9 Reasons Porn Hurts

ADHD Marriage: 

This is the first of two posts about porn use.  The first is to shed light on why your partner is having so much trouble getting past your porn use.  The second, which will be written much later (Jan '14??) will be about what couples can do to help heal their relationships after porn use has pulled their relationships apart. 

First, What is Porn?

To quote the Supreme Court, “I know it when I see it.”  If your wife thinks it’s porn, you need to consider her opinion, even if you don’t agree.  The issue is whether or not she’s distressed by it…so don’t get into an argument about whether or not something you’ve been viewing is all that bad.

So, why does porn hurt so much? I’ve been dealing with this issue with a number of my couples recently.  Here’s a synopsis of what some women have told me:

Reason #1 - It’s Not Personal

When she gets married (or into a committed relationship), a woman tends to make the assumption that her relationship will be monogamous and her sex life will demonstrate how much her partner cares about her in particular.  Sex is the ultimate way that a woman makes herself vulnerable to a man – he is typically stronger, and the act of intercourse is one of penetration into a woman’s physical being.  Women often describe sex as emotionally meaningful, about being vulnerable, and about attachment to their partner.

When you were discovered using porn, your partner was suddenly confronted with an ugly reality.  All of her assumptions about what sex means in your relationship are wrong.  For you, sex is not about her in particular.  It’s just about sex and feeling good.

Reason #2 - Porn is Revolting to Many Women

For many women, porn is horrifying in that it degrades women and sex.  One woman in the health care field told me recently, “I spend a lot of time helping women value their bodies.  How do I deal with my husband’s porn use, which is so contrary to everything I stand for?”  When a wife discovers her husband likes porn, she’s likely to struggle to maintain her high opinion of him.  ‘He likes that?  I must have misjudged whether or not he’s a respectful, and respectable partner.’  Even what I call “laughable porn” (think naked woman with size DDD breasts perched atop a Ducati and licking a popsicle) lowers her estimation of you.

Reason #3 - Porn as the Perfect ‘Other Woman’

Further, porn is like the perfect mistress.  She is available 24/7, comes with no strings attached, is always ready to fulfill whatever type of fantasy a man has at the moment, and won’t be stupid crazy enough to call his wife and announce that she just spent three days with him in Miami.  But that perfection makes porn quite threatening.  How does your wife compete with perfection?  Your sex life was probably not as exciting as either you or she would have liked (hence the porn use) and now, at least for a while, every time you have sex together she’s likely to feel as if you would rather be elsewhere.

But it’s more than that porn is the perfect mistress idea – it’s also incomprehensible to women.  Discovering your partner has a female mistress (flesh and blood) may be one of the most painful things you’ll ever experience, but at least you understand it.  There's a woman there enticing you.  The completely impersonal (and fake?) nature and appeal of porn is not so easy to comprehend.  And you chose this…thing…instead of coming to find her to enjoy sex…

#4 - Even More Threatening – Porn is Ubiquitous

Porn is so readily available that every woman who worries about a husband’s continued use of porn knows she’s not in control.  Porn is ready and available if he decides he wants it again, no matter what she thinks or does.  Period.  Coming to terms with this uncertainty (will he use porn again???  What else don’t I know?) is something she must do to heal, but it comes hard. 

#5 - Porn Use is Insulting

Face it, you chose porn over her and that’s just plain insulting.  You could have been with her…but you weren’t.  If you justify it by saying that your relationship or sex life has been in trouble, it’s still an insult.  Most women are eager to “work” on their relationship if needed (hence the success of the self-improvement industry).  But instead of working on your sexual or relationship problems together, in her opinion you took the “easy way out.”  No wonder she’s mad!

#6 - Now You’re a Liar

If she didn’t question your honesty before she discovered you were hiding your porn use from her, she does now.  Since trust is a key element in a solid relationship this creates real problems for you both.

#7 - She’s Thinking…I Just Don’t Know My Husband AT ALL!

Porn is the opposite of what your wife thought sex meant to both of you.  She thought connection.  Porn is disconnected.  She thought “healthy” and loving.  Porn is not.  She thought she was special.  Porn use communicates she’s not.  And if you chose porn instead of her, it “means” that the impersonal, meaningless (as you have now told her) porn and masturbation were more important (and exciting) to you than her love, your relationship and your sex together.  She thought she knew you.  You proved to her that she didn’t.

What do you do with that information?  As a woman, how do you recover from being shown that you are less important than a complete stranger in what is, arguably, one of the most personal and important parts of your relationship?  That you thought you knew your partner well, but in fact you don’t?  That there may always be unpleasant surprises hidden inside your partner?

#8 - “What’s the Big Deal?”

Many men unwittingly make the agony worse as they try to reassure their wives that the porn doesn’t mean anything.  The “it’s just pictures” comment simply reinforces the idea that their husbands chose something meaningless over them!  And, to make matters worse, the statements are invalidating.  The wife is saying “I’m so hurt I can barely stand it” and the husband is saying back “it’s not a big deal.”  What your wife needs to hear is it IS a big deal…for her and now, therefore, for you.

#9 - Porn, Round 2

Then there is the “next round” situation.  Too many times, a husband uses porn again, even after his wife has expressed how hurt this makes her feel.  This is an extension of his feeling that it doesn’t mean much (i.e. the impersonal nature of sex for men) and the fact that for many, it’s hard to give up – for the same reason affairs can be hard to give up.  It makes him feel good, fulfills his fantasies, and is easy.  And, trust me, things with the wife after the porn use has been discovered are complicated!  Sex is probably hard to come by at that particular moment…but it’s still not a good idea to continue to use the porn.

This second betrayal is even worse than the first one.  As one woman told her husband in a session recently, “The first time I could say that you didn’t understand how porn would hurt me.  But now I’ve explained it and you’re still using it!  How hurtful is that?  Don’t you care about me at ALL???”

 

So, there are lots of important reasons porn can really damage your relationship.  If you’ve already found that out the hard way, I hope this post helps you understand why and helps you be more empathetic to your wife’s struggle.  In my next post I’ll write about what couples can do to recover from the upset that porn can cause.

Comments

ADHD Specific

I appreciate this article...but for me it is a little too general. I would have liked it if it was tailored more to how it affects the adhd marriage specifically.

Since I am male I will speak from an adhd husbands experience with pornography. As the adhd spouse, pornography provides the ultimate erotic outlet for the distracted brain. During a typical viewing session there could be at least 40 different tabs open in the browser. Popping between tabs for a few seconds each, with the ability to cycle between varying urges and fantasies in real time create a level of appeal that virtually no spouse can compete with. It might take a decade to convince my wife to try something different in the bedroom whereas I can just hop on the internet and explore an impulse in a matter of seconds with no fear of rejection. The lack of creativity and variety in the bedroom only fuels the hunger for pornography. Especially if you have a spouse that isn't particularly adventurous, likes to keep the lights off, or just keep things really vanilla. 

And even though I know that it hurts her and is wrong, it quickly becomes something that is easy to justify. Simply trying to guilt away pornography only works on me for a few weeks at best until the dissatisfaction sets in and causes a relapse. I think that online pornography is many times more dangerous to an adhd marriage than a typical one.

What I just wish that I could get my wife to understand that I crave variety, sensory stimulation, and frequency. While I am definitely no expert, I believe that a spouse can do or try certain things to make sex more engaging for their adhd spouse and make resisting pornography just a little bit easier.

 

Resisting Pornography

I am delighted that you shared your questions and ideas about this.  I want to give you some food for thought...

Yes, your partner might be able to spice things up a bit.  However, as you yourself note, she will NEVER be able to compete with pornography.  And if she spices things up specifically to get you to be less interested in porn, that's not so likely to work out well for her...since she can't in any way compete with porn I suspect that her changes won't much change your interactions with porn (in reality).  You don't mention whether or not your wife knows you use porn regularly, nor whether or not you've ever talked with her about the topic of needing more stimulation.  It may be possible that a sex therapist could help the two of you reach some improvements in your sex life.

I'm more concerned about your "I know I'm wrong and it hurts, but..." statement.  Ask yourself how you might feel if your wife came to you and said "I know that it hurts you and is wrong, but I'm having an affair right now...and REALLY enjoying myself, so don't feel like stopping.  That's okay with you, isn't it?"  Kind of gives you pause, doesn't it?  This is an incredibly important area of your joint life together...it may be time to consider addiction therapy for porn.

I agree with you when you say it's really complicated when you have ADHD - because people with ADHD have difficulty controlling their impulses and need stimulation.  That's the combination that leads so many to have trouble with addictions...

Background

Thank you so much. I am new to this blog and I am in the process of ordering some of your ADHD marriage materials from amazon.

My intent was to try to make it apparent how much more appealing pornography is to the ADHD brain than most. And to establish the hypothesis that by having a frequent and stimulating sex life it might make it easier to resist the lure of pornography to the ADHD spouse by meeting their need for sex and for stimulation. Not to try to directly compete with it.

But to address your suggestions I feel I must offer some background.

I agree that my wife and I are long overdue to a visit to a sex therapist. Access to one has been an issue(about 150 miles to the closest one) and her willingness to actually try to find a counselor she will trust. Her biological father is on his 5th marriage. Her biological mother had an affair during her first marriage(when my wife was 2) and then was cheated on during her 2nd(when my wife was 18) and then cheated on during her 3rd marriage(when my wife was 26), which she ended last year. My wife came from a hyper religious background that made any and all forms of sex evil and dirty, she was the president of her high school abstinence club, then was in a bad relationship in college where she was raped and then proceeded to stay in that relationship for another year and a half since she felt that no one would want her anymore. We met and dated later in college and agreed to be abstinent until marriage. We were married two years later and my expectations for the amount of intimacy were promptly dashed. The first year of marriage we were intimate maybe only 2-3 times a month. Now almost to our 3rd year it is maybe only 1-2 times a month with a few months of complete dry spells. So massive trust issues, traumatic sexual abuse, past relationship abuse, family history of serial infidelity and divorce.

I have tried everything. I have talked to her at length about this, read dozens of intimacy books, tried introducing "marital aides," and even tried a schedule(which backfired). She tells me over and over again that she wants to be pursued but offers no insight into how whenever I ask her...then acts irritated at all of my attempts. Left to my own devices, I have tried everything that I can think of. She dislikes any type of mood setting(candles, music, lingerie), she hates any form of foreplay(kissing, massage, oral, stimulation), hates the taste of alcohol and even suggesting a drink to try to loosen up and enjoy our evening makes her irritated. She does like flowers and love notes but they do nothing to open her up. She has told me that she just flat out has never had a desire for sex. It's lights off, covers on, missionary nearly every time. Recent bloodwork has shown that she has no hormone deficiencies or anything wrong.

On top of all the the above, about 10 months into our marriage she started experiencing pain during sex. An OB/GYN said that it is caused by a nerve bundle that is overreacting to touch and constricting to prevent access(like an uncontrolled ANS twitch in response to over stimulus or trauma). This means that now our ritual has to include putting on lidocaine gel to help her relax 5 minutes before we start and trying to finish before it begins to wear off in about 30-40 minutes. Several doctors and a counselor that I see have told me that it is very likely psychosomatic. The strangest thing is that once we actually get to the act itself she really enjoys it. She is multiple orgasmic and typically has at least 3-5.

In practice it goes like this:

Consistent rejection when pursuing my wife. Waiting until she goes to sleep and then going into the other room to masturbate.

OR

Completely normal evening. No indications or hints we are having sex. She comes to bed from taking a shower wearing a towel. Turns off all of the lights. Gets into bed. We lay there for a while, maybe 15-30 awkward minutes. I try to engage in some type of foreplay(blankets have to be on!). Pretty awesome sex once we actually start with her having multiple orgasms.

The expression that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" describes my love life. The idea that nothing I do can please my wife or make her want to be with me and that she only gives out sex whenever she starts to feel sorry for me. Repeatedly trying and the failing in the pursuit of my wife has taken its toll. It has contributed heavily to an incredible amount of self-doubt and depression which has now spread into several other areas of my life and affecting them greatly. Which gets reinforced every time I go home to my wife. 

I have told her that I use pornography often to supplement my needs. She reacted pretty hurt and disgusted. But she never brings it up. The twisted impression that I get is that she is almost grateful for pornography so that she won't have to be "degraded" into having sex. But I don't want pornography...I just want her. It's more of a crutch than anything. At least that's what I tell myself. While I believe pornography is wrong in black and white, I place it closer to solitary masturbation than to an affair on a sliding scale and much easier to ask forgiveness for in my situation. While it is a very, very poor substitute for the intimacy I am not getting in my marriage, it does take the edge off, temporarily fills some pretty basic needs that just aren't being met. I have considered trying to address pornography as an addiction and even tried stopping several times. But I can't fall asleep at night next to a half naked woman I can't touch. It's like someone trying to quit smoking while living in a house made of cigarettes and not being able to use nicotine aides. Or living in a candy factory not eating any candy and only being fed 1-3 times a month.

All of that plus dealing with ADHD issues.

She understands all of the above. This has become our "the same old fight."

MagicSandwich's picture

There's nothing wrong with

There's nothing wrong with you and there's nothing wrong with porn. There's nothing wrong with needing sex and wanting to be wanted by your spouse.  If things remain as-is, at some point you will probably stop pursuing her. Does she understand how she might feel to be met with equal rejection?

MagicS, I've seen your other

MagicS,

I've seen your other posts.  You are certainly entitled to your opinions but the way you share them is awfully wreckless and shuts down healthy conversations about these kinds of topics. 

I'll share my opinion on Pornography.  In my opinion there is a lot wrong with it. 

I was shown pornography when I was 14 years old.  To a 14 year old who recently found out about sex, this was traumatizing.  I missed an entire season of healthy sexual development at the coaxing of someone else.  When we're talking about stimulation and highs and addictions, it doesn't matter what it is, we are talking about the brain and how it develops.

Secondly, ADHD or not, I have experienced the affects of getting high on pornography, being a glutton to it and having no energy left to experience a healthy sexual relationship with my wife.  It is not just she that misses out, I do. 

One sided sex may be allowable to you, but it is truly just sad.

Lastly, the pornography industry is furthered by our participation in it.  These girls are victims, prostitutes and sex slaves.  There should not be an industry that we perpetuate by our participation that objectifies women and sex in such a way.  (http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/annie-lobert/)

To say that there is "nothing wrong with porn" is a self-centered, ignorant and sad opinion that completely ignores many truths surrounding pornography, what it is, what it does to healthy relationships, what it does to the victims in the pornography and WHAT IT DOES TO YOU. 

Lastly, I have heard countless stories of how porn has harmed individuals, families, etc... there are tons of abuse stories and stories of women who have been wounded by their spouse's use of porn.  See if you can find stories of ways porn has healed relationships and made people feel more at peace with themselves.  Those stories are not there.  Porn leaves a void and many who participate do not undersand the temperature of the fire they are dealing with until it is too late.

