Porn can cause depression, even after you quit

Jay Dee

Porn can cause depression, even after you quit

May 15, 2015

I received this question from our Have A Question page a few days ago: My husband used to be addicted to watching pornography, for over a decade. It was a struggle in our marriage for a long time, but he has successfully overcome the addiction.

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Porn Can Cause DepressionI received this question from our Have A Question page a few days ago:

My husband used to be addicted to watching pornography, for over a decade. It was a struggle in our marriage for a long time, but he has successfully overcome the addiction. He has been porn-free for over a year. I thought all our problems would be solved once he achieved this. Unfortunately, new problems have arisen. My husband is rarely interested in having sex, even though I am interested in it several times per week, if not daily. And when we try to have sex, often times he cannot get–or stay–erect. He will often go soft while still inside me. This is devastating to me, to say the least. Is this just a lasting side-effect of his former addiction? Am I being naive in trusting that he has completely abstained from watching porn? Or is there more going on? FYI my husband is 35 years old and has had his testosterone levels checked (they were slightly low but not abnormally, according to his doctor). Please help me.

Porn and masturbation is an incredibly powerful drug.  It’s highly addictive and rewires your brain.  It teaches you to find new things attractive, you begin to obsess about sex, and you start to become dissatisfied with reality, because it’s less intoxicating than when you’re using porn.  Adding masturbation to porn increases the effects dramatically, because having an orgasm releases a lot of chemicals that further encourage our brain to connect to this activity, it feels rewarded and substitutes feelings of love.

And like any illicit drug, coming off of it can be harsh.  What your husband is experiencing is withdrawal from his drug of choice.  It’s going to suck.  Not going to lie.  This is one of the things that makes porn and masturbation so insidious.  Quitting can make you want to go back to it.  So, let’s take a look at what’s going on.  Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor or therapist, but I’ve seen these symptoms before, some in myself, so I’ll offer what insight I have.  Note: while we’re talking about a husband here, I 100% believe this is applicable to wives who are trying to quit as well.

Quitting is only the first step

Alright, admitting you have a problem is really the first step, but you’ve already past that.  Your husband is incredibly blessed to have a spouse who knows he’s struggling with an addition and is supportive of him quitting.  Many spouses would just say “you’re watching porn? get out”.  Sadly, they miss out on experiencing a husband free from this addiction.

And quitting porn is not easy.  I’ve never been addicted to drugs, or smoked, but I’d imagine it’s pretty similar.  The same chemicals in the brain are involved, the same activity shows up in brain scans.  So, here are some of the symptoms of quitting porn.

Depression

Porn is designed to be more inciting than reality.  To give that up feels like missing out something amazing for the rest of your life.  For a while, reality can be really boring, humdrum, and miserable if the feeling is strong enough.  Imagine your favorite hobby, and add an orgasm.  Imagine partaking in this hobby multiple time a week, perhaps even daily. You begin to look forward to it, to expect it, to need it.  Life becomes defined, not by living, but in passing it by as quickly as possible in order to get to experience your addiction again.  Then, after a decade of this, take it away.  Forever.  This addiction you have now been depending on to get through life, because your brain has been rewired to find reality dull in comparison to porn.

Understand that, and you understand why porn use can lead to depression, and why quitting can drive you even further into depression.

Low sex drive

Low sex drive can be caused by a few factors:

First, there’s the depression which I described above.  It’s really hard to get in the mood when you’re feeling depressed.  I mean, who wants to have sex when existence feels dull and depressing.  So, that’s a libido killer right off the bat.

But also, you have conditioned your body to respond sexually to porn and masturbation more often than to your spouse, so it becomes harder to be aroused by your spouse, by regular sexual interaction.  You’re used to having a perfect image of sexuality, an audio track, be it the perfect music, or at least a very expressive partner, and you’re used to having a partner that is far more exuberant in their sexual activities than most spouses (no offense to most spouses, you’re not trained and coached on how to be).

