Effect of pornography on relationships:
My purpose here is not to spend much time talking about the prevalence of pornography on the internet, as those statistics are readily available and really, we all know it’s out there and the numbers are huge. $13 Billion annually in the U.S. alone, and apparently, porn sites get more visitors each day than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. The days of having to sneak into the back of your father’s dresser to flip through the pages of a magazine are gone and have been replaced with only needing a few seconds of unsupervised time on the internet to find video clips of anything you are interested in seeing. The purpose of my writing today is to discuss the impact that pornography has on relationships. I will also only be addressing the impact on men, as they are by far the most common consumers of porn.
It probably seems obvious that viewing pornography would have a negative impact on most relationships, but what is that impact and why does it occur? The first and most obvious impact is that it creates unrealistic ideas about what a healthy sex life should be like, what sex acts a women should be willing to perform, and what a woman’s body should look like. Women in adult films are often young, fit and well endowed, and willing to do just about anything. This can lead to a lack of satisfaction in one’s partner in real life, and eventually to an inability to become aroused by a “real” woman. Erectile Dysfunction in men under the age of 40 is a relatively new phenomenon and coincides with the widespread availability of porn on the internet. As men watch their “ideal” woman, willing to perform any and all sexual acts, they begin to find only that type of woman sexually attractive.
It’s also important to discuss the impact of pornography on a man’s brain chemistry. As men stare at porn on the computer, their brains are being flooded with Dopamine in levels that cannot be matched by real life. The brain loves novelty and the internet allows men to surf through dozens of explicit images or videos one right after the other. This constant stream of stimulation produces an almost euphoric feeling that again, cannot be matched by sex with their partner. The average length of a porn viewing session is about 45 minutes, during which men stay in this euphoric, dissociative state of mind. There is also the issue of Oxytocin, often referred to as the bonding hormone. When a man ejaculates, his brain produces Oxytocin, which helps him bond with his partner and feel a sense of closeness and connection to her. However, when a man ejaculates while staring at a screen, he is actually bonding to the screen images and not his partner. This leads to feeling less connected to his partner and creates an unhealthy bond with pornography.
Finally, there is also the issue of shame. Shame is a feeling that arises out of an awareness that you are doing something you know you should not be doing. Most men hide their porn viewing and develop a sense of shame that becomes associated with sex and sexuality. This occurs whether men view deviant or more traditional pornography. The shame that comes from feeling the need to hide behavior can create the same energy impact on a relationship as infidelity. This shameful energy can be felt by one’s partner and lead to trust issues within the relationship. It also creates a secret, and secrets are not good for people or relationships.
So, men, as you sit down at your computer and think about watching porn, take a second to consider the impact it may have on your brain, your conscience, and your relationship.