We’ve heard all the main arguments and reasons to not watch pornography: because it objectifies people, it can be addictive, it’s morally wrong, etc. As we take note of the increased usage in our culture today, however, it would appear that these are not good enough reasons for people to stop using it. We live in an increasingly technology-centric world where access to anything you might like to watch is as simple as typing the word into Google. The popularity of movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey” are indicative of many in our culture accepting the attempt to normalize and have greater tolerance of glimpses into the sexual lives and fantasies of others.
Just because something is easily accessible, done behind closed doors, and some would have us believe “harmless”, doesn’t mean that consuming it comes without consequence. In fact, I have heard the argument in my office many times that watching it, whether alone, or even together as a couple, “enhances our sex life and gets me/us in the mood.” That’s what I want to talk about today. Are there some underlying consequences to this practice that go unnoticed until major damage is done to the individual and relationship? I say, yes there are!
In my opinion, the belief that pornography can be viewed without consequence to the person watching it, or their love relationship, current or future, is at best….wishful thinking. It’s something we like to tell ourselves so that we can continue to believe there are no real consequences, but you know that we all lie to ourselves to justify a decision to get what we want sometimes, right? Don’t fool yourself, this IS one of those cases.
We would love to believe that it is harmless to us, that we are just indulging in it to help find a release. The only alternative to that, in our minds, is to go without or be less satisfied. But I would like to suggest that there is a third alternative, an Option C, if you will. We are going to call Option C “sexual health.”
Being sexually healthy involves having mastery over your own sexual desires, and not the other way around. Ultimately, mastering your passions is what gives you peace, instead of letting them master you. If you have a compulsion to watch a completely physical act, without the love and intimacy that is meant to accompany it, you are being mastered by your passions. You are robbing yourself of the peace, and gifts, that come with a healthy sexuality.
Those who are sexually healthy do not use the drug of pornography. Porn usage shows the same life cycle of every drug people use. It is used to numb pain. It is exciting at first, and feels good, but then the “high” fades. As frequency and length of use increases, it takes increasing amounts and more powerful doses to achieve the same “high”. It causes unbalance in other areas of your life. We think it will deliver intimacy, but it actually causes more and more emotional distance between lovers. Like all drugs, it promises one thing, and ultimately leaves you with the opposite.
I really like this saying I heard about pornography once…this is not a direct quote, but I’ll capture the idea….Pornography doesn’t show too much, it shows not enough. It shows a private physical act between people, but without the feelings that go with it. The people that are portrayed are only shown surface deep, but the camera doesn’t show what is going on inside their hearts.
We know the reasons I stated above don’t deter porn usage. So let me add a few more that research has shown us:
- We think using porn will give us more excitement, but over time it actually becomes very predictable and boring.
- It robs us of our ability to be satisfied with the person we are with.
- It reduces our ability over time to experience fulfilling sex.
- It damages sexual performance.
- It lowers our perception of our partner’s attractiveness.
- It causes us to turn inward on ourselves instead of outward toward the excitement and unknown of real life, which over time creates a boredom and lack of interest in others and self.
- We think it will cause freedom, but it actually enslaves.
I really like a quote from an article I recently read on this subject. It was written by blogger Matt Fradd. He says, “Pornography…removes sexual intimacy from it’s natural context, turning it into a commodity…(and it) reduces the great mystery and sanctity of human sexuality to a trivial activity that need not be of any real importance.” By using pornography, you are robbing yourself of the gifts that are meant for your sexual relationship in marriage.
Like most drugs, it takes time for the really negative consequences to come. That’s how people are sucked into it. It seems harmless at first, but it isn’t, and it can easily grow into an addiction that has many negative consequences, for you and your relationships.
One myth that I would also like to address is that porn addiction is only a man’s addiction. This is simply not true. Many women also struggle with porn use and addiction. If this describes you, ladies, you are not alone. Don’t let your fear that you are the only one deter you from getting help, because that is not the case.
If you struggle with the consequences of porn usage or addiction, (and if your partner is struggling with your usage, the negative consequences have already begun to take hold), let’s talk. We can find where things got off track and work to heal you and your relationship at the core level.
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Healing Hearts provides counseling services to the surrounding communities of Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, Westfield, Noblesville, and Geist. E-Counseling is available for residents of Indiana. Call or text today to set up your appointment. 317-218-3038
© 2015 Nancy Eisenman, MSW, LSW