Lastly, there is the problem of porn causing you to constantly escalate eroticism.  When you watch porn, you get this huge dopamine rush.  Dopamine is the chemical that you get when you are doing something risky, and doing it successfully.  It’s the reward drug.  The problem is, the you get this huge rush the first time, maybe the second, may even the 20th time.  But soon, it’s no longer as exciting.  So, you need to find something more to create the same effect.  Many men find they start looking at things they would never had had an interest in before, but slowly the porn and masturbation starts rewiring their brain, causing them to look for something new, something exciting, something different.  That’s why the porn industry needs to continually produce more and more material, because the same stuff doesn’t work for long.  There is a drive to constantly find something new.

Suddenly, it’s taken away.  You stop.  No more new things.  In fact, you have to backtrack to “normal” sex.  There’s no more dopamine rush anymore, it’s slowed to a trickle, and then stopped.  And now your brain things that sex isn’t rewarding anymore.  So, why bother.  And suddenly, you don’t really want to have sex anymore, because your brain is telling you that it’s not worth the effort.

High sex drive

Some men (no the husband above), go crazy with desire.  They’ve lost their number one way of releasing sexual tension, and now have only one outlet (as they should): their spouse.  Unfortunately, a lot of wives aren’t prepared for this and unknowingly make it incredibly difficult for their husbands to stay clean from porn.  I’m not saying it’s their fault, just saying that they have the potential to be a huge help…or a hindrance.

Anger

Some find themselves getting angry, short tempered.  Their biggest source of stress relief has been taken away, and they don’t know how to deal with it.  It’s a bit like a baby the first time you take away their pacifier.  They don’t know how to deal with reality anymore.

Also, there is a lot of shame and guilt built up.  They’re angry with themselves, but don’t know how to release it.  They feel ashamed, guilty, unworthy of love, and it’s easier to push people away when you feel they can’t love you.

Shutting Down

Some just shut down.  They believe it’s easier to feel nothing than to feel this sense of loss in their life.  They’ll stop talking, stop communicating.  It’s like depression, but in some ways worse, because they feel nothing, not even sadness.  They just disconnect from the world, from their life.

What do you do?

So, how do you help them?

I think the number one thing is to love them.  If you know their love language, that will help.  Continue to tell them you love them, show them you love them, continue to try and connect, to reach out.  Don’t push them, but invite them, give them a safe space to share, to grow, and to heal.

Secondly, I think you need to be patient.  This is a massive change in their life.  Likely larger than you realize.  I’ve tried to explain some of it above, but it’s not really adequate to show you.  It take time.  After a year of no improvement, I’ll be honest, I’d start to worry that he’s not healing.  He needs to learn to talk about it, to receive forgiveness, to move on.  Everything’s not going to be perfect right away, but you should see some progress, I should think.  Perhaps it’s time for him to talk to your pastor, or a trusted elder, or even a friend.  There’s a pretty good chance you can find one that’s gone through this themselves.

But, it can take years to fully recover.  The studies I’ve seen suggest it can take up to 7 years for the brain to rewire itself.  That’s a long, slow, recovery.  But, you can recover.

I do want to say, you can recover though, and life becomes better than ever.  The freedom is absolutely amazing.  Often couples find their marriage experiences incredible growth after dealing with a porn addiction, because it’s been held back for so many years, and no has a chance to flourish.  That was my experience as well.  In fact, we grew so much and so fast that I felt I had to start a blog to help others dealing with sex in their marriage…and here we are.

Your Turn

What’s been your experience with quitting porn?  Have you gone through these withdrawal symptoms?  Are there others I missed that you can share?

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52 thoughts on “Porn can cause depression, even after you quit”

  1. Dan says:

    Very good article.

    From what I’ve read, a ‘re-boot’ program of 90 days has had the most success. It involves complete abstinence from porn, masturbation, intercourse, and any kind of sexual stimuli. This helps the porn addict in desensitizing both his brain and his penis from the over the top, unrealistic porn images and attitudes. Porn induced ED most likely comes from too much stimulation of the brain, and the penis has become accustomed to the addict own rhythm, own pressure, own timing. Both of these need to be stopped.

