Porn Side Effects Aren't Always So Obvious

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    It seems that every day porn becomes more and more acceptable in our culture. Sitcoms make fun of it and comedians joke about it like it's a normal thing all guys do. Men tell their partners when they get caught that "every guy does it" . . . "it's a guy thing." But porn side effects are never mentioned along with these endorsements.

    Yes, there are side effects to porn, and they're not good ones either. Porn should come with something like the Surgeon General's warning on cigarette packages. "Yes, most men watch porn, but porn comes with side effects that will harm you too."

    The Real-Life Effects Of Porn

    So, what's so bad about porn? More than you may realize and not just for the person viewing it. Most men who watch porn assume that it’s harmless to both themselves and their partner. In fact, some consider it helpful when it comes to spicing things up in the bedroom or use porn to masturbate and take the place of sex altogether. The reality is, however, that it takes a major toll on the intimacy in a relationship and trust between partners.

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    Take a look at these messages from women whose men are doing what supposedly "every guy" does, looking at porn. See if you can see any possible connections to what their concerns are and porn. By the way, I get messages like these every day from women all around the world, so if you think it's only a couple of women stuck in the 1950s who have a problem with porn, you're wrong.

    Hi my name is Ashley and my husband is Chris we been married for 1 year and our marriage is great except when we are around other women he stares and looks everywhere at them. I just don't know what to do, he's gotta stop, it's getting out of control. We've talked about it several times and he saying he will change, but it's not working. What can I do or what can he do to stop this? He says he don't know why he does it and he wants to stop, but he can't. Please help us. We want this marriage to work so bad we are very much in love, but need to fix this problem ASAP. Please get back to us so we know what to do thank you." -Ashley V.

    So Ashley's husband, Chris, likes to look at other women. That's a pretty normal "guy thing," right? But how come it's so out of control? And why can't he stop, or at the very least do it less, especially when his marriage is on the line? Hmmm. Could this be a porn side effect?

    My husband of 26 years does occasional porn on the internet and likes to look at lots of sex stuff. He also talks about having me and another guy have sex while he watches. I am not really into that scene, but he can't understand why. We hardly ever have sex anymore that he isn't pretending or fantasizing that I am with someone else. I don't know what to do to make him understand fantasy and reality." -Kristine D.

    Kristine's husband has developed some sexual desires that she's not into. It's very common for men and women to have different sexual interests, as well as different sex drives. As a result, sex is a source of conflict in many relationships. However, I'd argue that Kristine's husband's fantasy of watching her have sex with another man is an unhealthy sexual interest and one not that's good for their relationship either.

    I actually counseled a separated couple a few years ago who had done something similar in their past. This guy had a fantasy of being with two women and convinced his wife to go along. So, on a trip to Las Vegas he hired a prostitute and they had a threesome. Years later in our counseling it came out that she never really wanted to participate but went along to make him happy. This act became one of several cancers that ate away at their relationship and ultimately destroyed it.

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    These are some clear examples of how the side effects of porn can be harmful and not as obvious as one might think.

    6 Clear Side Effects Of Porn

    Still wondering what some other side effects of porn are? Take a look below and see if any of these sounds familiar.

    • Trains the male brain to look at women in a sexual and objectified way. We all know that men are wired to have this tendency to begin with, but what porn does is take that desire to look at other women and puts it on steroids. They begin to see look at women in a sexual way and may imagine them in ways they’ve seen women portrayed in porn. I'd bet that Ashley's husband Chris can't stop looking at other women because he's also regularly looking at porn or has in the recent past.
    • Exaggerates men's sexual fantasizing. Porn is all about fantasy -- it is fantasy and it encourages the viewer to fantasize even more. For most of us it’s clear that fantasy and reality are different, but porn can make men think that the things they see in porn are a possibility. These fantasies can end up robbing men of the joys of sex and intimacy with their own partners.
    • Creates deviant sexual interests. Sex is an intimate act between a man and a woman. Porn warps our minds and creates desires outside of this design. Kristine's husband's desire to watch her having sex clearly arises from his porn viewing where he watches other women have sex. Now he wants to take that fantasy and apply it in his real life.
    • Damages relationships. Porn destroys intimacy, trust, and the sacredness of the relationship commitment between two people. And scientific research is now proving what those of us treating it's effects have known for years, that porn can lead to severe relationship problems.
    • Creates an addiction that can be hard to combat. Although not ingested or injected, porn acts like a drug in the brain. Even the most well-intentioned men who truly value their partners and want to quit often have problems when they want to stop watching porn. Porn addiction is a real problem and can be difficult to overcome without professional help.
    • Erectile Dysfunction. Yes, as counterintuitive as it may seem, porn can cause men to have issues getting and maintaining an erection. This is not a problem of physical origin, but one caused by the brain rewiring and psychological changes that porn creates. Much like a drug, the more porn you watch the more you need in order to become aroused and then satisfied. This translates directly to the bedroom. Many men eventually find it nearly impossible to perform sexually without the assistance of porn as a crutch. 

    This is not meant to be a complete list of porn side effects, but describes several of the most significant ones, as well as those seen in the two relationships described above. Although the side effects of porn can be hard to spot initially, those described above are indisputable and regularly observed in relationships where porn is a factor.

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    Porn clearly isn't as inconsequential as many people want to believe. And as porn becomes more socially acceptable, it's very important that the negative effects become better known too. Of course, the best way to avoid the problems associated with porn is to never watch it at all. Sadly, however, most men and many women regularly view or have at least been exposed to porn. If the problems above sound familiar there is hope, however – you just need to be ready to accept it.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published September 30, 2014 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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