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Do you have to stop watching porn? 5 Busted Myths

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Pornography use in a relationship has gotten a bad rap. And while there are some good reasons for this, it doesn’t mean pornography can’t be part of your relationship. It’s the addiction part of pornography addiction that is damaging to your relationship, not the pornography part of it. If you’re wondering why and how to beat the porn addiction, here are five busted myths to help you break porn addiction and use it in your relationship in a healthy manner. 

Myth 1:  Pornography is bad for you 

Not so fast. Historically, anti-pornography myths have primarily been moral in nature and have little basis in medical or relational science. While porn can lead to addiction with side effects, like hundreds of other behaviors, it  more often supports and reinforces wholly acceptable sexual behavior. In a healthy, adult relationship, porn can be wonderfully useful. Not only do many couples find it fun and stimulating, they often use it to spice up or reignite their sex lives. Breaking porn addiction by watching it together for new ideas and to help set the mood can bring you and your significant other closer. Porn addiction involves one person watching at the exclusion of the other. This is a wedge, and like any other wedge between you and your spouse, it Can eventually tear you apart. My advice is to use porn in a healthy way to improve your sexual relationship, but don’t let it take control.  

Myth 2:  Pornography is the same as cheating

Is watching porn cheating? Many women feel betrayed when faced with the realization that a husband or significant other is looking at porn and many equated with cheating. A common reaction is “What’s wrong with me? Am I not enough?” Some relationships even end when pornography is discovered. When my patients face this issue, I help them understand that pornography and cheating are not the same thing. What is the same however is the feeling of betrayal. It’s legitimate to feel betrayed by someone who secretly goes to another person for sexual satisfaction, even if it’s a virtual woman, but the problem is not the pornography, it’s the betrayal.

The main problem with this myth lies in the fact that couples have not openly discussed or been able to resolve their individual sexual needs. One patient, Leslie, caught her husband turning to porn soon after the birth of their first child. She thought it was because he found her unattractive or that she hadn’t been able to shed the baby weight. He explained, however, that even though her sexual energy had fallen, his remained the same. He even admitted that he hated to wake her up when she was already so sleep deprived. Pornography therefore was a simple stop-gap for him until life returned to normal. Ideally, Gail’s husband would have told her about these feelings before the betrayal hit her. In that discussion, if they mutually decided that pornography could be used as a stop-gap, then betrayal could have been avoided.

Myth 3:  Pornography is a sign that something is wrong with you 

Let’s be clear, pornography doesn’t make you a pervert. It can, however, be a sign that you’re avoiding dealing with uncomfortable feelings or experiences. If you find yourself turning to pornography instead of to your partner or spouse, or if you find it interfering in your ability to function in daily life or fulfill your responsibilities, then these are porn addiction side effects. In fact, the definition of addiction is that it is negatively impacting your relationships or employment. So if you have any concerns about the negative impact watching pornography is having on your life and want to overcome porn addiction, then it’s time to cut back and engage in your life more. Remember the question shouldn’t be “how do I stop watching porn” but rather uncovering what is the real root of the problem.

Myth 4:  Pornography is a sign that a marriage is in trouble

Maybe. The questions to ask yourself are: Are we reliant on it? Do we use it from time to time for inspiration and fun, or do we need it more often than not to get excited or in the mood? Do we turn to pornography for a night of sex instead of working through a painful issue? Do we turn to each other for comfort, or to the fictional characters on our screen? Are we on different pages about how our use of pornography? Is one of us more comfortable or wants to use it more often than the other? A yes answer to any of these could mean that you and or your spouse are turning to the virtual world as an escape from something difficult between you. Relationship problems always get worse if they are ignored, even when it comes to overcoming a porn addiction. Communication is sexy (I bet you’ve never heard that before) 

Myth 5  Pornography leads to unrealistic sexual expectations

Pornography is at no more risk of creating unrealistic sexual expectations then watching the US Open is likely to lead you to believe that you could walk onto the golf course and duplicate everything you just saw on TV. Emotionally healthy people are able to differentiate between fictional characters and situations and real life. While it is true that overexposure to porn in teenagers and young adults can warp sexual perceptions and expectations, this can be mitigated through open communication with parents and other trusted adults about how to build and maintain healthy, adult relationships.  But for sexually mature adults, pornography is unlikely to significantly alter your understanding of sexual relationships.

In sum, porn myths are just that myths. It is easy to criticize things we don’t understand. Like most sexual activities, pornography is perfectly acceptable when engaged in by committed, consenting adults. It’s only when it’s used as a way to avoid relationship conflicts, used excessively in secret, or used instead of sex with real people, that it veers toward addictive behavior and therefore damaging. You can beat porn addiction and turn it into something that can be a bonding experience between you and your spouse.

 If this article speaks to you and you’d like additional personal guidance please call 757-340-8800 to make an appointment with Dr. Laura Dabney now.

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