How to Stop Watching Porn: The Ultimate Guide

Sandra Richardson

Feb 12, 2021

Whether or not you want to admit it, chances are, you’ve visited at least one porn site in your life. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you’re in good company. Over 40 million people admit to regularly visiting porn sites on the Internet. Viewing pornography periodically is completely normal and in some cases can actually improve your sex life and make you more in-tune with your body and sexual needs.

Unfortunately, some people struggle to view pornography in moderation. For nearly 12% of the population, this occasional habit quickly escalates into an obsession and soon, an addiction. Before you know it, you’re viewing porn for hours at a time. It interferes with your life, relationships, and health. If this describes you, you may have a porn addiction.

Do you need help to stop watching porn? You’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll explore how and why people get addicted to porn, the negative consequences of porn addiction, and ways to get help. The good news is, there is help available. You’ve already taken the first step by clicking on this article.

Now let’s explore porn addiction from a few different angles and give you the information you need to kick that porn habit for good!

What Causes Porn Addiction?

There’s no simple answer to this question. Probably because everyone watches porn for different reasons. Common reasons include stress relief, lack of sexual intimacy, and a need to indulge in hidden sexual fantasies. Some people even watch for educational purposes — thinking they can learn a thing or two from the videos. Unfortunately, the sex portrayed in porn videos is often unrealistic and overexaggerated, which leads to disappointing sexual encounters in real life.

Before you can get to the root of why you, specifically, watch porn, you must first understand how viewing pornography affects your brain. That’s right. It’s about more than just getting aroused and experiencing sexual release. There’s a lot of science behind why people become addicted to porn and have a hard time stopping. When you view pornography your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that creates feelings of happiness and relaxation. Over time, your brain associates this feel-good sensation with watching pornography. You begin to crave it and in some ways, need it to feel happy and normal. The problem is, like with any addiction, your body will eventually become immune to the pornography you watch. Now you need to watch it more frequently, for longer periods of time, or different types of videos that escalate in vulgarity and deliver a bigger “shock value”.

There are three main causes of porn addiction — biological, psychological, spiritual, and socio-cultural. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Biological

Everyone has unique genetics and physiology which puts them at greater risk for developing an addiction. When it comes to porn addiction, the first factor to consider is how much you enjoy sex. Some people enjoy sexual intercourse more than others. For some, certain sex acts are more exciting than others. Believe it or not, sexual release actually feels better and different for each person. So much so, that it becomes difficult for them to resist the urge for release. This makes sexual release as a result of watching porn very tempting.

 

Willpower differs from one person to the next, as well, making it easier or more difficult to overcome these desires with rational thought. As humans, we’re vulnerable to addiction because our brain signals us to repeat pleasurable behaviors like having sex, eating, and exercising. While this is necessary for survival, it also puts some people at a greater risk of becoming addicted to these repetitive behaviors.

Psychological

Studies show that addicts repeat certain behaviors, regardless of the negative consequences, because they anticipate a different, positive result. Some of these positive results from watching porn include reduced stress, sexual pleasure, relief from boredom, and a way to cope with negative feelings or situations. Sometimes, it’s the avoidance of withdrawal symptoms that the addict is trying to cope with.

 

People with poor coping skills are at greater risk of porn addiction. Instead of dealing with their feelings or stressful situations, they turn to porn. Even if the relief is ineffective long-term, watching pornography offers momentary and immediate stress relief. If you lack stress reduction tools, you may also be more susceptible to developing an addiction. Courses like Stop Together are designed to provide addicts with the tools and resources they need to cope with stress and stop watching porn once and for all.

 

Many porn addicts have other underlying mental and emotional conditions also including anxiety and depression. They turn to porn to relieve the symptoms of these disorders.

Socio-Cultural

Culture plays a bigger role in porn addiction than most people realize. The society in which you live often dictates your values and beliefs. There’s also an element of learned behavior to consider. We live in a very sexual society where movies, music, and photos are all very provocative. Most advertisements are sexually driven. We’re told what to find attractive and why. It’s difficult to stop watching porn when you’re virtually surrounded by it at every turn. Sadly, a history of sexual abuse can also contribute to sex addiction (among other addictions). Your background and upbringing could have contributed to your addiction without you even realizing it.

Reasons People Watch Pornography

Not every trigger for porn addiction is deeply rooted in your genetics or even your past. Some influences are found in everyday life. Knowing what these are can help you choose the right path for recovery.

