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Pornography Can Ruin Your Sex Life

valeriarzianina

About Me

My articles are a different take on the self help genre. Up until now, personal development advice has always been doled out in terms of, “I’m great, you suck, here’s how to fix yourself.” It’s the old “guru” model. And it messes people up as much as it helps them. My aim is to give advice from a place of humility; as in, “I suck sometimes, you suck sometimes; here’s how I deal with it, hopefully it helps.” I call it self help from a first-person perspective. Aside from my books and courses, I offer personal consultations as well. I am also available for media requests and speaking engagements. If you’d like to get in touch with me, feel free to email me.

A couple years ago, I stumbled across some research and articles about the pornography and the negative effects it could be having on men and their sex lives. I found it interesting, but never gave it too much thought after that. Then some time last year I stumbled across this video:

It caught my attention because not only had I struggled with sexual anxiety and had bouts of inability to perform in the past, but being a dating coach, I had talked to a lot of men who struggled with the same issues, men often in their 20′s and 30′s.

A recent survey by Esquire showed 43% of men reported difficulty getting or maintaining an erection at least some of the time, with 24% reporting that they had difficulty “more often than I’d like to admit.”

According to the science, porn trains our brains to release more endorphins than is natural in response to an overload of sexual stimuli. After a while, our brains become desensitized and develop a need for higher and higher stimuli in order to reach the same arousal and excitement. Thus begins the spiral into more hardcore porn and higher quantities of it. In some cases, men can develop a psychological addiction to pornography and it can begin to interfere with their sex and social lives. In rare cases it can be debilitating in both.

Chances are you’re not a porn addict, but if you’re a man under the age of 35, I imagine that the abundant access to porn has affected you more than you think.

Think back to the first time you watched porn.

The mere image of a beautiful naked woman was probably enough for you. But sadly, for many of us, over the years we devolve into darker and more twisted porn habits.

The result is that not only does it limit your ability to become aroused at all, but also can limit your dopamine receptors in general, causing you to become more anxious, less social, and possibly even depressed. Not to mention it completely skews your perception of what beauty is and gives you unreasonable standards for sex with the women you meet.

If you’ve ever gotten an otherwise beautiful girl naked in your bed and been unable to ignore the tiny blemishes or asymmetries to the point where you have trouble getting turned on, then you know what I mean.

And worst of all, the younger you were when you began watching porn, the worse the effects generally are.

The masturbation diet

In my book on attracting women, I shared something I referred to as the “masturbation diet” in my chapter about motivation. It involved:

  • eliminating porn and
  • limiting masturbation to 1-2 times per week.

The goal of the “diet” was to revitalize and motivate guys who had trouble being motivated enough to pursue women in the face of their anxiety. I had done it on and off in the past whenever I needed a kick in the ass and it worked for me. Often within a week or two. But I had never considered keeping it or making it a permanent habit in my life.

Late last year, the “no more porn” stuff really caught fire on the forum here, and a number of guys (myself included), hopped on the bandwagon in this thread and agreed to not look at porn for 60 days. We all kept logs on the thread and it turned out to be a raging success. Most of us made it through the 60 days unscathed and true believers.

Porn had been negatively affecting our sex lives.

For some it was a major shift and very difficult. For others, the changes were minor and simple. For everyone, the consensus seems to be we’re glad we did it. You can read the experiences of others on the thread. Personally, I have been watching porn since I was 13, and had been watching it almost daily for 8-10 years when I began this challenge.

