Addicted to Porn

 Addicted To Porn

Is my partner addicted to porn?

Porn addiction has become increasingly common with the growth of internet and many people find themselves worried about the role of watching porn online. But how does someone know if they have an addiction or if they’re just one of the millions of people who get pleasure from viewing sexually explicit material? There are some features of online behaviours which may indicate that it’s become addictive:

  • the behaviour feels beyond a person’s control
  • it creates problems in everyday life

Most people don’t realise how easy it is to develop an addiction to watching pornography, but researchers have stressed that it’s not the behaviour itself that is the issue; rather it’s the relationship to the behaviour. This means that the behaviour isn’t what matters, but if watching porn becomes compulsive - and the individual finds it impossible to stop for any length of time - it may have become an addiction.

For more general information on looking at porn, see our ‘looking at porn – can it be cheating?’ page.

How could porn addiction affect my partner?

Porn addiction may affect a person’s self-esteem, which could be damaging to ongoing relationships. For example, if someone spends their time online rather than with a partner or their children, feelings of shame about choosing to view porn could undermine their sense of self. Even when someone knows that watching porn is destructive and damaging, the need may be too great, and this could lead to a loss of self-respect.

Often there is fear of being found out, so deceit and secrecy become part of daily life. It’s easy to see how distance or conflict with a partner could result from hiding behaviour that feels shameful. For those struggling with porn addiction, who feel that they have broken a partner’s trust, there can be considerable emotional pain as a consequence.

How can I help my partner through porn addiction?

A fear of being discovered, and the possible harmful consequences, is usually a constant worry for a porn addict. Common fears might include:

  • loss of employment
  • wasting time
  • losing a relationship

The determination needed to fight an addiction can be sapped by depression and anxiety. Researchers who specialise in treating sex addictions emphasise that rebuilding self –esteem is one of the key ingredients to overcoming unwanted behaviours. Unfortunately, denial is often experienced so facing up to the severity of the problem on daily activities may be a starting point. One reason why denial is so common is the powerful role that watching porn can play in someone’s life; a sense of excitement and the feeling of being lost in another world brings huge relief to a person struggling with loneliness or the demands of work and family relationships.

To see the full list of research references which have informed the content on this page, please see our research references section.

Page authored by Janice Hiller (Tavistock Relationships)

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