With the quick and easy access to an unlimited, ever-increasing supply of porn these days, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that both science and personal accounts are coming out by the day, exposing the effects porn has on peoples’ lives. But is it ultimately a positive or negative impact?
At the time of us writing this post, the vast majority of research is showing that porn has profoundly negative long-term effects on people’s lives, relationships, and our society. You can click here for access to our growing research database, too.
If you’ve come across these types of articles here and there but still haven’t found the motivation you need to kick your porn habit, we’ve got 50 good reasons for you. And if these aren’t enough? Check out these 15 scientifically-explained reasons why porn isn’t good for you or society.
Perhaps the biggest lie porn sells is that its fantasy world is filled with sex positivity: sexual education, more sex, better sex, etc. What it doesn’t mention, however, is that the deeper a consumer dives into that fantasy world, the more likely their reality is to become just the opposite. Porn is complicated, the science is simple: the more pornography a person consumes, the harder it can become for real relationships and sexual experiences to measure up. Ditch the shallow counterfeits and put the “sex” back in sexy.
On the surface, cocaine and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common but more and more studies are coming out showing that consuming pornography tricks your brain into releasing the same pleasure chemicals as other behaviors, or even drugs. Much like a drug, when these pleasure chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin pulse through the brain, they help to create new brain pathways that essentially lead the consumer back to the behavior that triggered the chemical release in the first place, similar to other compulsive or even addictive substances and behaviors. Although quitting can feel just as daunting and impossible as quitting a substance, the support out there is making it more possible than ever and the reward will feel just as liberating!
Because of its addictive nature, in order to retain the same level of interest and excitement, an individual usually needs an ever increasing dosage of porn and constantly evolving material. Over time, their appetite escalates to more hardcore versions just to achieve the same level of arousal. The unshackling feeling that comes from breaking free from addiction before it escalates will empower you to live your life to its fullest potential!
Sooner or later, consumers start to find themselves getting aroused by things that used to disgust them or that go against what they think deep down is right. Once they start regularly watching extreme and dangerous sex acts, these porn consumers are being taught that those behaviors are more normal and common than they actually are. There’s an obvious destructive behavior pattern caused by porn that compromises beliefs, changes ideas and turns relationships sour when pressure is placed on a partner to perform or live up to the standards set by porn. Reversing destructive behavior will happen soon after deciding to cut this hazardous influence from your life.
The porn industry objectifies people and commoditizes the act of sex. There’s nothing romantic or realistic about porn sex, and it seriously puts a disconnect between the consumer and reality. This makes it hard for them to have an intimate connection with a real person. You’ll only feel complete when you disconnect with porn and connect with real person!
The makeup, surgery, Photoshop, and acting that goes into porn gives us an unrealistic view of the human body and sexuality. We start to subconsciously compare ourselves to what we’re seeing, causing overthinking and low self-esteem when it comes time to be intimate. Kicking your porn habit will restore a healthy body image and reinstate the sense confidence that you deserve.
In addition to affecting the way we see ourselves, porn can cause consumers to under-appreciate the opposite sex by training them to see others as sexual objects and not as humans with beautiful and unique features. It’s likely due to the fact that porn promotes a completely fictional version of how people look and behave, and creates a false, exciting reality that their partners can never live up to. One of the first positive effects that people report soon after quitting porn is the ability to truly appreciate the beauty of the opposite sex without constantly objectifying them.
This one is for the guys out there. The fact is porn often leads to less sex and less satisfying sex. For a surprising amount of consumers, porn eventually means no sex at all. Regular porn consumption has been found to affect the brain in such a way that it hinders sexual performance when they get with an actual human being. Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is a real thing in men, a side effect of watching porn that they probably never see coming. But thankfully, there absolutely is hope. A cure is to quit porn and let their brain “rewire” and return to normal
The facts are clear: clicking porn directly fuels the demand for sex trafficking. There are countless victims of human sex trafficking who are forced to have sex on camera. Even in the “legitimate” adult industry, porn performers are frequently victims of violence, coercion, and drug abuse. There’s just no way to know the dark origins behind what we’re watching. By refusing to click, you’re refusing to contribute to the demand for sexual exploitation.
From making actors participate in unsafe sex to the countless real stories of performers speaking out about the rape, violence, and drugs behind the camera, there is certainly a dark reality to this industry. Porn tries to normalize this exploitation, but we’re not buying it. To watch porn is to support a questionable industry that abuses its actors and uses misogyny and domestic violence fantasies as entertainment, all in addition to harming those who watch it. Not cool.
It’s true that not all porn is the same, but the reality is that the majority of even the most mainstream porn is packed full of women being physically and verbally abused—and watching it takes a serious toll on the consumer. Even the non-violent porn portrays a power difference between partners where men are in charge and women are submissive sex objects. But unlike violence in movies where someone gets mad and fights back, research has shown that 95% of the victims of aggression in porn scenes reacted neutrally or responded with pleasure. This confuses frequent consumers to believe violence is sexy, and can lead them to hurting women in real life during sex. Unlearning this violent behavior will undoubtedly benefit you, your partner, and your sex life.
