I’ve had a number of calls recently from girls (and a couple guys) who are struggling in their relationships or marriages because online pornography comes between them. Usually, she will find the porn sites that he has gone to, and then be in a state of shock and discomfort, and not know how to initiate a conversation with her guy about this.
Maybe the Internet has made porn so much more readily available for guys, instead of walking into your local 7-11 with fake mustache and trenchcoat to ask for what’s behind the corner. It’s much easier and readily accessible to you, and is a convenient place to go when there are relationship problems.
Pornography may be both taking away something from your relationship, or it may be caused by rifts in it already. It seems as if porn could be a chicken-egg dilemma – which comes first – the problems in your relationship, or the porn? Maybe both.
I think that pornography becomes addictive for men, because as men, we are visually wired by evolution. Using porn creates a certain distance from sex or intimacy, by objectifying the online images that are seen. It takes away from sexual intimacy, and creates distance between the viewer and the images. It has an effect of emotional distance, when you have to get off by images that are parts or representations of people, and not the real people.
The use of porn implies having relationships with exaggerated parts of women, not the women themselves or the relationships with them. Real sex is different, and more complicated. If there are sexual fears or inhibitions, they will necessarily come out within your sexual relationship. Porn doesn’t elicit those fears or inhibitions, and thus it is easier to engage in.
For guys, the use of porn can be a stress reliever, and a way to deal with the build up stress (or other emotions, such as anger) that accumulate and have no other avenue of expression for your guy. In other words, maybe the experiences that he is having have no other outlet other than porn. Guys have been masturbating to porn since the beginning of porn time, and trying to not get caught in their bedrooms by their mothers when they are adolescents. There may be some hidden messages of shame that guys recreate when they use porn, if sex was dirty, shameful or not discussed when they were growing up.
Problems in your relationship may trigger your guy to use porn. He may already be emotionally avoidant, or may have a hard time in your relationship communicating (especially about sex and sexual intimacy). The sexual motivations of your guy to use porn may or may not speak to the problems that you both are having in your relationship. The problem may lie in something unrelated to sex, but then again, it might not. It’s hard to say without couples counseling for this kind of thing. See my website for some more information on my services to help you deal with this problem: http://phoenixmenscounseling.com/index.html.
The use of porn will surely distance you from him in more than one way. He becomes distant from you through his use of porn, and then when you find out he’s doing it, it becomes really difficult to have the conversation with him.
He won’t bring it up, because he’s probably too scared that you’ll catch him using it. And, it’s an easy thing to want to minimize on his part – “I don’t have a problem. I just use it once in a while.” Classic addictive behavior can ensue: lying, falsifying, denying, making up stories to cover it up or to go use it. Watch out for these signs because it may be affecting your relationship.
The goal is to weave in the fantasies and the sexual communication into your relationship, not leave it to the Internet and to one person alone to be fulfilled. The idea is to deepen and develop your relationship through sex, and communication is the door to get there. Otherwise, sex becomes the most powerful wedge in your relationship. It will quickly drive you both away from each other, if it not dealt with out in the open. It needs to be talked about once his use of porn is identified and admitted.