Here are common reasons addicts turn to porn for release and find it difficult to stop.

Sexual Arousal

This is the most common and obvious reason why people watch pornography — it’s sexually arousing and satisfying. Sexual release is a basic human need and if you’re not having intercourse with a partner, masturbation is the next best thing. Even people in relationships turn to porn if they have a higher sex drive than their partners.

 

Porn videos also offer a more extreme or “hotter” version of traditional sex. The actors have ideal bodies, both partners always climax, and everything just looks perfect. While we all know this isn’t realistic, it doesn’t stop us from watching and getting aroused by it. Unfortunately, these unrealistic expectations make it difficult to find regular sex with a partner exciting or satisfying. The more porn you watch, the more disconnected you feel from real sexual contact.

Loneliness and Boredom

These are two different causes for watching porn but are closely related.

 

Yes, it’s true that if you’re single and not having sex regularly with an intimate partner, you’re more likely to watch porn. Single people watch porn to fill the void left by not being in a romantic relationship. Although momentary, porn helps distract you from your loneliness.

 

Long-term, though, it can actually make things worse. Watching multiple partners engage in enjoyable sex acts only brings to light the fact that you’re alone. The remedy for loneliness is a feeling of belonging. When you watch porn, you’re simply an outsider looking in. You’ll never experience that sense of belonging from a porn video but that won’t keep you from seeking it out, creating a vicious, unhealthy cycle.

 

As much as 90% of adults claim to be bored at one time or another. Boredom gives your mind time to wander. And sometimes, it wanders toward porn. This is where the phrase, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” comes from. When you have nothing to occupy your time or mind, you’ll find something.

 

The rise of digital technology puts virtually anything at our fingertips — including pornography. Some people turn to porn simply to avoid idleness. Many people view it as a way to unwind from a long or stressful day. It easily becomes a mindless habit that lacks any real substance but that you can’t seem to stop.

Experience and Education

For those who are less sexually experienced or adventurous, they turn to porn for a crash course in sex-ed. Have you only had one sexual partner and they weren’t very good? Or perhaps you’ve never had sex and want to be prepared for the big moment. Instead of asking embarrassing questions, some people turn to porn to see what goes where and how.

 

This is more common among younger viewers but some older adults admit to watching porn to gather ideas and help spice up their sex lives. As we’ve already mentioned, porn isn’t the greatest educational resource given its unrealistic nature.

Negative Effects of Porn Addiction

Are you still not convinced that you need to stop watching porn? Maybe you think it’s no big deal. Chances are if you’re addicted to porn, at least one or more aspects of your life are being compromised.

Let’s take a look at some of the negative ways porn addiction might be impacting your life and why it’s likely time to quit.

Depression

While some people turn to porn to relieve stress and escape feelings of loneliness that cause depression, too much pornography can also cause depression. Like with any addiction, you may become withdrawn from people and the outside world in order to feed your habit. Do you find yourself breaking plans, missing work, and using other excuses to avoid socializing? Are you replacing in-person interactions with porn?

 

As mentioned before, this might create short-term pleasure and satisfaction but over time, you’ll find yourself isolated from the outside world. Those feelings of loneliness will only deepen and escalate. There’s also some debate over whether depression causes porn addiction or if the addiction causes depression. Regardless of which you believe, there’s clear evidence that the two conditions are closely connected.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

This one’s for all the men out there. One of man’s greatest fears is the inability to perform in the bedroom. While ED affects a large majority of men over 50, porn addicts of all ages are at risk. That’s because the more you watch porn and masturbate, the less interested you’ll be in sexual intercourse. This will impact your ability to get aroused and perform, leading to low self-esteem for both you and your partner. It may also create feelings of anxiety that you try to relieve by watching porn, creating an unhealthy cycle.

Unhealthy Relationships

It’s no surprise that porn addiction can destroy relationships, especially intimate ones. Sadly, nearly 40% of sex or porn addicts end up losing their partners because of their addiction. Many partners feel jealous and inadequate if you’re turning to porn for sexual gratification rather than having sex with them.

