How Do You Know If You’re Addicted To Porn?

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    It’s just a fact that most men look at porn. And some wrestle with whether it’s wrong and something they shouldn’t be doing. But not many askHow do I know if I'm addicted to porn?

    There are three categories you can put people into regarding the way they think about porn –

    1. “It’s no big deal, harmless, every guy does it.” Surprisingly, a number of women, not just men, fall into this one. (Probably 85% or more)
    2. I know it’s not good (or wrong), but I do it anyway.” (Maybe 10-15% of people)
    3. “I know I’m addicted to porn.” (Way less than 5% know and will admit this)

    It's really hard for most people to know if they're addicted to porn. And even harder to admit it if they are.

    Conversely, it’s very easy to become addicted and not even realize it. The same can be said for guys I help who are abusing alcohol or pot or smoking – most don’t recognize it as an addiction.

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    Even a lot of the guys who come to Guy Stuff for help with porn don’t realize they're addicted to it. Usually for them porn is only a problem because their partner makes it one.

    Unfortunately, being addicted to porn is much more common than people think.

    The Difference Between Viewing Porn Regularly And Being Addicted To It

    If you ask people what comes to mind when they think of someone whose an addict it’s not good. Typically, it’s some version of a person who is homeless, unemployed, and not very functional. It’s not a life they can relate to in any way, so the thought that addict could describe them is never a consideration.

    The truth is that a lot of us are addicts. Know anyone who’s addicted to –

    • Their phone?
    • Social media?
    • Work?
    • Shopping?
    • Golf?

    Being addicted to something or even someone is quite common.

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    The same is true of porn. Of the people who’ll admit they look at it, and do so regularly, nearly all never think about how they'd know if they really were addicted to porn.

    A common guy is someone like Rick. He carries his phone with him everywhere he goes (who doesn’t anymore?).

    As he walks between buildings at his work he looks at his phone to check his social media. In addition to pages for his business, he follows several Instagram bikini models and other sexual content that isn’t truly porn, but it’s on the edge.

    He also has buddies that text him pics of naked women and memes with sexual jokes during the day too.

    He’ll often drift over to a couple of favorite porn sites for a couple of minutes a few times during the day when at his desk or in his truck at a stop light.

    So, at least 6-10 times a day (often more) he’s seeing something sexual on his phone.

    Is Rick a typical guy, or is he addicted to porn?

    If his wife is out with the kids in the evening he’ll get on his laptop and spend more time on actual porn sites, but this isn’t daily, although he tries to find opportunities to do it at least several times a week.

    Does Rick sound like he’s a porn addict now?

    Rick is actually pretty typical of how frequently a lot of guys are looking at either porn or sexual content.

    I’ve counseled Rick. When we first met, he was looking for help because his wife was questioning whether they should stay married (they’d only been married 4 months at the time).

    Rick didn’t think he was addicted to porn and his wife Kris said she didn’t have a problem with porn either. What she was so upset about was that he was sexting other women.

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    I asked Rick how would he know if he really was addicted to porn. He had no idea.

    As we dug deeper and I educated them about porn and the effects it was having on each of them. He came to realize he actually was addicted to it. She learned how his sexting was connected to porn and began to see that it was a problem after all.

    Here’s how one guy describes how he knows he's addicted to porn:

    I’ve been reading all you ladies comments and sadly you don’t know or even care what we porn addicts are going through. I’m talking about my struggle here personally and believe me I have fought this battle all my life. I know that I am addicted to porn. Started young and it became the norm. The feeling of disgust, condemnation, guilt I feel whenever I fall is overwhelming. I’ve been to therapists, done spiritual walks and the list goes on. I’m 52 years of age and it’s still controlling my life. I’m totally transparent with my wife and at times she tries to understand and at times she is broken and feels disgusted with me. But the huge thing is she supports my struggle. This poison is in our heads. It’s a chemical that gets released in our brains when we are watching and I can only compare this to an actual drug, just as potent. Believe me I try and try to detach my thoughts when they become overpowering but sometimes it becomes so consuming that giving in is the only remedy to stay sane. There is no excuse believe me for doing it and it’s wrong in every way, but maybe the very minute silver lining is that when we look at these women on the screen they are object with no faces, souls and human flesh. A second after switching the screen off everything about them is forgotten. It’s like comparing them to a robot who is dead and cold. I don’t do it to replace my wife and believe me she fulfills all my desires. We men are programed differently and that’s our curse. I don’t and never will condone it, but maybe just be a little more sensitive to it. It is an addiction.” -Jose

    How To Honestly Answer – ‘Am I Addicted to Porn?’

