The rise of what has been popularly termed ‘pornography addiction’ is a rising cause of suffering and malaise within our culture today, as the Internet and the proliferation of pornography accessible on it has most certainly imposed itself as a sexual reality in most cultures around the world (Rodriguez, 2007).
The effects of this on men and women are visible and striking in the world of contemporary relationships. In the clinic, more and more men are coming, albeit reluctantly or through the threat of an ultimatum by their partner, to seek help.
In my work with men who have come to me to help them work through the grips of this compulsion, that has often taken their relationship to the brink of its destruction, it is clear from their own testimony that the compulsion and their fantasy life that happens between them and the screen is not something that is easily overcome or given up on their own.
Pornography Addiction & Men
Some of the more generalized experiences that men with this compulsion speak of is that it leaves them empty and unsatisfied, full of feelings of guilt and shame, a lack of self-worth, quite severe circular episodes of self-reproaches and in some cases, an inability to return to a sexually satisfying relationship with their partner, amongst other detrimental effects that are unique to each individual’s history.
Hours upon hours are used up and ‘disappear’ with either the act of watching with or without the act of masturbation, the compulsive collecting and building up of a collection of images or a searching of a particular kind of image that produces the ‘waking up’ of a sexual desire and that leads to a masturbatory act that can never quite be fulfilled. Inevitably it always falls short of a fantasized satisfaction that it promises to reach.
On Women and the Relationship
The problems and issues that this addiction can cause in a relationship once this usually secret compulsion comes out in the open can be equally or more detrimental and devastating to their partner, much to the surprise and dismay of pornography addict. It is often, as clinical experience has shown me, that the significant other perceives this as a betrayal and an act of unfaithfulness. As the question of trust and their place in the sexual and emotional life of their partner come into question and doubt, the tough discussion between partners often follows.
Along with these questions, a sense of their own self-image and identity can also be raised into painful doubt. Questions about who they are to their partner and the nature of the sexual compulsion often leads to further feelings of humiliation and distrust, as the difficulty in trying to understand this addiction can lead to further fracturing of the relationship.
Another important aspect of it effects on relationships from this perspective is that the image and identity of who they thought their partner was after this comes out all comes into painful and sometimes humiliating doubt. This moment of the shattering of the image and idea of who they thought their partner was can sometimes cause the relationship to come to a devastating end.
Help is available
Despite the obvious harmful effects that it can produce on their mental and emotional well-being and the devastation that it creates when their significant other finds out, this sometimes it not enough for the pornography addict to relinquish this compulsive form of pleasure and fantasy themselves, despite the wish for their own mastery over this addiction.
This is where counselling and psychotherapy can help. I have worked with many men with this compulsion and help is certainly available if this is has become a problem for you or for your partner.
For an online resource for help with pornography addiction, please visit PornHelp.org
Pornography Addiction Counselling Melbourne
Counselling & Psychotherapy
0420 496 599
Rodriguez, L (2007) Sexual Malaise in the Twenty-First Century. Analysis Vol.13. Australia, The Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis