How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life

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About Gary Wilson & Marnia Robinson

Gary Wilson has taught anatomy, physiology, and pathology for many years. His wife Marnia is the author of Cupid's Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships. Among other projects, they host the website Your Brain on Porn.

Comments

  1. how much does a live in nanny cost says:

    Hmm i hope you dont get offended with this question, but how much does a site like yours earn?

  2. Can I quote you without worries of copy writing? I am a church leader and would like to share this information even copying off your information. Great info!

  3. Thank you for this. I belive internet porn is what killed my marrige. Thankfully we are both willing to start fresh with eachother, I know most men don’t get that chance. I feel like porn has made normal life difficult for most of us, and it’s past time we set it down and walk away. It’s time to see in color again, while we still can.

  4. Interested Reader says:

    Wow. Very interesting article! It is spot on.

    I’ve viewed porn on a regular basis for over 12+ years (after college). Initially it was due to curiosity having grown up in a strict, religious household. My parents never really had the sex talk with me.

    Over time I needed more and new things to bring me the same satisfaction. Nothing nasty that involved feces or blood but newly adventurous things. I thought that my high libido was just my youth and great physical shape. I’m sure that contributed but I definitely had regular (daily) marathon masturbation sessions. I could go for several hours.

    Over time I looked for new stimuli even though I had a gf. Online flirting and chatting and then phone calls. At first I felt guilty but then I reasoned to myself that I was never actually cheating. I had more and more sexual fantasies that I would play out in my mind.

    Several years on of continued behavior and I finally ended up cheating… several times. I’m ashamed of it and I feel incredibly guilty. I’m also married now with kids. I never thought I would be THAT guy.. scum. That’s how I ended up here. I wanted to learn about what happened to me.

    I won’t say that porn caused me to cheat. It’s not that simple and I think porn can have positive uses. I also think that exploration of one’s sexuality while young is fine.

    However, having been a cigarette smoker for a few years during college, I can say that there are certain addictive similarities that, looking back, I now notice. Not everyone has addictive behaviors but I believe I, and many others, do.

    In particular, there is the habit of an act (smoking, masturbation) that releases chemicals in the brain associated with pleasure. In time, our brains become desensitized to that experience and seek out more (more masturbation, more cigarettes/alcohol/etc). We seek new experiences (new sexual adventures, new drugs, binge drinking). And suddenly the line between doing something for fun and doing something because we can’t help ourselves has been incredibly blurred. I felt like that hamster mentioned above!

    While I was smoking, I asked myself whether I could quit today (for good) if I wanted to. I thought I could but I would fall off the wagon again. In time, I quit for good.

    I’m not advocating quitting masturbation. I think that might actually be detrimental.

    I’m advocating quitting porn… or at least scaling it to a point where it’s not interfering in relationships and the emotion bonds we have with each other. For me it went from a stress-relieving activity to reduced sex with my own gf/wife. Part of that is circumstance (having a child can kill your sex life) but people can get through this by putting extra effort into maintaining that spark.

    Personally, I’m going to reduce how much I masturbate. I used to do it daily.. several times sometimes. I actually look forward to scaling back and see how it affects my desire for my wife. I want to rekindle that excitement I had/have for her and I think I will find sex with her more pleasurable. I want to be faithful from now on. I’ve finally realized the cost of overconsumption of porn/sex imagery/fantasy/extramarital sexual behavior has cost me. I know that over time the physiological dependencies I had for porn will go away.

  5. I am not an expert on subject but from my personal experience :
    porn and masturbation seem to make other things in life like studies,talking with friends,going out etc relatively uninteresting.

  6. this is all relate to celibacy .do we really need celibacy,yes why not look at the culture which kid’s r following unsatisfying hollow mind which make them apart from good education,social responsibility against his parents ….we must teach kid n adult for leading gud human life n that only happen we teach celibacy from tender age not when they adult …..tell him sex with ur chosen or chosen by parents girl not with freaky girl….