 

 

MagicSandwich's picture

Nowhere did I advocate for

Nowhere did I advocate for one-sided-sex or objectification of women. Saying there's nothing wrong with porn for consenting adults is a completely reasonable statement. However, I am sorry you were traumatized by porn at 14. I hope that whomever exposed you to adult material at a young age has (or will in the future) try to make amends to you.

I really believe that women who have been wounded by their spouse's use of porn should direct their complaints to the spouse. Similarly, women who have been wounded by their spouse's hyper-focus on videogames should direct their complaints to the spouse and women who have been wounded by their spouse leering at other women should direct their complaints to the spouse... and so on. Because the responsibility does not rest with the porn lighting crew or the videogame programmers or the young office temps  - no it rests with the person who can't or won't behave appropriately in these contexts. 

 

for caffeinated

Thank you so much for sharing your story.  The background you give puts your original comment into a much fuller picture.  Your wife has suffered very significant trauma throughout her life as relates to sex, and then combines that with a spiritual/family attitude towards sex which adds to the mix.  You are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

You brought up the question of trust as it relates to your wife finding a good sex therapist - I wonder also if there is an issue of trust in your own relationship?  One issue that many couples impacted by ADHD face is that the non-ADHD partner loses the ability to trust the ADD partner when confronted by the inconsistency of ADD.  If your wife is feeling as if you are untrustworthy I would imagine it would inflame all the old triggers from her childhood, adding to her sexual reluctance.  You might explore this question with her to see if it is a factor - if it is, then managing the ADHD in a way that promotes reliability may help her relax with you more.

I also often see women who feel as if their ADD partner doesn't pay enough attention to them except when they want sex.  So if she sees your attempts at foreplay as the one of the few times you are genuinely attentive, this might "justify" her rejection of you a bit, too, though it seems as if it may be more complex than this in her case.  I do remember when I felt as if my husband wasn't paying any attention to me except when he wanted sex (or so it seemed to me) that I resented that and wasn't very interested in partnering around sex at the time...it felt as if his spotlight (think lighthouse with beam of light shining in one direction) was aimed elsewhere...then suddenly he wanted sex and I was caught in the full glare in a way that felt uncomfortable.

What may be sexy to her is attentiveness.  Some examples.  She walks in the door (or you do) and you stop what you are doing and sit and talk with her for a while.  Say nice things to her, ask her about her day, ask her questions.  That you promise to do something special (or even mundane) and then follow through on it.  Hold her hand (if she likes that) just because you can (as a sign of affection vs. foreplay).  Leave her cards, notes...say nice things about things that are special about her when you can.  Tell her you love her.  Maybe get her a special vase and keep one lovely flower in it for her all the time as a sign you love her.  Attentiveness says "love" without all the trappings of the "sex industry" (that's one way to think of it) that lingerie and alcohol might remind her of.  Attentiveness is also likely to be quite different from what she observed as she was growing up - all that dysfunction in her family life was most certainly not a situation in which her mother was being well attended to (just the opposite).

I might also suggest that you might also talk with her (if you haven't done so already) about sex as a gift she gives to you.  Not something for her pleasure (though it sounds as if she gets pleasure some of the time) but as a gift she gives to you as her partner.  Perhaps she feels under pressure to "enjoy" the sex...if she is no longer expected to enjoy it, but rather thinks of it as something she might artfully create for you, that might help.  During sex, then, you might be able to lead her to focus on YOU by suggesting things that you would like her to try (within the bounds of what you think she can handle)...over time stretching her comfort zone somewhat.  In other words, you acknowledge that the sexual realm is not her "language" but yours...and the gift that she gives you is to "speak" your language regularly enough so that you feel loved (in the same way that you "speak" her language by giving her cards etc so she feels loved...)  She doesn't have to love your language, or appreciate it much...just learn enough of it so that you feel appreciated and know she is making the effort.  Same thing in reverse - you don't have to understand why the cards and flowers "speak" to her...but if she makes it clear that this is what she appreciates then that's what you give her as a sort of gift.  (BTW - I'm guessing that she will be attracted to the 'tame' side of romance - perhaps old-fashioned courtship.  That if you thought in that direction...cards, flowers, holding the door open for her, letting her go first, making dinner reservations and planning dates, compliments on her looks and interests...these may be things she appreciates because they say "caring" without getting her into the terrible place of her childhood and her inner turmoil about sex.)

And back to the question of porn use.  Masturbation is certainly a way to enjoy sexual release when your partner isn't around (for whatever reason) and masturbation is perfectly healthy.  My concern about the porn is that in its intensity and extremity it might set you up to be even less satisfied with your partner.  And that it feeds into your wife's fears about sex being bad or perverted.  While she may be happy to have you masturbating as a way to manage your sexual needs, it's hard to see how adding porn use to that masturbation improves your situation.  And the fact that you can't seem to stop it even when you try does suggest that you've crossed the line into addiction.

Someone else here suggests that "porn is not bad" - I would make a finer distinction.  There is a broad array of what people like to engage in sexually - some couples use erotic materials in their joint sex life including, for some couples, porn.  I should not be the arbiter of "right" or "wrong" in someone's sex life, at least not until such time as the sexual acts cross into hurting others...an extreme example being those who use tight chokers to ramp up sexual pleasure by cutting off oxygen to the brain and end up strangling their partner.  I do fear that porn crosses the line to "hurt" for many people (not all) insomuch as its exploitation of women (and men) and negative images that it provides about women's sexuality objectify women in a damaging way.  I know WAY too many women who struggle to match their own feelings about sex with the hyper-sexed, "trashy sex" media culture we live in in which women are simply "objects" without power beyond whatever their cleavage or pussy provide them.  That's not a useful model for most women, nor for the men who love them.  Women have enough problems being taken seriously in their lives for all sorts of reasons...so for me, porn is not a positive influence.  I don't have the same feelings about erotic materials that celebrate sexuality.  I find those a wonderful, positive celebration of what we too often cover up in our culture...celebrating the sexual act for its power and joy, and for the purely sensual sides of our nature is something we could all do a bit more with...but porn crosses that line for me.  Where is the line between sensually erotic and porn?  It has something to do with respectful portrayal of the person/people involved, but even the Supreme Court couldn't define it precisely.  The best I can do is to say if it's not a celebration...it's using, and therefore porn.  Your wife has been caught up in her own version of sex as hurt throughout her life, I think, and thus it's hard for me to imagine how your use of porn can do anything but reinforce a scary sense that men are (I'm putting words into her mouth here) uncontrolled animals with nasty, hurtful urges and feelings.

That's enough for now - I look forward to continuing the conversation with you and others on the site.

Reply

Sorry for cluttering up the thread Melissa,

You hit the nail on the head with the trust and security issue.When we started dating I was a junior pre-med in college and massively involved in everything. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with ADHD until my sophomore year of college. So I hadn’t learned any coping mechanisms or management techniques and was trying to figure out medication. I appeared to be driven, responsible, and a secure place for her. She never really had to deal with the reality of how my ADHD would affect our marriage. Because of the chaos and dysfunction in her life she seeks order as a form of control and safety. She lives by her planner and I had to get “penciled in” when I was trying to date her. She keeps the most detailed checkbook ledger I have ever seen. She has to have order.

After we got married I slipped into a deep depression because I got a horrible MCAT score and couldn’t find a job in rural Oklahoma with a Biology degree. She didn’t want to leave her small town support network for a larger city until I had my graduate school sorted. I had to work several horrible jobs for a year before I finally found one that at least required a college degree. During this time she got to really see the topsy turvy nature of being married to an ADHD spouse. The impulse spending, the impulse projects (I have dozens of unfinished DIY projects that I started and lost interest in), the 30 books on my nightstand that I made it halfway through before losing interest.

The biggest one right now is that I am in the middle of a crossroads in my career. I am trying to decide if I still want to go to medical school since I lost all of my motivation and self confidence after getting that bad score. I have been unable to study on my own to improve my MCAT since heavily I relied on my peers in college for structure, organization, and support to graduate. I have been unable to effectively manage my ADHD here. I started seeing a counselor last fall because of my depression and she has been helping me work through it and some of my issues with my wife. My counselor is great...but knows almost nothing about ADHD and I would have to travel at least two hours to find anyone who could help me manage it. We have decided that we need to move to a largest metro within the next 3-6 months so that I can be around a better support group to manage my ADHD as well as some medical and science peers that might be able to help me get motivated and save our marriage.  So wish us luck on that.

She has told me that she feels like she is having to fulfill a maternal role instead of a spousal role. The infamous “I’m married to an adult child” statement which from reading the forums is so common for the non-ADHD spouse. For our relationship, she expects me to be the Alpha. That is what she thought she was getting when she married me and that is what makes her feel secure about us which in turn determines her level of attraction towards me which ultimately makes her feel vulnerable enough to trust me with her body. It’s just been hard to look dependable when your career skillset is mismatched to your current location, depressed, mopey, unmotivated, no peer groups, and no support groups.

As to the attentiveness towards her, I really don’t think that is much of an issue. I make Nicholas Sparks look like a comic book writer! Lol. If anything the level of attention I dedicated toward her when I was courting her set the bar way too high to be sustained during marriage. The “magic jar” that spontaneously has love notes or encouragement in them, flowers at work every month or every other month, the gold dipped roses, cooking her dinner 3-4 times a week, making sure I say I love you several times a day, kiss before and right after work, jewelry, ALWAYS opening and holding doors, etc... It just doesn’t work on her anymore because of the lack of security. She would probably rather see me stick to a planner for a week than get flowers.

The “Sex as a Gift” thing seems really close to what we did most of our first year of marriage. But honestly it felt humiliating to me. The act of giving my wife pleasure is probably 95% of what sexual intimacy is for me and really what gets me off. Initially, I explained to her that I needed something to supplement the lack of actual sex we were having and how physical affection is a real need for me. She doesn’t like giving or receiving oral sex, so I asked for a simple handjob once or twice a week. She just looked bored and disgusted the whole time. Like the whole thing was beneath her and that there was something sick and wrong with me for wanting this. She couldn’t seem to even pretend like she was interested. And her asking me ”are you close yet, I need to get to bed” just killed it. The level of disgust and resentment I felt was like I was saying that my love language was for her to smear feces on the walls or something. It was pitiful and humiliating. After a few months of this I gave it up. I felt unwanted and it harmed more than helped. That’s really when the heavy porn use started. I was just so much easier to take care of it myself in 15-30 minutes than to beg for days for a handout and then feel judged and shamed for it.

 

I know for her porn is associated with the memory of her as a teenager walking in on her stepdad asleep on the couch with porn still going on tv. Shortly thereafter it was found out that he was having an affair with 4 women that her mother worked with and divorce quickly ensued. So in her mind Porn=the beginning of the end. She also tried watching some porn a few months back to try to generate some type of sexual arousal since she was unable to, but all she was was able to find was the hardcore stuff with multiple penetrations, ass-to-mouth, and threesomes with two women engaging in lesbian acts with each other...pretty standard fare for most pornography but for a sheltered, prudish girl trying to find something that works, it was horrifying. This definitely reinforced the "dirty" perceptions of porn that she had and lowered her perception of me.

The porn use for me helps fill the need for visual stimulation both as a man and as ADHD. There’s a genuine hunger for beauty and sensuality, titillation, seduction, and being wanted that is often just tossed aside as “men being horny.” Being a married male and not seeing a naked woman who wants you sexually is starvation of the senses and emotions. Porn for me lets me fantasize that I am with my wife and that she actually wants to have sex with me....it’s sad I know. But for now it is all I have since she has made it clear that she doesn’t desire me sexually. It is also probably one of the only reasons I haven’t ventured into the affair territory. Imagination works up to a point but it’s too easy for me to get distracted without pornography. It helps shut my mind off and helps me focus on the fantasy.

So let's talk about reliability...

Are you now managing your ADD well enough to actually be more reliable?  If not, that's where  I would most definitely start (and also MAYBE visiting a women-friendly sex site, such as babeland.com and see if there is some literature there that might appeal to her???  I was interested to see she had looked for porn...this is a very complex story you tell!)

To work on your ADHD, I suggest hiring a coach.  They work by phone, often, and so your location won't matter.  There are a few listed in my referrals section whom you might like.  They can help you immediately with your organizational skills - don't wait!  

I know nothing of it, but moving for the medical thing sounds a bit risky.  Will you add a lot of debt to your situation that will add stress to your marriage?  Being a doctor doesn't improve ADHD, per se...I've had a couple of clients, in fact, who were doctors who had also been fired from a couple of jobs...which doesn't mean you will, but there is a great deal of pressure on that career right now...have you ever talked with a career coach? you might consider calling the Hallowell Center in Sudbury MA to talk with Robin Roman Wright, who works with people with ADHD who are thinking about their career directions at various stages...

It's late now, so I'm goimg to sign off.  Thank you for sharing your story...I hope that others will also provide ideas.

Richmellott's picture

Porn use is a fail for me

Philosophically, I totally agree with the viewpoint expressed and the nine reasons it hurts women.  However, I am involved in a long-distance relationship with my wife, because she's now overseas, and often unavailable.  It's sometimes a couple of months between our life here, as we've had issues related to my ADHD, complicated with her cultural issues in adjusting to the lifestyle here in the states.  So, while we've had some small success with our relationship, when we're apart, by using virtual sex, it hasn't been very often that circumstances and timing has worked in our favor, so I often find myself with the electronic ladies, getting the visual stimulus needed to get the show on the road, so to speak.  It is going to be several months until we're finally back together, so while I often can't stand what I'm watching, I feel it is a better alternative than finding a mistress in the flesh, so my guilt is somewhat modified by that.  

When I do take advantage of these perfect women, often I find myself looking for a woman whose build reminds me of my wife, so she is more of a surrogate for my wife.  When I'm with my wife, we are very compatible sexually, and I have very few complaints, so it is more of a temporary replacement, and it keeps me out of trouble.  Once, a friend came over to take care of our place, after I had travelled to be with the wife, and she found a great big surprise on my desktop, as I had put up a pretty graphic picture to keep me company (in the days before videos were prevalent).  So, my wife understands the nature of my porn use, and doesn't have a problem with it.  I'm just going to be glad to be back with her, as I've grown extremely tired of virtuality.

R

ADHD wives into porn?

I know I'm in the minority with this but my wife is the one watching porn and masturbating to it.   Are there any other men dealing with this and can anyone share that they did about it??

MagicSandwich's picture

Problem with wife watching porn?

Lot's of women with and without ADHD watch porn. 99.9% of people masturbate. Women are people. Therefore, women masturbate.

What's the specific problem?  

Women masturbating

There isn't anything to do about masturbation, per se.  It's a normal part of your sex life.  You might even be able to bring her masturbation into your mutual pleasure if you are both interested in this.  It's not the masturbation that is the issue, but rather the objectification of people in porn that I'm taking issue with.  For either sex.  So open up a conversation with your partner if you can.

MagicSandwich's picture

Why get a pizza if he's going to watch the pizza show?

