Porn causes 3 problems

Porn kills marriages. There is not a single study or research that indicates pornography builds a happy, long-term marriage. In this comprehensive article, I explore what porn does to a person, the damage it does to BOTH partners, and introduce the next step to quit porn.

Men, if you want to quit porn so you can reconnect with your wife, please read on. Women, if you are emotionally damaged by your husband's porn addiction, read on so you can understand what is really happening to him, and what it is going to take for him to stop and rebuild your marriage. 

All research, statistics, and studies cited in this article come from two resources. For a pure research and science perspective, please visit Fight the New Drug. For a research and faith-based perspective, please visit Covenant Eyes. Both are excellent. Both refer to the same research and scientific studies. 

Porn - what you need to know
1.

Porn Kills Marriages

“There are no studies and no data that indicate a benefit from pornography use […] The society is awash in pornography and so in fact the data are in. If pornography made us healthy, we would be healthy by now.”  – Dr. MaryAnne Layden
“Modern science allows us to understand that the underlying nature of an addiction to pornography is chemically nearly identical to a heroin addiction.”   – Dr. Jeffrey Satinover
“In men, prolonged exposure to pornography creates and enhances sexual callousness toward women […] Prolonged exposure to pornography, it must be remembered, results in both a loss of respect for female sexual autonomy and the disinhibition of men in the expression of aggression against women.”  – Dr. James B. Weaver

There is overwhelming research on the impact of porn. It is not a matter of opinion. It is science. With modern medical devices, scientists can see what porn does to the brain, what chemicals are released, and what behavior follows. Dr. Dolf Zillman and Dr. Jennings Bryant released 5 findings from studies they did regarding porn. Their 5-point conclusion summarizes the effects of porn:

  • 1
    Watching Porn Decreases Sexual Satisfaction. Porn trains men to be consumers of sex, to treat sex as a commodity. It deadens the libido.
  • 2
    Watching Porn Disconnects Us From Real Relationships. Marriage is devalued. The importance of faithfulness is devalued. Casual sex is more accepting. Pornography trains men to prefer looking at women rather than having genuine intimacy.
  • 3
    Watching Porn Lowers a Man's View of Women. Women become objects and dehumanized. A real naked woman is often considered bad porn. Studies show support for women’s rights drops by 46%.
  • 4
    Porn Desensitizes Us to Cruelty. Acceptance of anal sex, group sex, sadomasochism, and bestiality are two to three times higher compared to those who do not watch porn. Porn watchers are conditioned to trivialize rape.
  • 5
    Watching Porn Makes Us Want to Watch More Porn. Porn is often described as intoxicating and produces an escalating effect. Whatever term is used, addiction, compulsion, dependency, or hypersexuality, the escalating nature of pornography cannot be denied.

Dangers of Pornography

Dr. MaryAnn Layden says: “Pornography viewers tend to have problems with premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction (ED). Having spent so much time in unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid and cyberspace, they seem to find it difficult to have sex with a real human being.”

Porn 1

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, prolonged exposure to pornography leads to:

  • Less trust between intimate couples.
  • Belief that promiscuity is the natural state.
  • Skepticism about love or the emotional need for affection between partners.
  • Belief that marriage is sexually confining. 

Jill Manning, a sociologist, finds that research shows porn consumption is associated with these six trends:

  • 1
    Increased risk of separation, divorce, and marital stress.
  • 2
    Decreased marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction.
  • 3
    Infidelity.
  • 4
    Increased desire for more graphic pornography and sexual activity involving abusive, illegal or unsafe sexual practices.
  • 5
    A devaluation of marriage, monogamy, and child rearing.
  • 6
    An increasing number of people struggling with addictive and compulsive sexual behaviors.

In Support of Porn

There are always people who cite some research they claim supports the use of porn. I've reviewed their research and find the following two conclusions.

  1. 1
    Porn can have short-term benefits to help couples find out what turns them on.  It can add spice to the bedroom if it gets boring. On the flip side, the same respondents to these studies later report how porn damaged the relationship when used for an extended period of time. 
  2. 2
    Porn has side benefits, like reducing stress and tension. Most of the pro-porn research relate to side benefits. According to a report by Planned Parenthood, masturbation releases sexual tension, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and improves your self-esteem and body image. One study recommends porn use because masturbating reduces the chance of prostate cancer. These side benefits all relate to masturbation and orgasm, not porn.

