The Problem with Porn

“What’s the problem with porn – isn’t it just an individual’s private choice to do what they want with their own body? Many reputable people have deemed it ok from the friend who thinks no harm no foul to New York Times detailing the benefits of pornography. So why are we taking a stance? Because porn hurts. 

At Journey, we are concerned about anything that affects relationships. Research indicates that almost half of all families in the U.S. reported that pornography is a problem in their home. Furthermore, porn can be associated with lowered sexual satisfaction and commitment, along with an increase in negative communication and infidelity among couples. 

This is similar to what I’ve seen in my practice. Couples who come into counseling where pornography is an issue often describe a lack of physical and emotional intimacy. Why is this?

Many women consider porn use by their partners to be a type of infidelity. Porn typically encourages a photo or video induced fantasy relationship by which the person is sexually aroused rather than by their partner. It is like an extramarital relationship, except that the fantasy relationship can be even more threatening because the fantasy partner always says and does what you want them to, they are usually without blemish, never have a headache, and are always in the mood. How can any real person compete with that? 

Women whose husbands or boyfriends look at pornography often report poor body image, concerned that he is comparing her to those perfect younger bodies. Women also complain of loneliness, a lack of communication, and little or no intimacy (physical or emotional). They often wonder, “Why am I not enough?” 

Sometimes I hear women state that their partner pressures them to reenact what he has seen on porn videos, leaving them feeling “humiliated” or “dirty” afterwards. This is especially true when the photos or videos portray violence and/or abuse. 

The reality is, porn hurts. It doesn’t just affect the person who is using it, but it also affects the individual who they are in a relationship with.

So what can be done? We encourage you to do your own research. If you are in a committed relationship where porn is involved, have a heart-to-heart discussion about how it affects each of you. When it comes to sexuality in a marriage, both people need to feel secure and comfortable in order for intimacy to grow. 

If you are someone who struggles with the negative aspects of porn in your life, reach out. There are likely professionals in your area who can help, look online, call a hotline, or find a therapist, but don’t try to go through this alone. 

Terry Carlson, RN CADC LMHC