PORN & RELATIONSHIPS...
What’s the worst that could happen? When someone says those words, you can predict that something bad is about to go down. The movies use it all the time. It’s what they call dramatic irony. You know what I’m talking about, the actor says it as he starts the car, and then next thing he knows he’s barreling down a hill away from an assassin who previously cut the brakes on the car.
That happens in real life too. Well, maybe not the cut brakes and assassin part (unless that loan you received from the mob DIDN’T happen on the day of his daughters wedding), but a lot of the time we don’t see situations for what they really are. We think that things won’t affect us or that we’re exempt from the laws of physics or nature.
A lot of people treat pornography like that. “What’s the worst that could happen,” they ask, or “It’s totally harmless.” Or here’s my favorite, “Sure, it may mess some people up, but it won’t get to me.” While a lot of people think of pornography is a harmless way of fantasizing- the reality is that it can destroy relationships.
What exactly is so bad about it? There has been a lot of research done. It turns out that looking at porn changes the way you see others and even yourself. It changes the way you act toward others, can change your values, alter your beliefs, and influence your behavior. Still, many will tell you a different story. Here are some common beliefs you might have heard about pornography and an explanation of what the truth really is.
“Pornography teaches people about sex.”
This one actually makes a little bit of sense if you don’t think too much about it. Basically, it’s like trying to study for a history exam on the Persian War by watching a movie about a bunch of Spartans. Will you learn some stuff? Probably. But how much of that stuff will be historically accurate or useful on your test? Not much. Most of what pornography portrays about sex isn’t healthy or realistic. Some of it shows fetishes, things that are social taboo, and even illegal behaviors (Kafka, 2010).
The reality is that if you view pornography, you’re more likely to believe that it’s totally normal to sleep around and cheat on your partner and that not acting on your sexual urges is bad for your health (Zillmann, 1994). Pornography also desensitizes many to believe that the sex is just casual and that physical satisfaction and personal pleasure are more important than the relational, affection parts of intimacy (Peter & Valkenburg, 2010).
“Using pornography will help my relationships.”
This happens to be the opposite of the truth. People who don’t view pornography reported higher relationship quality on communication, relationship adjustment, commitment, sexual satisfaction, and infidelity than the people who do (Maddox, Rhoades & Markman, 2011). Viewing pornography changes what you see as being important in a relationship. Things like cheating and unacceptable sexual requests become less of a big deal (or more normal). Additionally, if your partner doesn’t have the sex drive of a drunken teenager, you’ll see that as a reason to end your relationship (Zillman, 1994).
“Using pornography will help me to have a better sex life.”
Does watching American idol make you a better singer? Not really, but it'll make your significant other sound more tone deaf when they sing karaoke in comparison. Pornography actually makes your real sex life less satisfying. Because you’re less satisfied with your partner, you look at more pornography, which makes you even less satisfied (Zillmann & Bryant,1988). Get the idea?
Guys who are involved in online sexual activity are less aroused by real sex and initiate it less often (Grov, Gillespie, Royce & Lever, 2010). Even those who make looking at pornography a “couples activity” have higher rates of infidelity compared to people who don’t view at it at all (Maddox, Rhoades, & Markman, 2011).
“It’s no big deal if my partner uses pornography.”
If you’re ok with your partner becoming less satisfied with your sexual performance, physical appearance, and willingness to try new sexual experiences then yeah, it’s no big deal if they look at pornography (Zillmann & Bryant, 1988). Porn has been linked to all of those.
Porn has also been associated with sexual addiction, trouble with respecting boundaries, relationship and attachment problems, personality disorders, out of control emotions, out of control behaviors, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and high-risk sex (Marshall & Briken, 2010). Viewing explicit materials increases your acceptance of self-focused sexual behaviors that are casual and not relationship-focused and not affectionate (Peter & Valkenburg, 2010). Seems like a little bit of a bigger deal now, doesn’t it?
“Using pornography will help me in relating to women.”
Well, that depends on if you’re trying to relate to actual human beings, or to fantasy women. If you’re looking to relate to living and breathing women, then you should probably know that they’re not very accepting of pornography use as a form of sexuality and often reject guys who use (Nelson, Padilla-Walker & Carroll, 2010). That’s actually one of the main ways that pornography use affects young adult’s relationships.
So, say you’re involved in some sort of sexual fantasy and role-playing online and are in real-life relationship, it’s pretty likely that your actual romantic partner will see your online fantasy activity as cheating—even if you don’t. On the off chance that your partner is ok with your fantasy life, your relationship will suffer because you’ll begin to emotionally neglect your partner as you spend more time online (Young, 1998). Kind of a lose-lose situation.
“Men will like me more if I participate in pornography.”
It turns out that guys aren’t the only ones who get told lies about pornography. This statement seems logical enough. I mean, if guys like porn, then they should like you for liking it, right? The truth sounds pretty hypocritical, but most teenage or young adult guys won’t seriously date a girl who has sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures of herself (The National Campaign). Besides, there’s usually a shift in the sexual relationship of people involved in pornography use. So either there’ll be significantly less sexual desire that makes the partner feel unattractive and unfulfilled, or an increasing but unconnected desire that makes the partner feel like an object being used instead of someone worthy of building closeness with (Bergner & Bridges, 2002).
So now that you’ve heard the truth, you’ve got a taste of what the worst that could happen is. And while you may still be thinking you’re going to be the exception to the rule, is it really worth the risk? Your best bet is to stay away from porn altogether.
Read more here.
- The Addiction Cycle
- Scientific Explanations of Addiction
- THE CHEMICALS BEHIND THE ADDICTION
- THE BRAIN & ADDICTION
- HOW IS PORNOGRAPHY REALLY A DRUG??
- COMPARING PORNOGRAPHY TO A HARD DRUG
- Choice Points: Stepping Out of the Addiction Cycle
- What Are the Effects of Pornography Anyway?
- STAGES OF ADDICTION & HOPELESSNESS
- UNCONTROLLABLE CONSUMPTION
- How We Got Here Part 4: The Media’s Drive for Higher Profits
- How We Got Here Part 3: Advancements in Technology
- How We Got Here Part 2: Slow Cultural Shifts
- How We Got Here Part 1: A Lack of Education and Awareness on the True Effects of Pornography
- PORN & RELATIONSHIPS
- PORN AND SEXUAL CRIME