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How Porn Addiction Affects Our Relationships.

Emese Taylor, 01 June 2017

Since the advent of the internet age, access to pornography has grown exponentially. A few decades ago, access to pornography was restricted to top-shelf magazines, and sex shops selling pornographic movies and other materials. Nowadays, we can access pornographic sites with unlimited free content, at the click of a button. With this increase in available materials, we have an increase in porn addiction, and its’ many side effects.

What Is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction is defined as “an uncontrollable sexual behaviour which has a negative impact on someone’s life.” If porn is hindering current relationships or preventing new ones from blossoming then it is likely that a person is suffering from porn addiction.

The Brain and Porn

We are hard-wired through our Reward Circuitry to crave food, sex, love, friendship and novelty, and thus addictions can occur in these areas. When we crave these rewards, our brain releases Dopamine, and when we receive these rewards Opiods are released. Dopamine also triggers the production of a protein called DeltaFosB, which is responsible for laying down patterns in the brain, it alters specific gene construction making us remember and replay the activity. It’s easy to see how we can repeat this process over and over to get the same high, and its when we do this that addiction occurs. Porn rewires our brain to only find sexual satisfaction when looking at particular images. It effectively erodes ‘real-life’ sexual urges and anyone who doesn’t fit into that narrow view of what’s sexually appealing won’t get us excited.

How Porn Addiction Affects Relationships and Dating

As well as any financial and legal implications, porn addicts repeatedly suffer from mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, as a result of porn usage. What began as an escape from normal life rapidly becomes something we feel ashamed and guilty about. Sufferers can sense a loss of confidence, feelings of loneliness can develop, as well as sleep problems, tiredness and social anxiety, amongst other effects.
There can be an inability to start or maintain relationships, and a loss of real attraction to women/men. This is particularly difficult for people with limited or no sexual experience, who often fear that they would never be able to feel attracted to ‘normal’ person. When we are addicted to anything, whether it’s alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, even food – we crave more and more. With porn we also crave novelty and newness. We search for harder and more taboo porn.

Ultimately many porn addicts report a decreased ability to get sexual satisfaction. The porn they once used to achieve orgasm no longer works for them, hence the need for harder and harder porn. Men regularly complain that they have lost the ability to get or maintain erections. A new term, Porn-induced Erectile Dysfunction has been used to describe this loss of control due to overuse of porn. Other erections problems like delayed or premature ejaculation can also become apparent.

How to Cure Porn Addiction

Like most addictions, the act itself must cease before healing can begin. Porn addicts who wish to recover are regularly using a technique called ‘rebooting’ to resolve these issues. This means to ceasing all porn activity, to the point where users block porn sites on their computers and create a ‘porn-free’ home. It is also wise not to masturbate whilst in recovery. This acts of ‘rebooting’ seeks to rewire our brains to find ‘real-life’ sexual situations appealing.

Making “Real Life” Sexy

Once abstinence has rewired the brain, we can start to lay down new tracks. We are hard-wired for sex and so eventually, despite the fear that a loss of libido will last forever, our sexual drive returns and starts to look for someone to focus upon. It is at this time that we can refocus on our current partners or a new partner and start to build intimacy. The best sex in the world isn’t about performance, it is about intimacy, vulnerability and a shared connection between two people. Enjoy these moments of reconnection, talk, kiss and hold each other. Take sex slowly and if needed, just engage in foreplay. It will be worth the wait.

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