  • When I did masturbate, I made a point to only fantasize about girls I knew or had met. Other times I did not fantasize at all. I absolutely did NOT fantasize about porn I had seen.
  • My sex drive was very erratic the first few weeks. Some days I would be unbearably horny and then I would be completely disinterested in sex for a few days after that. I didn’t limit my masturbation (some guys chose to do this), so this usually meant that I’d go 4-5 days without masturbating, and then go nuts and do it 3-4 times in the span of 24 hours. Sometimes it felt like I was 16-years-old all over again.
  • At around three or four weeks, my sex drive was high and remained that way. My aggression with girls increased, as well as my confidence being sexual around them. I felt little shame or hesitation pushing things further with them, whereas I may have been in the past.
  • I began to find normal, every day girls to be more beautiful. Minor flaws and blemishes that used to bug me were now endearing and sometimes even sexy. I also noticed that my tastes changed a bit. I began to find the fake-titted, fake blonde, fake tan, tiny skirted, club-type girls less attractive and naturally beautiful girls to be more appealing to me. I started noticing things like skin, lips, eyes and hair more. And although I still love a nice pair of tits and ass, they’re no longer my sole criteria.
  • After one month, it was clear I was having better sex. I was performing better and enjoying it more and wanting it more often. In the second month, I had no temptation and the benefits continued to increase.

It appears my addiction and “reboot” were milder than that of many guys. You can read more about porn withdrawal symptoms here and read about the benefits many men experience after giving up porn for 60 days here.

Relapse and Experimentation

I jokingly call it a “relapse,” but in early-February I was pulling 14-hour work days and not getting out much, so I hit up the good old YouPorn to blow off some… err, steam. Yeah, that’s it, blow off steam.

On my first return to porn post-reboot, a few things had changed:

  1. Porn I used to enjoy now felt excessive, dehumanizing and honestly, not very attractive. There were a few videos I saw where I couldn’t believe I used to watch stuff like that.
  2. I appreciated and was far more turned on by the beauty of each girl and less by them getting fucked or gagging by a giant cock or what have you. The actual sex itself seemed far less exciting than just having a ridiculously hot naked girl on my screen.
  3. I couldn’t help but notice how unhappy and inauthentic the girls in the videos often were. Not to say I haven’t noticed some of the actresses obviously faking their way through a scene in the past, but this was deeper. Like you could tell they just weren’t very happy people and didn’t have much self-respect. I know this both a) sounds weird to be thinking about while getting your fap on, and b) should not surprise anybody. But it actually became so apparent that it was hard for me to stay turned on in some cases.

I watched porn a couple times over the span of maybe three weeks with the above reactions. I noticed no change in my aggression, my sex drive or my comfort around women. A few weeks later, I began dating a girl here in Brazil pretty regularly and for the first time in about a year, I had a regular sexual partner who I saw frequently.

I decided to use the opportunity to test something out:

I wanted to see how much porn was too much. I had watched it on a couple isolated occasions and nothing changed. But how much did I have to watch before it began to affect my sex life?

My new Brasileira girlfriend offered a perfect control variable. Since I was having sex with her every few days, I could see and feel any changes in my sexual interest or ability to perform with her as soon as they happened.

It took about a week. I maybe masturbated to porn 4-5 times that week. But by the last time, I was back to my old habits of watching hardcore porn and watching 10-15 videos per session, usually skipping straight to the money shots. The second time my girlfriend came over after beginning my escapade, there was a noticeable drop in both my desire and my performance, to the point where I apologized to her for not being able to live up to my standards (no pun intended). The next week, I quit the pornography, and within a week, the old desire and performance came back and is still going strong.

So what does this mean?

Is porn the devil? Should you never watch it? Is it ruining your sex life as we speak?

I can only answer for myself.

For me, yes, porn had a noticeable impact on my sex life and I’m much better off not watching it. And I know there are a number of guys on the forum who had far more dramatic benefits than I did. I will never go back to watching it regularly. I imagine I will watch it occasionally, most likely when I’m drunk and get home after a night of striking out. But it’s clear that if I watch it on any consistent basis for more than a few days, it negatively affects my sex life.

I honestly wish I had stopped watching it years ago, as it would have saved me a lot of struggle for motivation and embarrassment in the bedroom.