Anyone has the right to say that they don’t want pornographic images to be part of their sex life. And anyone has a right to feel betrayed when their partner has stated they DON'T like porn and then winds up being a porn fan after the fact. But seriously Melissa other than the implied deceit, I don't get your attitude. It's NORMAL for masturbation to occur in addition to sex with one's partner. (It's not OK to imply that non-coitis orgasms stop after marriage. Consult Masters & Johnson and Dr. Ruth for further discussion on this. ) Pleasing imagery be it porn or not, can cause sexual arousal and is normal. Wanting to see imagery that causes sexual arousal is normal. High-heeled shoes and James Bond would not exist if this weren't true.  

Also I am curious - why would a spouse never be able to "compete" with pornography?  That's like saying most people would rather watch a cooking show than eat real food. So why bother picking up a pizza if he's just going to watch the pizza show? No I don't think so. Also in the original thread you stated "Sex is the ultimate way that a woman makes herself vulnerable to a man" - excuse me?  You sound like my great aunt Nelly. It's not just that ultimate vulnerability is an ultimately subjective experience that should be free from antiquated assumptions, but also, gay people exist and read this blog. OK?  Not all women want to sleep with men and vice-versa. Just saying.

Pbartender's picture

"Also I am curious - why

"Also I am curious - why would a spouse never be able to "compete" with pornography?  That's like saying most people would rather watch a cooking show than eat real food. So why bother picking up a pizza if he's just going to watch the pizza show? No I don't think so."

The competition comes from the fantastically unrealistic appearance of the actors and the sometimes extraordinary acts that they perform.  When you start expecting your spouse to look and act like the actors in pornography, that's when the futile competition begins.

Pornography is normally only a problem when that sort of expectation takes root.

It's a little more like watching a cooking show, and then expecting your spouse to start cooking like Rachel Ray or Emeril Legasse.  How can your cooking ever live up to that expectation?

 

Pb.

Aggressive response

MagicS - not quite sure why you are responding so aggressively to this - however if you read what I'm posting much more closely you will notice that you think I'm posting something I'm not.  For example, I wrote that masturbation was healthy.  You seem to think I wrote that it's not healthy or normal... just the opposite.  Nor was I suggesting masturbation stops after marriage - in any way, shape or form.

Furthermore, I think it's HIGHLY unlikely that my attitudes about sex (or my sex life, for that matter) in any way shape or form resemble that of your Aunt Nelly.  However, you do rightly point out that I was not being broad enough in my writing when I said a woman gives herself to a man.  I should have said that sex is an act of vulnerability for a woman with a man or another woman - but an act of vulnerability nonetheless.  Mea Culpa.

What I was trying to do was make some suggestions for the other poster about how to think about pornography as it relates to his specific situation, as well as clarify my own biases (may as well expose them - no pun intended) so that people know where I come from.  You don't have to agree with me, but I would appreciate that you at least read what I write with accuracy before you start writing that I belong in the Victorian era with your dear old auntie.  Thanks!

 

I think women are getting a

I think women are getting a rap for being too "uptight" about men vegging out on porn.  It goes both ways and I think if you put yourself in my shoes you might understand.

The problem with my wife and porn is complicated.  I agree with the point made about unrealistic expectations.   The male actors for example are more then average well hung, perfect bodys all hair free and of course have the rugged movie star good looks.  No male pattern baldness or flab.  Being totally average in the "hung" department, a little old etc all looks pretty pityful in comparisson.   Cooking shows vrs eating at a restaurant is apples vrs oranges if your talking masturbation to porn vrs actual people sex?

I'm not a prude.  As a couple we have watched adult stuff.  An example would be "Better Sex" which really did educate me on a variety of moderatly conventional things people do in bed.  And we have watched other stuff that is the unrealistic movie star porn but we did this together.  My issues include her watching this by herself and having a more solo sex life.   The topics in the porn are another issue.  I know I'm going to sound like a housewife but this really does go both ways.   Porn and BDSM (in particular) is degrading.   In particular the Amateur stuff where you can't be sure its really ok with the women being used and abused.

Another problem is (My opinion) making orgys, threesomes, forced felatio, adultry, cheating in general all "normal" or even expected.  My ADHD wife and I are a heartbeat away from divorce due to her (Physical) infidelity problem.  Porn might not be the cause of infidelity  (Or ADHD) but I'm pretty sure it didn't help things.   Its all very depressing.

Problem with addictions

The problem with a sex addiction (or any addiction) is that the more you indulge, the more you want and the more intense it has to become. One wise therapist told me that at the point a person becomes involved in an addiction, their emotional development stops.

For all the men that claim they have high sex drives or needs that can't be met by sex with their spouse, I would like to suggest that if they stopped feeding it, it would return eventually to normal. Instead of reaching for your crotch, go for a run or exercise, take your wife out, read to your kids -- find SOMETHING constructive to do instead of convincing yourself that your unusually high sex drive makes you do it. Rein 'er in son. You won't be missing anything important.

Problem with addictions

Bravo lynnie70!!!!  I totally agree with your statement. I've said that very same thing to my husband "find SOMETHING constructive to do........."  While I do feel my husband has a mild ADHD and Compulsive behaviors, he has told me the exact same things that have been posted in the 9 Reasons Porn Hurts and has used the "high sex drive" excuse many times.

Tips from a wife

I am a wife, and I can promise you if you just tell her that you would like more variety, she would do almost anything to keep you happy. I suggest yall make a date to go to an adult store and look at all the sex games they have their. I doubt she will want to watch porn with you, but why would you when you can make your own! Also the majority of women don't crave sex because they aren't really enjoying it. I am going to let you in on a little secret...MOST women require clitoral stimulation during intercourse in order to have an orgasm. She might not even be aware of that fact! If she doesn't already own one, while the two of you are at the adult store, be sure to purchase a little pocket rocket that she herself can use on her clitoris while you do your thing during intercourse. Trust me she will be running to the room every time she gets the chance, and you will get a little visual show. Oh, and is she is too embarrassed to go to the adult store, Amazon sells toys, sex games, and very sexy lingerie for all sizes. Hope this  helps!

Insightful

Thanks for this well-written, insightful article, Melissa. I believe it cuts directly to the heart of so many problems porn causes for women, and I don't think the observations are old-fashioned or out of date in any way for most. Looking past a person's core being in order to mentally "consume" their body is such a degrading way to discount a person's humanity.  Seems like Women's Rights have moved backwards instead of forwards in this area. I especially appreciate your straightforward observations, even if you risk being seen as politically incorrect.

ADHD + Meds + Porn = Recipe For Disaster

Melissa,

Thanks for this post.  When my wife first realized that I was looking at internet porn over eleven years ago, she tried to not make a big deal out of it.  So did I.  I knew it hurt her, and at that point I was so disgusted with myself that I was able to walk away from it for five or six years.  But I came back to it, harder than ever.  I got better at hiding it and when I started taking ADHD meds--gotten casually from my GP, not an ADHD specialist, so there was no deep understanding of the condition--it just supercharged.  It wasn't so much about masturbation, but more about what I now understand as a craving for dopamine.  When times were tough, when I was feeling bad about myself, when my wife and I were in an argument, it became almost impossible to resist.  Click-click-click.  Just like the rat in the box pushing the lever for cocaine, I could barely click fast enough.  Business trips made it even harder.  I decided to add energy drinks to my already dangerous cocktail of adderall and phentermine (don't ask how that happened!); I kept escalating and escalating the kind of porn and the frequency of use until my impulsivity and inability to make rational decisions completely blew my life up.  The details are gruesome.  What I did without thinking and certainly without self control in no way aligns with the image I have of myself or frankly what most other people think of me.  I had no idea I could hurt someone that much.  It has been the best of times and the worst of times since then--learning, loving deeper, feeling more, flailing to fix myself.

Today, when I read about the sex scandals or substance abuse or immoral behavior of public figures, I look at it completely differently.  I used to think of them as incredibly weak and stupid.  Now I realize that I'm as frail and imperfect as they are.  I have proven that I too can make decisions that are beyond any rationalization.  It is humbling.  You tell yourself all the lies that any abuser tells himself:  "Just this once.  I can handle it--doesn't really effect me.  No one will find out if I use private browsing, so it doesn't really count.  This will be the last time."   Then unexpectedly, because you have been fooling yourself, you look around and everything is in flames.  Starts to sound sort of like an addict, doesn't it?  

I'm still struggling every day to hold on to my wife.  

In learning about the condition and the effects of porn and how it can be fueled by the meds that are supposed to keep us calmer and focused, I came to see that I could be actively aware of situations that could lead me down the wrong road.  I could see it coming and swerve away by modulating the meds.  That was a breakthrough.  But I didn't always swerve away.   Every three or four months it seems my need for that escape creeps back.  And every backslide hurts my wife as much as the major explosion three years ago.  Cue the self-loathing.  Until recently, I've been telling her that it's a hiccup, not important, not about her, more like a video game than it is about sex.  All of which I believed.  But she didn't.  

Just like your wife can tell when you've been looking at porn; even when you're being so smart about hiding it physically, you can't hide the emotional disconnection.  And then you lie about, because you can not bear that look in her eyes and the justifiable wrath that will follow behind it.  And that is the most grievous sin of all.  Because without trust, you don't even HAVE a relationship.  And you find yourself on very, very thin ice.

But now as science is proving that even people who don't have ADHD can have their brain reprogrammed by porn, now vigilant do we with ADHD have to be?  Very.  

The more we see it, even it's just for an instant, the more we need to see it again.  And with our weak pre-frontal cortexes, we are less likely to be able to resist it.  And even though the pain of a setback is searing, a few months from now, we don't even remember that pain.  How awesome!  Hey-we can't remember what we had for dinner last night.  Even negative reinforcement is less than effective.  So guard yourselves.  Here's a very good overview of the research regarding the effect of porn on the brain: http://www.alternet.org/story/148399/how_porn_can_hijack_your_brain  (I know you don't like links on the forum, but this is an informative one.)

I decided I needed to write this after reading a couple of posts trying to make the point that porn is harmless or the use of it is inconsequential.   Just control yourself, dude!  For people with ADHD especially, that just isn't true.  A bomb is pretty harmless too--just sitting there quietly, not really bothering anyone, until either accidentally or on purpose, a button gets pushed.  Then all hell breaks loose.

Porn rewires the brain

Thank you so much for sharing your story, as well as the link, which I fully intend to leave up!

I think there is more to it

 

When I read this, I must say found myself torn between agreeing with much of it while at the same time feeling there were a lot of points that dealt with symptoms and consequences and avoided the more complicated issue of root cause.  It’s just my personal opinion but to me empathy comes most easily when there is a good understanding of root cause.  In the absence of this what you end up with is not empathy but guilt.  Guilt is never productive.

I agree, that porn is not personal...  it comes with no expectation or judgment, it is neither wrought with ubiquitous personal politics nor is it judgmental or shaming.  It is free from all fight to the death mind-games,   it is free of the awkward empty feeling when a partner who would rather not be there but feels resentfully obligated to participate in a what they clearly now view as a distasteful activity, one they have come to view as long ago redundant within the relationship.

Porn is not personal...but neither is having a lover for whom  the physical aspects of a relationship are a chore, and while it is true that porn *is* degrading,  one partner having to put on an act while the other tries to block their partners obvious distaste to me at least as degrading. This becomes an abuser and the abused dynamic, and it is as toxic to a relationship as any porn.

Perhaps porn is sought out often precisely because it is not personal.  One could know that it is exploitative, but feel it is at least nameless exploitation. It is not the person you are supposed to love that you are exploiting, but rather an easily accessed substitute for a primal need that goes unfulfilled.  Porn exists because of an unmet biological need, this is the ugly reality. It exists to fill a void, a void created by relationship dynamics most often vastly more complex than the caricature description of a simple addiction to a cheap thrill.  It needs to be seen as symptomatic of a much broader issue of gender biology and the cultural constraints with which it conflicts.

It's the old cliché "sex is all men think about" (this cliché in itself being a pejorative).   In an evolutionary sense there would be few reasons for this other than this drive conferring some sort of long term advantage, with the obvious candidate being greater likelihood of passing on genes and in a broader context, the development of a diversified gene pool.

So what has this to do with porn? Well there is a conflict; we have a cultural context that requires that men constrain a deeply ingrained instinct, except that we think about sex all the time because biologically it makes sense to have sex for us as frequently as possible (and to be blunt, with as many suitable mates as possible), our brains and bodies are screaming this at us constantly.... it is just that we can't.  99% of porn is made for men because it provides a simulated fantasy environment where men can imagine themselves spreading their genes to the four corners of the earth. If you pardon the pun, the visuals that go along with it are just a means an end.    To state the bleeding obvious Women's bodies don't operate the same way; men can biologically do their part in making babies with almost no risk.    Having children for women is dangerous; it makes sense from a evolutionary stand point for this to be limited in environments where survival prospects are high.    

It is not a revelation then that in long term relationships it is far more likely for a woman to lose interest in sex than it is for the man (research it if skeptical). This makes total sense; a woman after all potentially has a lot to lose by pushing her luck when it comes to giving birth(i.e. her life).  Once the baby making activities are done, then what practical point does sex serve?   Taken further why it is that menopause is frequently associated with a large reduction of libido? One can’t breed anymore, therefore sex is from a biological perspective redundant, no point in the body wasting precious resources on a pointless activity right? The production of hormones is expensive biologically speaking, so why would the body continue to do it?   

So monogamy comes fraught with difficulties; Men and Women often have contrasting biological instincts, and any serious discussion of porn ought to acknowledge this reality so that strategies can be developed to manage these in the context of a long term relationship where monogamy is the expectation.

It is unfortunately all too easy to simply view porn as a moral issue, or one or inadequate self-control, this is a convenient conclusion where issues can be neatly categorised into absolutes, in doing so, we ignore a vast amount of evidence that points to a more nuanced conclusion:  Porn is ubiquitous; the market for it is immense, and it is growing, and most interestingly not only via the big corporate interests you would think,  where there is need there is demand,  where there is demand there is supply, the vast amount of supply really just indicates a vast need.  

 From the very earliest scratching on cave walls, porn has been a constant. All that has changed is the ease at which it can be accessed.  The simple fact is that men have always been attracted to imagery that arouses; men have evolved to be much more visual, simply as a short cut circuit to facilitate a desire to have sex and therefore breed.   This would be why lingerie exists, why women make themselves up (red lipstick and blush?), why a lot of women’s fashion wear is more revealing etc. and that is also ultimately why porn exists, I could go into the development of the camera, video, the internet etc. and highlight the close relationship all these technologies have had with porn, but that that would turn an already long post into a thesis, it does make for some very enlightening reading though.    

 It is obviously true that for some people porn is a compulsive behavior, what is characterised as an “addiction”, and for these people there is something clearly way out of balance;  any single activity that so dominates one’s life as to get in the way of normal function is obviously going to result in serious dysfunction.   However, I would go out on a limb and say that in most circumstances although the porn may be a source of great angst in the relationship, there is likely to be far more to it than meets the eye. Some men clearly are unable to reconcile their impulses with the reality of their own lives, and for these men porn becomes a refuge and an escape with all the obvious disastrous consequences.

