There is so much about today’s lifestyle that is bringing significant changes to our relationships. We are admittedly a whole lot busier and spend far more time on the road. We do little face-to-face communication and possess a slew of technological gizmos and gadgets. We are also avid consumers of entertainment and have grown accustomed to hyper-stimulation. In other words, we get bored easily and seem to need a constant stream of new excitement. Is it any surprise then that our new mode of living would have an impact on our intimate relationships? It has actually changed things so much that it has affected even the way individuals in relationships cheat or bring harm to their intimate relationships. This leads us to the touchy issue of porn.
There has been perhaps no other time in history, where pornography has been so readily available to everyone, than today. With the click of a mouse, any of us can have access to over 1.3 million porn sites. Reputable research agencies have estimated that every second, 28, 258 internet users are viewing pornography while per second, 372 users are typing adult “sex terms” into search engines in search of sexual titillation. At the same time, every 39 minutes a new porn video is being made in the US, while every second $3,074. 64, is also being spent on porn (and this has nothing to do with other regions of the world). In the US alone, porn (internet and video) has been known to rake in over $13.33 billion dollars in revenue. So this is a huge business. While these statistics alone boggle the mind, they allow us to know the depth of involvement of porn in our daily lives. Undeniably, this level of involvement will impact marriages, other relationships, secular leaders, religious leaders, politicians, children, teens and the list is inexhaustible.
Some of the fall-outs as a result of involvement with porn have been: the destruction of marital intimacy, porn-addiction, masturbation-addiction, infidelity, divorce, financial ruin, job-loss, sexual desensitization, sex-crimes and the most unlikely; sexual and arousal dysfunction. While this article will not attempt to deal with all of these issues, it will look briefly at how porn hurts our sex/love-lives. This is particularly necessary, since so many relationship-advocates, “sexperts” and therapists are today advising couples to turn to porn to get their groove on; especially when boredom has set in and there is the need to spice things up a bit. This practice is in fact lethal to the relationship and so many conveniently neglect to mention how potentially addictive and destructive porn can be.
Porn Warps Reality
Pornography is based and thrives on a skewed perception of reality. In the porn-world most women are overt or closet nymphomaniacs who will do any and everything to get laid. They are like dogs in heat who enjoy being raped, abused, having multiple sexual partners (often of both sexes) and who will be any man’s sex –slave; once his penis is big enough. Men on the other hand are depicted as “ever-ready” sexual studs with over-grown organs whose lives are consumed by sex with large numbers of women in high-risk scenarios.
David Morgan, consultant clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Portman Clinic in London, has noted that “the more time you spend in this fantasy world, the more difficult it becomes to make the transition to reality. Just like drugs, pornography provides a quick fix, a masturbatory universe people can get stuck in. This can result in their not being able to involve anyone else.”
Porn Destroys Intimacy
Like every other form of cheating, porn encourages its participants to disengage with their partners, in order to become connected with others. Fantasy is so effective because it leads the participant to shed the real world he/she is in, in order to become an active participant in the world that has been “created” for him/her.
Many men have shared that porn has caused them to make unhealthy comparisons between their wives and the women in these videos; and which of us women, without boob jobs, have large breasts that stand erect like torpedoes? Men can also become victims of this when their wives are dissatisfied with penis-size because their husband’s organ fails literally to “measure up” to what they’ve seen. The research is clear in confirming that men who repeatedly use porn are less attracted to their wives.
Porn encourages a fixation on body-parts and when this is transferred to the relationship, real emotional intimacy is affected. The reality is that graphic porn-scenes will remain in the mind; that’s just how our minds work. If we’re thinking so much about an unreal scenario or if we’re involved in cyber-sex, then we’re definitely not connected with our partners but are simply using their body-parts.
Porn Desensitizes Us
Systematic desensitization is a term used in psychology to describe how our constant exposure to a particular negative stimulus, can affect our ability to be affected by it. Research has shown that this is particularly true of men. The more porn a man is exposed to, the more graphic, violent and demeaning he needs it to be to incite arousal. This explains why men whose initiation with porn began with seeming “harmless” lingerie ads a la Victoria Secret and softer porn like Playboy, end up needing sadomasochistic or pedophile-based porn, to elicit an arousal in them. This is in fact how many kinky sexual fetishes are formed; simply because straight-up sex becomes boring and predictable and people begin to suffer from under-stimulation.
Many of today’s so-called swingers (couples who swap sexual partners) admit that this began after repeated viewing of porn together. After allowing their sexual inhibitions to be lowered with respect to viewing other couples having sex, they found it easier to submit to the idea of partner-sharing; suddenly their own partners were not enough.
Decreases Sexual Responsiveness and Arousal
Much of the media-hype surrounding the purported “good-use” of porn, would lead many of us to believe that porn-users are liberated, sexy, in-touch-with-their-sexuality individuals, who have great uninhibited sex-lives. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Related to the idea of desensitization mentioned previously, repeated porn-use over time, has been found to also reduce a man’s ability to be aroused. This can even affect his ability to maintain an erection.
This is one of the industry’s most closely guarded secrets. It is in fact the fuel used to trap men into more and more graphic, decadent and debased forms of porn use. In other words, for the guy who starts using porn in his teens and hides out to masturbate over a couple of bare-breasted women, if he continues, by the time he reaches his twenties, a woman’s breasts alone will fail to cause an erection. And this trend will continue. Research is in fact confirming that repeated porn-use virtually neutralizes a man’s capacity for sexual arousal. But this is seldom discussed in forums which encourage the use of porn and the industry moguls are, of course, laughing all the way to the bank.
What Should a Couple’s Response Be?
Obviously the issue of porn and its impact on relationships is wide and varied. I could write an entire book about it and this article has really barely scratched the surface. It is however necessary that the couple who is interested in preserving the sanctity and exclusivity of their relationship, set some parameters in place. These should include openness and accountability with respect to internet use, especially if one party has been involved with porn previously.
I do applaud and support couples reading about sex together, watching wholesome documentaries and talking about their likes and dislikes where sex is concerned. However, if it is noted that some fire is missing in the relationship then porn is not the answer. Very often sex fizzles because of unresolved issues in the relationship some of which may have nothing to do directly with sex. These can be related to the handling of finance, the intrusion of in-laws, past abuse issues, hidden or exposed infidelity, lack of sexual knowledge or technique and this list is by no means exhaustive.
Communication is critical therefore and is the first step towards bringing any sexual resolution to the relationship. This does not only include seeking to uncover what may be affecting the sex-life but also a mutual decision about the use of porn in the relationship. If there is nothing really wrong with the sex-life but there is the temptation to use porn as just another form of popular entertainment, then please, pause and re-think this in light of what the research is saying. A couple stands to lose a lot more, than they could possibly gain from the few seconds of titillation which will eventually pale. Your relationship is worth a whole lot more than that. In cases where porn-addiction is already seriously affecting the relationship, then professional help should be sought.