We believe that in order to be truly creative, you have to connect with the deepest, most honest parts of yourself. Porn clogs up your imagination with cheap content that disconnects you from feeling real passion and motivation. Once you let explicit images stop distracting you from inspiration, you’ll feel more imaginative than ever.
Not every porn consumer lies about their addiction, but most feel ashamed and obligated to hide it. Whether they admit it or not, they know that their partner wouldn’t like the idea of them sexually bonding to a computer screen. When you live a lie for long enough, you start to convince yourself of it as well and the more lies you tell, the harder it becomes to tell the truth about anything. Bring your secret out into the light and we guarantee you’ll feel more free than ever before.
You’ve probably realized by now that porn takes up a lot of your time. Porn consumers spend anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours daily consuming these harmful images. Anyone who frequently watches porn knows that as the years have gone on, they watch harder material for longer periods of time. Think of it this way: if you spent just 10 minutes a day watching porn, that’s over 60 hours at the end of the year you could have spent doing something beneficial to your life! Time is precious; spend it on making memories that last, not on images that disappear with a click.
In porn, everything from the way people look to how and why they have sex is a lie. Porn consumers often get so obsessed with chasing something that isn’t real that they miss out on actual relationships. Research has even shown that fewer men are getting married because they feel porn takes care of all their sexual needs. Ditch the lies and go find the the love of your life! They’re waiting for you.
Porn doesn’t just affect you, it affects your partner as well. While a great deal of information exists for those suffering from addiction, partners are often left feeling alone with equally real wounds of their own. Partners of porn consumers commonly feel betrayed and neglected when their significant other chooses to share their sexuality with a screen instead of them. When you cut porn from being the third party, you’ll find it easier to build a healthier relationship, emotionally and sexually.
The harmful effects of porn don’t always revolve around romantic partners like boyfriends/girlfriends or husbands/wives. There are countless stories, like this one, that show how porn can isolate, consume, and eventually even destroy families. Additionally, children and teens these days are exposed to hardcore porn at a young age, and many receive their information about sex from porn which depicts unrealistic portrayals of human sexuality, leading to lifelong issues in the bedroom. Promote healthy displays of affection in your home and promote a porn-free life for your future family.
Your porn habit can isolate you from valuable social time with friends and the shame that comes with watching porn can cause you to be distant at social gatherings. When you no longer allow yourself to be a prisoner to this habit, you no longer have to worry about the chains that come with it.
Being tied to a consistent porn habit requires you to spend a lot of time alone and can quickly make you uninterested in the everyday pleasures of life such as having conversations with real people and being active. Research has shown that frequent porn consuming is connected to mental/emotional health issues such as anxiety and depression. There is a strong victory over these challenges that comes with quitting porn that can be truly liberating.
Research shows that one in five people who regularly watch porn admit to feeling controlled by their own sexual desires. As a result, many consumers start feeling like something’s wrong with them because they don’t know how to be turned on by a real person. This only leads to watching more porn because it’s the only escape that works. Quitting porn allows you to take back control of your sexual desires and connect with a real person.
With the exaggerated bodies and rehearsed scenes in porn, consumers can quickly lose perspective on their own natural desires, as well as their partner’s. Unplugging from porn will help you become more in tune with what you and your partner want instead of influencing you to reenact what you’ve seen in porn. Be the author of your own sexuality, not an imitation of something that isn’t even real.
Many people deep in their porn habit can often be too busy venting their sex drive through porn, they’re not going to have much interest in real sexual intimacy with a partner. You may have already experienced a lack of drive or the inability to perform with your partner, but by quitting porn, you’ll reclaim that natural energy.
It’s obvious that porn consumes your time and your sexual attention, but do you think about how that doesn’t leave you with energy for much else? A demanding porn habit can definitely drain your body of the mental and physical energy it needs to keep up with the daily hustle of life. By turning off the monitor, you can focus on being productive and making a difference in your life and others.
People often watch porn as an escape when they become overwhelmed by the daily decisions of life. Quitting porn allows you to assume responsibility and become accountable for your own goals. By getting this distraction out of your life, you can start to focus on the things that really matter to you.
A belief in yourself is a huge casualty of consistent porn consumption. People who feel they don’t have control over their porn habit often believe they are broken human beings with a damaged capacity to love and feel joy. These negative feelings come from your own negative feelings about porn mixed with your inability to quit, or from any of the negative side effects that go with repeatedly watching porn. By kicking the habit, you might begin to feel happier, which will fuel your confidence in all aspects of life.
Addiction to pornography is cited as a major reason couples divorce annually around the world. Whether you are currently married or one day hope to be, it’s a sure bet that porn is a poisonous ingredient in a marriage, or any type of committed relationship. When porn is preferred to a healthy sexual relationship with a spouse, the outcome is often a broken home. With a risk as serious as this, it makes sense to remove porn from your life altogether and avoid a bunch of issues later on.
