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Does Porn Affect Your Relationship?

The internet has provided a way for our world to connect quickly, access information efficiently, and be abundantly entertained. But along with these advantages come challenges, and one of these challenges is unhindered access to pornography.

What Does Our Culture Have to Say About Porn?

Have you heard (or thought) that any of the following statements were true?

  • Porn is harmless to relationships.
  • All men consume porn, and it’s normal.
  • Porn is a normal part of relationships.
  • Porn isn’t cheating.
  • Porn does not exploit trafficked people.
  • You are responsible for your partner’s porn use (i.e. he views porn if you won’t sext him).
  • Porn won’t escalate to physical cheating.

If you have heard these ideas about porn, you aren’t alone. However, no matter how much our society tries to convince us otherwise, none of the above statements is true. In fact, research reveals that pornography is harmful to individuals, relationships, and society.

In this article, we’ll discuss signs that your partner is consuming porn and how his porn use harms you.

Signs That Your Partner Is Consuming Porn

In a 2017 study, women were asked if the man they were dating regularly consumed porn. Only 4% of women said yes. However, 50% of the dating men reported regularly consuming pornographic material. So, there is a disconnect between what women believe their partners are viewing and what they really are.

Do you suspect that your partner is consuming porn or viewing it more often than he’s admitting? Here are six signs to watch for:

  1. You push away your (accurate) suspicions even though you sense them in your “gut.”
  2. He expects you to participate in unusual sexual activity or isn’t interested in physical intimacy with you.
  3. His overall attention and interest in you have decreased.
  4. If you enter his presence, he quickly closes the screen on his phone or computer.
  5. He guards his phone and computer.
  6. He is critical of your appearance or performance.

How Your Partner’s Porn Use Harms You

At first, it might not make sense that someone else’s porn use would harm you. But in reality, it does. Let’s examine four ways your partner’s porn use can harm you.

1. You may question your accurate perception.

In a 2020 study, 91.5% of men said they had consumed porn within the previous month. Yet, porn use is surrounded by secrecy and deception, particularly when the user is in a relationship. This means that your porn-consuming partner is likely to lie about using porn at all or deceiving you about how frequently he consumes it. This can cause you to question your reality and accurate perceptions because your gut tells you something is “off.” You suspect it’s porn, but your partner looks right into your eyes and lies when you ask him about it. His deception causes you confusion as you doubt what you’re perceiving accurately.

2. You may experience betrayal trauma.

What is betrayal trauma? According to author and expert Dr. Jill Manning, “Betrayal trauma occurs when someone we depend on for survival, or are significantly attached to, violates our trust in a critical way.”

When your partner secretly views pornographic material, he is violating trust, which is a core foundation for a healthy relationship. When a woman realizes that her partner is hiding a significant aspect of his life, she will often experience betrayal trauma. Betrayal trauma feels profoundly shattering and leads to varying degrees of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress.

3. You may be used and/or abused by your partner.

Porn use destroys emotional intimacy and causes objectification of women. In other words, when men repeatedly consume porn, the chemicals and connections in their brains change to the point that they no longer see women as valuable human beings but rather as objects for their use and gratification. Your partner may pressure you to act out scenes he’s viewed.

Porn use physically changes the user’s brains, causing them to use/abuse their partners.

Marriage Today reported:

“Research has proven that just two sessions of one hour exposures of R-rated sexual entertainment changes men’s attitudes toward women. They begin to objectify women and no longer see them as individually unique or valuable. The reason is because of the demeaning manner in which women and sex are portrayed.”

4. Your self-esteem may plummet.

Men who consume porn develop unrealistic ideas about relationships, sex, and bodies. Because of that, he may request that you change who you are. He might want you to change your physical appearance, sexual performance, or personality. Your partner’s unrealistic expectations of intimacy may also cause him to lose interest in you altogether, destroying your self-esteem.  

Watching porn diminishes your partner’s commitment to you and your relationship, as demonstrated by the high correlation between porn and physical cheating. Studies reveal that when one person in a relationship uses porn, it increases marital infidelity by 300%!

You Deserve a Safe and Healthy Relationship

If your partner is consuming pornography, it can feel incredibly confusing: one moment, he’s kind, and the next moment, he’s mean. You feel like you’re on a rollercoaster and don’t know when to expect the next drop, but you know it’s coming.

You deserve better.

You deserve a safe and healthy relationship.

Reach out to a trusted mental health care professional who specializes in porn-related issues. You can also speak confidentially to one of our registered nurses at Corbella Clinic to assist you with resources. It can be helpful to educate yourself more about how you and your relationship are affected by your partner’s porn use at Fight the New Drug.

If you think you might be pregnant, our licensed medical team at Corbella Clinic can also provide you with pregnancy testing, limited obstetrical ultrasounds, and education about your pregnancy options.

Contact us today to make your appointment. You can also call us at 847-697-0200 or text us at 224-268-5848.

Corbella Clinic is here for you to offer skilled and compassionate care.

Resources:

Carroll, J. S., Busby, D. M., Willoughby, B. J., & Brown, C. C. (2017). The porn gap: Differences in men’s and women’s pornography patterns in couple relationships. 16(2), 146-163. doi:10.1080/15332691.2016.1238796

Fight the New Drug. (2022, August 5). 10 negative effects of porn on your brain, body, relationships, and Society. https://fightthenewdrug.org/10-reasons-why-porn-is-unhealthy-for-consumers-and-society/

Manning, J. (2022b, August 3). What is betrayal trauma. Dr. Jill Manning. https://drjillmanning.com/betrayal-trauma/

Solano, I., Eaton, N. R., & O’Leary, K. D. (2020). Pornography Consumption, Modality and Function in a Large Internet Sample. Journal of sex research, 57(1), 92–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1532488

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