Pornography Addiction

Many men (and some women) are asking questions these days such as:

  • Is there a relationship between my low sex drive in my relationship and my secretive activity with online porn?
  • Are others looking at internet porn as much as I am?
  • Since I only look at porn “sometimes,” is there anything wrong with it?
  • If experts say that pornography in itself is not bad, why do I feel the need to hide it?
  • Why do I feel so much shame about my internet porn use?
  • Is there a point at which my internet porn use becomes an “addiction” or is that just an excuse?
  • If I sometimes feel compulsive and obsessive about internet porn use, does that mean I need to stop completely or can I just tone it down?
  • If my porn use has taken me to places I thought I'd NEVER go, is there hope for me? Can I reverse the damage I feel I've done to myself?

I find these days that I am fielding these and other related questions more and more in my NYC therapy practice. Porn addiction seems to be increasing, and, like any compulsive/obsessive habit, it can wreak havoc in the lives of those involved.

sex—what about it?

First of all—let's start with the basics. Nobody goes through life without having problems, confusions and conflicts about sex, sexuality, sexual desire, sexual identity, sexual performance, etc. Nothing could be more human. If someone tells you they have never had any doubts, insecurities, nagging thoughts or painful feelings about sex, they are simply painting a picture of themselves they want you to see—as opposed to the REAL picture.

To state the obvious, human sexuality is a deep mystery and a profound aspect of human life. The biology of it, the relational dynamics, the excitements, the urges and desires, the fantasies, the taboo, the power struggles, the identity politics, the emotional consequences—all of this and more adds up to make for very powerful drama at different phases of our lives.

That said—people need not live in pain, fear, shame or compulsive/obsessive patterns with regard to sex and sexuality. The fact that so many people DO experience these things is a sign of our times.

getting help with pornography addiction

Quite simply—getting a handle on this area of life begins with talking about it, one conversation at a time.

Of course, many people start addressing these things with friends and trusted confidantes, and if that isn't enough, they talk to an experienced therapist and/or attend a 12-step support group (i.e. Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex And Love Addicts Anonymous and others) online or in person.

The good news is that just as we have the power to get ourselves into some very complicated and painful situations regarding sex, we also have the power to slow down, take a step back and get some help to reorganize how we are relating to and going about our sexual lives. Positive changes do not happen overnight, but they definitely do result, over time, when we put in the effort and do the work. Shame, secrets, fears, compulsions and obsessions are not the characteristics we need to associate with our sexual lives.

What do we want instead?

That's for you to decide, but I can tell you from experience (as a human being and an experienced professional) that greater measures of honesty, intimacy, self-acceptance, fun and pleasure are within reach for us all, as long as we put in the effort—AND—as long as we adhere to the principle of progress not perfection.

As I mentioned earlier, it takes work—and that work begins with realizing that staying alone with your problems is only making them worse.