Is Porn Addiction Real?

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Is Porn Addiction Real?
You know it's real because it's affecting your sex life.

Is porn addiction real? I guess the answer truly depends on who you ask. Clinical psychologist, Dr. David Ley argues that it's not. He claims that few research articles describe compulsive porn use as an actual addiction, and few connect it with either ED or brain changes associated with a chemical addiction. But a Cambridge University study recently found that compulsive porn use actually mirrors drug addiction in the human brain. So Dr. Valerie Voon's research suggests that compulsive porn use is indeed pathological. 

The people I know haven't conducted a research review like Dr. Ley, or performed actual research like Dr. Voon, but they believe they've come face to face with porn addiction and its very real effects.   

Porn addiction is like the third person in a relationship.

Millie was shocked when she discovered evidence of excessive porn use on her husband's laptop. But somehow it made sense.  He frequently stayed late at the office, regularly skipped family dinners, and generally ignored Millie's requests for physical intimacy. But he stayed glued to that laptop. When she repeatedly confronted him, he consistently dismissed the problem and minimized Millie's concern — even after she found staggering and irrefutable evidence of his compulsive porn use. A light gradually dawned and she began to understand why they hadn't had sex in years. Millie discovered that her husband's porn addiction was like a third person in their marriage. It usurped her role in physical intimacy and left her feeling rejected. How could she have been so blind?  

Porn addiction is like having a porno director in the bedroom.

Charlotte revealed that she felt dirty whenever she and her husband were physically intimate. For years she'd wanted to truly make love, but had to settle for "just having sex". Every bedroom encounter seemed like a scene from a XXX movie, in which she was an unwilling actor. She tried her best to describe what she longed for, but he couldn't imagine settling for that kind of "unimaginative sex". So Charlotte learned to settle for feeling used, and drank a toddy before showing up for each scene. It was the only way she could be physically intimate with the man she loved. One day she thought about all the years he'd been compulsively watching porn, and all the times she'd confronted it as a problem. The dots connected and Charlotte realized that his porn addiction had been directing her sex life. How could she have ignored that demoralizing process for so long?

Porn addiction hijacks the user's mind.

In the BBC documentary, Porn on the Brain, we’re introduced to Callum, a young man who considers his mind hijacked by porn addiction — "every bit of spare time I have in the day is watching porn". He's sexually active, but unable to have a meaningful relationship. Every time he looks at a woman, he assesses her for what she can give him sexually, based on her most appealing physical assets. But real life encounters are never as pleasurable as when he is alone with porn. Driving down the street, he sees two women in short shorts, and quickly pulls over to masturbate in the bathroom of the nearest pub.  Returning to the car, he expresses disgust with himself. But he can't help it. Compulsive porn use brought him to this state: porn is better than real life sex.  

With porn addiction, fantasy trumps reality.  

Dr. Voon acknowledges that more research is needed before we determine if compulsive porn use is an actual behavioral addiction or an impulse control disorder. But regardless of its future scientific label, compulsive porn use shackles the user's mind to a world of fantasy. As a result, reality loses its luster and becomes alarmingly bland and boring. If your partner takes frequent trips to Fantasy Porno-Land, you may be pretty lonely in reality. When your partner returns, you can't possibly compete with what they’ve repeatedly seen. After all, there's no one on call to do your make-up, airbrush your blemishes, handle your wardrobe, or direct your provocative movements. 

In front of the camera, porn actors appear to live and breathe for all kinds of sex. But you live in the Land of Responsibility, where sex is wonderful but not the end-all be-all of every waking moment. You don't live and breathe for sex. But if your partner struggles with porn addiction, you may feel pretty rejected as you live and breathe in cold reality.     

My take on porn addiction:
Well, the diagnosis is not in the latest edition of the diagnostic bible, DSM-V. But that that doesn't mean it's a myth. It just indicates that more research is needed before the APA will attach an official label to what many of us know is a problem. When someone spends an excessive amount of time viewing porn, there's a problem. When commitment to porn is more important than commitment to loved ones, there's a problem. When excessive porn use interrupts the work day, there's a problem.  When it causes someone to confuse fantasy with reality, there's a problem. And when it can't be stopped, there's definitely a problem. 

In common parlance, we describe the problem as porn addiction. One day we may call it something else. But the problem will remain just as real as it is today, fouling up the lives of compulsive porn users and the people who love them. It's not a myth.
If your relationship has been hijacked by compulsive porn use, a relationship counselor or coach can help you confront the very real fallout — individually or as a team. If you're in Northern VA, contact me.  I don't believe you're facing a myth, and I'm here to help.   

Resource for Anyone: For instant help to jump start relationship change, grab my FREE guide, How to Make Your Relationship Work.

More porn addiction advice on YourTango:

 

Article contributed by

Gina Binder

Counselor/Therapist

Gina Binder is a Resident in Counseling who helps couples and individuals find the change they need to live the life they desire.  She practices under the clinical supervision of Katherine Rosemond, LPC.  If you're in Northern Virginia, contact Gina for a free 15-minute phone consultation - to see what's possible for you or your relationship.   

To jumpstart change in your relationship, grab Gina's FREE report, How to Make Your Relationship Work When Something's Wrong.     

Location: Manassas, VA
Credentials: MA
Other Articles/News by Gina Binder:

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