  7. You might want to see what women have to say. There is a site called http://www.wisechoice.net/wives that reports any number of stories of women and what they think and have experienced.

  8. I just can’t help myself not to swear here.
    You have a lot … and I mean A LOT of bullshit mentioned here, which are either took from poor research or bad interpretation.
    Humans, especially men are NOT monogamous… it is NOT in our instincts to stick with just ONE woman.
    As a psychologist helping old couples with relationship problems (couples that are together for more than 2 years), I do actually sometimes give advice to men to watch porn, as it helps prevent his need to “cheat” with other women, that ofc. if his woman doesn’t allow him to have safe sex with other women.

    I was expecting a site with some nice and objective info, but yet again I am dissapointed.

    There is a healthy amount of porn and there is the unhealthy amount of porn, but then again it’s all RELATIVE. Some people watch porn as they have a tendency to be absolutely individualistic and sometimes even experience strong misanthropy. The misanthropy however isn’t caused by porn, as your articles might suggest.

    • How sad. You’re so bankrupt as a therapist that the only way you can see to strengthen attraction is to hook your clients on screens instead of each other? Isn’t there something inconsistent in that picture?

      As a alternative, maybe explore the power of attachment cues: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/200909/the-lazy-way-stay-in-love

      What evidence do you have that using novelty-as-aphrodisiac is a sustainable solution to habituation? Sure, it provides a few quick orgasms in the short-term, but too much stimulation can also numb the pleasure centers of the brain…leading to a need for harder and harder material – not to mention the risk of wiring to pixels instead of real connection. See “Porn Is The Enemy of Great Sex” http://sexgodproject.com/porn-is-the-enemy-of-great-sex/

      Can’t help wondering what therapists did before highspeed porn came along. Maybe they had to come up with actual solutions.

  9. Madeira says:

    My husband and I share porn, we have similar tastes and fetishes and it’s a bonding activity for us. We’re both quite freaky but quite monogamous, and we use it to stimulate erotic fantasies and stories that we share with each other.

    • Mad – I enjoy seeing couples that can use porn to enhance their relationships and do not keep it this dark, dirty secret. When it becomes something to be hidden from your lover, then it becomes dangerous because you are hiding it. =(

  10. Curious Guy says:

    I would be interested to read about reasons why men consume unhealthy levels of porn. My personal experience is because my wife wants sex once every week or two. She is annoyed when I want to masturbate to her in between coitus. Porn solves one problem but creates another…

    • I agree with you. I think porn may be helpful at times. However, may I suggest that you find out why your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you. If you truly are seeking a resolution & not just a pacifier which checks you out of the most important relationship you have, then seek a constructive resolution…think.of it as an investment in yourself!!!! Seriously cause unless your wife simply doesn’t want to have sex in general (low sex drive) in which case you would have gotten the inclination before marriage & you are the one who said I do…then there is an issue that she’s unaware of or not sharing with you to preserve your feelings. Ask her, get a book, seek help from a pro, if you truly desire good sex with your wife…otherwise, it’s an excuse

  11. The irony about porn is that it can ruin a normal sexual relationship with your spouse. I can think of three strained marriages where porn is a big factor. Log off the computer and rediscover your real life partners.

  12. This is a great article, and describes many things I had difficulty with/still am having difficulty with.

    Since the age of 12 I have masterbated once a day at least, earlier to thoughts, but then I found out about internet porn, then the porn got more hardcore, and now not much turns me on really. Even when I had girlfriends I found it hard to achieve erection during sexual activity, even at 19 (Currently 22) due to internet porn desensitising me.

    The sentence “They reported increasing difficulty in being turned on by their actual sexual partners, spouses, or girlfriends, though they still considered them objectively attractive” describes the feeling well.

  13. Worth watching this video about the science behind why porn is bad for you.
    The Great Porn Experiment: Gary Wilson at TEDxGlasgow
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU

  14. How can a website work so hard to fight the idea that men are a ball of unthrustworthy, unpredictable hormones and then come up with this evo-psych shit?