Porn is a global, estimated $97 billion industry, with $12 billion of that coming from the United States. How much have you spent on it? Even if the answer is nothing, think about it this way: your time spent watching porn could have been spent on either A) making money or B) performing better at work where you could now be making more money. Time is money after all, and by ditching porn, you’re ditching an unproductive habit that can only drag you down from living your fullest potential.
Porn removes the concept of intimacy and emotional connection from sex. It teaches consumers that sex is about taking selfish pleasure rather than giving love. When you fill your mind with the explicit material porn offers, it takes away the excitement of intimacy and even distorts your sexuality. By kicking the habit, your brain can return to normal and reset your arousal patterns to normal.
The more you watch porn, the less you desire you might have for the things that previously got you excited. Hanging out with friends, playing sports, making music, etc., all these things lack the “shock factor” that porn gives the brain. But not to worry, the sooner you cut out porn, the sooner you can restore a healthy and fulfilling approach to the things you care about most.
Addiction is never a healthy thing, regardless of what it is. Porn can create a constant need for sex/sexual material that needs to be fueled, but is never truly satisfied. This cycle can quickly grow into an obsession for the consumer, which inhibits their ability to function like a normal person in the company of people, especially the opposite sex, and can also lead to serious and harmful behaviors like soliciting prostituted people to act out what they’ve seen in porn. Not making porn a part of your life is a sure way to not step foot down a potentially life-changing road.
Oxytocin is commonly called the love hormone or the “bonding chemical” because it plays an important part in intimacy by connecting two people. Because the chemical is naturally released during sex, watching porn triggers the release of oxytocin as well, tricking your brain and essentially bonding you to the experience of sexual release and watching porn. Keep love real, and don’t take fake.
As talked about earlier, porn can be the onset of a number of different anxiety problems. When consumers feel like they have to be watching porn or can’t stop thinking about it, it creates serious anxiety. Not to mention, this anxiety can transfer over to the bedroom and contribute to porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Anxiety can be extremely crippling and most people experience it to on some level from the daily stresses of life as it is. Why add to it?
We know that pornography and other addictions or compulsions are used as self-medicating tools which only lead to feeling worse than before. The momentary escape only leads to feeling lower than before. Porn is a negative influence in your life, and an easy way to start feeling happier and more free is giving it the boot.
It’s pretty simple: no porn equals no shame. The secrecy surrounding your habit can have huge negative effects on your life and shame can quickly settle in. You may find yourself watching things you find disgusting, but can’t seem to stop. When this feeling starts to take its toll, it usually leads to medicating with more porn. You’re guaranteed to feel relief when you break the chains of this vicious cycle.
Think about what more motivation could mean for you. Do you want to be more ambitious and driven? Are you wanting to achieve your goals? A survey of a Reddit community called NoFap, which is committed to breaking free from porn, found that 67% of those who quit had an increase in energy levels as well as productivity. Put it to the test for yourself. What are you waiting for?
Besides the obvious fact that porn is a waste of time, consuming it can also fuel anxiety and depression, and make them perform worse at their job. In fact, real stories of people being caught watching porn at work prove that more and more people are putting their jobs at risk by looking at porn during work hours. Don’t let this destructive material ruin the things that matter most for your daily life.
Researchers have repeatedly found that people who have seen a significant amount of porn are more likely to start having sex sooner and with more partners, and to engage in riskier kinds of sex, putting them at greater risk of getting sexually transmitted infections.
By quitting porn, you’re taking a stand against a dangerous, exploitive industry and becoming an advocate for positive personal and social change. This is definitely something you can feel proud of. Change yourself, and change the world.
Every single click made on a porn site is counted by the greedy companies that make that content. Clicking fuels the demand for more, feeding and growing a dark industry that harms society as a whole. For all of the harmful reasons mentioned above, stop contributing to something that ruins people’s lives and supports sexual exploitation. This negative influence doesn’t have to affect you, your peers or the countless people in the industry who are forced, coerced, and abused behind the camera. Take a stand and be the change you want to see in the world.
Porn can fulfill feelings of loneliness in exchange for making them worse in the long run. Porn promises immediate satisfaction, endless excitement, and easy intimacy, but in the end, it robs a consumer of all three.
Normalizing violence isn’t normal. It’s grown “normal” for 11-year-olds to be exposed to the most hardcore, degrading content imaginable. Imagine what that does to their expectations for real relationships and true intimacy—it corrupts and hurts it. Avoiding violent porn, and all porn in general, means avoiding the normalization and romanticization of abusive, violent behaviors that only serve to harm our society.
No one ever woke up and said, “Today, I want to get out there and ruin my current and future relationships. I’m going to cut myself off emotionally, undermine trust, and leave my partner feeling confused, rejected, angry, and betrayed.” No one says that, but a pile of research shows that’s exactly what can happen as a result of consuming porn. Choosing real love, and choosing not to consume porn means that you’re that much better at respecting others and yourself.