I recommend you experiment with quitting altogether as well. Our “No More Porn” thread on on the forum is on-going and everybody is invited to participate. We have some guys in the midst of their 60 day challenges right now who are posting about their progress. I invite you to join in and follow along. If anything, it’s worth the exercise in discipline. At the worst, you go without fap material for two months. At the best, you gain a newfound sexual confidence around women, and increase your performance in bed. Sounds worth it to me.

Also, if you believe you have a severe porn addiction — you watch porn for up to an hour per session, you have trouble getting an erection without porn, or you watch porn which does not match your sexual orientation — then I highly recommend you do a full reboot and read www.yourbrainonporn.com.

Republished with permission, courtesy of  Mark Manson

Art by: Valeria Rzianina; To see more of her painting check here

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  • Mrrrroowwwr

    I haven’t actually seen it, but I saw a woman give a TED talk about the feminist porn she creates, which based on her description sounds like the only porn anyone should ever watch, if any. I have long proclaimed that guys around my age (26) generally don’t fuck right because they try too hard to reproduce the porn they’ve seen. If we’re going to watch people have sex, let’s watch the real deal, not the unrealistic porn fantasies. I also agree that, as a woman, watching/reading(mostly) porn when I was an adolescent definitely did get out of hand. The more I read, the weirder shit I needed to read to get turned on. Now that I almost never read or watch any porn it’s a lot easier, and I’ve always found it hotter to fantasize about past sexual experiences rather than porn images. And as far as film porn goes, I’ve almost only ever been able to tolerate lesbian porn, even though I prefer sex with men, because “straight” porn is so cock-centric that there’s usually nothing interesting for me. Watching a blow-job or a guy coming on a woman’s tits does absolutely nothing for me.

  • I would say that pornography is, as a whole, an ugly, unnatural and destructive thing. Why? Because it gives young boys, young men especially, VERY wrong ideas about sex, about relations to women, about “love”, etc. Turning something that is naturally meant to be a bonding experience, to be fun, and innocent, and loving, into a “performance”, into something that is aggressive, and “dirty”. It is a perversion of what love really is, and what sex is supposed to be about.

    Perception is everything in life, and porn can and has been so destructive to young people, to people who watch it in general. From personal image, to misconceived, warped notions of what should be, to feeling bad about yourself because you fear your “penis is too small”, or you “can’t perform well enough”, etc etc etc……when all of that misses the point entirely. Sex is not meant, by Nature, to be a performance. You are supposed to be there WITH the person, bonding WITH them. That is why they call it “making love”. Because you are literally, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, BUILDING up and creating love between you. Enhancing it, strengthening it. Everything from the important of human skin to skin contact and touch, to the importance of cuddling and holding each other, the need to BE held, to the importance of intimacy such as eye gazing, caressing, talking. Or even the more recent studies (which already prove what many ancient peoples knew), that female vaginal fluids are very very good for men, and likewise male semen and sperm are very very good in a wide variety of ways for women. The very “Realization” some of these studies are starting to touch on, that when a woman takes a man inside of her, and accepts his semen and sperm into her body, it is not a “meaningless” act like modern society treats it. The fact that women absorb much through their vaginas from the man’s seed, and hints even that it’s entirely possible trace amounts of that man’s DNA might well stay in the woman’s system forever, that she literally takes on a part of him as part of her….forever.

    There are deep reasons, natural reasons, for all of that. And none of them are represented by pornography, nor truly be many modern attitudes towards sex even. To my mind, at least, it has always made the most sense to me that human beings are one of those rare “mate for life” species, naturally, not just as a social construct. If you think deeply about it, everything about the nature of human beings, the nature of romantic love for each other, the bond that is created through love, through touch, and ultimately through sex, it is all meant to bond two humans together, as mates, for life. To stay together, long-term, to care for each other, and the offspring they produce together. I personally feel there is more evidence that points to a “naturally monogamous” nature in humans, than there does the idea that has been put forth by some in the past, that we were “naturally polygamous”. If that were true, I do not think that how humans bond with each other, and natural human “pair-bonding” symptoms, would even exist. We naturally have a drive to find that one “right mate”, and to imprint on them, to bond with them.