The bottom line is that porn kills the love between married partners. Porn kills marriages. Again, there is not a single shred of evidence that porn has any benefit for a long-term, happy marriage.

2.

Porn is Pervasive

The late psychologist Al Cooper coined the phrase Triple-A Engine. It refers to porn being Available, Affordable, and Anonymous. There are millions upon millions of pages of porn readily available on the internet. Ninety percent of porn users only view free porn. Pornography is used most often in secret, on modern browsers that make it easy to hide browsed websites and delete information from such pages.

  • In 2008, the company Hitwise catalogued 40,634 websites that distributed pornography.
  • 40 million Americans visit porn sites regularly.
  • Pornhub, the world’s most popular porn site reports 81 million daily visits, and over 4 million videos uploaded.
  • Men: 79% of 18-30 year old, 67% of 31-49 year old, and 49% of 50-68 year old report viewing pornography at least once a month.
  • Women: 76% of 18-30 year old, 16% of 31-49 year old, and 4% of 50-68 year old report viewing pornography at least once a month.
  • Men are 543% more likely to look at porn than females.
  • In 2008, an estimated 3 million Americans paid an average of $60 per month for porn.
  • By age 18, 90% of boys and 60% of girls are exposed to internet porn.
  • According to a 2016 survey by the Barna Group, 41% of practicing Christian boys 13-24 use porn at least once a month. 23% of practicing Christian men 25+ use porn at least once a month.

Regular church attendees are 26% less likely to look at porn than non-attendees.

In 2003, 34% of female readers of Today’s Christian Woman’s online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn.

3.

Neuroplasticity is Both Your Friend and Enemy

Your brain is constantly wiring and re-wiring itself. This process is called neuroplasticity. This is how new memories are made. As you read this article you are creating new neural pathways in your brain regarding Happy Marriage Coaching, quitting porn, and the various elements of this article.

The more your mind focuses on a topic, the more pathways are created and strengthened. Have you ever heard someone claim they can do something in their sleep? It's because they've done that so frequently that a neural-superhighway is created for that task.

Neuroplasticity

Repeated patterns of activity, like watching porn, actually re-wire the brain, creating neural superhighways in the brain. These superhighways increase our need to perform those same behaviors.

Called the Porn Rut, the creation of a pornography superhighway in the brain follows a common pattern:

  • 1
    Sensitization – As a person starts to use porn, and creates the neural super highways, the brain rewards repetition by making it easier to climax. The brain responds not only to the initial stimulus, but now to all sorts of related stimuli. Sexual cues are seen everywhere and fantasizing becomes easier.
  • 2
    Triggers – Cigarette smokers can identify physical and mental triggers for smoking. When exposed to these triggers, the brain produces a shot of dopamine to motivate the person to smoke. The same applies to porn users. Learned pornographic triggers induce a dopamine shot that urges the person to view porn and masturbate.
  • 3
    Desensitization – This does not apply to everyone, but many porn users find that, over time, they need a greater and more intense porn exposure to get stimulated. This is why many porn users are stimulated by acts of aggression, force, violence, BDSM, and humiliation.
  • 4
    Hypofrontality – compulsiveness, or the feeling of being compelled to masturbate to porn consumes many porn users. Even when they know it is not in their best interests, they feel helpless in responding to porn. The cravings are intense, often times giving the porn user the impression they are too weak to stop. This person becomes a slave to their passions.

Dr. Struthers explains that porn habituation is as intoxicating as a chemical addiction. He further explains: “Repeated exposure to pornography creates a one-way neurological superhighway where a man’s mental life is over-sexualized and narrowed. It is hemmed on either side by high containment walls making escape nearly impossible.”

Dr. Peter Kleponis, the founder of Integrity Restored, says: “He conditions his brain to only really be sexually aroused to this constant parade of different women, of different sexual images.”

