Love Ruined My Porn Habit: A Woman's Story

Love Ruined My Porn Habit: A Woman's Story

Love Ruined My Porn Habit: A Woman's Story

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A porn-loving woman finds that, after falling in love, her libido just isn't that into porn.

like to see that study."

Maltz has yet another explanation: "Porn is a dissociative experience," she says. "When we interact with porn, we're in a fantasy world where we don't see the reality of what were doing." It's true that the first few times I watched porn, it made me feel very strange and disgusted, and stoked my feminist rage—feelings I admit do not stray far from the ones I have experienced years later while surfing youporn.com in love.

What Maltz is getting at is that it takes most of us a certain amount of repeated exposure to porn for us to be able to enter into its fantasy world. But when we fall in love, we often take a break of a week or even months from porn, and that is long enough to lose that ability, and to be reminded of the alienating reality of it all. "When you see porn in contrast to a live experience, maybe you're able to break through the dissociative experience," says Maltz.Read: Does Porn Make The Man?

Well, despite all these barriers, it still seems like there's hope for my furtive little habit. Over time, I've noticed my interest in porn beginning to return. And from what the experts have told me, this is what we'd expect. As Dr. Fisher says, love has three stages, and it's in the first one (the "attachment" phase) when we experience most of the intense hormones and chemistry. Read: The Chemistry of Love

All of those biological protections that keep our eyes from wandering eventually lessen and lose their grip—that's when we're supposed to start trusting our partners on a more rational level. I'd like that to be the case—and I'd like him to earn it—but just in case, I don't mind browsing now and then for a little backup. 

We hear about relationships torn apart by internet porn addiction, but where are the support groups for smut-loving women like me, who suddenly and inexplicably get turned off by porn when they fall in love?  Before I met my boyfriend, I was visiting youporn.com about a half an hour a day, hunting through dozens of clips to find the one most perfectly calibrated to turn me on. 

After I met my boyfriend, my visits to the site dropped off in equal proportion to how much I was getting off with a flesh-and-blood human being.

But my loss of appetite for porn can't simply be chocked up to how great it is to have the real thing: There were days when, beau away, I'd recall the quick jolt of satisfaction that used to await me online. I would go to my computer and put my hand down my pants—only to find that porn, gasp, suddenly did nothing for me. Read: Self Pleasure For Beginners

Even clips that had the golden ratio suddenly looked contrived, grotesque—like apes humping in a zoo. It made no sense.

And it was so unfair! I didn't want to have to rely on my boyfriend as my lone source of arousal. I would tell myself, "Come on! We can't put all of our eggs in this guy's basket!" but still nothing. Love's blindness had also somehow made me blind to the pleasures of porn.  Read: Could More Porn Actually Make Us Healthier?

It turns out, however, that there's science behind my stultification. A growing body of research on the biology of love proves just how hardwired we are to fending off attraction to others once we become smitten with someone. Biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her?, explains: "Love evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one person at a time in order to conserve your energy." In other words, love is a shield of chemicals and psychological trickery that helps us stick to our mate, trying to ensure that we make and raise babies with them. "Those people who didn't have an urge to fall in love probably died off," says Fisher.Read: Problems With Intimacy? Retrain Your Brain

But if the continuation of our species has ever faced an enemy it couldn't handle, it would be porn.

According to The Porn Trap author Wendy Maltz, our bodies and brains produce many of the same chemicals when we're watching porn that they produce when we're in love. Chief among them are dopamine, which does the job of focusing us on one person, and oxytocin, which help us form attachments. "I've called pornography cupid's rival because the physiological experience of porn competes with romantic love," says Maltz. "It actually jumps in there and in a very easy way competes with it." If you have an orgasm with porn, oxytocin is released, which can emotionally connect you to what you're watching. "So you can actually kind of fall of love, in a way, with your porn," says Maltz.

My problem, of course, was the reverse: as much as I liked porn, it wasn't enough to keep me from getting a lover (how many women does it do that for?), and once I had him, I was suddenly less interested in going back to my old, onscreen flame. I had the opposite response of many men; in the rivalry between my porn and my lover, porn was the jilted one, the one I left for the superior neuro-chemical high of a real person.So perhaps it's not a stretch to imagine that love's defense mechanisms would attack virtual love affairs as well.Read: Fall In Or Out Of Love By Taking A Pill

But chemicals might not have been the only things in play; in addition to the drug arsenal of the brain, we also have powerful little cognitive tricks that kick in automatically to protect our romances. In a 2008 study, a group of men and women who were manipulated into thinking about how much they love their partner were able to tear their eyes way from photos of attractive people faster than people who were simply made to think about happiness.

"This stuff happened at a fast enough speed that individuals couldn't have been in conscious control of it," says Gian Gonzaga, senior research scientists for Internet dating site eHarmony.com, who worked on the study. "It was like it was just an automatic process for them to move their attention away—which is really powerful."

Gonzaga pointed me to a similar study in which people in love were asked to recall details about an attractive person's looks. They weren't able to do it. But when asked to recall other, mundane details, like what kind of sweater the hot person was wearing, they had no trouble. Yet, the opposite was true for recalling an average-looking person's looks. The in-loves could remember looks-related details as long as the person in question was not stereotypically good-looking. Depending on your perspective, this study reveals a hiccup in our love-protection system: It appears we're only safeguarded from running off with people who look ripped from the pages of Good Genes magazine.Read: WebMD Explores Falling In Love

But maybe the same principle makes us especially defended against porn. With its big-muscled, square-jawed guys and large-breasted, hourglass women, porn is a caveman's paradise. Read: What Does His Porn Collection Say About Him?

The study would explain why my in-love brain's defense mechanisms go into overhaul and practically shut down when such perfect-looking people come up on my computer screen. I asked Gonzaga if he thinks it's possible for these defense mechanisms to kick in when a person in love watches pornography. After stammering he bit, he told me, "I've never thought about it that way. I would have to think about that more carefully, but it certainly would make sense. If you're trying suppress your attention to a photograph, it should work for pornography too, but I'd obviously like to see that study."

Maltz has yet another explanation: "Porn is a dissociative experience," she says. "When we interact with porn, we're in a fantasy world where we don't see the reality of what were doing." It's true that the first few times I watched porn, it made me feel very strange and disgusted, and stoked my feminist rage—feelings I admit do not stray far from the ones I have experienced years later while surfing youporn.com in love.

What Maltz is getting at is that it takes most of us a certain amount of repeated exposure to porn for us to be able to enter into its fantasy world. But when we fall in love, we often take a break of a week or even months from porn, and that is long enough to lose that ability, and to be reminded of the alienating reality of it all. "When you see porn in contrast to a live experience, maybe you're able to break through the dissociative experience," says Maltz.Read: Does Porn Make The Man?

Well, despite all these barriers, it still seems like there's hope for my furtive little habit. Over time, I've noticed my interest in porn beginning to return. And from what the experts have told me, this is what we'd expect. As Dr. Fisher says, love has three stages, and it's in the first one (the "attachment" phase) when we experience most of the intense hormones and chemistry. Read: The Chemistry of Love

All of those biological protections that keep our eyes from wandering eventually lessen and lose their grip—that's when we're supposed to start trusting our partners on a more rational level. I'd like that to be the case—and I'd like him to earn it—but just in case, I don't mind browsing now and then for a little backup. 

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.
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