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August 1, 2015

How to Tell if You Have a Healthy Relationship With Porn. {Adult}

porn magazines bathroom
In case you hadn’t already noticed, porn is everywhere.

It is freely accessible to us almost anywhere: in the privacy of our own homes, via our smartphones as we are sitting on a bus, or from the office cubicle. It comes in easy-to-digest soundbites of 12 to 17 minutes.

It’s not particularly complex and is seldom thought-provoking.

We are sex educators who are not anti-porn. Depending on the issue clients come to us with, sometimes we prescribe it. In addition to being entertaining, porn is extremely efficient at certain things—porn “gets the job done.”

The problem is, in our experience working with individuals and couples for more than two decades, the proliferation of, and easy access to, porn are responsible for an entire category of serious physical and emotional health issues, which more and more people now suffer from.

In this article we will describe our definition of unhealthy porn use, tell you why porn is so tantalizing, and also describe how you can use porn in a healthy way.

We define “unhealthy use of porn” as a pattern or cycle in which you are compromising your life, relationship(s), work, mental and/or physical health as a result of your use of pornography.

Why is it important to understand how to use porn healthily?

Unhealthy use of porn can and often does create a lot of problems, from unwanted ejaculation and erection issues, to low stamina, dissatisfying sex and body- and sex-image issues, disempowerment and heartbreak in relationships and so much more.

The bodies in porn videos are often cosmetically altered, giving us unrealistic and unnatural standards of “beauty” and sex that not only cause feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, but can lead some to make radical changes to their bodies to try to match these unrealistic standards (e.g., penis enlargement, labiaplasty, etc.).

Additionally, most porn does not portray authentic love-making, or even “f***ing” for that matter. The actors are just that—acting, exaggerating every move. In heterosexual porn, often the man is pounding the woman as hard and as fast as he can while she pretends to enjoy the disconnection, moaning louder the more he pounds her, while she licks her lips in an attempt to make the scene appear sexy. This gives viewers a false sense of what sex is supposed to look like.

When we hold our bodies, our partners and our sex to porn standards, we often find ourselves, our partners and our sex unfulfilling.

Unhealthy porn use can also result in disembodiment, or not being fully in the body. Overuse of porn wires our neurons in a way that increasingly limits physical sensation and innervation and trains our bodies to orgasm quickly, briefly and in a very limited way. Porn can significantly limit sensation and stamina if it is used frequently just to “get off.”

Viewing porn as a solo sexual experience limits our sexual response to our brains, where porn activates the production of extreme amounts of dopamine (that delicious “I want” chemical) and creates neurological hot-wiring that, over time, makes it difficult for us to feel anything other than very small areas of our genitals during our arousal and orgasm. This is what we mean when we say porn is “efficient” at getting the job done, and why it also can lead to disembodiment.

If you are also having lots of good, connected, physically and emotionally satisfying sex (instead of or in addition to your porn viewing)—sex which releases oxytocin and serotonin (in addition to more measured amounts of dopamine), you are much less likely to rewire your brain in this way, because you’ll be creating the healthier wiring of attachment and bonding.

But if the satisfaction in your sex life primarily comes through porn, you very well may find yourself wanting to watch porn again and again. This starts to create new pathways in the brain that reward you for watching more and more porn, while simultaneously dis-incentivizing you to create and maintain live inter-personal relationships (which require more work for less certain “pay-off”).

And, from there, it can be a downward spiral where you develop (an unconscious) relationship with the chemistry porn creates rather than the thing that originally had you turn porn to begin with—a desire for pleasure, human connection and sexual satisfaction.

So just what is too frequent or a harmful amount of porn?

We can’t give you a number and say “only use porn this much” or “don’t use it at all.” Only you can know how much is too much. The same way only you can know how much coffee or alcohol is too much for you—through trial and error.

So what can you do?

If you think you might have an unhealthy relationship with porn, here are some tips for how to shift your relationship with it:

1. Cultivate a healthy self-pleasure (masturbation) practice.

Develop a new relationship with your arousal, erection and orgasm through a mindful masturbation practice. You may start your practice with porn and turn it off a few minutes into the practice. Gradually reduce the amount of minutes and times you use porn during your practice and be sure to include a lot of variety in your practice.

2. Create a pleasure practice with (a) partner(s).

Devote time for yourself and your partner to simply explore pleasure together. While erection, ejaculation and orgasm may occur during the practice, do not emphasize or focus on these as outcomes or goals. Again, focus on variety as that helps expand your erotic map, ultimately bringing you and your partner more pleasure.

3. Learn and practice relational skills.

This is key for discovering more pleasure, depth and fulfillment in interpersonal relationships and for cultivating deep intimacy. Better, more fulfilling interpersonal relationships also lead to better sex!

We hope this information supports you. You deserve to have a wonderful and fulfilling sex life!

 

 

 

Relephant: 

 

Reading to Climax. {NSFWish}

6 Ways to Have Radically Intimate Sex. 

 

 

Authors: Rensselear Resch & Christiane Pelmas

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: ephidryn at Flickr 

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