This is a topic no-one talks or writes about yet it is really common and the number is rising. Why? Well for one is has become accessible to almost everyone. If you think about it nearly everyone has a mobile phone and most people have a lap top or tablet on top. Statistics show our addiction to check our phone and fill any time gaps by searching online is increasing. For these reasons sadly addiction to pornography is rising.
So in this article, I want to address
- What is porn addiction?
- What are the signs of porn addiction?
- How can porn addiction affect a relationship
- How can you stop porn addiction?
- How can you heal a relationship hurt by porn addiction and move beyond it.
Porn addiction affects more than just the user, the relationship and family life can also suffer. The use of pornography comes up frequently in my practice, which is why I feel called to share about it today. The most important thing to know about handling this in a relationship is that it’s never helpful to control or dictate how much a partner can and cannot use pornography. Any change has to come from the user. Try to police your partner to change any habit will drive you insane and harm the relationship. Below I will walk you through a process I take individuals and couples through in case it helps.
What is porn addiction?
It is a form of sexual addiction that is focused on pornography / sexualised images that causes a problem in the user’s life. How it can affect one’s life varies. It can damage romantic relationships, or interfere with work and finances, yet despite this, the person finds themselves unable to stop.
What are the signs of porn addiction?
Like most addictions, it doesn’t happen over night where all of a sudden you are a porn addict. Similar to smoking, alcohol and drug addiction a person starts to abuse it, using it when they feel low, isolated, bored, stressed, unable to cope with life or a way to unwind and relax. When a behaviour is used time and time again as a way to feel good or escape reality, the brain starts to associate it with the way to get through life. The more a person abuses pornography to fill a gap or release tension etc the more dependent the person becomes on using it and the less they are able to cope without it.
Porn becomes an addiction when it interferes with a person’s quality of life. When despite the damaging effect is having on someone’s life they continue to do with as they find themselves unable to stop. There is no set amount of time or frequency.
Signs of porn addiction could be
- Time invested in watching porn at the expense of sleep, family time or work time
- Secretiveness, isolation and defensiveness on the topic or technology time
- Inability to stop despite making promises to themselves and or others
- Cravings to watch pornography
- Continuing despite feeling negative emotions associated with it like shame, guilt
- Increasing need to require higher amounts and more explicit materials to gain the same satisfaction or thrill. Where a tolerance has developed.
- Powerless to resist the urge
- Damaging effect on sexual relations in the relationship. For example impotence, erectile dysfunction etc
- Turning down social or work activities because of the wish to watch pornography instead
- Relationship problems causing tension or fall out
There may be many more signs and the key thing to note is that like all addictions they can be changed. All it takes is a willingness to break away from the old and adopt new ways of embracing life.
What does it do to a relationship?
One of the ways it most damages the relationship is in the bedroom. It’s not natural to see explicit sexual material repeatedly, it can lower interest in sex and affect arousal and the sexual/sensual dynamic between a couple. Also, it can cause impotence.
Another way I have seen it harm relationships is when promises to reduce the amount or quit have failed. The partner feels angry, betrayed, hurt, unattractive, cheated. Dishonesty for obvious reasons destroys love. Trust will need to be rebuilt if this is the case.
How can you heal a relationship and move beyond porn addiction?
For the person with the addictive behaviour
The first key is a willingness to acknowledge that you want to change it. You don’t need to or have to call yourself an addict, you just need to say yes to change. Yes to having a healthier happier relationship. Yes to freedom.
The second step is exploring on your own or ideally with a relationship or behavioural specialist what is driving the behaviour. Why are you using? Normally we are triggered by a feeling before we act, it could be loneliness, boredom, anger, stress or something entirely different.
Then look at what is it giving you. What benefit are you getting from it? How do you feel during and after? The reason some behaviours are hard to quit is that of what they give us.
The fourth step is finding a healthy replacement. Something to enjoy instead of the porn. This will be different for different people. This usually takes some brainstorming. Some of the people I have worked with have taken up physical exercise, become more affectionate with their partner, have treated themselves to long baths, couple massages or cooking worked for someone, they really got into making recipes from scratch. Another man I helped who travelled a lot took up painting to music. He was never without his paint brush and canvass on trips, it helped him to unwind without porn or alcohol.
The next is reward Charles Duhigg ‘the power of habit” states that the most effective and successful way to change a habit, is to give a reward. The reward doesn’t have to be anything expensive or time-consuming. It can literally be a chart where you tick off successfully free days.
How can you reward yourself?
Ideally have a coach or someone you are close to, to share your progress with and hold you accountable. Sometimes we need a little help to keep motivation, that’s why personal training and weight loss communities have become billion dollar industries.
After this, a real committed decision is needed. A plan to really commit to change with specific goals. Aligning yourself to the benefits when you stop will make it easier to quit. So
- Set yourself a goal
- Write down all that the habit is costing you right now
- The reasons why it’s important to you to change
- List down what will happen if you don’t change
- Write down the benefit of changing
- List how you will reward yourself with the saved time
This will keep you on track – store this on your phone and review it when you have a craving.
Lastly, I use hypnotherapy to help change any unwanted behaviour in relationships for the couples I work with. Whether that’s to reduce alcohol consumption, angry outbursts, insecurities, low libido, quit smoking it works. Considering our behaviour is driven most by our subconscious mind (95% according to behavioural expert Bruce Lipton) then it’s worth adding to the action plan in my opinion.
Hypnosis helped me to quit smoking, beat insomnia and get over my fear of public speaking, I find it always works if repeated for the men and women I support too. You can get some tailored hypnosis made to you and your habit which is generally more powerful than buying a ready made one. However, you can go to audible or Itunes and buy one too.
For the partner
Don’t take it personally. That’s the key message for you. Lots of self-love and self-care work’s wonders. You have no control over your partner’s behaviour, but you can control how much you decide to worry or think about it. Self-love is actions we take to make ourselves happy, healthy and grow mentally and spiritually.
For the relationship
Rebuild love, connection and trust by focusing on your future together and actions you can take for yourself and together to create more love. Love and compassion heals everything if it is not transactional. When love is a transaction = you do this for me and I will do that for you, it never works as you are limiting it and love cannot be limited. I speak about creating more closeness and love in my relationship secrets master class it’s free 90-minute discussion on relationships and for the next one you can sign up here: https://training.nicolabeer.com/webinar-signup
From my heart to yours, Nicola
P.S If you would like more tips to improve your relationship then get my free e-book here https://training.nicolabeer.com/7-secrets-marriage