There is a direct relationship between the sexual objectification of girls and aggression toward them, according to research by psychologists at the University of Kent in the U.K. We fight against porn because people aren’t just the sum of their parts, to be used and discarded without a second thought. The facts are clear: porn is harmful and research is proving it. No matter what people say to try and make pornography seem normal or harmless, there’s enough evidence out there that says it’s not.
Don’t take sex tips from an industry that profits from fake orgasms. Enough said.
A common plotline in porn is that a teen or underage person is being taken advantage of by someone older or more powerful. By avoiding porn, you’re avoiding the twisted and unhealthy fetishization of kids and teens, and that’s a great thing. By ditching porn, you’re helping to slow the demand for youth-themed porn content. Isn’t that worth the fight?
Photoshop isn’t something you can have in real life, but that’s a good thing. Perfection means predictable, and boring. But real, flawed human bodies are unique, and beautiful. A world without porn and synthetic “beauty” is a world where comparison doesn’t overtake appreciation. We’d like to live in that world, wouldn’t you?
Real intimacy offers so much more. Real intimacy is a world of satisfaction and excitement that doesn’t disappear when the screen goes off. It’s the breathtaking risk of being vulnerable with another human being. It’s inviting them not just into your bedroom, but into your heart and life. Real intimacy is about what we give, not just what we get. Porn doesn’t portray true connections, it can only scratch the surface.
Relationships are hard work. They aren’t always flawless, and sex (if sex is involved) won’t be easy and perfect every single time. Love can be messy but that’s the beauty of it—it’s real, not synthetic. It’s natural, not produced. And porn has no way of showing that, because it’s all about the performance and not about the connection. Real love is immeasurably better than porn because real love is exactly that—it’s real. Ditch the porn and have your expectations adjusted.
Sometimes, when porn has clouded a consumer’s idea of what healthy relationships are and what real love can provide, they start to believe it doesn’t exist. We see comments often on our Facebook page from frequent porn consumers who can’t believe that real, healthy love exists, and that it’s worth fighting for. Getting porn out of the picture means that you’re one step closer to healing from the lies that porn infects consumers with.
This is by far the most important reason to quit porn.
Above all, porn can seriously come between you, your partner, and every other relationship in your life. It can get in between the love you have for even yourself. It distorts the meaning of love and intimacy, in all forms. The most common true stories we receive are from partners who lost the love of their life due to a struggle with porn that tore their relationship apart slowly but surely. We all want and need love. It’s the most important thing we can experience in life.
Shame is as old as Adam and Eve…well, almost.
Genesis 2:24-25 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
In the beginning God created mankind in His image, male and female, naked, and completely without any shame. Wow. Can you imagine living without shame? Picture a world void of the pain that shame heaps on so many?
This is so profound especially as we view our sexuality as God created it. Pure. Unbroken. Cherished. The only truly perfect gift ever given to mankind.
But Adam dropped the ball and the entire world, including human sexuality, became fractured. A nice history lesson you say?
To understand any real solution and find healing, we must first understand the problem and it’s source.
Many pain medications are designed to simply numb the pain, rather than actually heal the underlying problem causing the pain. If you break your leg, they will likely give you something to ease or remove the pain, but that will not heal your broken bone. If you have the flu, you get rid of it by killing the flu germs running through your body, not by making the flu symptoms go away.
The emotional pain of sexual brokenness has a source, and it’s shame.
Pornography is a pain medication for the shame many men and women experience. For the sex or porn addict, acting out sexually is a symptom. The rush and high of the climax is used as medication. It numbs the pain, but only temporarily. Unfortunately, shame’s pain returns after the high of the drug wears off. As with any reoccurring medical issue, we must identify the cause of our shame and root it out if we want to experience relief from the symptoms.
The source of my shame took root around the age of twelve or thirteen. My dad, without any malicious intent, left a wound when he said, “Why do you have to be so stupid?” Those words were only reinforced by bullying and by siblings who had no intent to do so. But, nevertheless, those words hurt and left lifetime scars.
Proverbs 18:21 states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Finding the wound(s) that fuel the shame you fight can be difficult at best, and nearly unbearable at worst. Words were the source of my wounds. I’m fully aware some of you reading this have been deeply wounded by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. I cannot fully understand your pain and won’t pretend to.
Experience and education tell me the traumatic nature of those injuries calls for professional counseling. It’s not weakness to admit that and seek it out. In fact, trying to handle it on your own is unwise and dangerous. It’s courageous to ask for help.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
If it were not for a godly counselor in my life, I’d still be trapped in the rut of pain fueled by shame in my life. For any who may think I’ve got it all together and live struggle-free, allow me to tell you I still see that counselor regularly. I’m free from porn and masturbation’s grip, and have been for a decade, but that doesn’t mean I’m free from temptation or life’s pains.
You can search for a counselor anywhere in the USA at Pure Community. This resource lists many counselors, support groups, intensive workshops, and much more help for men and women.
Shame and the pain it brings do not have to be terminal. It’s a foe that can be overcome. Understanding shame’s source and participating in community (including counseling) can help you uproot it, as well as prayer, daily does of the gospel message, and lots of hard work.
