What Impact Could Porn Addiction Have on My Relationships?

Dr R. Y. Langham

Feb 22, 2022

Let’s face it, “porn use” has an unsavory reputation – and is often looked upon as a “dirty little secret” or an “immoral” or “depraved” behavior. Modern stereotypes suggest that only men, specifically white men, suffer from this “naughty adult pastime.” Because, men are usually the ones associated with “porn use,” other populations, such as female, adolescent, and even child porn addicts are often overlooked.

Society tends to assume that men watch porn because they are lonely and unable to find a suitable mate. That is simply untrue. The truth is no one is immune from porn addiction. Women, children, teens, and everyone in-between can become dependent on porn. Porn does not care if you are young, middle-aged, old or poor, middle-class or wealthy, educated or uneducated, or Christian or non-Christian. It strikes whenever and wherever it can, leaving chaos and havoc in its wake.

Porn ruins romantic relationships and marriages, leading to breakups and divorces, tears apart families, who simply want the “madness” to stop, and destroys friendships – people who have loved and supported you for years or decades. Porn is a “relationship-killer.” It encourages addicts to behave uncharacteristically (i.e., secretive and anti-social), so the people they care about do not find out that they spend inordinate amounts of time scrolling through Pornhub images and videos.

Porn changes who you are and how you interact with the people in your life. Ironically, most people assume that porn only hurts a romantic partner or spouse – and that is also untrue. Porn hurts everyone connected to the user or addict. However, I would be amiss to leave out that some couples enjoy watching porn together. Sometimes, couples do this to re-energize their relationships and learn new, exciting, and creative ways to fire up their sex lives. In this case, the choice is mutual between both partners. And, there is a good possibility porn will do what the partners want it to do – improve their sexual intimacy.

However, when one partner is onboard for porn-watching and the other one is not – problems can ensue. And, when one partner hides his or her “porn use” from the other – it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and betrayal by the non-using partner. The result? Pain. Understand that this doesn’t just apply to couples – it can also apply to families and even friends.

Part of the problem is porn’s accessibility. It is easy to sit down at a computer, laptop, or desktop, or power on a tablet or smartphone and type in “porn videos or images.” Anyone can do it – even children if you do not have a child-block on. But, until porn is eradicated (which is highly unlikely at any time soon), anyone is at-risk of porn exposure and porn addiction. And, as a result, any addiction, regardless of the “type,” can destroy any relationship – along with your self-esteem and self-confidence, mental and physical health and well-being, etc.

The good news is “porn use” or porn addiction does not have to strip you of everything and everyone you hold dear. You can take the necessary steps to quit porn and rebuild your relationships. Living in a world only filled with porn can get lonely really quick. Life is best when surrounded by the people we love and who love us. Porn steals that joy and replaces it with desolation, desperation, depression, and anxiety.

Don’t allow porn to take away your happiness. Seeking porn addiction treatment can help you hold on to all that is good and positive in your life, but first, you must ask for help.

What Are the Most Common Signs & Symptoms of Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction signs and symptoms tend to mirror many of the signs and symptoms of other addictions. These signs and symptoms include emotional detachment, deception (i.e., falsehoods and secrets), fluctuating mood swings, reduced self-care, job or school issues, financial problems (i.e., debt or unemployment), and/or a sudden decline in one’s physical, mental, sexual, and/or emotional health.

Listed below are additional porn addiction signs and symptoms:

  • Having a Preoccupation or Obsession with Porn

    If you start to notice yourself becoming “fixated” on porn – so much so that it begins to disrupt other parts of your life, such as your romantic relationships, marriage, family dynamics, or friendship, you are most likely dependent on porn. If this is the case, you will need porn addiction help to “kick your porn habit.”

  • Harboring Secrets

    It is common for porn addicts to hide their “porn habits” from loved ones and friends. In fact, it is not out of a porn addict’s wheelhouse to lie and withhold information to prevent others from learning what they are really doing, which is watching porn. Porn addicts are known for being fiercely protective of their privacy, especially when it comes to their electronic devices and Google searches.

    And, when “porn use” is discovered by a family member, friend, partner, or spouse, addicts tend to concoct more lies to cover up the behavior. Thus, if you feel the need to be secretive about your “porn use,” there is a good chance you are addicted to porn.

  • Being Sexually-Focused & Emotionally-Detached

    If a mate or friend mentions to you that you have become sexually-focused, but also emotionally detached – listen to him or her. Why? Because porn addicts tend to exhibit these characteristics. More specifically, these individuals lose focus on the here-and-now once they become “fixated” on sex and porn. Porn can cause users to neglect emotional connections in favor of porn-related fantasies.

    Once a person becomes focused on sex and porn, they tend to withdraw from their families, partners or spouses, and even friends – leaving addicts with nothing besides porn to fill their days and nights. If porn is controlling your life, you are at-risk of porn addiction – if you don’t already have one. If so, you’ll need porn addiction support to permanently banish your porn from your life.

