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Porn Is Ruining My Relationship

Heartbreak

Many men feel relief with these lusty, virtual women who are always available and make no demands.

Pornography is not a new issue in therapy, but it is coming up more frequently as a big problem in couples retreats. Over the years I've helped hundreds of clients, mainly men, understand their curiosity, shame, attraction, repulsion, and obsession with regard to porn. In couples therapy, I've suggested couples try watching soft-porn together to spice up their sex life. I've treated men who were so porn-addicted or obsessed that they let it ruin their relationship.

What is new is how readily accessible porn is in our society. Steamy, hot sexual adventure is just a click away. With another click the images disappear ― and for the technologically savvy ― leave no trace.

Social attitudes and beliefs about pornography have shifted. Familysafemedia.com estimates that there are 4.2 million porn web sites online, most of which offer free encounters. Pornography has become a socially acceptable part of mainstream culture. Porn stars share an iconic, celebrity status in the 21st century. Consumption of porn no longer carries a heavy negative stigma; some people are open and matter-of-fact about their habits. We are way past the stereotype of porn being limited to dirty old men in raincoats in dark movie theatres.

This data is not meant to suggest that everyone welcomes porn into their relationship or no one gets hurt by it. A lawyer friend told me that before the internet, pornography was rarely cited as a reason for divorce. Now couples are splitting due to irreconcilable differences over the place of porn in their lives. So — what's the story?

Many women clients tell me they feel betrayed by their partner's enjoyment of porn. Some women feel pressured and try to compete with the females featured in porn either in their physical appearance or sexual performance. Other women complain that they feel "cheated on." Some report that their partner's use of porn repulses them, the ultimate anti-aphrodisiac. On the other hand, a number of women have told me about their personal enjoyment of porn, independent of their partners.

But...the majority of porn consumers are men. Men are wired for visual stimulation; it is part of their DNA. Those in committed relationships often tell me that their porn life doesn't signal a lack of love or interest in their women. Sometimes they need the external stimulation and find it enhances their sex life with the one they love.

So what's the problem? Sometimes a partner's virtual relationships interfere with his real life relationship. Some male clients report a loss of sexual interest in, or even the ability to have sex with, their partners. They develop a preference for porn and masturbation. Men say solo gratification eliminates performance anxiety and the burden of pleasing or imposing on their partner. They no longer feel they must grovel or beg for sex. They're freed up by these lusty, virtual women who make no demands, expect no emotional intimacy, and wreak animal sexuality.

Tips for dealing with pornography in your relationship:

  • Be honest with yourself. How do you really feel about porn? How does it make you feel?
  • How does your partner feel about porn? Have you talked about it?
  • Is porn affecting your relationship? If so, in what way?
  • Have you tried watching porn with your partner?
  • Can you understand your partner's point of view about porn?
  • Can you bridge a divide? Is there room for a compromise where no one feels bad or cheated?
  • If you cannot resolve the issue together, you might consider seeking professional guidance.

Dr. Duberstein and his partner, Mary Ellen Goggin, offer private couples retreats, couples counseling and coaching (telephone, Skype, or in person) in the quaint seaport, Portsmouth, NH. To learn more schedule a 1/2 hour complimentary consultation.

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

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