The Truth About Pornography
The desire to view pornography does not stop with marriage. By creating false images and distorted outlooks about sexuality, pornography can cause problems with your ability to enjoy a healthy sexual relationship with someone you love and to create lasting relationships in the future. As you view pornography, your body learns to respond to views of sexuality which can cause you to become unable to respond to real people in the future. Pornography is frequently a major factor in the break-up of marriages and has a corresponding negative effect on children from those homes. Healthy sexuality involves intellectual, emotional, social, and physical elements. Viewing pornography has a tendency to cause people to see sexuality, our bodies and relationships as being focused only on the physical aspects which can cut you off from the full potential and richness of sexual experiences.
Dating and Pornography
You may be dating as you seek recovery. If so, be considerate of the other person. It is important to honestly discuss pornography early on as you become emotionally committed even though it is difficult and uncomfortable. If you have a problem, pornography should be discussed on more than one occasion and on various levels. Closeness and relationship expectations can guide these discussions. Initially, share the importance of open communication, the care you have for the other person and your desire to be open and honest. Tell them what your involvement with pornography has been and any actions that you have or are currently taking to recover. Graphic details are not necessary, but remember that honesty is crucial in both recovery and developing healthy relationships. As you make dating decisions, keep in mind the length of the recovery process and the probability of relapse. Ending an addiction is an intense process that takes significant commitment and time (usually 7-12 months abstinence to start gaining recovery), and often involves sporadic relapses. Solidifying recovery and fully changing attitudes and behaviors can take years. Consider how this timeline interfaces with your partner’s expectations and the speed with which you chose to allow the relationship to develop.
How Do I Know If the Person I’m Dating is Viewing Pornography
Openly discussing pornography with the person you are dating is the most important factor in discovering what a person’s exposure and behavior has been. However, there are some common indicators that many have noticed as being corollary to the pornography use of the person they were dating. A common corollary is that although the other person would generally be very emotionally committed and invested in the relationship, periodically they would noticeably change to be more disconnected, distant, uninvolved in surrounding activities and critical of others, especially regarding personal appearances. Some reported that these changes were very noticeable and fairly drastic. Later, this behavior would be linked to the other person’s pornography use. Although not necessarily predictive, some other indicators to watch for may include if the person frequently clears their history on the internet (i.e. when typing an address, no other web pages are suggested), quickly changes computer screens when others come in the room, stays up late for unaccounted reasons, starts missing appointments and deadlines without a substantial explanation, seems uncomfortable with the topic of pornography or sends conflicting signals regarding relationship goals. Instincts are important in discerning if there is a problem. Many who knew nothing of their partner’s pornography consumption said they felt something was “off” in their relationship. Especially if you are concerned, it is important to address the topic of pornography early on with those you date.
Given the prevalence of pornography today, it is not wise to assume the person you are dating has never seen pornography and is not addicted. Everyone has been exposed to porn in one way or another. Discussing pornography with those you date allows you to ascertain another’s history of porn exposure, consumption and their attitude towards actively seeking out porn. Opening up communication and establishing mutual expectations can help guide relationship decisions. Especially when developing a serious relationship, discussing pornography can help establish rules to develop a healthy relationship and protect your future family. It is important to discuss porn early on as you become emotionally committed in the relationship. Porn should be brought up on more than one occasion and on various levels depending on the commitment level of the relationship. Closeness and relationship expectations can guide these discussions.
As you discuss pornography, share the importance of open communication and the care you have for the other person. Then bring up the need to discuss pornography despite the awkwardness of the topic. Items should be discussed that honestly explore both of your histories in terms of porn exposure, consumption, and attitudes towards porn. Ascertain if the other person’s views and pornography behaviors match your own expectations.
Useful questions could be:
- What is your view regarding pornography? Do you believe it is harmful or okay to view?
- When have you been exposed to porn and how?
- Have you actively sought porn?
- If so, what was the frequency and surrounding circumstances?
- When did you last view porn?
- Do you consider viewing porn to be a problem?
- What actions have you taken to stop or protect yourself from porn in the past?
- What are your plans to protect yourself from porn in the future?
What If I Am Dating Someone Who Uses Pornography?
While you should appreciate the willingness of the person you are dating to share delicate information, don’t underestimate porn. Become educated and carefully evaluate and weigh the possible implications of their behavior. Ending an addiction is a grueling process that takes significant commitment and time (usually 7-12 months abstinence to start gaining recovery), and often involves sporadic relapses. As you gauge how this problem affects your relationship, assess the person’s willingness to stop. What are they willing to do to recover? Recognize that temporary abstinence from viewing pornography does not equal recovery. If the addict stops viewing pornography, but does not completely work through the recovery process, pornography will likely continue to be a serious problem.
Especially if the person is currently viewing pornography, consider setting rules regarding the progression or continuance of the relationship. Supporting the recovery efforts of the person you are dating is important, however, you need to recognize that you ultimately cannot choose if the person you are dating continues to view pornography. Attempting to control or police the other person’s addictive behavior will not help the situation. Also, realize that depending on the seriousness of the relationship, the pornography addiction of someone you are dating may impact you in ways that you do not anticipate. The below actions are important as you make life decisions and deal with emotions and concerns that you may experience.