Dr. Doidge, a noted researcher on the brain patterns of porn users says: “Porn websites generate catalogs of common kinks and mix them together with images. Sooner or later the surfer finds a killer combination that presses a number of his sexual buttons at once. Then he reinforces the network by viewing the images repeatedly, masturbating, releasing dopamine and strengthening these neural networks. He has created a kind of “neosexuality,” a rebuilt libido that has strong roots in his buried sexual tendencies. Because he often develops tolerance, the pleasure of sexual discharge must be supplemented with the pleasure of an aggressive release, and sexual and aggressive images are increasingly mingled — hence the increase in sadomasochistic themes in hardcore porn.”


The good news is that neuroplasticity abides by the use it or lose it dynamic


The same repeated behaviors create the superhighways. Avoiding those behaviors, over time, re-wire the brain and destroy old superhighways and create new superhighways for new behaviors. One of the keys to quit porn is shutting down the neural pathways associated with porn and creating alternatives.

4.

Brain Chemical Compulsion

Pornography can be very addicting because masturbation and orgasm produce a bombastic display of neurochemicals, and repetition builds neural pathways to enable patterns of behavior.

The primary chemicals involved when one watches porn:

  • Dopamine – Dopamine “fuels the tension and craving for meeting a need,” bioneurologist Dr. Williams Struthers writes in Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain. Dopamine is released in response to all drugs of addiction, and plays a role in many disorders affecting motivation and attention such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and behavioral addictions.
  • Testosterone – drastically increases sexual arousal and desire. Because testosterone dissipates slowly, sexual fantasies are sparked by even modestly dressed women who are seen as provocative.
  • Norepinephrine – is associated with stress and the fight-or flight response. It aids in sexual memory and arousal, burning sexual experiences on the brain.
  • Oxytocin – often called the cuddle hormone, levels rise when a couple hugs, kisses, or even holds hands. Oxytocin is released in climax. For the porn user, it bonds the user to an image, video, or situation.
  • Vasopressin – works much like Oxytocin, cements the porn user’s attachment to an image, video, or situation.
  • Endogenous Opiates – During sexual experiences, the body naturally produces endogenous opiates, providing pain relief and euphoria.
  • Serotonin – is released after climax and brings a feeling of calm and wellbeing. Serotonin explains why men are often ready to nap after sex. 

Experts in the mental health field say pornography is not an addition. They agree it is a compulsion. According to Dictionary.com, a compulsion is "a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one's will."

When you consider the chemicals involved and the neural superhighway it creates, is it hard to understand why quitting porn cold turkey is nearly impossible? A program to quit porn has to overcome the strong forces of these chemicals.

5.

Porn Hurts the Husband, Wife, and Marriage

In 56% of divorce cases, pornography is listed as a major contributing factor to the split.

A 2012 analysis of 5 different studies concluded that the more pornography consumed is associated with a weakened commitment to one’s relationship partner.

Porn is simply about sex, where real marital love is about intimacy.

Couple Troubled

Pornography trains men to treat sex as a commodity, to think about sex as something on-tap and made-to-order. As Dr. Mary Anne Layden writes, “It is toxic miseducation about sex and relationships.”

According to the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, after only a few prolonged exposures to pornographic videos, men and women reported less sexual satisfaction with their intimate partners, including their partners’ affection, physical appearance, and sexual performance.

French neuroscientist Serge Stoleru finds that overexposure to erotic stimuli actually exhausts the sexual responses of healthy young men.

Dr. Judith Reisman finds that pornography causes impotence — an inability to function with your own sexual power.

“If he has to imagine a picture, if he has to imagine a scene, in order to actually reach the heights of completion with this person, then he’s no longer with his own power, is he? He has been stripped. He has been hijacked. He has been emasculated. He has, in effect, been castrated visually.”

One of the worst side effects of pornography is that many men become so habituated to pornography that they experience erectile dysfunction (ED) when they are with their spouse. Drs. Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson explained in Psychology Today that overstimulation with pornography creates changes in the brain that make a man less responsive to the physical pleasure of real women and hyper-responsive to internet porn.

"He Promised to Stop!"


