(This blog is an excerpt from More Than Talk 5th Ed., by Bill Strom & Divine Agodzo)
Unlike previous generations, today’s couples and families must navigate the “3A” facts of internet pornography: it's accessible, affordable, and anonymous. Some users consider the habit a right, or a release, or justified in a poor marriage. On average, women in North America access porn about 30 minutes per week, men for 3 hours. (1)
So is porn really a big deal? The short answer is yes.
The longer answer requires us to consider what you want in family life, and how pornography robs its possibility. Most of us seek trusting, open, affectionate, and responsible relationships with parents and siblings. We hope for sexual fidelity between parents and the timely sexual maturation of brothers and sisters. Our lives become enormously complex when a family member becomes addicted to cyber-porn or when relatives lure nephews or nieces into sexual play. Just how ugly can life get?
Porn can ruin your sex life. While it is true that a poor sex life may draw one to seek online stimulation, it is equally possible that good sex declines after one begins accessing erotica. In experimental studies, men and women exposed to a steady diet of filmed porn (when compared to those who watched non-porn films) tended to:
Porn makes your partner feel like crap. While most women wish for fidelity, intimacy, and trust, those who discover that their husband views porn regularly experience the opposite. These women:
As one woman wrote, “I am no longer a sexual person or partner to him, but a sexual object. He is not really with me, not really making love to me . . . . He seems to be thinking about something or someone else—likely those porn women. . . . He is just using me as a warm body. (3)
Parental use of porn can have indirect effects on kids. Kids do not have to use porn to be victims. They are victims when dad loses his job for surfing porn at work, or splits up with mom over his addiction. More directly, some kids walk in on dad as he acts out, discover his ‘hidden’ files, or overhear his phone sex. None of this is pretty.
Porn hijacks healthy sexual development. Relative to young people who consume little online-porn, high consumers hold distinct sex beliefs and attitudes, engage in certain behaviors, and view themselves differently. In particular they:
Given this litany of liabilities, one may wonder why anyone accesses porn. For many brings pleasure to a boring or wounded life.
What will your response be to the knowledge that, beyond immediate gratification, porn fails to gratify generally?
Sexual curiosity is part of maturing in young adulthood; how will you educate yourself? Are there friends or role models you can confide in regarding porn use, and become accountable in this area? What agreements might you make with such people from this point forward?
For resources regarding pornography and how to deal with it, see Fight the New Drug.
1) Kasper, Thomas Edward, Mary Beth Short, and Alex Clinton Milam. 2015. "Narcissism and Internet Pornography Use." Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 41, no. 5: 481-486.
2) This research discussed in Jill C. Manning, “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 13 (2006): 131–165.
3) See Raymond M. Bergner and Ana J. Bridges, “The Significance of Heavy Pornography Involvement
for Romantic Partners: Research and Clinical Implications.” Journal ofSex & Marital Therapy 28 (2002): 197, as quoted in Jill C. Manning, “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Marriage and the Family: A Review of the Research,” Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 13 (2006): 142.
4) This research discussed in Eric W. Owens , Richard J. Behun , Jill C. Manning & Rory C. Reid, “The
Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research,” Sexual Addiction &
Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention 19 (2012): 99-122.
Bill Strom, Author
I am a believer by faith, a professor by vocation, a husband by choice, a father by blessing, and a friend by hanging out. Along the way I have learned about close relating through my experiences, biblical models, and social science research. Hopefully my ideas and encouragement show up here in ways meaningful to you.