Porn: When It Helps & When It Hurts

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Internet Porn
Some couples use it to sex up a relationship. For others, it spells the end.

But while porn can be an occasional titillating treat for some, for others it's a debilitating daily binge that can go on for hours, months and years, costing users their sexual health, marriages, families, friends, jobs and self-esteem. In fact, the stories end up sounding a lot like the ones of crackheads: staying up all night using porn for ten hours straight; getting fired for accessing it at work; blowing $600 or more on it a month, and not having enough left over for basic expenses; craving more and more extreme types of porn to get turned on; even doing it in front of kids.

"For some people, porn can be a serious problem that devastates their lives," explains Wendy Maltz, a sex therapist in Eugene, OR, and the co-author (with her husband Larry) of The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography. "Eight to fifteen percent of people [who use porn] have extremely serious sexual problems," she says.

 

It's one thing to look at porn on occasion with a partner, she explains. But it's another thing altogether "to masturbate to it regularly, in secret, and then lie about it. You can end up creating a sexual relationship with porn that pre-empts a real relationship with a present or future partner." In other words, porn ends up being more fulfilling than any real woman.

That was the experience of Kate, a 45-year-old from Chicago. When she and her husband first got together, she discovered that he would often look at porn for several hours at a time—even after they had just made love. "Also, I wasn't happy about our sex life. My husband is younger (29) and he was like a lot of 20-something guys who had used a lot of porn but weren't very good at actual sex. At first I bought into people telling me that I had a problem with it because I had low self-esteem. Then I realized, ‘Hey, I have pretty good self-esteem. Why can't I have a satisfying sex life with a partner who is interested in my pleasure and not how to do twelve dumb positions he saw on some XXX porn that don't feel good at all?'"

A year into their relationship, she confronted him. "I told him, ‘I have nothing against porn. But I don't want to be with someone who uses this much porn and I don't like the effect it has on our relationship." Kate is one of the lucky ones: her husband agreed to go to counseling and has been porn-free for five years.

 
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