Freedom from pornography and sexual addiction is possible. After 30 years addicted to porn and masturbation, Christ set me free. He used many people to help accomplish his work in me. Was it easy? Nope.
It is possible for you or your spouse to be free too, but attempting it alone will not work. It will not come easily or quickly for you either, but it is worth it!
In any battle, you have to know your enemy to defeat your enemy. You can reclaim your freedom with the help of wise, godly, experienced people fighting with you behind the enemy line.
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). It should be no surprise then that these three recovery killers we’ll talk about come straight from the father of lies–Satan himself.
Jesus on the other hand came to give us life. He said it like this, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).
There are more than three recovery killers, but with years of experience as a recovery mentor and educator, I’ve seen that the three we talk about here are at the top of the list. Without understanding how these assassins can kill your recovery, it would be nearly impossible to confront and stop them. My perspective comes primarily from working with men, but these also apply to many women in recovery.
Pride likes to call the shots. It says it knows best how to handle your recovery. Speaking to the danger of being led by pride, Proverbs 16:18 says,“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
In the early years of my recovery process, I embraced the self-reliant method of pursuing freedom. I suffered my bumps and bruises during those years.
As God revealed my pride problem, I began to surrender the “I can do this myself” mindset. I realized this attitude had landed me at a suicidal point in my life and I decided to try it God’s way.
I pasted Isaiah 66:2b to our bathroom mirror as an everyday reminder. It says, “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (emphasis mine).
This following statement may be challenging for you to hear, but experience demonstrates it’s true: “The proud cannot be taught.” A pride-filled heart tends to think it knows all.
At its core, humility is a position of our heart, and that heart can be taught. As the verse in Isaiah above indicates, God looks with favor upon a humble and contrite heart and spirit. Humility opens the door for heart change–lasting and enduring heart change. Without heart change there is no life change and no ability to be truly set free.
The definition of minimizing is to “reduce (something, especially something unwanted or unpleasant) to the smallest possible amount or degree.” I’m not a master of too many things in my life, but I had this down to a science during the first few years of my recovery. I’m still prone to do this with non-porn related areas of my life. By God’s grace, I’ve been given clear conviction on that subject.
Minimizing sounds something like this, “Hey, I only looked at porn for 30 minutes this week. Last week, it was an hour!” This is not to diminish progress, because any progress is good. But this self-talk is dangerous in that it sounds more like justifying the behavioral sin rather than confessing it and repenting.
Minimizing is a form of justification, and to a wounded, traumatized wife, it’s defensive talk. I promise that it will not be received well, nor should it be. Defensiveness is a different dialect of the same minimizing language.
No matter how painful it may be, take the position of honesty and fully accept responsibility. It comes from a place of humility in our hearts and mind.
Your greatest need in life is to be fully known and fully loved. Fear and shame work together to keep porn users in isolation and away from anyone or anything that can open their eyes to their greatest need.
Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God in the garden. Why? Genesis 3:9-10 says, “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’”
Satan, the deceiver and father of all lies, has been using fear and shame to drive us into isolation and away from God since the creation of mankind. And we keep buying the lie. Yet in the Genesis 3 account we see God as he is–the pursuer, grace-giver, and protector of his children. He sent his only Son, Christ Jesus, to redeem that which became broken in the Garden of Eden.
Addiction thrives in isolation and the opposite of addiction is community. In community, we can begin to have our greatest need met–the need to be fully known and fully loved.
Related: Porn and the Epidemic of Loneliness
Even God lives in community as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Albeit a mysterious community, it is a perfect example of what being fully known and loved looks like for his children whom he dearly loves.
After all, he loves us all so much that he bought us back by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son. And, it’s an open invitation to become part of the greatest eternal community, the family of God. John 1:12-13 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Step into the community of God, set pride aside, walk out of isolation, and begin one of the toughest journeys of your life–the journey to recovery, freedom, and new life.
By Dan Wobschall
I would like to tell you my porn addiction story. Please publish this on your website after editing and revising it. Also, please keep my name anonymous. Thank you!
It all began when my father brought home the first issue of Playboy magazine in 1953. I was 6 years old at the time. My mother had been a member of the WAC (Women’s Army Corp) during WWII, so she was not offended in the least by Playboy or any other men’s magazines. My parents just had a good laugh over it, but as far as I know, my father never bought any further porn magazines or ever watched adult films after that time. I, however, became very curious about Marilyn Monroe’s centerfold photo shoot.
My next exposure to porn was in 1959 at the age of 12. My mother, while grocery shopping, would pick up the currently popular pocket magazine called Pageant at the checkout stand each month. It was actually the for-runner of Cosmopolitan magazine. One issue had the story about how the film “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” was being created. One set of photos in the article showed the European (uncensored) version of the beginning scene where George Peppard meets Audrey Hepburn in a strip club in NYC. The photos showed a stripper as she took off each article of clothing. The last photo, where she was fully nude is the one that totally HOOKED ME. From that moment on, I couldn’t get enough of the men’s magazines, which became available at a neighborhood grocery store.