    I’m very skeptical of what experiments on animals can teach us about humans. As far as I’m concerned, humans (not just men) are not meant to be monogamous. When you’re not in lust (never said not in love) no more, go experiment with someone else and let your partner do the same! It is just us humans who made this a sin. It takes more balls than to blame it all on porn!

    I know some people who are cyberaddicts (why should WHAT they view make them so different than your porn addicts), and if they can bond more easily with computers than humans, it is because they had problems with humans in the first place. Just another cautionary tale on the “evils” of sexuality.

  15. Gary Wilson says:

    To Sexademic:
    We never said this, but stating that humans aren’t rodents displays an ignorance of scientific method, neuroscience, and evolution. This reminds of Sarah Palin’s brilliant statement “Why Are We Wasting Money on Fruit Fly Research?”

    Scientists aren’t studying rat brains to help rats with their erectile dysfunction or addictions.

    Evolution conserves brain structures, hormones, and neurotransmitters. In rats, humans, and all mammals – addictions, sexual desire, erections and bonding involve the same brain structures and neurotransmitters. It is common knowledge that all mammals share a limbic system and reward circuitry, which possess the same mechanisms that are activated by the same hormones and neurotransmitters. If the author can name a limbic system function that we do not share with other mammals, I’d be interested.

    For example, recent research (2010) on rats with unlimited access to junk food demonstrated brain changes that were later found in human subjects. The changes humans and rats was decline in dopamine receptors (D2) in the reward circuitry of the brain. This caused both human and rat brains to become less sensitive to dopamine – producing overconsumption. Lower D2 receptors is a major hallmark of all addictions.
    Rats: Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats- 2010,
    Humans: Weight Gain Is Associated with Reduced Striatal Response to Palatable Food- 2010
    http://yourbrainonporn.com/garys-research-food-addiction)

    It’s silly to assume that masturbating to Internet porn everyday for long periods would have no effect on the reward circuitry, when overconsumption of junk food has been proven to cause drug-like changes.

    Porn use cannot be studied in animals, but our primate cousins will pay for monkey porn:“Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms (2005)</strong.
    To quote: “The study found that male monkeys will give up their juice rewards in order to ogle pictures of female monkey's bottoms.”

  16. We are connected to rodents via the physiological mechanisms mentioned in the article. Of course we can think our way out of the conditioned responses that drive the behavior of other species, but many of us don’t — a fact made obvious by research available on-line for free. See for example:

    Reflexive testosterone release: a model system for studying the nongenomic effects of testosterone upon male behavior. Nyby JG. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2008 May;29(2):199-210.

    I know that Gary and Marnia will read this, if they have not already done so. And I suspect they will continue to keep us informed.

  17. “It’s silly to assume that mas­tur­bat­ing to Inter­net porn every­day for long peri­ods would have no effect on the reward cir­cuitry,”

    Wouldn’t it become painful for “long periods” each day?

  18. I wish I got juice as a reward for doing things

  19. A couple of things bothered me about this article. Firstly, if humans are wired to long term monogamy why are we also wired to novelty-seeking and seed-spreading?

    Secondly, what studies were referred to that showed cause and effect? I have read several peer-reviewed studies on the impact of Internet porn and they all used convenience samples at a point in time so were able to show correlation but not causation. In these cases partner dissatisfaction might be linked to increase use of Internet porn, but it does not demonstrate that one has caused the other. Curious to know which studies are referred to as I am keen to read them for myself.

  20. We’d agree that human mating is confusing. However, it’s not either-or (either sexual exclusivity or random promiscuity) for any pair-bonding mammals. (Humans are pair-bonders.) That is, there’s a tension between (1) our innate desire to form pairs – at least for long enough for both parents to fall in love with the kid produced and (2) our innate attraction to novel mates. The latter tends to increase after the “honeymoon neurochemistry” wears off (2 years max according to researchers: Will Orgasms Keep You in Love? http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201111/will-orgasms-keep-you-in-love ).