More broadly however and at risk of being hung drawn and quartered, I wanted to raise the role of women in this equation, because ultimately progress relies on Men and Women conquering or at least tempering their biological instincts. And discussion of this tends to be taboo and one dimensional. 

I have stated before and will state again I have no sympathy with the notion of any one having to do anything they don’t want to do, to do otherwise is simply going to aggravate the situation and end up with the abuser/abused dynamic; and believe unless you are one of those brain dead oblivious males (of which I freely admit there are many) a resentment of this dynamic is likely to be intense and equally shared.           

 At the end of the day, only individuals own their own sexuality, and therefore have a personal interest in working on the elements of it that are the cause of conflict in a relationship if a sustainable relationship is indeed what they desire.  I would venture that it can be just as degrading to feel used up and discarded as a live in sperm donor as it is to have ones partner seemingly carried away by a porn obsession.   Both are signals loud and clear that one or the other has outlived their primary usefulness.         

For men, to state the obvious, porn can be a substitute for an unsatisfying and frustrating physical relationship, and this in itself can be a vicious cycle in that it can lead men to have unrealistic expectations of what everyone else is supposedly doing.      Porn is threatening because it is always at the ready, most of it is performed by seasoned pro’s who practice like a sports star would.    It is also threatening because it implicitly signals to women that the man is not satisfied by what is on offer, that what they are providing is inadequate.  Of course when seen in that context it is going to be threatening.  Even more the case if there is an underlying grain truth.   

I think it a mistake to assume that men want their partners to be porn stars,    I would say for most men this is just not the case, what they are most likely really looking for is a partner who exhibits that they are comfortable and confident with their own body, is able and willing to express their desires, is not afraid to take the lead and makes a concerted effort to be an active participant, in short they are looking for a partner with which to share. 

In society where male/female roles are suffocatingly defined, I think our physical relationships present a safe and trusting environment to find a level playing field.    For most men, sex needs to be fun as well as adventurous, sometimes spontaneous and it needs to be unpredictable, and you know it also needs to be a place where we can escape the stereotypes that seem to define us as men. 

Routine, predictability and an obviously disinterested partner going through the motions are a recipe for boredom, and because of its vast scope porn is a great reliever of sexual boredom.  It may be tempting to think men are oblivious and only chasing their own happy ending,  but for the most part I would like to think we are actually reasonably astute at picking up if our partner is present in the moment…and if not sex is such a uncomfortable experience that porn looks like the less complicated alternative.      

And one of the hard truths is that for men, part of what constitutes an exciting sex life may not always be a case of gazing lovingly into our partner’s eyes, in reality at least part of the time men can be a little more reptile than that; I know this may seem as objectification rather than to emotional ideal, and I can’t honestly truly deny it, but the truth is… I think we are hard wired to find this a thrill, it is no reflection on the love we have for our partner’s, and in fact although it may seem there is a lack of tenderness in the moment, this tenderness may simply deferred to situations outside of the bedroom.  

So, if you examine it, what do the inclusion of a spontaneous, adventurous, unpredictable, and an occasional more primal element in a man’s sex life achieve?  It serves to fill that void that our instinct screams at us we need and that in the cultural context of monogamy goes otherwise unanswered.  And what does it achieve for a woman in the relationship? Well self-assuredness, a sense of control over one’s own destiny, likely a greater level of tenderness, a closer bond, and hopefully a greater willingness for you partners to listen.         

I am aware that this may sound like I am pushing all of it back onto women and making the habits of their husband their responsibility. This is not what I mean at all, it is just that like everything in a relationship, it takes two to tango.  I think it hard to overestimate just how much time can be spent by men ruminating over what they feel is an unsatisfying sex life, the resentment and the search for a stress outlet can be immense and it can be incredibly heartbreaking to feel like your life is slipping away while you wither on the vine. 

I would not for a second want any of this to be seen as me saying that women should just ignore all the other relationship issues, miraculously get in the mood and play a part they don’t feel or don’t feel comfortable with,   nor would I claim that there aren’t millions of men who are selfish, clueless and sadly don’t have the faintest idea that sex is not just masturbation for there own selfish pleasure with a conveniently shaped implement.

But I do think Melissa as an issue it is far more complex than the dot points outlined here, I also think it an issue where the perpetrator/victim divide is not as black and white as one may imagine.  

Alrighty then, fire away :)

    

More on porn

Thank you for your very thoughtful input.  I can't resist saying something about "fire away" in this context...  :-)  Except that I'm not the man here...

One of the things that no one is bringing up, so I will do so, is that there seems to be no differentiation between masturbation and porn.  Can't you just masturbate without porn?  Masturbation is a healthy release that very few spouses seem concerned about.  The porn itself is what is threatening.  Anyway, I would appreciate some group feedback on this.  "It's nicer with porn" to me would seem to miss the point - that this is an activity that hurts most female partners (not all, apparently.)  But I will await some input on this.

So here goes...I would like to continue the conversation (and, no, I have no interest in shooting you down!  This is the kind of thoughtful conversation from many partners I would like to see across the site!)  However, your support of your idea that women are less interested in sex because women don't want sex so much after menopause isn't quite on target.  Women don't have a strong drive (strong libido) for sex after menopause because their chemistry changes (60% less estrogen means LOTS less dopamine and other chemicals)...but that doesn't mean that they don't want the connection sex provides or don't like enjoy sex in it's own right.  It does mean that it's likely they need some lubrication (dryness leads to pain...and that dryness is chemical, too) and probably more patience on the part of their partner.  Some loss of interest may also have to do with how a woman feels about her partner after many, many years of (pardon the stereotype here) picking up after him.  And doing the same thing over and over in bed, too.  In sex, familiarity does breed contempt.

With the couples I work with, at LEAST 50% of the time it is the woman who is saying "this sex life isn't up to snuff, and I would like it to be much better."  Boring as hell is the sentiment I hear with some good frequency.  While I hear all the time from men about how it's all about visual stimulation (quite frankly, I think it's all about stimulation, period, visual or not) I don't hear so much from men talking about "what it's all about" for women.  If they did, I suspect they would get more sex.  And that has nothing to do with porn.

For the folks with ADHD, it seems as if porn is more than not just getting enough sex (though I am sympathetic to the man who posted here saying his wife is overseas...and he says she feels the porn is fine...)  I was recently talking with a man who described it this way "I get a ton of sex - can have it every day with my wife if I want to.  And the sex is good.  But when I get stressed out I just feel as if I need some porn..."  He does not always climax when viewing the porn, but finds that the quick "fix" of stimulation feels good.  For this person, at least, there is a chemical need (stress triggers a need for stimulation).  This person is on the addicted side of this conversation - in the same way that stress might trigger the "need" for a drink, and I have suggested he see an addiction specialist.  For him, porn is a bad coping strategy.

And, perhaps, that is what I am suggesting in a more general sense - that porn is a bad coping strategy for someone who cares about their partner.  We justify it because it's been around forever and because the drive is strong.  We could also justify beating someone because that's been around forever, too, and sometimes don't you just WANT to hit someone because you're so frustrated?  But we don't.  Is that because we think the porn is "less" hurtful than being slapped?  Ask a woman who wants her husband in her bed, but he chooses porn instead (I hear this all the time, BTW, perhaps because I work with couples in trouble)...it's just a different variety of hurt.  At least in our society.

Yes, the topic of the role that women play in this is taboo - it's not politically correct to suggest that a woman plays any role in this...insomuch as they are part of a dysfunctional relationship, I guess they do, though since the decision to use porn rests entirely and squarely on the shoulders of the man, there is no WAY you'll convince me that the decision to use porn can be blamed on the woman...any more than you'll convince me that a woman's decision to have an affair can be blamed on her husband.  There are ALWAYS different choices that can be made.  So yes, the relationship might be sexually unfulfilling.  Do you just leave it that way forever and just use porn?  That seems far from an ideal solution to me.  Why not focus on fixing the sex life (and, yes, I know that you both have to be involved to do that...)  Are you saying that the ability to use porn is the thing that keeps you in the relationship?

The possibility of porn in the relationship seems an issue that needs to be negotiated with each couple.  It is unclear from your post whether or not you are talking about your own personal experience with porn or whether it is a factor in your relationship.  I remain an optimist - believing that there is never just one choice.  That a man could choose to masturbate without porn, for example, or that a couple could seek the guidance of a sex counselor to help them work through their sexual issues.  Or, perhaps, if one of them is bored, they could express that lovingly and try to bring some excitement into the bedroom.  I know this isn't always well received, but then the question is "why not?"  More often than not I hear from women (and men, too) that their lack of interest in sex hangs on the idea that there is not a strong feeling of trust between partners.  They wish there were, and envision that if they felt safe in the relationship they would also feel at ease expanding their sexual vocabulary, but at the moment things have broken down.  One man put it this way:  "If she wants more and better sex, then she needs to stop yelling at me."  One woman put it this way: "He never pays attention to me unless he wants sex.  That doesn't feel good and makes me want to deny him."

Except in instances when you are physically apart, if you are having difficulties with your sex life I would look first to repairing the quality of your relationship.  I suspect you'll find something there (ask your wife if you're not sure!)  I understand your argument about needing release because there's a lot of pent up sexual energy...just think it's not the best choice for releasing that energy in many relationships because it puts you so much further back away from finding the healthy, regular sex life you wish to have.

 

  Melissa, To be honest I had

 

Melissa,

To be honest I had not considered the differentiation, I suppose the way I look at it is that porn is simply a visual aid, the mental equivalent of a vibrator.  I suppose when seen this way men could feel threatened by these phallic replacement devices that are always at the ready, just keep going and going, that don’t leave mess all over the place and never leave the toilet seat up.   No doubt some men do feel threatened, though I would say more men would actually be inclined to feel the opposite.    Also consider another example;   Shades of Grey.  This novel has been an absolute blockbuster, and more to the point,   at a guess I would speculate 99% of people buying are not men.

I found it amusing that for months while sitting on the train on the way to work I was surrounded by women openly reading pornography.

It could be that men would feel threatened by this as well, i.e. their partner reading erotic stories about exiting and dangerous sexual adventures. If one was insecure about one’s own sexuality it would be easy to feel this book was a turn on to our partners because it portrays sex in a way most of us clutzy fumblers can’t hope to replicate.   But, and here is the curious thing, for some reason we don’t.   In fact, again I am only speculating here but for most of us I would say that this fascination with Shades of Grey is actually likely to be a bit of a turn on.    Why?  Cultural Context

Men and Women are socialised from the earliest age to view our sexuality in a completely different way.  Men are taught that their sexuality is a good thing, and more than that a utility to cultivate, surround in bravado, wear on our sleeve and pursue with vigor.   The results is that men develop an at least superficially robust sense of their own sexuality. Of course as you have pointed out, the self-assuredness of our own capability is a lot of the time vastly different to how things *actually* are.

Thus men’s insecurities revolve around issues of self-perceived performance, which is in itself warped as the gauge of performance is mostly not defined by Women but by other Men. Our protective shell can be fragile, but men carry their insecurities differently, and we have learned very well through a life of bluster and school yard scraps to shield ourselves with a ring of confidence. 

There are some very pertinent examples of what I mean here, the market for Viagra  is one example.  Now it is likely that *most* men that take Viagra have no medical need to do so,   it is just that men have convinced themselves that  drugging themselves to the point of priapism  makes them more appealing lovers.  Now I would hazard a guess that most women find the thought of a man slogging away at them for hours a long way removed from their ideal experience, what a crazy disconnect hey?  

Another example is to be found on porn sites, where male actors tend to be chosen partly because they are hung like a horse, something as we all know  is a long way from the norm, and again men have convinced themselves that size is equated to prowess.      The result is that these sites are peppered with snake oils remedies that purport to  cause magical and massive growth, these adds are replete with ludicrous  photoshopped images of men that if they were real simply would not be able to function in daily life without standing on themselves.

If you wanted to make a man feel incredibly threatened,  ( Y’all could try it as an experiment in revenge)   you would  spend hours  specifically looking for pics/vids of men with ridiculous penis proportions,  all the while expressing approval and lamenting what  the reality is.   Cruel I know but it’s a taste of our own medicine right?  Social experiments are fun.

Women on the other hand, are socialised to suppress their sexuality, and it is at least in my experience tragically rare to find women who are completely at ease with it.   None of this is of course new, and has been the subject tor countless research efforts, books etc.  There are entire industries built around counseling services designed to convince women that their sexuality really is ok.   

But here is the irony, men don’t actually benefit from or even for the most part even want this situation.   If we did then vibrators and Shades of  Grey and Sex in the City would not be the phenomenon they are.

 The society we have made encourages Women's sexuality to be cloistered, repressed and insecure has resulted in an incalculable cost on relationships and peoples sense of happiness.  It has also resulted in a porn industry that devours all before it, and has become increasingly extreme and divorced from the reality of the everyday life we all live. None of us look like that; none of us act like that. It is fantasy, just like Shades of Grey.

I suspect men retreat to porn a lot of the time precisely because it portrays women who a comfortable expressing their sexuality, or at least acting as though they are, that is it's major appeal.

Porn is a social issue;   it has grown to be such a massive juggernaut because of repression looking for an outlet, trying to repress it is only going to exacerbate it and grow its market and influence more, this could only be a bad thing.

In no way was I blaming women for men’s decision to resort to porn, rather attempting to highlight that relationship dynamics often play a role, men and women individually are ultimately responsible for the decisions they make.   

Melisa as I said I completely agree with the vast majority of what you are saying, I have and do have my own struggles with all this. I am not a big user of porn by any stretch, my wife finds it threatening and revolting etc, all I can say is that it is a very poor substitute for a partner at ease with her sexuality. Unfortunately that is something I don’t have, and there is a limit to what I can do in this regard,  no matter how understanding and supportive I try to be.

I  know the  simplistic answer is that if I cleaned and cooked more, if I made more effort to listen,  if I  spent more time  bathing kids,  washing clothes  and picking up after myself then everything would be  roses, and my life would be filled with all my heart could desire. This unfortunately in my mind at least is an idealistic and unrealistic view,  as always things are far more complicated. 

Back at you

Hmm...I like how you are writing about it...a couple of responses and I also need to think further about what you are saying:

First, at least one research study suggests there is a correlation between happiness in a marriage, the health of the marriage and how satisfied a woman is with the chore distribution in the household.  I.e.  feelings in the household are happier and smoother if chores are "well enough" distributed according to the woman.  There is also at least one research study that suggests that men who do less housework get more occasions of sex with their partners.  I have read about both of these studies, though not looked at them in-depth to understand their methodology.  I wonder if the latter has to do with the man seeking more sex...who knows?  Anyway, I just wanted to say that it's not clear what the correlations are between numbers of times you have sex and housework (though I would choose happiness over sex...but I'm a woman!...)

