for evidence of him still watching porn every day. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for me to find it. I confronted him and he promised he would stop AGAIN. This went on for months until I eventually had to give him an ultimatum: me or watching porn.


We are in couple’s therapy now and he is also getting therapy for his addiction to porn. I’m glad we are taking these steps forward and I’m hopeful for a better future together but I know it will take a long time and hard work to re-build the trust and bond between us.


As Mary’s story shows, porn brings secrecy, deceit and shame into a relationship and causes partners to feel jealous, betrayed and humiliated. Often people are not aware or are in denial about the consequences of their porn consumption and the impact it is having on their relationship. Most people don’t wake up in the morning and plan to hurt the person they are married to on purpose. Nevertheless, their addiction is driving them to do exactly that. Over time, partners will feel isolated and alone and so will porn consumers! Porn damages the ability to connect to others including romantic partners, friends and people in general!


Watching porn and masturbating is a solo activity and often porn consumers have the belief that it won’t have an impact on their relationship. But in reality it’s destroying the physical and emotional intimacy between you and is slowly pulling you apart. By watching porn, you are objectifying and dehumanizing your partner, causing them significant emotional distress and destroying your own ability to have healthy sex and true intimacy and connection.


Porn has the potential to destroy sex lives and marriages but it’s not too late and you can find true pleasure with your partner and in your sex life again! Choosing to get help for your porn addiction is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship. Through engaging in therapy by yourself and with your partner, you can rebuild the love and trust that you once shared. And going through a journey like this together will ultimately create a stronger bond than ever before!


References:


The Desire for Porn and Partner?: Investigating the Role of Scripts in Affectionate Communication, Sexual Desire, and Pornography Consumption and Guilt in Young Adults’ Romantic Relationships:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10570314.2018.1564934?journalCode=rwjc20


Effects of cybersex addiction on the family: Results of a survey:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10720160008400206


Emerging adults' expectations for pornography use in the context of future committed romantic relationships: a qualitative study:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22886349/


The Traumatic Nature of Disclosure for Wives of Sexual Addicts:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10720160600870802


The effects of sexually explicit material use on romantic relationship dynamics:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27784182/


Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update:

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/5/3/388


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