Porn Addiction: What To Do If It’s Affecting Your Relationship

 January 14, 2019

Porn Addiction What To Do If It's Affecting Your Relationship

This is a topic no-one talks or writes about yet it is really common and the number is rising. Why?

Well for one is has become accessible to almost everyone. If you think about it nearly everyone has a mobile phone and most people have a laptop or tablet on top. Statistics show our addiction to check our phone and fill any time gaps by searching online is increasing. For these reasons sadly addiction to pornography is rising.

So in this article, I want to address

  1. What is porn addiction?
  2. What are the signs of porn addiction?
  3. How can porn addiction affect a relationship
  4. How can you stop porn addiction?
  5. How can you heal a relationship hurt by porn addiction and move beyond it?

Porn addiction affects more than just the user, the relationship and family life can also suffer. 

The use of pornography comes up frequently in my practice, which is why I feel called to share about it today. The most important thing to know about handling this in a relationship is that it’s never helpful to control or dictate how much a partner can and cannot use pornography. Any change has to come from the user. Try to police your partner to change any habit will drive you insane and harm the relationship. Below I will walk you through a process I take individuals and couples through in case it helps.

 

What is porn addiction?

It is a form of sexual addiction that is focused on pornography /sexualized images that cause a problem in the user’s life. How it can affect one’s life varies. It can damage romantic relationships, or interfere with work and finances, yet despite this, the person finds themselves unable to stop.

 

What are the signs of porn addiction?

Like most addictions, it doesn’t happen overnight where all of a sudden you are a porn addict. Similar to smoking, alcohol and drug addiction a person starts to abuse it, using it when they feel low, isolated, bored, stressed, unable to cope with life or a way to unwind and relax. When a behaviour is used time and time again as a way to feel good or escape reality, the brain starts to associate it with the way to get through life. The more a person abuses pornography to fill a gap or release tension etc the more dependent the person becomes on using it and the less they are able to cope without it.

Porn becomes an addiction when it interferes with a person’s quality of life. When despite the damaging effect is having on someone’s life they continue to do with as they find themselves unable to stop. There is no set amount of time or frequency.

 

Signs of porn addiction could be

1. Time invested in watching porn at the expense of sleep, family time or work time2.
2. Secretiveness, isolation, and defensiveness on the topic or technology 3. time
3. Inability to stop despite making promises to themselves and or others
4. Cravings to watch pornography
5. Continuing despite feeling negative emotions associated with it like shame, guilt
6. Increasing need to require higher amounts and more explicit materials to gain the same satisfaction or thrill. Where a tolerance has developed.
7. Powerless to resist the urge
8. Damaging effect on sexual relations in the relationship. For example impotence, erectile dysfunction etc
9. Turning down social or work activities because of the wish to watch pornography instead
10. Relationship problems causing tension or fall out

There may be many more signs and the key thing to note is that like all addictions they can be changed. All it takes is a willingness to break away from the old and adopt new ways of embracing life.

One of the ways it most damages the relationship is in the bedroom. It’s not natural to see explicit sexual material repeatedly, it can lower interest in sex and affect arousal and the sexual/sensual dynamic between a couple. Also, it can cause impotence.

Another way I have seen it harm relationships is when promises to reduce the amount or quit have failed. The partner feels angry, betrayed, hurt, unattractive, cheated. Dishonesty for obvious reasons destroys love. Trust will need to be rebuilt if this is the case.

 

How can you heal a relationship and move beyond porn addiction?

For the person with the addictive behaviour

The first key is a willingness to acknowledge that you want to change it. You don’t need to or have to call yourself an addict, you just need to say yes to change. Yes to having a healthier happier relationship. Yes to freedom.

The second step is exploring on your own or ideally with a relationship or behavioural specialist what is driving the behaviour. Why are you using? Normally we are triggered by a feeling before we act, it could be loneliness, boredom, anger, stress or something entirely different.

Then look at what is it giving you. What benefit are you getting from it? How do you feel during and after? The reason some behaviours are hard to quit is that of what they give us.

The fourth step is finding a healthy replacement. Something to enjoy instead of the porn. This will be different for different people. This usually takes some brainstorming. Some of the people I have worked with have taken up physical exercise, become more affectionate with their partner, have treated themselves to long baths, couple massages or cooking worked for someone, they really got into making recipes from scratch. Another man I helped who travelled a lot took up painting to music. He was never without his paint brush and canvass on trips, it helped him to unwind without porn or alcohol.

The next is reward Charles Duhigg ‘the power of habit” states that the most effective and successful way to change a habit, is to give a reward. The reward doesn’t have to be anything expensive or time-consuming. It can literally be a chart where you tick off successfully free days.

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