    But the greatest help is prayer. All things can be done with strength received from the Lord.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      No sex for 90 days? Oh, that’s not a good idea in my book. I’ll dare say that’s unbiblical.

    2. Re Schlitt says:

      Dan I’ve heard of this and don’t like it for several reasons. When the brain is starved for these images it will look for them anywhere it can find them. This could lean the user back into porn or at the very least cause them to sexually objectify every attractive women they meet.

      With clients in my practice, if they have a supportive wife that is open to sex. I take this in the opposite direction recommending the addict have lots of sexual contact with her to retrain the brain by flooding it with the real thing. Often it takes a while for the arousal patterns to change, but overall I’ve had good success and the brain seems to come around faster than it does through sustained abstinence.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        I would say this seems in line with 1 Corinthians 7:5. One of the reasons the Bible gives for having sex is to ward off temptation.

        1. Askmehowiknow says:

          You gentlemen should not discount what you’ve never tried nor speak so definitively of something you have limited experience with. You should also spend more time looking into the specific brain chemistry of porn addiction. A 60-90 days “reboot” is often absolutely needed to allow the pathways that have been forged into the brain to realign. To do otherwise would be similar to telling a heroin addict they can “wean” themselves off of the spoon. Doesn’t work that way. It is always needed? Maybe not. But to clear the mind otherwise is almost impossible.

          Is it unbiblical? Absolutely not. If it were handled openly and purposefully, with prayer and unified purpose. 60 days without sex will not kill a marriage IF it is undertaken for the express purpose of remaking it into what God intended. In fact it will likely be the absolute best thing to ever happen to a couple struggling with this sin. If that time is spent getting to understand your spouse’s deepest feelings, fears and worries. Learning how to love without sex. And indeed, as you mentioned J, that sex does not equal love. Why would a wife (or husband) not be willing to take this time to improve their marriage while ridding themselves of this sin? Just not having sex for the sake of abstinence is not the way to do it though. If both spouses aren’t actively trying to love each other in all other ways, then I agree, it will be likely fruitless in the long run. Much like just warming a pew won’t get you to heaven.

          Then there’s this: ”And like any illicit drug, coming off of it can be harsh. What your husband is experiencing is withdrawal from his drug of choice.” Speaking of the original husband in question – whom she said he had been sober a year – NO, the physical withdrawal symptoms will not last that long. The things she shared are classic signs of PIED – porn induced erectile dysfunction. There’s no doubt there could be psychological wounds and issues after a year sober, but the mechanics would have plenty of time to return to normal function if he has truly been sober. My experienced guess is he’s just gotten better at hiding it, but he can’t hide his PIED.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            I disagree with a couple of things:
            1) The historical context, given the beliefs of the Jewish Rabbi’s at the time, of 1 Corinthians 7:5 would mean that anything over a week is considered too long. I’ve tried to quit cold turkey when we had a sexless marriage. I was unable to do it. Wasn’t until we were having regular sex that I was able to. Cutting out sex cuts out the largest supplier of oxytocin, which is going to make him feel loved and secure. I think that’s far more likely to help him quit. Thus my statement of it being unbiblical and, in my opinion, unwise.
            2) Porn induced erectile dysfunction can last longer than a year. I’ve experienced it myself, as have many I’ve talked to.

            1. Daniel says:

              What if your single? I’m trying to quit porn, which I’ve been addicted to for over ten years, and I have no other choice for sexual release. And I’m experiencing huge depression. I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m scared. Nothing in life excites me and I can’t find meaning.

              1. Jay Dee says:

                Good question. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of dealings with single people. However, I do have a acquaintance that does coaching through his church for men trying to quit porn. If you would like to be put in contact, let me know. Just email me at [email protected] and I can set you up.

