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Pornography has little to do with sex and everything to do with fantasy. And if not confronted, this addiction to fantasy can become a consuming fire threatening all quality of life.
So before you go looking again for that woman on the screen, here are nine reasons to consider against it.
1. Porn makes you unhappy and bored.
Research says that those who regularly indulge themselves in pornography are more likely to have higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower levels of self-esteem than those who don’t. The brain is to blame for this.
Apparently, as one artificially stimulates the pleasure center of their brain with porn, it perpetually weakens in its ability to respond to natural kinds of pleasure. Before we know it, real life has to compete with the unnatural and artificial levels of chemical excitement that porn offers. Real life—and our marriage—often lose this competition.
Pamela Paul, the author of Pornified, puts it this way: “Pornography leaves men desensitized to both outrage and to excitement, leading to an overall diminishment of feeling and eventually to dis- satisfaction with the emotional tugs of everyday life . . . Eventually they are left with a confusing mix of supersized expectations and numbed emotions . . . and become imbued with indifference. The real world often gets really boring.”
Sex with our wives proves to be quite a different story. The natural chemicals and pleasure real sex creates doesn’t inflate our expectations or numb our emotions. According to studies performed by the Institute for the Study of Labor, real sex actually makes us happier. The same studies also show that married people have more sex than those who are not married, and even experience far higher levels of satisfaction in life.
2. Porn neuters you.
Some people believe that pornography can add excitement to their sex life. However, studies prove just the opposite. Porn actually produces less intimacy between partners, less romantic excitement, and less satisfaction in real sexual experiences.
Dr. Mary Anne Layden writes in The Social Cost of Pornography, “I have also seen in my clinical experience that pornography damages the sexual performance of the viewers. Pornography viewers tend to have problems with premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. 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.”
Because of pornography, men have trouble getting turned on by their wives who happen to not be cybersex slaves. As a result, they don’t enjoy real sex nearly as much as they used to. This is because porn makes us less satisfied with our partner’s affection, physical appearance, and sexual performance.
On the contrary, when porn isn’t a part of marriage, real sex proves to only get better with time. Sociologist Mandi Norwood discovered this socially unenforced reality after interviewing several hundred women. She found that married women are satisfied in the bedroom because of years of practice, less inhibitions, and the time to learn their partner.
3. Porn is not manly.
Though conquering that woman on the screen in your mind may make you feel like a man, there’s nothing manly about it.
Real sex involves you. All of your fears. All of your insecurities. All of your capacity to give. It also involves another very real person. All her needs. All of her baggage. All of her propensity to judge you and hurt your dignity.
Porn requires no work, no sacrifice, and no maturity. Real sex in marriage requires you to risk, to be vulnerable, to give yourself fully to another person. This kind of intimacy is not for boys. It’s for men only.
4. Porn doesn’t make friends.
Studies show that men who use porn commonly become isolated from others, highly introverted, narcissistic, dissociative, and distractible. In other words, it doesn’t exactly make you a likeable person.
Neurochemistry teaches that the more that you bond with fantasies on your computer screen, the harder it is to actually bond with real people. This is because the strongest bonding substance in our lives is oxytocin—the hormone released during orgasm. As this powerful bonding substance becomes consistently associated with porn, it becomes easier for us to feel connected in fantasy than it is in reality.
Porn kills human connection. And human connection is what relationship lives and dies by.
5. Porn is a professional liability.
Pornography is the master of preoccupation. According to recent polls, 18 percent of men who view porn regularly admit to be distracted by it even when not online, and 30 percent acknowledge that their work performance suffers because of this distraction.
In striking contrast, research also proves that across the board, men who have a healthy sex life make more money than those who don’t.
You decide what’s better.
6. Porn hurts your significant other.
It’s easy to think that your porn habit is private, and doesn’t affect anyone but you. Yet as we’ve already seen, porn inevitably kills a man’s ability to emotionally connect and consistently monopolizes his desires.
Whether your wife knows you are using pornography or not, your actions have already hurt her.
Rabbi Arush puts it this way: “A woman is not just a body, but a vibrant soul that thrives on intimacy, attention, communication, consideration, respect, and the love of two souls binding together. A husband that focuses on his own physical gratification doesn’t provide his wife with any of the emotional and spiritual gratification that is the basis of her vitality.”
7. Porn will turn you into “that guy.” (Tweet This!)
You know “that guy.” Most crowds have at least one. He’s the one who cares about no one but himself. He sees you and all others as commodities to be used, not people to be cared for. No matter how much you can’t stand “that guy,” as long as you continue to dabble in porn, you run the risk of becoming him.
Gail Dines puts it bluntly in her book Pornland. “In the story of porn, men are soulless, unfeeling, amoral life-support systems... who are entitled to use women in any way they want. These men demonstrate zero empathy, respect, or love for the women they have sex with.”
No one wants to be “that guy.” What’s more, no one wants to be with “that guy” who only sees women as consumable objects and cares for no one but himself.
8. Porn will never actually do it for you. (Tweet This!)
“Just as Twinkies are artificially enhanced,” says the nonprofit team Fight the New Drug, “and modified food that really aren’t good for you, pornography is an artificially enhanced and modified sexual experience that isn’t good for you either, and your body knows it.”
Lust, in its nature, is never satisfied. It only wants more.
9. Porn will kill your relationship.
In the eight reasons above, we’ve looked to science, social studies, and history to witness the effects that pornography has on those who entertain it. We’ve seen that it kills everything long- term love is built on: human connection, trust, and self-sacrifice. It’s no wonder, then, that at least 56 percent of divorce cases today involve one party who compulsively visits pornographic websites.
Your marriage may survive your habit for a period of time. However, if you continue to choose fantasy over reality, it will inevitably destroy your ability to love your wife.
As modern men, we certainly have plenty of unnatural things to navigate to keep our marriages healthy and alive. However, my hope is that—with a vision of a marriage that is worth fighting for—we’re more determined than ever to do just that.
Tyler Ward recently released "Marriage Rebranded: Modern Misconceptions & the Unnatural Art of Loving Another Person" where he explores more modern myths about marriage, tells awkward stories, and offers unorthodox best practices that are sure to help anyone write a better marital narrative for themselves. Order it now. Or watch the book trailer here.
Nine Reasons Men Should Stay Away From Porn by Tyler Ward is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.