I've had a few clients who said they are reading Shades of Grey and bringing it into their relationships to spice them up a bit.  I haven't read it (probably should for professional reasons) but wonder if the imaginary aspect of the written word (vs. the leave-no-detail-unfilmed of the super-hung male and DDD breasted porn stars) is different?  Something to think about - not sure where I come out on it.  Is it "sexploitation" when no one is exploited?  Is it porn if neither you nor your partner think it is?  (I've talked with only a couple of men about their opinions of "Shades" - they were pretty uninterested in the concept and you're the first to call it "porn")

You and I are in agreement that relationship dynamics play a role in the use of porn and that men and women are responsible for the decisions they make.  I continue to think that making the decision to use porn wouldn't be my first choice for addressing the relationship dynamics.  If anything, it makes the woman even more aware of the divide between the "repressed" side that she might be fighting and the "whore" side that is so appalling because it's so disconnected from what women value - connection.  And I don't agree with your premise that porn portrays women who are "at ease" with their sexuality.  I think it just portrays men and women who are paid to act...but I admit that's probably just my own bias.  I think being at ease with your sexuality isn't about positions and groans and attractive/stimulating sex acts, but about loving your body.  Hard for me to make the case that porn portrays that.  And I wonder if there isn't an underlying element missing from the conversation - it seems as if what we are talking about is some scenario in which men are dissatisfied with marital sex (therefore using porn) while women are happy to be sexless or in a relationship that is boring...this isn't what I encounter.  Women are at least as unhappy as their husbands - hence the success of the romance novel industry.  As a group (gross generalization about to be written here) I would say we LUST after having a man who sensitively wishes to "possess" us...who is tender but firm (both meanings intended)...inventive, protective...blah, blah, blah.  Read any bodice ripper to get the idea.  Wouldn't it be good to be able to have some sort of open conversation about all of this stuff?  And, trust me, I know that the concept is much easier than the reality here...and that's where I think the "partnership" and domestic sharing activities come in.  They build a base of "mutualness" and trust that helps you say things like "I would really love to spice up our sex life...how about trying X?" and have the partner be willing to consider the question.

In my more feminist moments...

I was just listening to NPR where they were doing a piece on what's happening in Tahrir Square (Egypt) these days.  On average 22 (count 'em!) women a DAY are abducted from Tahrir Square alone by groups of roving men who take them away and assault them.  They interviewed some of the men doing this.  Their responses were similar to this one "We are unemployed and frustrated, so what else do you expect us to do?"  This can be synopsized roughly into "boys will be boys."  This is a justification I've heard over the years in my parenting to justify bullying, hitting, poor sportsmanship and more.  And it sounds suspiciously like "we are biologically driven to want to use porn, therefore it's okay."  Except that in a civilized society we try to overcome our desires to be hurt others, replacing "nature" with civility.  "Boys will be boys" condones behavior in a way that perpetrates it.  I think we can do better, including in the porn area.  The hurt it causes is real and, like those abductions, unnecessary.  That's the more feminist side of me speaking which probably will shut down the conversation...sadly.

Porn is more serious that most people realize

There may be some ADHD issues related to the desire to view porn, but porn is not only degrading, it is fundamentally predatory. The women (and men) in the videos are sacrificing their personal health and personal esteem. The women are subjected to sex acts that they would likely not consent to in "real life", and often are physically harmful to their genitalia. Many are tricked and trapped into sex slavery. It is quite likely that what someone is watching is not actually enjoyable to the participants, and likely even harmful, both physically and psychologically. To engage in viewership is to condone this inherent exploitation. Furthermore, it desensitizes one to to what should be a fundamentally enjoyable act between partners, ESPECIALLY in marriage or other committed relationship. The more porn you watch, the more likely try to replicate that in your own bedroom, and likely without success. So in effect, watching porn is harmful to the participants in the film, to your partner, and likely to you. I'm not naive, and I can't say I've *never* seen porn (I was teenage boy once). But once you understand the background on porn, it's difficult, IMHO, to actually enjoy watching it, knowing that all of the above may be true.

MagicSandwich's picture

This is nothing more than a

This is nothing more than a sexist, anti-intellectual assault on science and individualism. Not only are women still paid less than men at every educational level and in every job category, women are STILL routinely told what they like and don't like in all aspects of their lives - even their sexual lives. So please do not take it upon yourself to mansplain what "porn" makes women do in bed.  

Tempted to edit out

I am tempted to edit this out as an attack but have decided to leave it as a strongly worded response that reflects who you are.  However, I would ask that you read, more carefully, the comment to which you are responding.  It holds no "absolutes" as you so strongly suggest and object to, but uses words such as "likely" and "often."  This is a respectfully worded opinion...your response...not so respectfully worded.

MagicSandwich's picture

Dear Melissa, When I see

Dear Melissa, 

When I see sexist false claims and junk science I call them out. I'm glad that reflects who I am. 

The cited words in the comment I responded to "likely" and "often" don't have to be absolutes to be totally false. His claims against the many MANY studies (including Masters And Johnson's) that conclude porn does not  incite sexual aggression and does not harm relationships. It does not increase the risk factor for genital harm and it does not lead to disappointing experiments in bed. Not "likely." Not "often."  Never. 

"There's absolutely no evidence that pornography does anything negative. " says Milton Diamond, director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "It's a moral issue, not a factual issue."   

 

In other words, it's not the porn - it is the reasons for the person watching it and/or the person themselves.

 

Porn is just women experessing themselves? That's just laughable

First of all, I started working on this response prior to Melissa's comments, and MagicS follow-up to that. With the benefit of more elaboration by MagicS, I can see that my comments were COMPLETELY misconstrued. (Then again, given your argumentative comments across several threads, I am left to wonder what universe you inhabit!)

Let me preface these next comments by saying the obvious: a significant amount of pornographic material (if not the majority) is geared toward heterosexual men and as such, a majority of porn features women. These women are engaged in a variety of acts; sometimes with single partners, sometimes with multiple, sometimes with other women, sometimes shone masturbating alone -- or even with other partners. (Again, no absolutes; there is certainly strain that is deliberately geared toward gay men, with similar "variety"). Conversely, though few women actually engage in watching porn, that's not to say that a small minority don't engage in watching it, as at least one poster has pointed out.

However, to argue that porn is just a feministic vehicle of expression of the women in the video is to naively -- and dangerously -- deny the problem of "sexploitation", both in this country and overseas. THIS was the thrust of my point (sorry, no pun intended).

Is porn physically harmful? Perhaps you mean to imply that *watching* porn is not physically or psychologically harmful. That's NOT my point. Rather, the physical sexual acts in some porn that ARE physically damaging to women (and men). Repeated sex without sufficient time for the genitals, as well as the  inanimate objects inserted into the vagina, the anus, and other oriifces, can cause infections, tearing of the skin, etc., as well as the obvious transmission of STDs and HIV/AIDs when a condom is not used (and even sometimes when it is). Then there's the issue of pregnancy and abortion, which, regardless of what one thinks of the latter subject in the abstract, both of these are potentially harmful to the women. An uncared for pregnancy, or even repeated sex during pregnancy, can be detrimental, and repeated abortions, or abortions without the proper medical care, can result in death. Forgive me for not realizing that all of these issues were not universally understood!

Moreover, it's directly adult pornography is related, and often arises out of child pornography.

"There are at least 100,000 American juveniles, at an average age of 13, who become victims of sex trafficking each year in the United States. Further, 77 percent of the women who are prostitutes today first entered the sex trade as a sex slave when they were a minor."

http://www.christianpost.com/news/sex-slavery-a-us-problem-too-activists...

Though this statement encompasses all forms of sex slavery, pornographic material certainly is one category. They are often coerced, bribed or even kidnapped, and then forced into sexual slavery.

Once in the United States. a variety of approaches are used to initiate young women and children into the sex industry. Pornography is often used to break down defenses (Estes & Weiner, 2001;Raymond & Hughes, 2001). Likewise,stripping often functions as a bridge to prostitution. Pornography is used to coerce victims into prostitution.Victimsmay be asked to perform in pornography as a way of paying off their debts.Traffick "may take pictures in which victims can be clearly identified and men threaten to reveal particularly degrading portrayals to family members" (Raymond & Hughes, 2001). Victims without proper legal documentation may be threatened with deportation or other legal consequences. Similarly, pimps may threaten the victim's family members with harm {Estes & Weiner, 2001). If the woman has children, they may be seized as a form of collateral.

"In the United States. nine- and 10-year-old trafficked girls, are forced to service up to 35 men an hour in deplorable conditions ... "

http://conversation.lausanne.org/uploads/resources/files/630/TFGLO057_A_...

"Trafficking in persons is an increasing problem that involves both sexual exploitation and labor exploitation of its victims. Trafficking affects all regions and the majority of countries in the world. Both men and women may be victims of trafficking, but the primary victims worldwide are women and girls, the majority of whom are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Traffickers primarily target women because they are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination, factors that impede their access to employment, educational opportunities and other resources."

http://www.stopvaw.org/trafficking_in_women

I realize that the first link is not academically, peer-reviewed material; however the second link is well-documented, and the last is a non-profit focused on protecting women globally. That said, I am hoping that the rampant sex trade around the globe, including in the U.S., is not in dispute. In short, women ARE manipulated, sometimes outright forced, into pornography and sex trafficking. Children ARE kidnapped for the sole purpose of being sold into the sex trade. And then there's the tangentially related problem of violence against women, sometimes to ensure corporation, and even worse, as a form of pornography itself.

Lastly, implying that I simply have a chauvinistic attitude (your comment that I had to "mansplain") toward women's participation in porn is actually highly offensive. In actuality, my post was meant to alert men to the fact that, what they perhaps falsely perceive as a "victimless crime" is, in reality, a rampant contagion that has many criminal agents that includes organized crime. Yes, there was a case the past couple week that a Miss Teen USA beauty pageant participant was forced to relinquish her title because she had participated in the making of an adult video, though why did she feel the need to engage in such an act for money? Perhaps she even had the fantasized notion of porn and prostitution, a la "Pretty Woman ". If so, then society is failing her as much as it is all the other men, women and children in "commercial" porn.

And yes, as the father of two children and husband to a beautiful woman, you're DAMN RIGHT IT'S A MORAL ISSUE! Human rights is moral issue! On that we can certainly agree!

Response was a bridge to nowhere

It appears that MagicS finally pushed Melissa too far. I saw a couple of comments last night that were deleted. The rational part of me says let this be; the ADHD part of me is "hyerfocused" on this issue. In this case, the ADHD brain wins, and I want to add just a couple more anecdotes.

First, to be clear, I have NEVER said that porn is inherently bad. Want to make a "movie" with your spouse/SO? Go ahead. As long as you both are comfortable, I don't see anything wrong with it. What I HAVE SAID is that the overwhelming majority of porn is built on the manipulation and, as Melissa noted, the objectification, of women. A good deal of it shows things that ARE physically harmful to the participants, and, contrary to what MagicS says, the porn "industry" IS built on a foundation of sexual slavery. [MagicS claimed in the deleted post that it is not the "first" domino, rather poverty is. That's also a true statement, but I don't know why she felt that the two issues -- poverty and sexual slavery -- were mutally exclusive. Indeed, the links that I provided attributed much of the problem of the sex trade to poverty (WARNING -- political sideswipe: Yet, many don't see the government as having any role in eradicating poverty, and, indeed, consider those receiving government assistance to be "takers", and somehow inherently not contributing to society. #endofrant)]. 

In addition, MagicS suggest I keep my "morals" to myself. Sorry, when we're talking about basic human rights, the manipulation of women, slavery, etc., the people perpetrating these crimes don't respect my morals; who is respecting the morals of the woman that is coerced or the child that is kidnapped and sold into the sex trade? As I said, THAT is the moral issue, and I will GLADLY stand up for that.

Lastly, as I said before, how that gets construed as "anti-intellectual", "sexist" and "false claims", as well as my post being about what women "like and don't like in all aspects of their lives - even their sexual lives" is a complete distortion of the point I was trying to make. That MagicS has made similar distortions on other threads truly makes me wonder what point she is trying to make.

So, the entire point of this extended thread is to appeal to your sense of human decency; don't try to justify porn. If you are watching porn, it is highly likely that you are inherently, albeit likely naively, supporting women and child sexual slavery, even if you aren't watching "kiddie porn" or some of the more disturbing forms. For all the arguments over whether it's detrimental to your own personal relationship, I would argue that if this not a reason to avoid porn, then I don't know what is. 

 

MagicSandwich's picture

Stick to science, not fearmongering.

Actually no, "If you are watching porn, it is highly likely that you are inherently, albeit likely naively, supporting women and child sexual slavery."  NO! That is NOT true.  Your opinion is yours but it does not erase the autonomy of consenting adults or negate the years of scientific research on the subject.  

What UNIVERSE are you living in?

I really don't know what universe you are living in. I cannot stress enough that I am NOT talking about something taking place between consenting adults, and I make NO JUDGEMENT about the state of mind of the person who is watching porn. I'm not claiming that there is something "wrong" with you if you watch porn.

But if you cannot see, from all the links that I've provided, or from general accepted knowledge, that porn is a major avenue for sexual trafficking of women and children, then you are are seriously delusional. This is not a matter of my "opinion". It's not media sensationalism. Porn is a $10B a year industry.

What about kiddie porn? If "consenting adults" are watching that, is it OK? What's the harm in someone *watching* kiddie porn, as long as they are not participating?

Why do professional athletes make so much money? Because people are willing to pay to watch them play, and owners make a calculated decision that to pay a player $10M is an investment and the owner expects to recoup that $10M, in one way or another because the fan, the spectator is willing to shell out $$$ to watch that player and that team. It's the same for porn -- except that the "labor" is criminally exploited. Can you not see that watching pron inherently creates the marketplace where the laws of supply and demand sadly come into play? I seriously hope you would not condone kiddie porn, but by excusing the passive spectator's responsibility, you would seem to likewise find kiddie porn similarily acceptable.

Plenty of women have escaped and told the horrors of what they went through. Here's a couple:

http://www.covenanteyes.com/2008/10/28/ex-porn-star-tells-the-truth-abou...

This one details some of the most egregious abuses. I don't want to list them here, but they are described around the 7 minute mark.

http://www.covenanteyes.com/2011/06/29/my-husband-sold-me-into-porn/

And even from former porn producers.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/porn/etc/script.html

Let me put it to you another way. If you purchase stolen merchandise .. cars, stereos, etc. ... are you essentially aiding and abetting a criminal element? Drugs are illegal (rightly or wrongly, it doesn't matter), and you purchase illegal drugs, are you culpable? 

So, basically, I'm done with this thread. You, MagicS, may think that I'm wrong, but I hope that others reading this thread will check out the links and the videos and reconsider the unsettling, unseen ramifications of using pornography. 