  • Reneging on Promises & Canceling Sexual Plans

    Porn addicts have a tendency to be both impulsive and antisocial. As a result, they may initially agree to do something, such as hang out with friends, only to renege on that promise when the time approaches to do the “event,” such as having dinner together. A “porn user” may also promise to stop using porn only to go back on that promise when it is time to take the necessary steps to quit it.

    The same thing can happen in the bedroom. It is common for “porn users” to make romantic and/or sexual plans with a partner or spouse only to cancel them in favor of viewing porn. It is the nature of the beast, which in this case, is porn. So, if you are an avid porn-watcher, who continuously makes and breaks plans – you may be dependent on porn.

  • Adamantly Refusing to Discuss Problems in the Bedroom

    Lastly, adamantly refusing to discuss sex issues with your partner or spouse could be a sign of porn or sex addiction. Let’s be honest, the last thing you want to do, if you are a porn addict, is talk about why the “vibe” is wrong in the bedroom. In other words, you are probably shirking your responsibility to be open and honest with your partner or spouse because you feel ashamed or guilty about your behavior.

    You also know that if you share your “activities” with your partner or spouse, he or she may look at you differently or leave you altogether. Your initial reaction if confronted? Most likely denial, rage or exasperation, and/or hypersensitivity or defensiveness. You may even blame your partner or spouse for YOUR behavior. Most of all, if you are addicted to porn, you may dismiss or ignore your partner’s or spouse’s thoughts and feelings when it comes to your “porn use.”

Can Porn Addiction Hurt a Romantic Relationship?

Yes, it can!

The truth is excessively viewing porn can aversively impact you and your partner or spouse on several different levels, such as trust, emotional attachment, respect, mental health, self-esteem and self-confidence, finances, employment opportunities, etc. Porn can cause you to emotionally and physically withdraw from your partner or spouse out of fear that he or she will find out about your porn-watching and shun or leave you.

You may also become defensive and aggressive if you feel as if your romantic partner or spouse is getting close to finding out what you are really doing in your spare time. Moreover, porn can cause you to develop unhealthy or unrealistic ideas or beliefs about sex and relationships. So, when you start neglecting your partner or spouse in favor of porn, it can have determinantal effects for you, your mate, your sex life, and your relationship.

More specifically, porn can harm your romantic relationship or marriage in the following ways:

  • You are unable to become sexually aroused without adding porn to the mix. This could make your mate feel uncomfortable, inadequate, or unloved.
  • You have little-to-no interest in having sex with your real-life partner. This lack of interest and sexual engagement stems from your “fixation” with porn. As a result, your mate may develop self-esteem and self-confidence issues, depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Once your mate discovers your “heavy porn use,” he or she may view your behavior as a betrayal or sign of unfaithfulness. This could cause your mate to become resentful, hurt, angry, embarrassed, and disappointed in you. The result? A possible breakup, separation, or divorce.
  • Your “porn use” could also spark feelings of jealousy in your mate. More specifically, it could cause your mate to feel like he or she has to compete with your “porn habit” for your love and attention. Furthermore, your “porn activities” could cause your mate to develop body image issues and experience self-doubt – in you, himself or herself, and the state of your relationship.
  • As a result of your “porn habit,” you and your mate may experience a sharp decline in your relationship, sexual satisfaction, and emotional attachment.
  • Porn-watching could lead to mistrust so deep that it ruins your relationship. This is especially true if your mate finds out that you have been lying to him or her about your “porn use.” Your mate may view this deliberate withholding of information as “deceptive” or “dishonest,” which could lead to arguments or breakups.

Could My “Porn Habit” Be Affecting My Family Dynamics?

Absolutely.

It is important to understand that any addiction, including porn, is considered a “family addiction.” What does that mean? Well, it means that although you are the “addict,” your family is mostly like contributing to or playing a role in your addiction. Perhaps, something happened during childhood that prompted you to turn to porn for solace or escape, or maybe, the stress your family is putting on you to make exceptional grades in school, be successful at work, or marry and have children is triggering or worsening your “heavy porn use.”

Or, perchance, you feel inadequate in comparison to other family members, such as your mother, father, siblings, or cousins. These factors can set off or exacerbate porn addiction. Thus, the best chance for complete and long-term porn addiction recovery typically involves family members.

The truth is it is impossible to adequately prepare for or manage a loved one’s porn addiction, especially when the addict is an adult. Unfortunately, however, when a family is upset, desperate, confused, frustrated, and angry about the addiction, it can interfere with the addict’s healing. And, in some cases, these negative emotions could even inadvertently encourage the continuation of the addiction.

Family Survival Roles

Dysfunctional or unhealthy families tend to take on various family roles when a loved one has an addiction to porn. This can affect the family dynamics.