I did tell my mother about my problem, but she simply answered that all young men feel this kind of stimulation before marriage and that it was part of puberty.
By the time I graduated from high school and went away to college, I was seriously addicted. I strategically hid my collection of porn photos from my roommates and was alone with them quite frequently as a release mechanism from stress at school.
When I finally married at age 23, I swore that I would never look at porn images or movies again. Unfortunately, shortly after my wife and I were married, the addiction surfaced again. I never spoke to my dear wife about my problem, trying very hard to keep it a big dark secret. When she finally discovered the photos and that I had secretly gone to movie theaters to view more porn, she became enraged and wouldn’t talk to me for weeks at a time. She never knew how to handle my addiction, although we did meet with counselors and community leaders quite frequently. We never told our 6 children about my addiction until after they were married.
Finally, after dealing with my occasional relapses for almost 40 years, she decided that divorce was the only solution for her. She had decided to wait until our last child got married. I fought her very hard not to go through with this action, but in the end, I couldn’t stop her.
Two years ago, I felt that I needed to move away from her and the area where we lived. I have never regretted doing so. I have been attending recovery meetings almost every week since then and I also have an accountability partner I work with to keep me away from internet porn on my PC. However, after 58 years, I still struggle every day with my porn addiction and the terrible results of it.
I’m very glad to be a part of this new organization and sincerely hope that my story will change the hearts and minds of those who may become or are now addicted to this horrible, love-destroying monster.
Here at Fight The New Drug, it has always been our goal to educate and raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography to society as a whole. We receive countless emails and messages from Fighters all across the world, showing their support for the movement and sharing the facts in order to help change the conversation about porn.
However, while many are repping their ‘Porn Kills Love’ tees and sharing posts about the harms of porn, there is another group of Fighters who have a particular passion for the cause because they are struggling or know somebody who is. We have plenty of people who message us because they aren’t sure how to tell if someone close to them is struggling with porn and how they can help them. When this uncertainty exists in a romantic relationship, boyfriends and girlfriends can’t help but feel torn by what their partner may or may not be telling them.
We’ve done a lot of research and compiled a lot of information on the topic. The simple fact is that there is no “right” answer; everyone is different and may handle themselves in different ways with porn. And it’s important to note that not even close to everyone who has looked at porn is an addict, or will ever become one.
Even so, the following information can still be useful in identifying a persistent porn habit and how to best support someone who chooses to break free for themselves.
(FTND note: the decision for someone to give up porn needs to be fueled by the person deciding to give up porn for them self, first and foremost. Even so, encouragement and support from a loved one can be tremendously helpful in the recovery process.)
With porn literally being available 24/7, 365 through smartphones and internet access, it comes as no surprise that it is quickly becoming a huge issue today. However, unlike alcoholism or other drug addictions, the warning signs aren’t always as easy to spot. Browser histories can be erased, apps can conceal photos, etc. It may take some time, but the behavior of someone who might be struggling with porn can speak volumes.
Dr. Marysia Weber, DO, an osteopathic family physician certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, says that those who struggle may feel depressed and show ADHD symptoms, will typically conceal their porn problem from family and friends, and are unable to stop.
“Internet pornography leaves people wanting more and more, but they may not necessarily like what they see, which contributes to symptoms of anxiety and depression,” Dr. Weber says.
We commonly get messages from partners saying they notice their boyfriend/girlfriend will stay in the bathroom for long periods of time. They also notice that they are overly protective of their devices. They also describe a feeling of distance—feeling disconnected emotionally from their significant other for no apparent reason.
If your partner insists on pushing you further than your comfort level or suddenly has a bunch of new “ideas” about things to try sexually that are more extreme than usual, you might want to have a talk. On the other end of the scale, if your partner suddenly shows a lack of interest in being intimate or uncharacteristically starts declining you, that can possibly be a sign as well. Also, if your partner has trouble getting aroused when with you, it could be a side effect of his/her porn habit.
Often, a consumer will resort to more hardcore, explicit, or shocking material because they’ve been “desensitized” to pornographic material, which could also affect their behavior. In 2014, the Max Planck Institute did an fMRI study that found that more porn use correlated with less reward circuit activation while briefly viewing sexual photos. What this means is that researchers found that the more porn watched, the more porn needed to get the same “high” in the brain.
Over time, a frequent porn consumer’s sensitivities may lessen, due to the nature of the shocking, explicit content they’re seeking out. They may find it difficult to find pleasure in their own relationships, and even everyday life, causing them to feel depressed, unfulfilled and empty. Pay attention to their mood and changes in their personality. People who are hooked to porn can often be irritable and find it hard to act like themselves.
Keep in mind that if any one or all of these issues happen, it very well may not be porn. These are just a few signs that are commonly experienced by those who do have partners with a confirmed porn struggle. Communication is key—try not to assume before something tips you off.
There is one sure way to know if your partner is struggling with pornography: communication.
One way porn kills love is by the secrecy and shame those affected feel. If their partner finds out about their private struggle, the hiding then can make the confrontation feel much worse. The only sure way to avoid these issues in a relationship is to throw it out into the light, and talk openly about it as early as possible.