          2. Re Schlitt says:

            I was a porn addict for 30 years and currently work with men getting clean from it. So I have a bit of experience with it. While the abstaining reboot method is popular. I choose to disagree with it due to personal experience and the success I’ve had with my clients.
            You compare not abstaining to weaning yourself off heroin by using less. I submit that this is nothing like that because pornography and genuine sexual intimacy with a woman could not be more different. When trying to beat an addiction, it often helps if the body can be given a substitute for what its addicted to. Many smokers that quit turn to eating as a substitute. When my clients have a wife that is a willing sex partner, I suggest that they get plenty of skin to skin, sexual and non sexual contact to reprogram the brain and provide a replacement for the porn they had previously been viewing. In my experience, A major factor in how fast the body returns to normal, is the amount of support and encouragement the addict has from their spouse.

            1. Sandi says:

              I suppose there are,a few women that really don’t take it personally when their husbands use porn, but is also bet that the majority are deeply hurt and would be even more hurt by a therapist suggesting they “support his recovery” by having frequent sex to reprogram him. I’ve heard of women saying yes to, sex they don’t want because they’re so afraid if they don’t he’ll go back to porn. They are both suffering and need support.

              1. Jay Dee says:

                I understand that (really), but just because they have the wrong attitude (not to say it’s not hard to have the right attitude or that it’s not understandable), doesn’t mean the advice is not solid.

                If my wife has problems with anger and has a history of hitting me, and her anger is rooted in a fear of neglect and feeling unloved, a psychologist might suggest I hug her more. Now, in that situation, I might be afraid to go for a hug, because in the past it has lead to being hit. Doesn’t men it’s a bad idea to hug her. Only that I have my own healing to do as well. Probably the best way to do that…is to hug her and realize it can go well.

              2. HopefullyHelpful says:

                Therein lies the dilemma. There is no one fix-all solution. Each situation is different. You need to understand what is driving you to porn. Sometime it *is* because of the spouse. So, and rightly so, they should be supportive.
                “I’ve heard of women saying yes to, sex they don’t want because they’re so afraid if they don’t he’ll go back to porn.” That is *exactly* the point of 1 Corinthians 2-5.

          3. Cadence Green says:

            I agree. He’s not sober— he’s still using.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great article. My problem (male age 55) is that all the porn I saw growing up still keeps playing in my head. I would LOVE to cleans myself of these things. Also, it seems that I still use masturbation as a stress reliever…

    Any ideas???

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, a couple ideas. One is spiritual, the other is neurological.
      First would be to pray for God to take them away. He will help you. But probably not do it for you.
      So, the second is to retrain your brain. When the images come up, consciously think of something else. Make a habit of starving those neural pathways. Eventually they will die, or at least become so weak they don’t bother you. NEVER go looking for those memories. To do that tells your brain that they are important and to keep them alive.

  3. RE' Schlitt says:

    As a man who was hooked on porn for MANY years and currently works with men trying to kick the habit. After reading her letter. I would make an educated guess that most likely her husband is still using porn and has just gotten better at hiding it from her. My reasons are:
    First. His Porn related ED should have cleared up at least six months ago. I’ve had several clients that have had this due to porn, and usually within a few months tops it’s totally gone and their sex drive has redirected its self from the porn back to their wife. The time this takes can depend on the mans determination to beat the porn though.
    Second. If he has truly cut himself of from porn, he should be chomping at the bit for sex. I really can’t see a man in this position turning down sex unless he is expending sexual energy elsewhere, such as porn. This was true for myself, and everyone of my clients that had a wife open to frequent sexual intimacy.

    The only other explanation I can give only happened to one of my clients. And that was that due to the excitement and fantasy of porn, they became bored with their real life wife and non fantasy like sex life. This caused him to loose interest in sex and also to have trouble maintaining an erection during sex.

    This could also happen if the decision to quit porn was forced upon him by his wife and was not a decision he can to himself. In these instances, the body quits the porn but the brain never did and wants it back. For now the brain is replaying the many years of stored up pornographic images, but when they begin to fade the urge to return to the porn will be very strong. I myself quit porn many times for my wife but only once for myself.

    Re’

    1. BJ says:

      I agree with the posters about an abstinence period AND that he may still be “using” and acting out. I was much older when I hit bottom and turned to God, my wife, and a godly counselor for help.