These roles include:

  • Addict

    The main role in a porn addiction belongs to the “addict.” Porn addiction can severely affect your ability to make good decisions or exhibit good judgment. Porn addicts typically behave rashly – not thinking about how their behavior can, and will, affect their loved ones. These individuals crave porn and will do just about anything to view it – i.e., deceive, lie, isolate from others, and even steal money (to purchase X-rated videos, movies, and images).

    “Free of porn,” these addicts are unlikely to behave in such a manner, however, because porn has a hold on them, they tend to behave uncharacteristically. Unfortunately, it is common for family members to ignore or dismiss the signs and symptoms of porn addiction simply because they do not want to alienate their loved ones. So, they turn a blind eye to it and hope for the best. Because, the last thing family members want is for their son, daughter, grandchild or other loved one to go to prison, be on the streets, or in a morgue due to losing a job or having an overdose.

    Note: Once an addict learns that there are family members who will “enable” him or her, he or she will manipulate and deceive them to get what he or she wants, which is access to more porn.

  • Enabler

    Next up is the “enabler.” An enabler is a well-meaning family member, who wants to help his or her addicted loved one, but does not know the correct way to do it. This person’s heart is in the right place, however, he or she may be mistakenly prolonging the addiction. Enablers feel sorry for their porn-dependent loved ones and if they feel like they did something to cause the addiction, they often feel guilty too.

    So, they give into the addicts to “atone” for whatever they supposedly did. Enablers are the family members, who reluctantly give their addicted loved ones, money to purchase porn subscriptions and/or movies, videos, and/or images. They are also the ones, who will leave so that the “porn user” can engage in porn-watching. They know it is happening, but feel powerless to stop him or her. Moreover, an enabler provides his or her addicted loved one with a place to stay if his or her partner or spouse kicks him or her out of the house.

    The truth is enablers are just as “addicted” as their loved ones. As a result, they need porn addiction help too. This is especially true if the enabler has been “funding,” “supporting,” and/or unintentionally encouraging the porn addiction for a long time. In this case, porn addiction therapy, support groups, and family therapy may be needed – for all members – for the addict to finally become “clean.”

    Note: When everyone in the addict’s family is an “enabler,” the family is considered to be “codependent.” Understand that addicts know, through trial-and-error, how to get what they want from “enabling family members,” who only want to help them.

  • “Lost Child”

    The “lost child” is usually the youngest member of the family. This person is used to being overlooked, isolated, or neglected, so he or she feels compelled to help his or her addicted loved one, but doesn’t know how. So, as a result, the family member simply fades into the background because he or she does not like conflict. The “lost child” tends to be the least assertive or vocal of the bunch. This individual is simply “forgotten,” by most, if not, all of his or her family members (including the addict).

  • Superhero

    What is the “superhero” role? Well, this person resembles the “enabler” with one notable difference. The “enabler” just wants to help his or her porn-obsessed loved one stay alive and out of trouble, while the “superhero” wants to “save the day.” In other words, this person wants to smooth things over between their porn-dependent loved one and the rest of the family. So, what does the “superhero” do to accomplish this feat – “enable” him or her, of course! In other words, the superhero downplays or makes excuses for the addict to get everyone back on good terms. This person doesn’t realize he or she is adding to the problem – not resolving it.

  • Scapegoat

    Last up is the “scapegoat.” Family scapegoats are unfairly blamed for the addict’s “porn habit.” But scapegoats aren’t just blamed for the addiction, they tend to be blamed for anything “bad” that happens in the family. Because “the family” doesn’t want to confront the addict, the scapegoat is used as a replacement.

I Am Losing Friends Over My Porn Addiction – How Can I Make It Stop?

The truth is humans were created to be “social beings.” In other words, one of our most basic but crucial roles is to form healthy relationships with each other. One of these important relationships is friendships. In fact, studies suggest that people who have friends are not only happier and healthier but also more successful in life. Real friends are invaluable, especially now that you are amid porn addiction.

Friends can provide you with the porn addiction support you desperately need to “kick your habit.” And, although tons of articles have been written on porn addiction and romantic relationships and marriages, porn addiction and friendships have been largely disregarded. Remember, porn often leads to social isolation, lies, anger, a lack of empathy, broken promises, impulsivity, compulsivity, betrayal, and secrecy – all the ingredients needed to damage or destroy a good friendship.

So, how can you stop losing friends? By seeking porn addiction help and reconnecting with your friends. Why? Because you are going to need them to stop your “porn use.”

Need Help?

If you are suffering from porn addiction, help is available, so you do not have to “battle” it alone. Porn addiction recovery programs can help “cure” your addiction, so you can rejoin the “land of the living.” Need help? Check out Stop Together, an online porn recovery program, dedicated to helping you finally become “free” of your “porn habit.” Stop Together not only helps you learn more about porn addiction but also helps you reconnect with others and rebuild broken relationships and friendships.