Is Compulsive Porn Use Ruining Your Sex Life? – ByRobert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

 

comics-1299500_1280Paul is a 27-year-old cable TV installer with a long-term girlfriend living in a nearby city. They’ve been dating for two years, and he finds her extremely attractive. However, he struggles to perform with her in bed. He says this has been an ongoing issue, almost from the beginning of their relationship. A year ago, he got a prescription for Viagra, but even that has not helped. Lately, things have gotten so bad that he’s started inventing excuses to not have sex.

Confused, anxious, and depressed, Paul recently entered therapy, stating, “I don’t understand what the problem is. My girlfriend is totally hot and I really love her, but I can’t get an erection with her even if I take Viagra. I don’t have any trouble getting hard with porn, but when I’ve got the real thing right there in front of me, I can’t manage it.”

Upon further questioning, Paul reveals an extensive history of porn use starting in his mid-teens. He says that nowadays, during the week when his girlfriend is staying at her own house, he spends several hours each evening looking at and masturbating to online imagery. “I’ve tried to quit and do other things,” he says, “but that never works for more than a day or two.”

In all likelihood, Paul is addicted to pornography. His situation certainly fits the three defining criteria for porn addiction: He is preoccupied to the point of obsession (using porn in every free moment); he is unable to control his use (as evidenced by his failed attempts to quit); and he is experiencing negative consequences as a result of his use (depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction).

Yes, you read that last one correctly. Paul’s erectile dysfunction with his girlfriend is almost certainly linked to his compulsive use of porn. In fact, male sexual dysfunction is an increasingly common consequence of porn abuse. Recent studies suggest that anywhere from 17 to 58 percent of male porn addicts report some form of sexual dysfunction—erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and/or anorgasmia (inability to reach orgasm). So Paul is hardly alone with his issue.

The simple and unvarnished truth is that increasing numbers of physically healthy men, including men like Paul who are very much in their sexual prime, struggle to perform sexually with their real world partners. Typically, however, everything works fine when they’re using porn. So the problem is neither a medical issue nor a matter of needing to rest and reload after frequent masturbation. Instead, their sexual dysfunction is related to the fact that they are spending the bulk of their sexual lives looking at and masturbating to online porn, which offers an endless and constantly changing array of intensely arousing pictures and videos.

The words constantly changing are incredibly important here. Research tells us, very clearly, that men are sexually attracted to novelty as much as anything else. (This may or may not be caused by an evolutionary need/desire to spread one’s seed as widely as possible.) So even though Paul thinks his girlfriend is totally hot, she doesn’t offer the variety he gets with online porn. As a result, Paul (like many other male porn addicts) finds his real world partner less sexually stimulating than online porn. Basically, his porn abuse has created an emotional and psychological divide that is manifesting physically as sexual dysfunction with his long-term girlfriend. Porn has conditioned his sexual brain to crave novelty, and his long-term partner simply can’t provide that.

Typical signs of porn-induced male sexual dysfunction include:

  • A man is able to achieve erections and orgasms with pornography, but he struggles with one or both when he’s with a real world partner.
  • A man is able to have sex and achieve orgasm with real world partners, but reaching orgasm takes a long time and his partners complain that he seems disengaged.
  • A man is able to maintain an erection with real world partners, but he can only achieve orgasm by replaying porn clips in his mind.
  • A man increasingly prefers pornography to real world sex, finding it more intense and more engaging.

Sadly, porn induced male sexual dysfunction affects not just men, but their romantic partners. After all, if a guy can’t get it up, keep it up, or reach orgasm, then his partner’s sexual pleasure is also likely to be diminished. So porn addiction can ruin real world sexual intimacy for not only the addict, but his partner.

For more information about porn addiction (and sexual addiction in general), check out my recently published book, Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction. If you feel you may need clinical assistance with porn addiction, therapist and treatment referrals can be found here and here. I also conduct an open-ended discussion about sex and porn addiction at InTheRooms.com, Friday nights at 6 p.m. PST.

 

 

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About Robert Weiss

Robert Weiss PhD, MSW, CEO of Seeking Integrity LLC, is a digital-age sex, intimacy, and relationship specialist. Dr. Weiss has spent more than 25 years developing treatment programs, educating clinicians, writing, and providing direct care to those challenged by digital-age infidelity, sexual addiction/compulsivity, and other addictive disorders. He is the author of several highly regarded books on sex and intimacy disorders including Prodependence, Out of the Doghouse, Sex Addiction 101, and Cruise Control, among others. He also podcasts (Sex, Love, & Addiction 101) and hosts a free, weekly interactive sex and intimacy webinar via SexandRelationshipHealing.com. His current projects are:SexandRelationshipHealing.com, an extensive online resource for recovery from sex and intimacy disorders. Seeking Integrity Los Angeles, an Integrated Intensive Program for Sex and Intimacy Disorders (Opening in Feb, 2019). For more information or to reach Dr. Weiss, please visit his websites, RobertWeissMSW.com and SexandRelationshipHealing.com, or follow him on Twitter (@RobWeissMSW), LinkedIn (Robert Weiss LCSW), and Facebook (Rob Weiss MSW).
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One Comment

  1. Reality will never be able to compete with my imagination.The more I get connected to porn the the less I am connected to real life.Addiction is truly an enemy of Life.

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