    Addiction isn’t just about frequency.

    Often when I’m working with someone on an addiction (porn, alcohol, pot, gambling, you name it), they get stuck on how often they do it. And for many of them the frequency just isn’t enough to meet their definition of an addiction.

    Just like many people would define an ‘addict’ as someone living on the street, they can also view an ‘addiction’ as something you have to do every day.

    But in reality, we can be addicted to something and only do it once in a while.

    Here's how to know if you're addicted to porn. Consider these questions about your porn habits –

    • On average how often do you look at porn? (Be careful not to go down a rabbit hole over defining ‘look’ – does he mean watch for 3 hours or see a clip on social media? Full on sex or a girl topless?)

    • Is there a regular pattern or routine to watching porn? (Such as when you’re left alone, in the bathroom, stressed or bored)

    • Do you use or depend on porn in some way? (Like to relax, escape, feel better, compensate for not enough sex with your partner)

    • Do you binge watch? (I treated a guy who would sometimes go months without looking at any porn, but then his wife would take a trip and he’d binge watch 4+ hours a day or for 5 days straight)

    Getting a better idea of how to know if porn has become an addiction?

    Honestly answer the above questions and then ask yourselfIs it possible I'm addicted to porn?

    Addiction is really about how harmful it is to you, not how frequently you do it.

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    Why Being Addicted To Porn Is So Bad

    If you’re addicted to porn it’s negatively impacting you – but likely you don’t see how.

    Here’s another example.

    I’m counseling a couple, Greg and Robin, who are trying to save their marriage. One of the things they fight about is his watching porn. In a meeting recently Greg said this –

    I’d rather get divorced than stop looking at porn.”

    Is that a bit exaggerated? Probably.

    But does he also think there’s nothing wrong with porn? Yes, he sure does.

    Is he serious about losing his family and life they have together so he can keep looking at porn? Sadly, yes.

    Watching porn warps our mind. It normalizes things that aren’t normal or healthy. Such as staring at images on a screen for hours on end. This applies whether it’s –

    • Naked women on a porn site

    • Kitchen remodels on Pinterest

    • Family posts on Instagram

    Is Greg addicted to porn? Yes.

    Does Greg know it? No (not yet anyway – I’m helping him to see it).

    Another way porn is negative for us is the issues it can cause with our partner.

    Robin hates it. She already struggles with body image issues and his watching thin, naked women having sex just makes how she feels about herself worse.

    She’s also concerned that their daughters will see it since he watches porn when around them too.

    Here’s another woman’s story:

    I don't even know where to start. We have been married almost 25 years, most of them happy due to my ignorance. When I first found out that my husband was addicted to porn, we sought counseling and he tried an SA group (which he said --read justified-- was no help to him). He continued to say, ‘I’m not addicted to porn. Every guy I know looks at it.’ We were beginning to have fun as a couple again. I was finally beginning to trust him again. Our sex life, as always, was wonderful. But then I found out, quite by accident, as happened before, that he was once again looking at other, naked women. WHY? I was always accessible to him, we shared many wonderful intimate moments. WHY would he need to do this, despite how much he knew it hurt me. Hurt me to my very core. He says it was just curiosity, like people watching, but only naked and sexual. Do I want to be naked with him again? No. Do I take it personally? Yes. How can I ever believe him again when he tells me he loves me? I call bulls--t! I feel so very betrayed. He always had whatever sex he wanted, and still it was not enough.” -Samantha

    Despite their efforts, Samantha’s husband is still in denial. When that's the case you're not open minded enough to be asking how can you know if you're addicted to porn.

    He isn’t trying to hurt her, but he’s also not trying to not hurt her. This is the power a porn addiction can have over us. It leads us to do things, like hurt our partner, that we don’t mean to do.

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    What To Take Away

    Are you open minded enough to sincerely ask – How do I know if I'm addicted to porn?

    If you actually are addicted to porn, would you really admit it?

    Be honest.

    It takes courage to ask ourselves difficult, vulnerable questions like this one. Answering truthfully is even harder.

    I’ve had to ask myself this question too – “Could I be addicted to porn?” And I’ve had to answer, yes, as well.

    When I answered honestly, I felt a huge weight lift off and I was able to start making changes. My life has been very different since.

    An honest answer stops the deception (with ourselves), begins to break the secrecy, lessens the power shame has on us. It’s liberating.

    I believe every guy needs to ask himself this question.

    If you're asking, how do I know if I'm addicted to porn, I hope you’ll find the courage to answer honestly.

    Do you know a man who should be asking himself if he’s addicted to porn? Please tell other readers what his addiction looks like.

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