Waiting to Quit Porn Once You’re in a Relationship? Here’s Why it Won’t Work

By KC

30 DAYS WITHOUT PORN

Have you tried ditching porn? This #NoPornovember, we’re challenging you to give up porn for 30 days and see what happens. Click here to learn more about this challenge, and click here to check out our friends at Fortify, a free recovery platform for teens and adults.

I’m 32 years old, I’ve been married for 6 years, and I’ve only been off of porn for 2 of those years—and those 2 years have been tougher than you can imagine; I am frequently tempted to look at porn. What helps me fight is remembering how my use of it hurts my relationship with my wife—not only in our sex life, but in our everyday life too.

“Those were the words of my mentor, Mark, as I explained how I was using porn as an outlet while I waited for a committed relationship to develop,” 19-year-old Tim recently shared with us in an interview.

Tim was only 16 at the time Mark shared that valuable insight with him.

What Mark was getting at was this: porn is a cheap replacement for a real relationship and repeatedly consuming it, even temporarily, can lead to serious problems in the long run.

Related: 4 Ways Porn Hurts Guys’ Relationships And Sexual Potential

At the time, Tim had trouble understanding or seeing that, but now he does.

“I’d been using porn for around 3 years at the time of that conversation [with my mentor],” he said. “The main reason was because I was single and thought it wouldn’t affect me once I was in a relationship or married. Honestly, now though, seeing all the data and the stuff you guys at Fight the New Drug put out, I believe I not only made a smart decision in giving up porn after that conversation, but a life-altering decision.”

If you are using porn to ease the struggle of the single life like our Fighter Tim was, we invite you to think again.

Let’s take a look at why.

Porn can become addictive

One’s desire to watch porn doesn’t simply stop when they meet their S.O.

It’s common knowledge that porn is addictive—even the director of the United States National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, shows she vehemently supports this notion when she suggests NIDA change their name in order to recognize non-ingestive addictions such as porn.

Addictive substances and behaviors, like porn, activate the brain’s reward centers. This activation triggers the release of a chemical in the body called DeltaFosB that creates incredibly “strong mental connections between the porn being consumed by the individuals and the pleasure they feel while consuming [it].”

Related: 3 Ways Porn Openly Vilifies Men And Exploits Their Insecurities

Columbia University’s Dr. Norman Doige puts it this way: porn creates the perfect brain conditions and triggers the release of the right neurochemicals.

In short, these conditions and neurochemicals leave porn consumers feeling strong, addictive cravings for porn long after they’ve stopped the habit.

Whether you’ve just entered a relationship, are married, or are single and ready to mingle, porn doesn’t care.

Porn desensitizes you to real sex

As we discussed earlier, your brain responds to, or is conditioned by, the stimulus it experiences.

In some cases, this conditioning is positive. When a baby cries because he is hungry and his mother responds to him by feeding him, the baby’s brain begins to create connections between his predominant communication form—crying—and his mother’s response to that communication form—giving him milk.

In other cases, however, this brain conditioning is negative. When the stimulus is porn, the brain has a tendency to become desensitized to the explicit content. This means that the brain begins to tolerate the powerful images it’s processing, eventually leading the porn consumer’s brain to need more images, and more extreme images, in order to achieve similar highs to before the desensitization process began.

Related: Even If Porn Didn’t Have Addiction Potential, Would It Still Be Harmful?

Because real, healthy sex is totally different from porn, the material’s more powerful and more extreme imagery can desensitize so much that porn “can actually overpower the brain’s natural [desire] to have real sex.”

In fact, porn’s imagery is so powerful and so extreme that even traffickers and predators use it to desensitize their victims to the real situations of sexual abuse they’ll soon face at the hands of sex buyers or other abusers.

Interest in porn doesn’t go away with a relationship

Aside from Tim, we also had the chance to sit down with another FTND supporter, 24-year-old John.

Recently married to his girlfriend of three years in March of 2018, John still decides to meet weekly with a sexual accountability group, sends his computer and phone’s internet history to another friend, and frequently finds himself fighting off memories of the shocking images he looked at in his early teens.

“Although, I struggled with looking at porn a bit in our dating relationship, I assumed that my desire to look at the stuff would go away once I was having sex with my wife—we decided to wait until we were married to do so,” John explained about his daily battle with porn. “However, that just didn’t happen. While I have only looked at porn twice since we got married, I still feel like its grip is tight on me. Furthermore, the stuff I saw in porn is different from what I experience sexually with my wife, which sometimes makes that part of our relationship more difficult and less enjoyable for both of us.”

John and Tim are not alone

It can seem like an appealing argument, to only consume porn until you can have a partner for real, but take it from John or Tim—porn simply isn’t worth it.

Whether you’re riding the solo train, or you’re on your way to a lasting committed relationship, porn doesn’t discriminate. Consider the risks before consuming, and your life will be much better off without it.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with an obsession or addiction to pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at Fortify, a recovery-focused platform that will allow you take a step toward freedom. Anyone 17 years and younger can apply for a free scholarship to the site, and it’s an inexpensive fee for anyone 18 and older. There is hope—sign up today to get the help you need and join with an encouraging community.

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