 

You may also bring negative feelings to the bedroom without realizing it. It’s not uncommon for porn addicts to get frustrated or turned-off if their partners won’t engage in specific acts or taboo behavior. Are you disappointed that your wife or girlfriend doesn’t react the way the women in your favorite videos do? Do you find porn stars more attractive than your spouse? This leads to a lack of sex in many relationships since addicts prefer videos over real intercourse. In some cases, too much pornography and release leave you disinterested in sex and your partner dissatisfied.

 

In time, you may feel distant from your partner or even resent them for not living up to your expectations or fantasies. This also leads to infidelity in many relationships. In fact, pornography increases the chances of infidelity by 300%! Either partner can be to blame for cheating. The porn addict might seek out a partner to fulfill their fantasies while the spouse might feel neglected.

Normalization of Violent and Disrespectful Behaviors

No one starts watching porn with the intention to commit heinous acts or even crimes. In the beginning, you might’ve only watched softcore porn videos that depicted “normal” couples engaging in healthy, traditional sex. Over time, these videos may lose their excitement or appeal.

 

Remember how we mentioned needing to watch more porn more often to achieve that same level of satisfaction? Escalating the type of porn videos you watch is also common among addicts. Videos and sex acts you once found disgusting and repulsive might excite you now. You become desensitized to the videos and the sex acts they depict. This is a dangerous, slippery slope.

 

Before long, the videos might normalize violent behavior. Many pornographic videos depict graphic and sometimes violent sex acts. Not only that, but the characters in the videos respond positively to these acts. You might think this behavior is acceptable and that your partner enjoys it, even if they protest. You become too forceful and even frighten your partner in some ways.

 

Porn addicts often push the envelope when it comes to the type of content they view. When even these taboo videos no longer keep your attention, you might find yourself exploring illicit and even illegal content to find that same level of excitement and arousal. This is a dangerous game to play.

Fosters a Dishonest, Isolated Lifestyle

Most porn addicts don’t openly discuss their struggles with others. Even people who only occasionally view pornography find it shameful and embrassing. To support your viewing habit, you mind find yourself sneaking around, hiding to watch porn, and lying to others about it.

 

Soon, you may choose porn over social activities like attending parties, meeting up with friends, or even exercising. Before long, you’ll become isolated from the people and things you enjoy most. The shame you feel over watching porn will only increase as your guilt over hiding your addiction deepens. This is a vicious cycle of negativity.

Distorted Views of Satisfaction

As humans, we crave instant gratification. Unfortunately, in life, we have to deal with plenty of delayed gratification. This helps you maintain control of your thoughts and behaviors and be successful in life. Porn feeds into our innate need for instant gratification. By continuing to watch porn, you’re training your brain to rely on instant gratification for happiness. Soon, you’ll lack the discipline needed to be a productive part of society. In fact, porn addicts often underperform in other aspects of life due to this lack of self-discipline and control.

Resources to Help You Stop Watching Porn

Now that you have better insight into why you watch porn, the underlying causes, and how it’s negatively affecting your life, we can start on your journey toward living a porn-free life. Whether you’re dealing with an extreme addiction, want to prevent yourself from spiraling out of control, or just want to cut back on how often you view porn, these resources and tips can help you regain control over your life and stop watching porn for good.

Let’s start with the people and treatment programs that can act as sources of support for your recovery.

Therapy Sessions

Therapy is a common way to treat all types of addiction. You can choose from individual and group therapy sessions. If you’re in a relationship, couples therapy might also help. This is a good start if you’re struggling to discover the cause of your porn addiction. A therapist can help you uncover the root of the problem and offer healthy alternatives.

 

Individual therapy is more customized to your needs but is also more expensive. You won’t get the same one-on-one attention from group therapy but you might meet other addicts going through the same thing as you. They can offer support, share their experiences, and relate to your problems. Some addicts form lifelong bonds with individuals they meet in support groups.

 

The downside to therapy sessions (aside from the cost) is that it’s not a very discreet way to go about things. Many porn addicts are too embarrassed by their behavior to openly share with a stranger or a group of strangers.

 

That’s where online courses like Stop Together can help.

Online Courses

Are you looking for a more private approach to kicking your porn habit? Online courses like Stop Together and other treatment programs offer a private, individualized experience. Not only can you complete the sessions in the privacy of your own home, but you can also go at your own pace. You complete each milestone and only move on once you feel like you’ve mastered the previous step.

 

Many online treatment programs are designed by professionals in the field including therapists, doctors, and recovered addicts. Countless hours of research, resources, and time go into creating these individualized programs designed to help you stop watching porn. Most programs offer 30, 60, or 90 day options so you can choose the right plan for your situation.