    The built-in attraction to novel mates (although not a strong influence on all humans) not only makes it possible for fertile women to move on to new mates if No. 1 comes to an untimely end, but also urges both men and women to fool around a bit on the side, or change mates. This increases genetic variety, and is also a way for women to garner more resources (to support offspring).

    Evolution doesn’t like monogamy, but two parents apparently serve our slow-developing, big-brained offspring. Hence the tension. And the tension may be worse today than for recent generations because sexual novelty is so available that youngsters are training their brains to need it for arousal. (Only) one partner quickly loses their interest (and even erections). Some are unwittingly training themselves to need novelty as an aphrodisiac by viewing Internet porn.

    It may be that sustaining contented monogamy is best done by approaching sex entirely differently than most of us do today: Trailer – Slow Sex – How sex makes you happy http://www.slowsex-derfilm.de/en/trailer.html

    Cause and effect? All studies are correlative. Obviously a study to assess the effects of porn by having half of the subjects regularly used porn for 10 years, and the other half not use porn, could never be done. The only type of experiment that could show cause and effect is to have regular porn users remove a single variable (porn) and report the effects. This experiment has been occurring informally on many forums with surprising results, such as: curing ED and delayed ejaculation, increased attraction to real partners, increased confidence, greater motivation, less anxiety and social anxiety, better concentration. Here are a few of the forums: External Rebooting Blogs & Threadshttp://www.yourbrainonporn.com/external-rebooting-blogs-threads

    Here are hundreds of long self-reports of the many benefits experienced by guys who eliminated porn use. Rebooting accountshttp://www.yourbrainonporn.com/rebooting-accounts Scroll down.

  21. Depends on what time period for evolution. Unless you have a pack system where alpha males impregnate the other females and protect them then the alternative is a pairing system where monogamy is handy to keep both parents providing for the offspring vs one having to do the child-rearing and hunting, etc. Human babies are also extremely immature compared to other animal babies (babies can’t walk for months and are very dependent) so the time needed for looking after the baby is greater and they can’t walk with you like puppies n kittens can. These days we have social security, etc which greatly help and humans in the past still had community to help raise the child but the requirement of 2 parents was still very high especially in times of warfare and when food was harder to get.

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  1. [...] Robinson and Gary Wilson probe porn’s secret recipe for keeping the high going. Key ingredient: the convincing illusion of so many willing participants [...]

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  4. [...] However, I oftentimes find that men also aren’t that comfortable objectifying women, or at least us knowing about it. When I’m sitting next to a man and there’s a woman getting naked on screen or something sexual happening, it’s sometimes uncomfortable for both of us, not just me. And why do men hide their porn? Not only because they know how actually shocking and potentially harmful the images could be to people they love, but I think because deep down somewhere, they feel some shame at their inability to control their sexuality in a way that doesn’t include strangers having sex with each other on a screen. (More on porn addiction here). [...]

  5. [...] [How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life] art:manlig sexualitet| Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookGillaGillaBe the first to like this. [...]