Express to your partner the harmful effects of porn and especially how their consuming it would make you feel. Have a totally open and honest dialogue that comes from a place of love. Try your best not to judge them or make them feel shameful. Be loving, supportive, and open when you address it. In a healthy relationship, it is ideal that they will listen to you, and they will hopefully open up about what they’ve been dealing with.
If they do confide in you that they have been struggling, be careful not to judge or shame. You may feel hurt, but understand that they may be dealing with a serious issue. Judging and shaming do not solve anything or encourage positive growth, while showing support for recovery and understanding of how difficult a struggle can be are huge helps.
Also, keep in mind, just because they watch porn, doesn’t have to mean it’s automatically the end of your relationship. Having a desire to watch porn doesn’t automatically turn someone into a “gross” and “perverted” human being—it means that they’re human.
By openly talking about porn and not making it confrontational or shamey, you will be shining a light on a much-needed conversation. Being totally honest and open about a topic that most people are too embarrassed to talk about will take away its power to drown victims in secrecy or crippling shame.
Dr. Weber recommends asking the following questions if you want to approach someone about a possible porn addiction.
– Have you ever watched porn? If so, when did you start viewing it?
– How often do you view it? For how long has this been a habit, if it is?
– Why do you watch porn? (This question helps Dr. Weber figure out the triggers for the addiction. Many times, people are sad, lonely, depressed, frustrated or even bored.)
– When did you notice that you were seeking more images for more arousal? (If someone is seeking more images, more often, this is often a sign of desensitization that happens in the pleasure centers of the brain as someone becomes addicted.)
– How long has it been since you last watched porn? (Dr. Weber says that a good rule of thumb is at least three months for someone not to be considered addicted.)
If you find that a person close to you is struggling with pornography, they don’t have to fight alone. Yes, the decision to give up porn needs to be solely decided for them self, first and foremost, while encouragement from a loved one can be really helpful in the recovery process.
Dr. Weber suggests that the recovering compulsive porn consumer should have an accountability partner—someone who doesn’t make them feel bad for failing but can find out why they relapsed and encourage them to get back on the road to recovery.
You can be that person. Our friends at Fortify have created an amazing resource that we helped to develop alongside experts, researchers, coaches, and psychologists to help anyone take a step toward recovery.
It can be so frustrating to feel helpless in supporting your partner as they overcome a porn problem. The truth is, it’s their personal battle to fight, but you can be a huge encouragement to them through it all. In the end, love wins over shaming, and teamwork wins over fighting alone. Following these tips won’t guarantee a successful recovery, but it won’t hurt their chances, either. Regardless of the struggle, love is always worth fighting for.
SHARE this article to help those who may be struggling with pornography. By taking a stand and speaking out, we can make a real change in society.
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To the pastors and ministry leaders reading this blog post, a percentage of your staff and people are regularly looking at pornography. And, all of your people are stuck in a world that has a lot of loud opinions about pornography and distorted messages about sex. How are you addressing their questions? Are you speaking openly and honestly about this sensitive and sometimes controversial area?
We’ve identified seven key questions that Christians might need you to answer related to pornography. And for ministry leaders who want to further address the issue, we provide additional steps you can take in our brand new guidebook, Ready: How to Protect and Heal Your Ministry from Pornography.
Too many Christians have an unhealthy view of sex and have never been told that God is PRO-sex. His idea. His creation. Our very bodies prove that man and woman were made for each other–a gift to be offered within marriage. Yes, we need to inform our congregations about the horrors of pornography. It only destroys. But, what if that was paired with a new conversation about marital sex? It’s good. It’s right.
So, back to the original question. Is pornography a sin? Absolutely. Its purpose is to entice lust, objectification, and consumption. None of these attitudes glorifies God or brings heaven to earth. If I can’t imagine the behavior being carried out at the foot of the Cross in the loving presence of Jesus Christ, then it can’t be justified. People in your congregation absolutely need to know these things. But, don’t forget to invite them into a healthy, positive view of sex too.
We often hear arguments that couples want to watch porn in order to spice up their sex life. Although this sounds plausible on the surface–after all, if I want to learn how to do anything better, I typically watch a video on YouTube titled, “How to…”–is there something inherently different about pornography that ultimately has a different impact on the marital bond?
A sexual counseling center in Seattle provides keen insight with their observations about couples who have come to their offices. One counselor concluded:
“My clinical experience providing therapy for dating and married couples has driven me to the conclusion that couples who view pornography greatly damage their sexual relationship and their overall relational bond. These couples directly report the emotional and relational trauma suffered as a result of such use. That such damage exists and can be lasting is undeniable.”
For married couples who viewed pornography, they point out the following sexual, emotional, and relational risks:
This also ignores the risk that if the couple has children, they are inviting pornography into the home, increasing the risk that young eyes might stumble into the content.
Parents commonly ask this question at the parenting seminars that I conduct at Protect Young Eyes. When I receive this question, I typically respond in one of three ways:
The conversations parents have with their children about pornography are so, so important. But, what’s even more important than the content of those conversations is that they happen in the first place! The speech doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to happen!
