Porn is Ruining Sex for Everyone by Kirsten Andersen

4 01 2016

porn ruins marriage

WARNING: Some hyperlinks contain strong language and/or graphic sexual subject matter

It’s an idea popping up with increasing frequency in the mainstream media: Porn is ruining sex for everyone.

The rise of the Internet has made porn more ubiquitous than ever, and a growing number of scientists and cultural observers are arguing that it’s toxic to real relationships.  No longer is opposition to pornography strictly the realm of religious believers and hard-core feminists.  Outlets as varied as GQVice, and New York Magazine have recently begun to publicly question whether all the imaginary sex people are having is spoiling the real thing.

A November 20 article on theGQ Magazine website purports to give “Ten Reasons Why You Should Quit Watching Porn.”

Drawing evidence from a recent survey of Redditors on the site’s “NoFap” online community, author Scott Christian argues that porn can lead to physical addiction, a decline in sexual satisfaction with one’s mate, and decreased sexual performance.

“With such an inexhaustible supply of porn at our disposal, there is a growing concern that it is beginning to effect [sic] our brains, our relationships, and even our bodies,” Christian wrote. “A recent survey of a Reddit community called NoFap – made up of nearly 75,000 people committed to quitting porn and masturbation – has helped researchers open the door to a better understanding of the effects of pornography on our lives.”

Christian highlighted ten findings of the NoFap survey that he said are strong indicators that porn may be giving people more problems than pleasure. These included the fact that 53% of respondents said they developed a porn habit between the tender ages of 12 and 14, while another 16% started watching smut before they even turned 12.

The survey also found that 59% of the respondents watched porn between four and 15 hours every week, that 42% of male college students said they visited porn sites regularly, 64% said that their tastes in porn “have become more extreme or deviant,” while many admitted to suffering from premature ejaculation or being disinterested in their real life partners.

“For those addicted to porn, arousal actually declined with the same mate, while those who regularly found different mates were able to continual their arousal,” Christian wrote. “It’s known as the Coolidge Effect, or novelty-seeking behavior. Porn, after all, trains the viewer to expect constant newness.”

However, he also pointed out that the survey showed that there is hope for the addicted, with 60% of those who embraced the “nofap” (no masturbation/porn) challenge saying that they saw an increase in their sexual functions, and another 67% saying it improved energy levels and productivity.

Christian isn’t the only young writer to take to the mainstream press with concerns over the damage porn is doing to people’s sex lives.  Davy Rothbart, writing for New York Magazinecomplained of his own inability to climax with a human partner after what he called “overmasturbation” while viewing porn sites.  For his piece, called, “He’s Just Not That into Anyone,” he interviewed a number of other young men who indicated he was far from alone.

“The initial symptom for a lot of guys who frequently find themselves bookmarking their favorite illicit clips appears to be a waning desire for their partners,” Rothbart wrote.  “For a lot of guys, switching gears from porn’s fireworks and whiz-bangs to the comparatively mundane calm of ordinary sex is like leaving halfway through an Imax 3-D movie to check out a flipbook.”

He shared the story of Stefan, 43, who is happily married but cannot climax during sex with his wife unless he replays pornographic images in his mind’s eye.  “Something is lost there,” Stefan told Rothbart. “I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.”

Another victim of porn’s aggressive allure was Perry, a 41-year-old lawyer.  “I used to race home to have sex with my wife,” Perry told Rothbart. “Now I leave work a half-hour early so I can get home before she does and masturbate to porn.”  Added Perry, “It’s like I’ve got this ‘other woman’ … and the ‘other woman’ is porn.”

Rothbart talked to a behavioral therapist named Andrea Kuszewski who explained that when people have orgasms, their brains release a potent mixture of dopamine and oxytocin, the two chemicals responsible for pleasure (and addiction), and emotional bonding, respectively.  Studies have shown that the dopamine rush acts like a drug, leading porn users to crave their next fix.  But the oxytocin gives them a powerful emotional bond to the source of the increased flow.  Normally, that’s another human being.  But for porn users, Kuszewski told Rothbart, it’s the porn itself. “You’re bonding with it,” she said.

Rich Santos told Marie Claire magazine that porn had taken all the excitement out of his relationships with young women.  “Before the internet porn, a kiss would make my heart race, my lips and body tingle, and I’d get butterflies in my stomach.  Since changing my habits, I’ve lost that feeling: the newness of a real kiss. It has somehow muted my feelings,” Santos wrote.  But as he has tried to reduce his online porn use, he reports, “those feelings are slowly coming back.”

Mark Manson, another young writer, got hooked on online porn at 13 and had spent 8 to 10 years viewing it “almost daily.” Manson decided he was sick of the spiral he found himself in as he continued to crave increasingly depraved pornography, but found himself unable to perform in real life. He, along with a number of online acquaintances who shared the same problem, decided to commit to a 60-day “reboot,” fasting from porn for the duration.

As their experiment progressed, Manson said he experienced strong cravings for pornography and even had dreams about it.  “No, not dreams about having sex, dreams about pornography,” he clarified, adding that he thought that was “[messed] up.”  But the longer he went without porn, the more his desire for the real thing returned.

“I began to find normal, everyday girls to be more beautiful,” wrote Manson. “Minor flaws and blemishes that used to bug me were now endearing and sometimes even sexy.”

After his sixty days were up, Manson tried to watch porn again, but he found his tastes had changed. “Porn I used to enjoy now felt excessive, dehumanizing and honestly, not very attractive,” he wrote. “There were a few videos I saw where I couldn’t believe I used to watch stuff like that.”

“I couldn’t help but notice how unhappy and inauthentic the girls in the videos often were,” added Manson. “Not to say I haven’t noticed some of the actresses obviously faking their way through a scene in the past, but this was deeper. Like you could tell they just weren’t very happy people and didn’t have much self-respect.”

Concluded Manson, “For me, yes, porn had a noticeable impact on my sex life, and I’m much better off not watching it.”

Author, Kirsten Andersen

Article courtesy of Lifesite magazine

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