 

Another awesome feature of courses like Stop Together is that you have access to the techniques, activities, and materials forever. That means once you complete the program, you can always refer back to it in times of weakness or relapse.

 

Many online programs also offer community forums where you can meet and chat with other addicts, if you feel that’s beneficial to your recovery. You can form those same bonds and connections that you would in person without having to physically attend meetings. This is much less intimidating approach for many porn addicts.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to the treatment methods mentioned above, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help support your recovery and increase your chances for success.

Find a Healthy Behavior that Delivers the Same Effect

There are plenty of activities that trigger your brain to release dopamine that have nothing to do with watching porn. Find one and try it out! Cardio exercise, music, yoga, and meditation are just a few techniques that deliver a sense of relaxation and calm without the negative impacts of pornography. In fact, practicing these healthier alternatives will offer a long list of other benefits like increased energy, improved mood, and potentially weight loss. You’ll also feel more confident and strong, both physically and mentally.

Put Porn Blockers on Your Devices

This may seem like an easy one but it’s often overlooked. It’s also important to note that where there’s a will, there’s a way. That means placing a porn blocker on your computer or tablet will make it more difficult to access porn sites but not impossible. This is where your own willpower comes into play. The blockers will stop you from giving into your initial urge to view pornography. They provide you a moment of reflection and a pause in your normal routine and habit. It’s during these moments that you can utilize the resources we mentioned above and mental exercises to remind yourself that you’re trying to stop watching porn and the negative consequences of succumbing to temptation.

Think of New Ways to Utilize Your Time

How often do you view pornography? Let’s say you have a mild addiction and you’re watching porn 2 hours per day. (It’s important to note that it’s not how long you watch porn that determines your level of addiction but how much it’s impacting your life.) Let’s multiple 2 hours a day by 7 days a week. That’s 14 hours. Now multiply that by 52 weeks and you’re spending nearly 730 hours watching porn, which equates to 30 days. That’s an entire month wasted watching pornography.

 

 

Now, this may be an extreme case scenario or perhaps you spend more than 2 hours a day viewing porn videos. Whatever the case is, even 5 minutes spent watching porn could most likely be spent doing something more fulfilling and productive. Make a list of goals you want to achieve. Then, write down exactly how you plan to achieve them. The more specific you are about the steps, the more likely you are to reach your goals.

 

Think of porn as a roadblock to being the best version of yourself. Once you stop watching porn, you can focus your time and attention to the things that make you feel productive and truly alive. You can accomplish so many great things in the time you used to waste watching porn. You’ll feel like you gained back entire days and weeks of your life, because you have!

Give Yourself the Freedom to Watch Porn in Moderation

We know — this kind of contradicts what we’re trying to do here, but even when your goal is to stop watching porn, when you get to a healthy place, you can still enjoy it in moderation. Here’s what makes this tip so beneficial. The minute you tell yourself, “I can watch porn whenever I want,” your desire to watch will most likely dissipate. If you instead tell yourself, “You can’t watch porn. It’s forbidden.” What do you think the first thing you’re going to want to do is? Exactly — watch porn!

 

Although our brains are complicated organs, there are certain things that are pretty simple to understand. The minute you place limitations and restrictions are your ability to choose, you lose all willpower and control. When you put the power into your own hands, you tend to make the best, healthiest choices for yourself. Give yourself the freedom to watch porn only when you know you can do so in moderation without losing control. Once you find other more fulfilling ways to utilize your time, your urges to view porn will dwindle and you may even stop watching porn on your own!

Stop Watching Porn and Start Living Your Best Life

Is porn robbing you of the most basic joys in life? Are your relationships and professional life suffering? Do you find yourself isolated from the outside world, feeling depressed and anxious? Many people fall victim to porn addiction without even realizing it’s happening. Watching a few videos for stress relief can quickly spiral out of control and cause you to lose those things most important to you, like loved ones, your job, and most importantly, your self-worth.

By recognizing the warning signs of porn addiction and getting to the root of why porn is your outlet, you can start to heal. These tools and resources can help get you there. Online treatment programs like Stop Together offer a private, individualized approach to kicking your porn addiction and getting on with living your best life. Be patient, be kind to yourself, and be confident — you’ve got this!