"I lost my husband, my kids lost the man they call dad. My family will never be the same. My marriage is over. Porn killed it. Because he chose porn. Tonight, I held my daughters as they sobbed so hard they could barely breathe. Crying out inaudible words mixed with some really raw ones. 'He promised to stop, he said we were worth fighting for, my dad is gone, he’s just gone,' they cried." - Fight the New Drug

As mentioned earlier regarding the Porn Rut, men become sensitized to porn, but desensitized to real intimacy. When with his wife, the man on porn does not get the dopamine rush he’s so used to when watching the variety and intensity of porn images, the penis fails to get an erection.

Anger and mistrust are common words often used by wives when they discover their husband watches porn. Porn is a form of emotional betrayal.

Husbands who watch porn often do not understand the significant impact their porn watching has on the marriage. To them, they can still feel love for the wife. The rewiring of their brain plays games with them. They do not understand that their words do not match their behaviors.

Men compartmentalize. Imagine it as everything goes into their own mental boxes. His porn watching goes into the porn box. His work is in a box. His marriage is in a box. His finances are in a box. Many men do not see the relationship between the actions of one box on the other boxes. When men watch porn, they often do not see the impact it has on the wife, and are often confused when the wife is angry at him because of his porn watching.

The Impact of Porn on the Wife

Almost 70% of wives facing such emotional betrayal display the characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These characteristics include:

  • Hypervigilance – looking for and seeing his sexual triggers everywhere.
  • Nightmares.
  • Obsessive thinking.
  • Fear.
  • Worry.
  • Depression.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Replaying the initial discovery.

Wives who discover their husbands watching porn often develop feelings of inadequacy, wondering why she is not enough for him. Such feelings decrease her value of self-worth. Over time, the wife sees thoughts of “Maybe I’m not good enough,” turn into thoughts of “I am not good enough.”

It is common for the wife to look inward and have felt that she somehow caused him to start watching porn. Self-doubt creeps in.

She feels suspicious. He’s hiding something. I hear from many wives who have caught their husbands red-handed watching porn, and he denies it. He tries to make it a secret, withholding access to the PC, phone, or tablet.

Once a wife discovers her husband watches porn, the marriage often takes a deep dive. The quality of the marriage decreases significantly. The wife starts to realize his pornography watching more than likely caused his changes in behavior. Internalized feelings of hurt and anger are now external and directed at the husband.

The marriage becomes chaotic and full of tension.

Happy Marriage

The most damaging impact of porn on the wife is an increased feeling of insecurity. Women tend to have a strong need for security. It is often one of their top human needs. When a lack of certainty enters her life, the wife tends to doubt herself, her value, and her life. When she catches her husband watching porn, it validates all of her doubt about herself. Men simply do not understand how much of a blow his porn watching has on her personality and need for certainty.

Quit Porn and Rebuild Your Marriage

Happy Marriage Coaching helps husbands to quit porn, wives to recover from her emotional pain, and couples to rebuild their marriage. 

Our program is designed to overcome the failures of common porn treatments.

When the husband quits porn it does not alone heal the wife or the marriage. There is pain and conflict his porn watching caused. The wife is rightfully angry and suspicious of his actions. Her self-esteem and dignity are damaged. She needs healing. Lastly, the marriage itself needs a healing also. The foundation of the marriage must be rebuilt on new grounds and terms.

Happy Couple

Common Ways Couples Approach Porn

The next article in this 3-part series is called 2 Common Approaches to Quit Porn

In that article you will learn the two common approaches couples often take to help the husband quit porn, how well they work, and what you can do next.


Or, if you are really ready to start a program that can get REAL results, I invite you to apply. 

Quit Porn
and Rebuild Your Marriage!

The Break Free from Porn Coaching Program is by application only. If you are ready to finally quit porn and rebuild your marriage, I invite you to apply and schedule your FREE 45-minute strategy session.

About the author

Mark Jala is a certified marriage coach, researcher, and consumer advocate. Certified in Strategic Interventions, Mark bases all of his services and advice on verifiable research. With nearly 40 years of problem solving experience, Mark has developed a holistic approach to marriage coaching which provides a context and execution plan not seen in ordinary marriage services.

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