 

MagicSandwich's picture

You are mixing metaphors and

You are mixing metaphors and science, sexism and opinion and snake oil over and over and yes I think that's wrong and so do the majority of research psychologists and behaviorally-oriented clinical psychologists.  

Kiddie porn is child abuse. Duh. 

Sexist for defending women?

I really don't get what it is that you are arguing about. I'm glad that we agree that kiddie porn is child abuse. But then, are you denying that there is a booming sex trade  and that pornography is one part of that? Is that not abuse of women?  Does not a "regular" film make money from people purchasing tickets/dvd/merchandise? Except that the actors in the film are compensated for their work. Are you saying that the women (and men) in "adult films" are likewise "compensated" -- which is to deny that sexual slavery exists? Are you saying that the people who watch porn are not aiding and abetting this industry through their viewership? My entire thread has been predicated on the inhumane and criminal treatment of women/men/children in the porn industry. For that, I'm called sexist? That's a new one on me!

Actually I think this

Actually I think this argument is simplistic.  For a start, referencing sites with obvious vested interests adds little to no value to the argument you are putting forward. Secondly,   there are so many logical fallacies in your posts I don’t know quiet where to start, let’s with the straw man fallacy

You say that:

“If you purchase stolen merchandise .. cars, stereos, etc. ... are you essentially aiding and abetting a criminal element? Drugs are illegal (rightly or wrongly, it doesn't matter), and you purchase illegal drugs, are you culpable? “

And later,

“that sexual slavery exists? Are you saying that the people who watch porn are not aiding and abetting this industry through their viewership? “

Let me give you a different example;

(Straw man set up)

There are many, many people killed in car wrecks every year,   if there were no cars there would be no wrecks, therefor the auto Industry is a vast purveyor of death, they make huge sums of money while their products are responsible for untold misery.

(Knocking down the straw man)

You buy a car and support the Auto industry therefor you are indirectly a killer?      This is of course a specious argument, as is yours.

Secondly,   you are also guilty of using the Association Fallacy, i.e. you are making an irrelevant association and then asserting that the qualities of one are the qualities of another.

You state

“That said, I am hoping that the rampant sex trade around the globe, including in the U.S., is not in dispute. In short, women ARE manipulated, sometimes outright forced, into pornography and sex trafficking. Children ARE kidnapped for the sole purpose of being sold into the sex trade.”

And later;

"If you are watching porn, it is highly likely that you are inherently, albeit likely naively, supporting women and child sexual slavery."

Let me give you a like example we have had in this country (AUS)

The relaxing of laws related to gay marriage is a dilution of moral absolutes and will likely lead those who practice bestiality into making claims  about their rights to marry animals. 

OR the other one.

Allowing gay people to adopt or have surrogate children will likely expose them to much higher rates of child abuse.

Therefore:

Homosexuals are deviants and therefore are equivalent to those that practice bestiality, or those that abuse children. 
There is no link, only an irrelevant association and then an assertion that the qualities are the same.

The sex industry is NOT the porn industry.    The 10 billion dollar industry you quote, (I can’t verify this number) is not the sex slave trade, it is the commercial film trade.   

If you think it is the case that this industry funds sex slavery then challenge you to locate one film that is of a commercial nature that revolves around child or sex slavery.

Prostitution,   I would argue is financially more than capable of funding its own grotesque acts.

jackrungh's picture

I think a lot of illogical

I think a lot of illogical positions have been upheld in this thread based entirely upon prejudice against porn and sex work. To be sure, I recognize that there are probably many here who have had to wrestle with their spouse's unhealthy use of porn, but that doesn't make porn unhealthy. It'd be like saying having that glass of chardonnay last night with dinner was contributing to the deathtoll from DUI.

Jon has already done a good job of completely dismantling these emotional assertions, so I'll leave it at that and push in a different direction.

The sex trade is not rampant, it is tiny. It is horrible, to be sure. Any amount of sex trafficking is too much, but you are painting this as if it is a major dynamic in human culture, and it simply is not. Among the exploitative markets of the world, the sexual kind is a minor player.

Porn is not inherently degrading to women. There are many people who feel like porn is degrading, and those people are free to not star in porn. If you go to an adult convention you will have a very hard time finding porn stars in the throes of depression and degradation. People have attitudes, and those attitudes vary significantly. You need to be open to the possibility that the personality type of someone attracted to working in the adult film industry is completely different than yours. The more open and accepted the industry becomes, the more any remnant of seedy exploitation is stamped out.

Let's go one further. Jon says the sex industry is not the porn industry. This is true. But it is no less true that the sex industry is not the sex trafficking "industry." Sex workers are also not inherently exploited, and there needs to be a clear line drawn between of-age prostitutes, and children or persons otherwise in sex work without consent. That prostitution is illegal in most of the world does not make it wrong. Since I'm a good looking but normal guy (and not Brad Pitt) this is sort of a ridiculously conceived line of argument but here goes: I own my body. I own my mind. I trained my mind to be able to manage and design complex technological systems in datacenter environments. I sell my mind's time to support my family. If I were Brad Pitt, and there were a significant market for my body's time, do I own it somehow less than I do my mind? Does society get to make claims or regulate what I do with my body? The answer is no.
If Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie wanted to sell sexual encounters who could possibly have any business stopping them? What hubris one must have to purport to tell someone else what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

So no, you do not get to draw dotted lines from porn or prostitution to sex trafficking and psychological damage. The line in the sand is consent. This is a completely separate discussion from that of what is healthy in a relationship. In a relationship the perceptions and opinions of both spouses matter, even if those are not factual or logical. If your spouse is bothered by bondage, explaining till you are blue in the face how it can be part of a healthy sexual relationship is missing the point. Your PTA-leader next door neighbors might be frolicking in their basement torture room while their kids have after-school soccer practice, but each couple (or polyamorous collective) needs to establish their own comfort zone based on mutual respect.

Finally Melissa touches on kind of a nebulous cultural subject concerning the trend line of sexual desires for women. To a certain extent it is foolish to speak in these terms because ultimately everyone is an individual and sets their own boundaries. Nevertheless, look at a romance novel for a more accurate depiction of what the "average woman" actually wants out of a sexual relationship. Maybe not every session, maybe with significant variances, but there are consistencies to these grouped fantasies.

The men are always confident, assertive, and forceful. They are typically "damaged" in some way, but not in any way that interferes with "being a man." They always portray a significant and real sense of masculine strength (physically and emotionally), but nearly always have an unmistakable undercurrent of vulnerability that shows through in their moments of most desperate passion. Their burning desire for their mate exposes chinks in that armor and the presumed female reader is likely as turned on by those limited glimpses into male "weakness" as they are by the action unfolding.
The women are typically "taken," and are driven into incoherent, animalistic realms of pleasure by this man in charge. They are allowed to lose themselves in the moment, and drop all social pretenses regarding female sexuality. The conquering is not of the body of the woman, but of her mind. The message to the reader is that this moment rings with such intensity that anyone would be totally deconstructed in wave after wave of pleasure, and that it is OK.
The situation is often one of tenuous consent, wherein the taken woman is led towards losing themselves rather than leading in that dance. The diction is FILTHY. I'm a child of the internet, having seen every level of sexual depravity imaginable (Though that could probably be said of every 13 year old girl in 2013), but there are passages from romance novels that make me blush. It is this combination of forceful action, emotional zenith, and carnal description that is so incredibly titillating to read. Again, the lengths to which Christian Gray goes are probably too far for most women, but the confidence, the control, the absolute surrender is central in nearly all of these fantasies. 50 Shades is successful not because the average American housewife wants to be tied to the wall, whipped, and forced to have 15 orgasms in a row, but because these extremes hint at what seems to be a fairly universal, and universally overlooked aspect of female desire. Not the loss of inhibition (that can happen with enough beach and enough tequila), but the consentingly-forced removal of inhibition by a confident lover and the resultant freedom to just feel.

Bravo

Thank you thank you thank you for this post and your related posts above.  I've been lurking on this site for years and this is the thread that finally got me to reply.   Anyone who thinks porn is harmless should also take a look at the chapter "Illusion of Love" in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.  He documents the abuse perpetrated by the porn industry on both men and women.  It is sickening. And I thought my consciousness was already raised. I would like to, but won't, share an image of what some of these men have to do to maintain their erections and there are plenty of horrifying stories of physical and mental damage on the women's side of things as well, as you can imagine.  Believe me, I love sex.  Love love love it.  But porn, or rather, the porn industry is not sex, it is death.

Less housework equals more sex study

I remembered concluding that study on men getting more sex who do less housework was severely flawed but couldn't quite remember the details (SOOoooo many studies that hit the media are severely flawed with correlation vs. causation errors or bad sample groups!).  Since it came up again I figured I'd take a closer look.

The study was Egalitarianism, Housework, and Sexual Frequency in Marriage out of Univ. of Washington sociology dept.

The sample was self-reported questionnaires from a completely unrelated 20 year old study.  Respondents, ranging in age from 18 to 75, averaged having sex about 5 times per month with a standard deviation of just under 5.  Twenty-five percent of the respondents did not answer the questions about sex, so the authors mathematically guessed.  Plus, the authors normalized anything above the 95th percentile.  I guess having sex every other day is just unheard of to sociologists!
I am skeptically of any study where naked and sweaty stuff is a variable and the data is just a self-reported questionnaire without any additional measures for accuracy.  I have a 19 year old nephew who would answer he has sex 3 times per day, and a 70 year old aunt who would say she has had sex 4 times in her life. 
      _______
The real ridiculousness is what the authors did with this 20 year old suspect data.  They defined chores such as laundry, vacuuming and dishwashing as “core chores” and mowing the lawn, fixing the gutters, taking out the trash, and washing the car as “non-core chores”.  The end result was when men do more traditionally male chores (non-core) they have more sex.  When men do more traditionally female chores, they get less sex.  Here’s the corresponding graph in Powerpoint form.


According to the data, If a man were to do twice as much traditionally female chores, his average sex would drop 0.4/month.  An irrelevant coincidence is that the wives think they have sex on average 0.4/month than their husbands do.  Given that the average sex frequency was 5, but the distribution curve runs from 0 to 15, I’m not sure that 0.4 is all that conclusive.


What the study SHOULD have done was correlate all chores for a comparison and also correlate total chores hours plus total job hours.  Both genders in the study averaged about 55 total hours on all chores and their jobs.  The study also needed data that just wasn’t available in that 20yr old survey it used.  The missing piece to the puzzle is:


     Does the woman FEEL like she works harder than the man

If she thinks he’s slacking off, then putting the dishes away won’t make her swoon.  However, if she feels he is working just as hard or harder, putting the laundry away is more likely to be seen as a loving gesture.

Thanks!

Yes, I have to say that having heard more from what you write, I'm not going to pay much attention to this study - not only does it seem deeply flawed (there is tons of evidence that research about sex is tricky, particularly self-reported) but it does not correlate in any way with what I actually hear from my couples.  That's "qualitative" data, but on the other hand, I know the sources...and there's much to be learned from qualitative data if it's thoughtfully considered.

Thanks for writing this.

Porn, TV & housework...

Boy I wish I had more time to reply and organize my thoughts, but here it goes:

The studies on housework in relation to how much sex people are having seems very unscientific and there are no control groups etc.  I dunno what's better, doing 'female' chores or 'male' chores whatever.  All I can say is that there is significantly less sex (like zero...) if the man is doing neither traditional male or traditional female chores.

I struggle not to feel like a servant most of the time.  When I see him sitting on the couch playing a game on the iPad while I struggle with the kids & cook dinner it seems to me that he feels he is above us all and doesn't have to help.  He won't put the toilet paper on the holder thing, so how can I hope that he'd ever say, clean a bathroom, fold laundry, vacuum? He will read a bedtime story (10 minutes) but never bathes the kids, never cleans up after them when I'm not home, etc. When I am cleaning up after dinner, rushing around putting stuff away because after the kids go to sleep is the ONLY time I have to work - not relax, WORK - I find it infuriating when he just sits there watching a movie.  I'm working on not being angry, and we've talked about him pitching in more, and I must be grateful for little victories like he will take the garbage out most of the time after I ask him to...

I had a bit of a meltdown the other day because for the first time in probably 2 years we sat down to watch some TV together.  It was a show about movie stars in California and of course there were the ever-present naked women always willing to service any and every character in the show.  And this show is not considered porn, but every episode it seems, must include full frontal female nudity.  Ever since I was in Junior high (the first time I saw a rated R movie) i've always felt awful watching sex scenes in movies or on TV.  I don't know what it is:  Do I feel inadequate because I don't look like the actress?  Do I feel jealous because my husband is sitting there saying, "Oooh! nipples!" or am I just embarrassed because the character is behaving stupidly and making it look as though we all should be willing to give blowjobs at the drop of a hat?  My husband said something about how we don't have sex because I'm just not interested (mind you right before he said I must not be interested in sex, he proudly trumpeted a loud fart - gee, who could resist??) So - I got a bit upset....

Also - the ubiquitousness of porn is having a very negative impact on girls.  Boys expect them to do more, and do it younger than ever before.  I am no athropologist, but I know our brains were wired to react to signals - visuals, body language, etc.  It used to be that those signals were only transmitted one on one and in real life in real time.  But now, it is all instantaneous and in any amount and in any way anyone could possibly dream it up.  The brain still reacts to these cues as if they were happening in 'real life' and the brain will be conditioned to expect more and more. When I was a kid, it was bad enough: I had a crush on a boy when I was 12 and was so happy when he wanted to meet me after school. However, I was not happy when he shoved his penis in my mouth, but thought, 'well, I guess this is what I have to do to get him to like me." but then of course he ignored me afterwards and word spread amongst his friends who then expected me to service them. (Either you are a slut or a prude - no in between and if you do anything with one boy, you are expected to do the same for anyone else). Years of threats and misery ensued which magnified my already low-self esteem, which was already in the toilet from my ADHD.

I tried to explain all this to my husband and his response was something like, "Well, our job is to just teach the girls to be confident and they won't get themselves into those situations."

*sigh*

I have to stop there because I've spent too much time on the computer and it's time to make sure all my reminder alarms are set for the rest of the week.

Ellamenno

Let me get back to original point

My original point is that porn can be very hurtful for a partner.  When that is the case, I define it as being bad for the relationship.  I am particularly sympathetic to the man who says he uses porn because his wife is overseas and his wife thinks this is a better option than his having an affair (though I would continue to ask whether or not the porn was needed, vs., say, Skype sex).  In that case, the porn in not hurting the relationship and whether or not I happen to like it is irrelevant.  But for many, many couples, porn hurts and is, therefore, something to move away from.

Hurtful to the Partner

 

I would argue that it is NOT inherently "hurtful to the partner".  Smoking in bed is inherently hurtful to the partner.  Calling them names and belittling them is inherently hurtful to the partner.  Withholding sex is inherently hurtful to the partner.

