Is Pornography impacting your relationship?
The interest in sex and sex images has always been prevalent. Accessibility to pornographic images had been limited until the advent of the technological era. The freedom to access porn sites online at any time and for however long one desires has become a source of great joy for some and great distress for others. Many relationships and marriages have become severely strained by the use of porn.
According to a 2004 Men’s Health survey “70 percent of men surveyed said they have looked at more porn since the Internet and one in two were concerned about their use of it.” An MSNBC study in 2000 found that “70 percent of porn users kept their use secret and 8 to15 percent developed compulsive sexual behavior that impacted their lives.” A Nielsen Online survey in 2008 found that “25 percent of employees in the United States accessed porn at work, despite the risks involved.”
Porn use by some men and women has impacted their marriage, their self-views and their emotional wellbeing. Engaging in a behavior that is pleasurable, exciting, compelling and forbidden, leads to secrecy, isolation and safeguarding privacy that is emotionally very stressful.
The question of whether pornography use is a sexual addiction often arises and leads to the debate of whether sexual addiction actually exists. Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. the Clinical director for Sexual Disorder Services at the Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona is a leading proponent of the view that some sexual behavior can be classified as addiction. Yet, his research shows that sexual addiction affects only three to five percent of adults.
Researcher Dr. Nicole Prause of UCLA dispels the idea of sex addiction, “We expected the brain response to sexual stimuli to be consistent with other drugs of addiction, or even other behavioral addiction studies, but we just don’t see that at all.”
“Sex Addiction” has been deleted from the current edition of the American Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Whether pornography use is an addiction or not, its use does become a relationship issue for many couples. In marriages, most commonly, but not exclusively, the viewer is the man and his wife is the one who feels rejected, abandoned, shamed, threatened and distraught by her partner’s porn viewing. Sex therapists report great acrimony, distance, pain and distress for partners whose mates spend time isolating and viewing porn.
Some sex clinicians recommend that couples consider viewing porn together to share mutual fantasies that can bolster their sexual connection. Researcher Helen Fisher recommends that couples view porn together to “drive up dopamine levels, which drives up your testosterone.”
A therapeutic approach is for the couple to evaluate the elements of discomfort associated with porn viewing, remove the secrecy and isolation and use whatever elements of sexual enhancements that can enrich both of their desired pleasures.
To deal with porn:
- Abstain from secrecy and isolation.
- Discuss your arousal needs and find mutually gratifying ways to enrich your sexual intimacy.