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How You’re Ruining Your Sex Life: Porn

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Kirsten Andersen - published on 05/31/15

Part of a series on great married sex

(This post is part of a series on great married sex. To read the introduction, click here.)

In the introduction to this series, we learned that contrary to pop culture stereotypes, married people have more and better sex than their swinging single friends. But what if you find yourself on the wrong side of the statistics, counting yourself among the minority of couples who aren’t basking in the afterglow of great married sex?

The truth is, our modern way of life throws up a lot of obstacles to a great married sex life.  You may have unwittingly run into one or more of them.  The good news is, many of them are easy to avoid once you’re aware of them. And if you do find yourself hung up on one, you might be surprised at how easy it is to fix it.

Probably the number one stumbling block for men – and an increasing number of women – when it comes to satisfying married sex is pornography.

In our 24/7 always-online culture, porn has become ubiquitous.  What used to be a shameful secret sold in brown paper wrappers by mail order or in seedy, unsanitary sex shops has become a thriving online industry worth billions of dollars each year.  The advent of the internet, followed by portable devices, brought porn into our homes and pockets, making it easier than ever to indulge.  But increasing scientific and sociological research is showing that all that fantasy sex is having a disastrous effect on our real world sex lives.

According to Psychology Today, a new disorder called porn-induced sexual dysfunction has been on the rise, with increasing numbers of men finding themselves unable to perform in bed without the assistance of pornography. 

A 2011 piece in New York Magazine examined the phenomenon in detail, with writer Davy Rothbart talking to multiple men whose porn use had negatively impacted their sex lives.

In order to reach climax in bed, said 43-year-old Stefan, “I’ve got to resort to playing scenes in my head that I’ve seen while viewing porn. Something is lost there. I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.”

“I used to race home to have sex with my wife,” 41-year-old Perry, a lawyer, told the magazine. “Now I leave work a half-hour early so I can get home before she does and masturbate to porn.” He said that while he still finds his wife of twelve years attractive, the porn stars keep his interest better. “Not to be mean, but they’re younger, hotter, and wilder in the sack than my wife.  Me and her, we still ‘do it’ and everything, but instead of every day, it’s maybe once a week. It’s like I’ve got this ‘other woman’ … and the ‘other woman’ is porn.”

The science behind the problem is this: Orgasm triggers the brain to release powerful bonding and reward chemicals called oxytocin and dopamine.  These chemicals are designed to promote strong emotional ties between families – the same chemicals are also released when a mother nurses her baby, or when parents cuddle their children.  But when porn users climax, they become chemically and emotionally bonded to the source of the rush – in this case, a photo, a video or even a mental fantasy. 

The same misuse of the body’s pleasure and reward system is what drives addictions to substances like alcohol or heroin, and in fact, scientists have found identical changes in brain structure when comparing porn users and substance abusers.  And just like substance abusers, porn users require increasing “doses” of their drug of choice in order to achieve the same high … or eventually, even to feel normal.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is, unlike cold-turkey withdrawal from drugs, cold-turkey withdrawal from porn can’t kill you.  You won’t get the shakes, you won’t vomit, you won’t have a seizure.  In fact, the only thing that can come of quitting porn is a better sex life. 

If you don’t believe me, ask the members of NoFap, a Reddit community* of nearly 155,000 members (they call themselves “Fapstronauts”) who encourage each other to abstain from self-gratification.  Not only do they overwhelmingly talk about the positive results their relationships and sexual performance have seen since quitting, they often refer to “superpowers” they develop as a result of practicing sexual self control.  Who doesn’t want superpowers?

*WARNING: Link may contain explicit discussion of sexuality.  For a more Christian-friendly forum for discussion and support, try NoFapChristians on Reddit.

Tags:
MarriageSexuality
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