It is PERCEIVED as hurtful.  Any other subjective perceived issue in a relationship is the responsibility of both people to come to an understanding and resolution.  It is no different than the issue of "Yelling" being discussed in another thread.  If a person perceives their spouse is yelling, whether or not the spouse intended to yell, then there is a problem.  The solution is for one person to be more aware of their tone and volume, and the other to seek to understand before assuming it was yelling. 

When there is an issue of perception, both people have to come to the table to find a solution.

MagicSandwich's picture

avoidance and objectification/porn

Many studies have concluded that pornography itself is not harmful. People watch it. People enjoy it together. Fertility clinics rely on porn to get things going for implantation. So I don't think it's the porn. It's the reason for using it that's the problem. 

There are many people on this earth who live each day in avoidance of intimacy. They need to control the outcome of everything including the wants, needs and desires of their spouses. If they can't lord over their spouse via manipulation, they will simply avoid having to connect with their spouse at all.  For people who are wired this way, the need to avoid intimacy in sex that makes watching porn an easy choice is no different than avoiding deep conversations with compulsive video gaming or some other all-consuming hobby. This type of person comes in both ADHD and non-ADHD varieties.  

It's easier for spouses to explain-away compulsive video gaming than compulsive use of porn. That's why the "porn thing" hurts so much I think.  Choosing porn over actual sex means never having to say I love you. It means never having to care about the "other."  For these people, (not everybody  - just these type of people) porn means having no responsibility to think about a sex partner as actual person.  So again, I don't think it's the porn because plenty of people watch porn without problems. It's the type of people who use it to avoid living a real life. 

 

The porn argument reminds me

The porn argument reminds me of my ex's problem with beer. He drank beer a lot. It made him fart in bed at night, have smelly breath in the morning, and worse, he was MEAN and argumentative when he drank. However, rather than acknowledge these issues, he would try to argue and prove that he was not an alcoholic, as if everything was oK as long as he wasn't addicted.

My argument was that as long as he would give drinking beer in a higher priority than ruining his family life, whether addicted or not, he had a severe problem with alcohol. Maybe the same can be said for porn. If it affects your homelife and you won't give it up, you have a definite problem and porn is "bad".

MagicSandwich's picture

yes exactly. it's the person

yes exactly. it's the person compulsively engaging in the activity that should be the focus. not the activity. I believe this is true whether we're talking video games, gambling, building model railroads, booze, making mixed CDs, topiary design, hydroponics or porn.

activity

how about murder?  Shooting heroin?  physical abuse?  Sometimes the activity matters, too.

jackrungh's picture

Sloppy logic.

Why would you lump shooting heroin in there with murder or physical abuse? They are categorically different things, and I think it is obvious in this context that activities that infringe on the rights of others are of another order than vices. For sure, vices become very relevant in a relationship context because the health of the relationship is dependent upon the emotions of participants, and not just on harm or non-harm. Nevertheless, there is no vice that is universally toxic, which is exactly the point trying to be made. I expect there are few relationships where a rape fantasy scenario is kosher, but you cannot tell me that there are zero couples who would get off on it. It is most helpful to reserve assumptions and judgment, even if the trend lines of dysfunction for an ADHD subset exposed to [insert behavior here] are compelling.

midliferadd's picture

Porn ok or not in ADHD marriage

My husband has informed me that since I "don't want" sex, that he will just get some porn magazines. We have been married for a long time. I'm in midlife (post menopausal) and have absolutely no sex drive at all. I love him very, very much, so it's nothing to do with him. He feels hurt and rejected. I have offered to "gift" it to him and be there for him, but he feels like a "charity case". This is hurtful to me, as I do love him. Everything is great in our marriage except for sex. Not sure what do do. I take an anti-depressant and that may be a cause of no sex drive. I read the responses about porn and certainly understand that a man needs release; however, I'm not sure why I feel like I don't want him to take care of himself with porn. Any info on how to "develop" a sex drive would be appreciated. I'm a Christian and don't feel that I want to watch it to help in this area, as I'd feel like I was doing something against my beliefs.  Sure would appreciate any ideas. I have begun to exercise more and am hoping that helps since I am 60 pounds overweight. We are both overweight, but my husband is fine with my and his weight.

mid life lover

You mentioned you're Christian. Is your husband as well? Well we all know Jesus said if a man even looks at a woman to lust after her he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So according to our Lord, porn is definitely wrong and equivalent to adultury. Your husband is being very selfish by giving you that ultimatum, he should know to exercise self control by mid age, but hey we all have areas that need to be strengthened. We a ll need grace. But it is very important that you tell him the truth in love, pray about it! God will help you, He cares, just ask and believe. See what a lot of people don't seem to understand is that the problems they have in their relationships is actually their thought patterns. They think" if I do this and this everything will work" but they're not considering the motive behind what they do. And intent is very powerful and motives are of the utmost importance. Also, I'm not in your shoes and can't imagine what mid life is like but make sure if you're giving him a gift, that you do it joyfully and with your whole heart! Do not give begrudgingly or its not gift at all. He can feel if your hearts not in it and that'll hurt. Remember, love never fails. So whatever you do, do it with a attitude of love and selflessness. If you give it another shot, have the mindset, "what will give him pleasure or what he will really enjoy?" What do you know he loves? Ect. Focus on him and be generous! Have fun! You'll probably wind up having just as much fun as him! Its more blessed to give than receive ;) And pray for your libido to ressurect, lol. Also, I know how that threat mustve hurt but you must forgive him and you two must come to an understanding. That's first and foremost. Be honest, don't leave anything in the dark, but do it kindly and gently. I pray God blesses your sex life and this problem works out to make you two only closer and more in love =)

Again, Lack of woman's sex drive is a man's responsibility?

I think your reply totally disregards the symptom of what the issue is to ADHD men. If the woman is not "into" sex, we should accept the gracious "gifting" of it and the woman is to pray the husband stops watching porn and middle aged men should just DEAL with it.... You are missing the point. Gifting is the same as pity sex, no thanks, I'll watch porn. Stimulation is what we crave, it's like crack to a crack addict. Making love to an unwilling partner is NOT stimulating. Being desired and having a partner that WANTS sex is stimulating. It is more stimulating to watch porn with people that at least ACT like they like it than to grind through sex with a corpse like partner that won't look you in the eyes. My wife is so turned off of sex she even says get it over with or please don't talk, just get done. How is that even remotely stimulating or even enjoyable? I love her insanely, but sex with her is not fulfilling. So I watch porn and she hates it. I see no way around this, unless I start having affairs. I like and want to have sex.

never implied that OSG, read more carefully before responding

If you had read what I said OSG, you would notice I was not endorsing pity sex and if you would've paid more attention to the original post you would find a completely different scenario where there is a biological reason for her lack of sexual desire. Is that her fault? Also, while it's a good suggestion, I never suggested that she prays he stops watching porn, which she should, but that she prays about what going on in her own heart as well as his so she can have a more productive conversation with him that comes from the right place. If you refer back to my suggestion of "gifting" I suggested a change in attitude that would reflect a not only willing partner but an eager and engaging partner. You can change your feeling by a simple act of will if you believe you can, people do it all the time ;) I feel bad for you and especially your poor wife, she seems to really need therapy. Maybe she has a history of sexual abuse, that's what it REALLY sounds like, that you don't know about and I'm sure you're new habit makes her trust you even less when it comes to such a sensitive area. If you love her insanely find out what's really going on and how you can help her. Don't ignore the issue and make it worse by watching porn, God only knows how damaging that could be. Couples need to work as a team, when one hurts so does the other, you're one flesh. Good luck with you're situation. I pray you have wisdom and guidance for how to fix this issue. 

Reasons porn hurts.....

If your wife (spouse) is telling you...(in my case) pleading with tears...trying to make you understand how and why it hurts deeply ...that should be the one and only reason you need to ensure her that you do care about her and your relationship is just as important to you as it is her. I also have ADHD...and more respect for my husband to listen AND hear when he is hurt by the things I do or don't do. After a while it becomes hurtful and discouraging when the one person that is supposed to help pick you up when down does nothing but kick you while you are down. Does he honestly think that I want to have this ailment or insecurities? Trying to maintain in a society with a preconceived judgment on you...very hurtful and discouraging ......

For the purposes of this blog

For the purposes of this blog and the folks reading it, while this entry is very personal and comes from the heart, these problems are not exclusive to porn or wives, for that matter.  And definitely not to ADHD, though ADHDers may find the constant stimulation of porn to be a good target for their hyperfocus.

I recognized many of the emotions and anguish in this post...but not from any problem with porn.  In our relationship, we are very open about our sexual attraction to and for others, even though we are both very monogamous people.  We can discuss the physical attractiveness of a man or woman we see across the street, and we giggle over our (sometimes weird!) sexual dreams.  (The subconscious is a strange place, and we don't hold dreams against one another.)  We have also watched porn together at times, but it tends to make my male SO uncomfortable and he doesn't enjoy it.  I sometimes watch porn for my own enjoyment, which he knows about and does not mind.  If he watched porn for his own enjoyment, I couldn't hold it against him since I also enjoy well-done porn.

I could see it becoming a problem for us if he was watching it for hours and neglecting me in the bedroom, but it's not a problem we have.  And I think that a discussion in the comments of this post isn't going to resolve the debate about whether porn can be feminist (for the record: I believe porn and sex work can be feminist, so long as everyone is a willing, adult, enthusiastic participant who enjoys the work).  So I think I will skip porn and talk about what struck me in the post.

The emotions I recognized from the post have come up in problems with retroactive jealousy (jealousy and resentment of past sexual partners).  The feeling of "unspecialness," of being with someone you thought you knew but don't at all, and of being lied to...these things are identical to other forms of jealousy, and can be brought on by finding out about a real live mistress or by hearing in too much detail about a partner's past sexual partners and experiences.  Until the partner can come to grips with the idea that if one person in the relationship has a problem then that means there is a problem - regardless of the other person's feelings! - then nothing will be accomplished and the anguish and resentment will continue onward.

I think this article addresses important things.  However, I think it's framing as universal an experience that is highly individual.  Not all women think porn is revolting, and not all people who have problems with a partner enjoying porn are women.  I think this article could be more helpful if it addressed the feelings of sadness and jealousy that can come about from being the partner of an ADHD person, since those with ADHD in my experience tend to crave the stimulation of multiple partners, unwise sexual choices, and yes, porn too.

jackrungh's picture

Win

You win the thread.

DragonTamerWife's picture

"When you were discovered

"When you were discovered using porn, your partner was suddenly confronted with an ugly reality.  All of her assumptions about what sex means in your relationship are wrong.  For you, sex is not about her in particular.  It’s just about sex and feeling good."

 

"My husband uses porn! All my assumptions are wrong! Sex isn't meaningful to him," she thinks. How do we know that's true about him? Can we absolutely know that because he masturbates with porn, that sex with her is not meaningful to him? Maybe he does care, sex IS really meaningful to him, and porn is just a poor but convenient substitute. 

When I'm coaching folks, I like to turn these painful thoughts around to the self: Is sex with your husband all that meaningful to you? Is it truly important to you? Maybe this is an opportunity for this wife to look at whether or not sex with her husband is truly meaningful to her, and if it is, to make sure her behavior reflects that. Along with her feelings of hurt about the porn use, she could tell him how meaningful sex with him is for her. I'm sure he'd be open to hearing that. This is not to say he doesn't need to stop using porn--this is a personal decision, and every individual or couple has their own bottom-lines, even sex addicts set their own bottom-line behaviors--but the conversation might benefit from a soft start-up like, "You know, sex with you is so meaningful to me." 

For Him: The story she's telling herself around porn is really painful for her. She really believes that because you use porn to masturbate that you don't like meaningful sex with her. She's worried you're a sex addict, or some kind of sociopath, most likely. It's time for you to do some listening to your partner. You don't have to buy into her story that you're some kind of sex robot now, but you can reassure her. Reassurance would be a good plan right now.

How important to you IS your sexual relationship with your wife? And how important IS porn to you? Could you give porn up for a month, see what happened, would that be easy enough? Consider the possibility. See what you might learn. If you find you can't quit when you want to, you may have a form of sexual addiction that is damaging your relationship. So 30-days is a good test. 

"When a wife discovers her husband likes porn, she’s likely to struggle to maintain her high opinion of him. ‘He likes that? I must have misjudged whether or not he’s a respectful, and respectable partner.’"

Women feel a lot of stress about what it means that her husband/partner likes this "gross" porn stuff. "My husband likes porn. I find it degrading, so he's not a respectable partner." is the logic. Maybe he's neither disrespectful or repugnant, but just turned on by something (having sex on a car, I don't know) that she finds revolting. 

The erotic mind is a funny thing. When our sexual tastes are formed, there is a huge emotional component, but it's not just happiness, closeness and safety that create our sexual blueprint. Anxiety, fear, guilt or anger are also often a part of it. Anxiety, or feeling like you're "about to get caught" (by having sex outside, on a car, for instance) can heighten and intensify the sexual experience for some people. Porn doesn't sell only the happy, close, safe, feelings that yield arousal.  It also sells the angry, embarrassed, anxious parts of our erotic minds. Negative emotions make people feel uncomfortable--stir in some porn, and you've got a volatile mix. 

What turns him on might turn her off, and vice versa. She might need total safety and all the blinds down to feel aroused. I know she doesn't want him judging her on her "prudishness" and "frigidity" just because he didn't understand the emotional component of her arousal. Judging each other for sexual tastes and preferences is not a good plan. You want to try to open up the lines of sexual communication. 

Porn is like the perfect mistress.

Porn is quite convenient. I think someone said that on this thread--it's just so much easier than spending three hours coaxing, massaging, working up to it, warming her up. But you get out what you put in. (or something like that ;) If stopping by Wendy's on your way home for a Number 1 is enough for you, because you don't want to put the work into planning any meals, shopping for great ingredients or learning how to prepare them, then you'll end up eating fast food that night, or every night. For some people, fast food every night is what they do. For some people, porn every night is what they do. It's not nearly as rewarding, satisfying, fulfilling or joyous as great sex with your partner--but you gotta be willing to put in the work, emotional and otherwise. Perfect mistress? Maybe. Or maybe just a cheap, convenient one. 

 

The completely impersonal (and fake?) nature and appeal of porn is not so easy to comprehend.  And you chose this…thing…instead of coming to find her to enjoy sex…Face it, you chose porn over her and that’s just plain insulting.  You could have been with her…but you weren’t.  If you justify it by saying that your relationship or sex life has been in trouble, it’s still an insult.  Most women are eager to “work” on their relationship if needed (hence the success of the self-improvement industry).  But instead of working on your sexual or relationship problems together, in her opinion you took the “easy way out.”  No wonder she’s mad!

I think there is room in a relationship for both solo masturbation and partner sex. It may even be beneficial for each partner to learn about themselves through masturbation, without having the pressure of their partner's needs to think about. However, if you're leaning over to masturbation in order to AVOID having sex with your spouse because you're angry or resentful, that is an avoidant and distancing behavior, and sexual stonewalling. And that needs to be addressed, just like stonewalling would be. You as a couple can decide that avoidant use of porn/masturbating is a "not allowed" behavior. 

