When Porn Becomes a Problem | Center for Growth Therapy

When Porn Becomes a Problem

Sex is a natural behavior that can feel great, relieve stress, and strengthen relationships. However, like most subjects, it can have negative consequences. Porn is no different. Sexual attitudes, experiences, and personal morals can color our assessment of porn. Therefore, how do we objectively know when porn becomes a problem?

When Porn Becomes a Problem

Overall, there’s division on whether porn can classify as an addiction. Some therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors argue that porn doesn’t create a biological dependency, while others highlight the compulsion of using porn. Nevertheless, both camps agree that porn can become a problem. Keeping this in mind, this article will discuss the red flags when consuming porn, and simply allow the reader to decide on their own when porn becomes a problem.

Time

One of the easiest ways to tell when something becomes a problem is the amount of time we dedicate to it. For example, eating food is commonly accepted, but it becomes an eating disorder if the thoughts around the food consumption consumes hours of our day. Regarding your porn use, ask yourself the following questions:

  • “How much time do I spend thinking about using porn?
  • “In what way do I organize my day around using porn” “How would I feel if my friends, family or lover knew about the fact that I use porn and / or the amount of time I use porn?”
  • “How long is each session?”
  • “How many times do I look at porn each day?”
  • “When do I find myself looking at porn?”
  • “What percentage of my time goes to watching porn?”
  • “What is my ideal time consuming porn?”
  • “How would I feel if my partner used porn as much as I did?”
  • “How much porn would I have to use in order for me to acknowledge that I had a problem with porn?”

Being aware of your porn use is important, but it doesn’t always give the whole picture. Watching porn for 20 minutes every day is not an inherent sign of a problem. Rather, issues arise when the time used for porn interferes with other parts of our lives.

How is Porn Interfering?

As stated in the DSM, a core component of an ailment is its disruption with the person’s day-to-day life. For instance, wanting your home to be organized isn’t a problem, but it is if it keeps you from getting to work on time. The same applies to porn consumption. You know that it’s a problem if it interferes with your life. Try asking yourself these questions to see if it does:

  • “Has watching porn interfered with my sleep?”
  • “How has porn affected my sex life?”
  • “Can I masturbate to orgasm without using porn or sexual fantasies or thoughts?”
  • “Am I watching porn in inappropriate places, like work?”
  • “What have I been late to due to my porn use?”
  • “Have I ever used porn at work?”
  • “How has porn affected my romantic relationships?”
  • “What happens when I try not to use porn?”
  • “Can I masturbate without using porn?”
  • “When I have sex with a partner, am I able to be aroused by simply being in the moment, or do I need to think of porn to enhance the experience?”
  • “How often do I prefer porn to sex with my partner?”
  • “If I turn down sex with my partner to instead use porn, am I honest about this decision?”

Let’s take some time to go over some of these questions, specifically the ones that deal with relationships. Once again, porn usage isn’t inherently harmful to your partner(s) or the shared sex life. For instance, a couple can use porn to gain ideas for new sex acts and behaviors. A red flag, however, is when one partner prioritizes porn over their partner(s).

There can be legitimate reasons why a person may prefer watching porn than having sex; nevertheless, this situation warrants a discussion, at the very least. If you would rather consume porn than engage in sex with your partner(s), try asking yourself why that is.

Additionally, some of the questions ask about porn and your overall sexual experience. For instance, “Can I masturbate without porn” and similar questions are gaging your sexual flexibility. These questions are essentially exploring your ability to have sexual pleasure outside of pornography, which highlights your dependency of it. Porn is likely a problem if you cannot have an orgasm without it.

How Does My Porn Use Make Me Feel?

Perhaps the biggest sign of a problematic behavior is how it leaves us feeling. Guilt, distress, anxiety, depression, anger, and shame are simply a few of the emotions that we feel during, before, and after we engage in poor behaviors. To assess your personal feelings regarding your porn use, do the following activity. Grab a sheet of paper and title it, “How My Porn Use Makes Me Feel.” Next, create three columns: before, during, and after. Take a couple of minutes with each column, focusing on the emotions that come up.

How My Porn Use Make Me Feel

How My Porn Makes Me Feel
Before During After

Examples of Emotions

|Happy| |Scared| |Nervous| |Angry| |Ashamed| |Excited| |Aroused| |Guilty| |Fearful| |Irritated| |Proud| |Disappointed| |Melancholic| |Defeated| |Hopeless| |Eager| |Confused| |Motivated| |Remorseful| |Flat| |Ugly| |Beautiful| |Sleepy| |Tired| |Irresponsible| |In Control| |Sexy| |Alive| |Out of Control| |Creative| |Shameful| |Energized| |Important| |Ecstatic| |Dirty|]

To be clear, a person can hold negative feelings surrounding a behavior that’s not problematic. For example, a woman can feel guilty after having sex due to the messages she heard growing up. Conversely, a person can feel content and unapologetic of their high heroin use. That’s why it’s important to pair the subjectivity of feelings with the objectivity of your actions. Together, they form a picture that informs how problematic your behaviors actually are. Regarding pornography, it allows you to know when porn becomes a problem. If you feel that your porn use is an issue after taking this questionnaire and reading this article, don’t lose hope. With a strong enough desire, change can occur, which is especially true within therapy. If you want to alter your porn habits, try scheduling a session with a therapist at the center for growth. Call us at 215 922 5683 x 100 to find a therapist near me.

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