    Men most especially, are built by nature to imprint on their chosen woman, both physically and emotionally, and they become deeply, deeply attached to and devoted to that one woman. That would not happen, unless Nature fully intended that male to stay with his female for life. It is not just a matter of a man wanting to “sew his seed” and move on. No, there is a deep, natural reason for “falling in love”, that is very ancient, and very real, for both sexes. There are also very concrete and important reasons that humans deeply need, and deeply benefit from real, truly loving, long-term relationships. People who float from person to person are more often than not very unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Whereas people who have trust and feel loved and “safe” from that one special person, that person they have imprinted on and bonded to, they tend to be healthier, happier people. That is not of course to say that people who stumble into bad relationships don’t suffer. But rather, the people who find themselves in good, healthy, communicative and reciprocal relationships, tend to be some of the happiest people on the planet. Why? Because humans need that. We’re built to need that. We are not just designed by Nature to MATE. We are also designed to want A mate, to want love and need love, and the positive things that come out of that pair-bonding.

    And pornography more often than not utterly disregards all of that. It presents sex as this cold, unfeeling, entirely physical act, people just using each other to “get off”….which is so completely disconnected and warped and messed up, it’s beyond belief. It gives people SUCH wrong ideas about what sex is supposed to be, and notions of “good sex” and “bad sex”, etc. It causes people to even go so far as to view themselves, and relationships, through a warped “porn lens”, comparing real life to unrealistic, scripted, unnatural “performances”. In all honesty, there is no such thing as “bad sex”, not so long as it’s done with the right person, for the right reasons. Certainly specific times might be more highly charged or “better” than others, but one would think that if you are truly “making love” with someone, especially the RIGHT someone, that “life mate”, that the experience is going to be good, and healing, and loving, and positive, no matter what. Why? Because it’s not a performance. It’s two people loving each other, and bonding. And that’s what Nature intended it to be.

    Porn presents this image of just two bodies fucking. Cold, sterile, unemotional, unrealistic, unnatural. It removes all of the most important elements out of the equation, for “entertainment’s” sake. Except that sex isn’t supposed to be entertainment. It’s deeply personal, it’s about you, and them, and love, and touch, and energy, and emotion, and bonding. For the woman, you are sharing yourself with your man, you are making yourself vulnerable to someone you trust, and allowing him inside of you, to become part of you. And for the man, you are sharing yourself with your woman, you are making yourself vulnerable to someone you trust, entering her, and and sharing your very essence, a part of your life, a part of your soul, with her. If some of that “research” is to be believed, you are literally giving her part of yourself, permanently. And that is what is lost in porn. The love, the bonding, the emotion, the spirit. The only way people can truly be “doing it right”, in all honesty, is if they are giving themselves to each other, are there and “present” with each other, and are not just physically having sex, but firing on all levels, physical, psychological, emotional AND spiritual…..if you’re engaging your “other” on all those levels at once? Then that is truly “making love”.

    And that is what our young people should be taught, to want, to value. The meaningfulness of the act, the purpose, the sacredness of it. And porn teaches none of that, in fact it displays the exact opposite. Thus, as I said in the beginning, it is destructive.

  • sam

    this is so true….i masturbate for 4-5 days a week while watching porn. it causes me to feel guilty and a fear of porn addiction, which i don’t want. though, now porn doesn’t seem any interesting but still i go on to watch it, to find something new. it’s enough now. i make promise of not watching porn and very limited masturbation for next 60 days. will see this comment again on 15th june 🙂 . thank you

  • Man, this seems so true. I am more of a celibate person but I find porn might have been affecting my perception of a lot. Thank you

  • Bravo! Good insight.

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