Does your kids’ ministry program equip parents for these hard conversations? Does your youth pastor know how to respond when a parent asks him/her how to have conversations about tough topics like porn? Our staff training has a specific video about equipping parents for forming their children in the digital age.
Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “As a female, I’d like to remind people that pornography is, perhaps increasingly, a problem for women and young girls too. Please pray for us as well as the ministry for freedom from pornography for females.”
According to Barna’s 2016 survey, The Porn Phenomenon, around 13% of females ages 13-24, self-identified as Christians, watch porn regularly. Consuming pornography is stereotypically labeled a male issue, therefore, Christian women who watch porn often feel an amplified version of shame that not only tells them that they’re horrible and sinful, but that there’s something deviant about them.
Porn is addictive. Period. Male or female. It might have different origins that have a gender-based bent (men might turn to porn to satisfy their libido, while a woman might turn to porn because she’s lonely), but its addictive properties are blind to gender. Whether male of female, those who watch porn often do so:
And, as a result, whether male or female, those who watch porn often:
Pornography is an equal-opportunity destroyer. If your church isn’t educated about its impacts on both men and women, your silence will fuel shame and amplify the deviance the enemy has already whispered in quiet, dark moments.
Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “I have been struggling with porn for a long, long time. My wife doesn’t know about my porn use. I am a leader in my church and the people in my church look up to me…I know in order for me to get some help I need to confess my sins. I am embarrassed about the whole situation. Please keep me in your prayers.”
Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “He should be fired. What’s the difference if he views porn or has an affair with his secretary? Would we fire him for the latter? Yep. Now, can he be built back up? Yes. Should he be a pastor again? I’m not so sure.”
You can see the conundrum for church staff. Does your church have any safe places for staff to come forward with their struggles? Or do policies, silence, and condemnation create a fertile ground for sin to grow and secrecy to thrive?
Chapter 3 of our Ministry Leaders Guidebook, Ready: How to Heal and Protect Your Ministry from Pornography, will provide greater detail about policies and practices for churches and faith-based organizations who want to create cultures of grace and recovery.
Ultimately, churches and faith-based organizations cannot expect their faithful to live lives of grace-filled transparency if it’s not modeled.
That’s where so many singles find themselves. Trapped between the images of forbidden fruit given to their married friends and feeling like they’ve been locked out of the garden, they struggle with allowing temptation to take root and grow into poisoned fruit. Even knowing God’s commands to abstain from sexual immorality, they often falter and fail, whether through physical relationships or pornography.
The truth, though, is that singleness is a beautiful, valuable gift. According to Lisa Eldred in our popular ebook, More Than Single,
“While we’re single, we have two critical advantages over our dating and married friends: time and focus. When I get home from work, my time is usually my own. I can eat when I’m hungry; I can make as many plans as I want in the evenings. I can drop everything for coffee with a friend. I can even pack up and leave for the weekend on a whim if I want. Any time commitments are entirely voluntary. I’m not worried about getting the kids to soccer practice on time, or feeding a husband and children, or dealing with a sick toddler at 2 a.m. This also means I can focus on my own projects without fear of interruptions. I can plan my Monday evenings around writing and editing my church’s blog or practice my piano without embarrassment or distraction.”
Does your church embrace its singles and give them a bigger vision for their lives? One that shows them that their worth is grounded in Divine places and not in the flesh.
Comment from the Covenant Eyes blog: “As I man I can only say that I feel the Church taught me to be ashamed, and deeply ashamed, of my sexuality in any context, and I carry that shame to this day. I am 63 and never married. I’ve had maybe five girlfriends in my life, if that, and have given up hope that I will ever find anyone. I go to a small church where everyone is spoken for anyway and have few friends.”
It is so hard to be the real us in the place where so many others seem to have it all together and the message we sometimes hear from the pulpit is one of “you must be like Jesus at all times; anything less and you have failed not only yourself but God.”
The use of shame and guilt has been a widely used technique of control since the origins of Christianity, going back to early church fathers, who, like, Augustine, often had a very low view of human sexuality. The message is often subtle but goes like this: “You don’t measure up. You will never be good enough. God will be perpetually disappointed with you.”
Jesus shows us a different way. Consider these words from Julie Mustard:
“Jesus never lived in shame and never used it as a motivational tool. When He was accused, He remained silent; when others vied for positions, He made space for them to work it out and followed through with a lesson on the heart of the Father. When He was direct in His discipline and rebuke, it was never meant to shame; He only gave invitations to come up higher.”
The distance between where you are today and the vision you might have of a church that is open and honest about pornography might seem enormous. But ask yourself this–how did anything ever get started at your church? Probably one prayer, one phone call, and one sermon at a time.
Culture doesn’t change easily, and sin hates giving up ground it has taken in the sexual arena or any arena. Be persistent. Be courageous. Be bold. I once heard Pastor Jay Dennis say, “Start the conversation and allow God to move in ways that only He can move.”