Can Porn Have a Bad Affect on Our Sex Lives?

Short answer: yes, porn can have a bad affect on our sex lives. But while it CAN have harmful affects on our sex lives, porn doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be harmful to our sex lives.The difference falls on how we feel about the place porn has in our lives.

I’ve gone long stretches of time without watching porn. This includes a 30-day stretch without laying my eyes on a millisecond of nudity, let alone a full porn clip. All of the exhibited differences people tout on NoFap and other communities against porn and masturbation were real for me.

I would get an erection at the drop of a dime upon the sight of a beautiful women or the mere thought of intimacy and closeness. I could masturbate with ease without the use of a visual aid. I was going out far more, had greater comfort socializing, and felt like a renewed man.

I didn’t have a specific reason for not watching porn during this time. It actually took me three weeks to realize I wasn’t watching porn at all. But after a bad sexual experience with a girl most dudes to kill to lay down with, I just wanted to get out the house and think about anything but that terrible night. Porn simply wasn’t on my mind.

Since then, I have made an effort to not watch too much porn (really, to not watch porn at all) and masturbate. But it’s similar to the riddle Joseph Gordon-Levitt presented in Inception: if we told someone not to think about elephants, the first thing they are going to think about is elephants. It’s hard to not watch porn when you’re constantly thinking about not watching porn.

The irony of this isn’t lost on me: I write a blog about the world of pornography. Counterproductive, I know. But I experienced a version of myself that I had never experienced before, and knowing I had the willpower to not yield control of my night (and in many respects, my life) to porn did me some good.

But why is that? Why would a simple thing like not watching porn have such a powerful influence on me socially, mentally, and physically?


watching porn in class
Widespread access to the internet makes watching porn easier than ever. But are we seeing signs that the access to porn is affecting the sex lives of the men that watch it?

Some people have used science to explain this. My understanding (and keep in mind, my understanding of anything is typically flawed, misunderstood, or short-sighted) is that watching porn (and masturbating) too much is linked to messed up dopamine levels. And if that means nothing to us, it should be noted that dopamine is quite important to our brain chemistry.

Dopamine floods our brains as a result of reward-motivated behaviors, something we could certainly consider porn to be. Dopamine is a neurochemical that is vital for our libido, motivation, focus, anticipation, and general mood. If the effect dopamine has on us were to ever lower, it stands to reason that all of these essential attributes would diminish.

So a brain overstimulated by watching porn would become numb and desensitized to dopamine. The effects are off-balance and the reaction to reward-motivated behaviors gets out of whack. If porn becomes the only thing that can get our brains (and subsequently our bodies) going, we don’t stand a chance against the reality of real sex with real women.

Others have used common sense to explain the ramifications porn has on us. Dr. Angela Gregory, a psychosexual therapist at Nottingham University Hospital, says that, “Men are becoming both physically and psychologically desensitized to normal sexual stimulation and arousal with a sexual partner.” Well, no shit.

If we are used to seeing women so attractive they seem like unicorns, having sex in the most visually appealing angles possible, how can reality possibly match? Getting hard from seeing Alexis Texas’ big ass bounce on someone else’s big dick (something to think about) is not the same as getting hard from a woman’s touch. It’s stimulation from imagery versus stimulation from feel.

But if all of this is true, and I’m not saying it necessarily isn’t, why doesn’t every man that watches porn deal with this? While all of the research in the world may make sense, it doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t totally account for how viewing porn changes the way we view ourselves as men.

I know guys whose porn watching has no standing on how they internalize their own masculinity, their social standing with women, or their ability to perform in bed. But then there is someone like myself where watching porn does make me feel like less of a man. I should be chasing tail, not watching other dudes get it on camera.

And this thinking isn’t the fault of porn. As men, we shouldn’t blame our insecurities and tenseness on pornography. That’s like placing the onus of alcoholism on beer and not the person drinking it.

But in my mind, men that date, face no fear talking with women, and have opportunities for sex regularly don’t have an obsessive need or urge to watch and masturbate to porn. There is no real desire to watch porn when seeing a real women in her birthday suit isn’t all that difficult to come by.

Research can point to our concepts of sexual relations being twisted due to watching something that doesn’t accurately mimic reality. It can point to us not being stimulated because something else has taken over that realm. But in the end, at least as it pertains to me, watching porn has affected sex lives because of how we feel about us watching porn.

If your sex life isn’t where you want it to be, don’t immediately assume that watching porn is the problem. There could be a myriad of issues from erectile dysfunction due to a physical issue, or performance anxiety due to discomfort with sex in general. But if you FEEL that watching porn is playing a role in the problem, then maybe you should cut back or stop entirely because how you feel affects how you react to your environment.

There are people and couples whose sex lives have been enhanced by porn. Porn doesn’t have to be harmful, but the mind is a powerful muscle that certainly can be if you allow it. If your mind truly believes that not watching porn can fix your sex life, regardless if it makes sense or not, finding peace between your head and body alone makes it worth doing.

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