  6. [...] Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Men and porn | World news | The Guardian http://www.socialcostsofpornography….ationships.pdf Fact: Pornography Is Harmful ADDICTION: The Science Behind Pornography Addiction (Senate testimony) Testimony Before Congress: The Science Behind Pornography Addiction BRAIN SCIENCE: Acquiring Tastes and Loves: What Neuroplasticity Teaches Us About Sexual Attraction and Love – Acquiring Tastes and Loves: What Neuroplasticity Teaches Us About Sexual Attraction and Love (Research) CHILDREN: How Adult Pornography Contributes to Sexual Exploitation of Children – How Adult Pornography Contributes to the Sexual Exploitation of Children (Research) CYBERSEX: Online Sexual Compulsivity: Getting tangled in the net – Online sexual compulsivity: Getting tangled in the net (Research) FAMILY: The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community – The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community (Research) INTERNET: Online Infidelity: The New Challenge to Marriages – Online Infidelity: The New Challenge to Marriages (Research) INTERNET SAFETY: US Internet Pornography: A Court Of Appeals Analysis – U.S. Internet Pornography: A Court of Appeals Analysis (Research) MARRIAGE: Couple Recovery from Sexual Addiction/Coaddiction: Results of a Survey of 88 Marriages – Couple Recovery from Sexual Addiction/Coaddiction: Results of a Survey of 88 Marriages (Research) MEN: Use of Internet Pornography and Men's Well-being – Use of Internet pornography and men's well-being (Research) PORNOGRAPHY LAWS: Fighting the Pornification of America by Enforcing Obscenity Laws (Law Review by Senator Orrin Hatch) – Fighting the Pornification of America by Enforcing Obscenity Laws (Law Review) PROSTITUTION: Backgrounder: Secondary Negative Effects on Employees of the Pornographic Industry – Backgrounder: Secondary Negative Effects on Employees of the Pornographic Industry (Research) PSYCHOLOGICAL: From Pornography to Porno to Porn: How Porn Became the Norm – From Pornography to Porno to Porn: How Porn Became the Norm (Research) RELATIONSHIPS: Pornography's Effects on Interpersonal Relationships – Pornography’s Effects on Interpersonal Relationships (Research) RESEARCH: A Meta-Analysis of the Published Research on the Effects of Pornography – A Meta-Analysis of the Published Research on the Effects of Pornography (Research) SELF-IMAGE: Effects of visual and verbal sexual television content and perceived realism on attitudes and beliefs – Effects of visual and verbal sexual television content and perceived realism on attitudes and beliefs (Research) SEX TRAFFICKING: Links between pornography and sex trafficking – Links Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking (Research) SEXTING: Self Produced Child Pornography: The Appropriate Societal Response to Juvenile Self-Sexual Exploitation – Self Produced Child Pornography: The Appropriate Societal Response to Juvenile Self-Sexual Exploitation (Research) SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Predicting Sexual Aggression: The Role of Pornography in the Context of General & Specific Risk Factors Predicting Sexual Aggression: The Role of Pornography in the Context of General and Specific Risk Factors (Research) SOCIETAL: The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings & Recommendations – The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations (Research) STD: Mass Media Influences on Sexuality – Mass Media Influences on Sexuality (Research) TEENS: Adolescence, pornography and harm – “Adolescence, pornography and harm” (Research) WOMEN: The Impact of Pornography on Women: Social Science Findings & Clinical Observations – The Impact of Pornography on Women: Social Science Findings and Clinical Observations (Research) Reply With Quote   [...]

  7. [...] The Good Men Project has an article that is thought provoking reading. The author states that porn can more or less hardwire your brain to find porn more pleasurable than real sex over a period of time. The pleasure response is numbed and your spouse can be less enticing to you. You become indifferent to your mate, but not only that, you find that you need more porn and more stimulation to even be able to complete sex. [...]

  8. [...] Link 3—-> How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life [...]

  9. [...] Nowadays pornography is just a few clicks away and its negative effects on the brain are researched and documented. Another effect of pornography is that it created a new kind of sex culture in which the orgasm and [...]

  10. [...] growth of pornography in our culture is frightening.  It is damaging to those who consume it and it is damaging to those who make it.  What would it take to change the [...]

  11. [...] firstly – no matter what anyone says, porn is not harmless. Can Your Brain Become Hardwired to Porn? Basically it can rewire their dopamine reward system to prefer porn over sex. I have a long [...]

  12. [...] the culture peddles porn, it praises it as an aid to a healthy sex life. But in reality, it’s just the opposite. Men who regularly use porn report growing dissatisfaction with the bodies of their wives and [...]

  13. [...] you believe some recent reports, turning to porn to slake your thirst may have the opposite effect, exacerbating your desire for more extreme stimulation and reducing your attraction to your wife. [...]

  14. […] Porn and partnership: When does chronic stimulation become chronic dissatisfaction? — The Good Men… […]

  15. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life […]

  16. […] How Porn Can Ruin Your Sex Life […]

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