Porn is ready and available if he decides he wants it again, no matter what she thinks or does.

This is true. His decision to use porn is his business, after all. The thing about trying to legislate your husband's use of porn is that, while he may agree initially, he's doing it for you and not for himself. You gotta get buy in. He's got to buy in to the idea that porn use is hurting your relationship, which hurts him AND you. Otherwise, he's not going to be truly sold on the idea, and that will set him up to start hiding it and lying about it, which might lead to even more dishonest behavior. He may not really, truly believe that he's hurting you-- he may start to doubt his agreement to quit porn, because he never truly believed that he was hurting you. The thought process continues like this: "What she doesn't know won't hurt her, what does she care what I do in the bathroom once or twice a week, I'm a man I need a release, This is my business, not hers." 

This second betrayal is even worse than the first one.  As one woman told her husband in a session recently, “The first time I could say that you didn’t understand how porn would hurt me.  But now I’ve explained it and you’re still using it!  How hurtful is that?  Don’t you care about me at ALL???”

If he starts hiding and lying about his porn use, and then he's discovered, she will likely feel devastated and doubly betrayed. However, back to my last point-- he may not have bought into the idea that porn was a bad thing. It may be that he was just "doing it for her" which never sticks for long. It's not that he doesn't love her, or care about her, he just hasn't bought into the idea that it's truly harmful to her, or to the relationship. He needs to be honest about his feelings about it, if he really doesn't think it's a problem, or her business, he needs to say that to her. And if she really cannot tolerate living in a relationship with a man who uses porn, then she should draw that line, and let the honest negotiations begin. 

 

 

jackrungh's picture

Very much in agreement with

Very much in agreement with these assertions. It seems like many people have had porn issues in their relationships, and are letting those personal experiences serve as universal truths. I grew up in the digital age, being 29, the first generation to live and breathe tech. Porn was as ubiquitous as underage drinking, and just as much a part of the teen experience. Girls my age were using porn at similar rates, though they could not be as open about it. I think the key line in the sand is, "Is porn taking the place of sexual activity with my partner?" If the answer to that question is no, then I have a hard time seeing a problem. If the partner is repulsed or offended by porn use, there is a separate and valid issue, and it must go to work in the back-and-forth value judgments between partners. In this game there are no rights or wrongs, just personal opinions.

My wife and I are in a very bad place with regard to intimacy. We are both are availing ourselves of sexual release in the absence of intimacy, but I guarantee you these outlets are only more utilized because of the disconnect. In better times I could probably count on one hand (pun intended) the masturbatory sessions in a year. I understand that there are many who are plagued with lack of intimacy BECAUSE of their partner's obsession with porn, or because they otherwise seek sexual gratification in spite of their willing spouse. I would caution those people to not paint their experience as the sum total of all interactions.

DragonTamerWife's picture

Yeah, porn doesn't offend me.

Yeah, porn doesn't offend me. I see it as wild, crazy, screwed up combination of dreams, memory remnants and subconscious desires--it's usually not about 'doing the thing,' but largely about the emotional situation, believe it or not. (Judging someone for their turn-ons is like judging them for their dreams. It was a dream! They were unconscious! But just like you can sometimes, with practice, learn to change your dreams as you're having them, you can shift your erotic attention to healthier things if you think it's hurting you. But I digress.)

I do wish there was a "Humanely Produced Porn" label people could shop for, so they could vote with their dollars--I'm sure many people would vote to support the victims of sex-trafficking and rehabilitate retired sex workers.

I agree that "Are you using porn to avoid sex with your partner?" is key.

There is also "Are you less likely to initiate sex with your partner because you use porn?" or "Are you more likely to initiate sex with your partner because you use porn." 

"Why are you repulsed by his porn use?" is also a good one. (Could it be evidence of shame and/or childhood sexual abuse? Anger? Afraid it might turn her on and that would mean she was repulsive? Just mad at the sonofabizzle for all these years of being an intolerable beast? Oh, wait that's mine. Kidding, honey!)

I think a lot of porn-use-and-anger-with-that-porn-use could be just a symptom of a whole lot of stuff going on underneath. 

 

jackrungh's picture

If you had a "humanely

If you had a "humanely produced porn" ratings agency/label it would already apply to 99% of porn production. The business is not sordid in the least. Even the wilder fetish content is produced in the same professional manner, with all-voluntary interactions and disciplined guidelines. Porn is to sex trafficking as cooking is to cannibalism.

I'm sure there are couples for whom porn is a "marital aide." I think of it like anything else: alcohol, drugs, chocolate, cheeseburgers. The potential for healthy use is equal to the potential for harmful use. Also for some perspective, if you had to weigh the negative social impact of hard drugs, porn, or cheeseburgers, cheeseburgers leaves the other two in the dust.

it's not a small problem

That is your very unresearched opinion. There's plenty of evidence to prove otherwise. Crowe posted a little. Have you done research truly looking for answers or to just hear what you wanted to hear? And are you willing to open youself up to new information and different opinions? Be honest with yourself. I don't think you want know the truth. And porn stars aren't usually from trafficking but former prostitutes, usually with severe drug addictions, who've had hard lives and come from major abuse and dysfunction. Don't go by what the actors say while they're still in the business or what the business tells you. See what the former stars have to say. Find out what goes on behind the scenes. Don't eat up the propaganda constantly thrown at you, think for yourself. Also, you seem to vehemently bring up the same points over and over, why do you feel so compelled to persuade everyone? Is everyone else the only persons you're trying to persuade? Not trying to be mean or make you feel small, but challenge you to feel truly confident in youself. I hope you don't find my approach offensive, not my desire.
ladyesther's picture

Porn in marriage

Yes, you summed it up really well I thought.  It's a very painful topic for me.  I haven't fully healed from this.  I am a woman with ADD in my marriage.  And breaking free from co-dependency, depression, and living with ADD has stretched me to the limit.  The good news is that the cloud of depression is lifting for me because I realized how poorly I have thought of myself and that I must take more responsibility for MY LIFE and that I get to make choices.  For a long time I felt as if I was just suppose to do what I was told especially by male figures.  And I resented not being able to make my own choices even though I have been a legal adult for a long time.  I am 41!

tamtam2138's picture

Im at a lost...

Hi there...IM a 42 year old women ...IM in a dealership with a man that I love..  about 3/2 year now ....he love his porn very much we have talked about it so much he gets so made if I bring it up so i don't anymore i keep it in now...But it kills me in side are sex life is very good at night time...But if i try to get it in the morning he get upset at me ...Becuse he gets up for work a hour erly for he can wach it at work or on his cell...in 3 year we only had sex maybe 2 times in the morning i just don't no what to do anymore about it ....it's so bad....And if we are home and he is on the cumper and I walk out of the room he will go on porn ...Im have a hard time tusting him with it...I just need help to under sant it or just talk ti some one ...I dont know...

 

#6 Is the one I can do something about

I most resonate with #6 Now You're (I'm) a Liar.

All the other reasons that porn hurts listed are beyond my ability to change them. Lying is a choice I make. If I am honest with myself, I can take responsibility for any lying I do. Then once I own that choice, I can chose to lie or be truthful in the next moment.

Porn use is a test of personal power and an opportunity for transformation that will result in long term improvement of the marriage.

Jeff

Porn Hurts

This is a very serious problem that Porn hurts marriages and relationships and there are limitless articles like these all over the internet that have outlined the problem and it is very real but heres the thing. Porn wont go away and it will get only worse. When man invents some kind of media technology - the first question he asks himself is "how can this be used to improve porn", and believe me being in the technology space porn will keep getting better with the ability to control the skit and actors and realism and more realistic stimulation of the senses. It is coming and seriously there must be a different way to tackle this problem - it is not likely going to be banned.  I dont know how many of us know that porn has done alot more damage to marriages in the past few years - because most porn now in in HD 720/1080p and they are testing 4k equipment in 3D that will be available in the next year or so. Porn is not the problem - even if we ban it, new social media and hookup sites today make it very easy to find people to have sex with. It will continue to be a serious problem because we choose to ignore the heart of the problem - Men and women are different and see sexuality differently. We teach children a fairy tale that does not represent true human sexuality, we think censorship and control will work but sex is a very very powerful body need and the whole concept of marriage and intimacy goes against the grain of the very nature of human sexuality. Then we create a set of artificial 'band aids' for the problems - we label men we addictive or sex disorders and try to shame him into submission of the politically correct behaviors. Then we hold our heads when it does not work. According to evolutionary psychologists  at Oxford University (Dr Kit Opie - Risk of infanticide drove evolution of monogamy) - Monogamy evolved in humans to enhance the survival of offspring. NOT so that women can have intimacy (sorry). We need to ensure that the survival of our children are the No 1 priority. We will seriously have to revisit why couples must stay together and maybe relationships  will have to evolve to survive. Porn and other similar distractions will have to be dealt with - what is it that really cements parents together. Personally i think it has nothing to do with sex and intimacy. I am a man and have married three times (I have never been unfaithful nor was porn ever involved) and the novelty of sex, intercourse and the related activities wore off during the first year of marriage. My last relationship is with an old college sweetheart that i was reunited with 11 years ago after my last divorce. What we have is not related to intimacy and sexual activity - rather the years, bond, history and companionship we have shared when we were in college. She is a true companion to me and I feel i fill a similar void in her life. We have sex and it is great but its not that important. Forget the anecdote for now. But we need to evolve as a species to get past this problem, Banning porn, shaming its users, labeling them with new disorders, therapy wont solve any of this because of who we are - we need to accept this.

re:

You make a convincing argument. For people like me, however, the costs are worth it, and your argument is not convincing enough to stop.

My wife just doesn't like sex at all - 4 times a year is too much. She claims she still loves me, enjoys my company, thinks I'm a great dad, is happy with my appearance, etc. I would get divorced, but I have a 6 and 8 year old. An affair is out of the question - if I got caught she would be furious and take the kids and I can't risk it. Additionally, I am morally opposed to it and would feel too guilty. I tell her I will leave in about 12 years when I will be 53 and after the kids are gone, but I think she thinks I am too nice and loyal to actually go through it (and to be fair, if things change by then, I won't leave). I have always worked hard, been loyal and trustworthy, and the nice guy - life is short and by that point I will want to finally do something for myself. But at least for the next 12 years, I am stuck.

So, she won't do it and an affair is not an option. All I'm left with is porn. I've heard and read all of the advice and suggestions about the lack of sex (including the advice on this blog) and tried them all for years and years to no avail (and based on my friends experiences, I am not alone). You can't criticize porn for people in my position. I know it's bad, but it's the only option I have, and frankly it's worth the costs. Unless you can convince me otherwise, my friends and myself who are stuck in sexless marriages for a variety of reasons, it's our only option. I hope you come up with an answer, but frankly I am doubtful.

To rismith1972

I hear you.  I am in the same position as you but flipped situation.  I don't want sex from my dh for a number of reasons.  I don't trust him and now at retirement age I am realizing I don't like him.  I thought we would divorce after the kids were out of school.  I thought it would be too hard to divorce when the kids were home so I "soldiered on".  I thought we were doing an honorable thing.  Keeping the family together.  It was hard and frustrating. I cried a lot. I lived in suspicion of him getting sex elsewhere. Now, after the years of living without sex (and love) I realize what an empty life we had.   The kids didn't get to be in a loving (really) house.  We smiled and laughed and pretended that things were good enough.  But dad and mom (us) were not intimate.  AND there was always an undercurrent silent resentment.  I want sex too but not with someone who I feel is daily "screwing" me figuratively.  Not with someone who does not share his thoughts with me.  Not with someone who does not financially support the family. So we went without for years. Him not willing (able) to share and me not giving sex unless I wanted it.   I soothed myself with thoughts of divorce that might happen in later years too.  The thing is, when you are a certain age, divorce can be out of the question.  For so many reasons, after the kids are gone, it is very hard to start over and make that jump.  Porn for me is not an option.  It is degrading and icky.  

I think the answer is divorce.  "The Greek word for marital unfaithfulness found in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 translates to mean any form of sexual immorality including adultery, prostitution, fornication, pornography, and incest. Since the sexual union is such a crucial part of the marriage covenant, breaking that bond seems to be a permissible, biblical grounds for divorce."  (Christianity.about.com)

How do you define "unfaithfulness"?  seems to be the question...morally.  Dh left the marriage emotionally long ago IF he ever was really IN it at all.  After all these years, I am now emotionally leaving (in my mind and heart) the marriage.  Can I say that all my suspicions of dh were actually adultery? (traveling salesman who won't wear a wedding band - many stories).  I can only say that the family (and me especially) would have been better off if we had divorced early - everything on the table.  No "acting" happy or compromising yourself to such a degree that you lose your self.  Porn cannot take the place of two people living intimately together.

I am not being preachy.  Just saying that I traveled the road you are on with the attitude you have now and it was a wrong road (choice) to stay and make things OK when they were not. In the end staying for the kids (or because of the kids) is not honor and courage like I thought it was.  It was bondage to unhappiness....not healthy.  Trust me, NO ONE will respect your for staying unhappily married in the LONG RUN.  Your wife will not love you for the sacrifices you are making.  People will at the end think of you as a fool to succor yourself with porn rather than make things right in your life.  

I followed the letter of the law (I thought at the time).  It is how I was raised and taught and I thought like you that lots of people are putting up with unhappy marriages...the price to pay to stay with the kids.  That was wrong.  Recently it was explained to me by a minister that God does not want us to be miserable because of the law.  The law is FOR the people to live their best lives.  We get to live our best lives.  Porn is not the way to a best life.  Living honestly is a better choice.  I know it is hard.  I am married too and can't seem to find the courage to make things better in my own family. 

We get to follow our hearts in this life.  God gave us a heart and intuition and feelings for a reason. The spirit of the law is for what is best for the family.  The question is:  What can I do today that will make us better and proud tomorrow?  Porn is not the correct answer.  Being honest is the best answer - although a hard one sometimes.

road traveled on

Thank you for sharing this.  You paid a great cost for keeping your family intact.

Sex-starved marriages

Your wife's idea that she can require you to remain physically loyal to you, while also not joining you in sex, is a recipe for disaster.  You have chosen what seems to be the most viable route, and for that I applaud you.  However, I would also urge you to consider working harder with her to improve your sex life.  The porn gives you sexual release, but it doesn't provide intimacy or closeness with your partner...and so simultaneously supports your relationship and further erodes it.  A professional counselor might be able to help her work through why she is holding back on being more intimate with you and help her consider the lopsided nature of her position.

If you are interested, there is a book that is very relevant for your situation that you might read - The Sex-Starved Marriage by Michele Weiner-Davis.

I have this same issue as all

I have this same issue as all of this and all me and  husband do is fight and he just don't understand where I am coming from I will  it to Anytime so there No excuse there he tells me he does it just to get in the mood for sex yet will masturbate to it and not have sex with me I don't know what to  I have tried everything