      We did a 45 day complete abstinence. It helped tremendously in allowing my body to reset its “triggers” for sexual arousal, as well as cleaning up the massive catalog of visual memories from porn.

      Like almost all addictions, a porn addiction is never completely gone, if for no other reason that everyday living in America is one giant on-ramp to the porn superhighway. We locked every channel on our cable that offered adult of even mildly suggestive content, put on ratings filters, added Covenant Eyes software to every computer and cellphone, and even then the sidebars on news sites still invite you to sites that are not pornographic themselves, but offer lowcut dresses or bikinis, then if you click on those sidebars it gets worse, then worse again until you are on at least a soft-core site.

      The ultimate solution is no television, no Internet, no cellphones, and a focus on your spouse as the place where all your sexual impulses are guided by service to her as Christ serves the Church, period.

      Unrealistic? Probably, unless you are very fortunate to have a job that requires no Internet or cellphones. This is why the FIRST not the last step needs to be acknowledging to God that you are broken and powerless against a porn-saturated society, that you give your addiction up to He who can heal all and forgive all. Plunge into God’s Word and take your spouse with you. Join a Christian porn recovery group and attend meetings regularly, get a Christian sponsor who you can freely share with and get support from, find activities that are spouse and/or family centered, and find more places to be of service in your church.

      Death to self is THE cure for all of life’s ills AND the way to Christ and eternal life and happiness. All else is folly.

    2. Askmehowiknow says:

      Bingo – you could call this the “dry drunk”. He might not be using, but not because he wants to quit. He may not be actively looking at it, but he doesn’t have to. The mind movies run rampant and he can thoroughly use any image or female walking by in his mind – whether masturbation occurs or not.

    3. Chris Tian says:

      Hi, I’m reaching out to you because I’m a woman who has struggled with this issue. I don’t believe I have an addiction, I tend to find it’s more in response to something like currently my husband and I live in separate countries and I feel alone. I understand why I watch what I watch and actually don’t even really like it. It’s about my needs as a woman and also I am not interested in cheating on my husband either hence why it’s always women. I actually found someone I could talk to about just my general sex life, she was another woman who was very open about hers and I found in a weird way it really helped me to understand some of what’s going on. I don’t talk to men about such things as I find it gets weird and I feel like it’s dishonest and dishonouring to my husband. I don’t want to watch pornography any more but feel some of the issue is that I have no one to explain it all to and the frustration drives me back. I’m praying about it and still in the phase where it’s messing up my dreams. Just wondered what advice you could give me? I see my husband about four times a year and he doesn’t know I have this struggle but he knows about my sexual history, I’m committed to my marriage and husband and I enjoy our intimate encounters although there are things I’d like us to share that he’s not so keen on and the porn doesn’t interrupt that but I just worry what effect it’s having on me and what the root of it all is. Last time was last week, tempted since but not rising to the bait. Thanks in advance.

      1. HopefullyHelpful says:

        Well, that just makes you denied. But, theoretically, so is your husband. Have you asked him how *he* is coping? Don’t you think that’s an important issue for the two of you to discuss? Sounds almost like a submariner to me. Or a missionary? If you have web cams you have many possibilities, don’t you think? But this forced separation is sort of discussed in 1 Corinthians 7:5 “mutual consent” implies “communication” so you need to communicate with him and be frank about each others’ sexual needs during the separation, to the point that whatever is keeping you apart may have to stop.

        1. Chris Tian says:

          Thanks but to be honest my husband is very closed and does easily discuss anything. He doesn’t see a problem with our sex life even when we’re together and that’s what adds to the frustration, he’s quite happy to do things on his own, he really hasn’t made the shift from singleness to marriage we love each other but it can be a problem because it’s not the feeling physical separation that’s an issue here it’s a problem of spiritual and mental separation and I realise that when I feel that, that’s when all this gunk starts surfacing. It’s definitely some kind of seepage from that feeling as I remember being the same when I was single, I think it stems from feeling rejected.

          1. HopefullyHelpful says:

            Why should he see a problem when you’re together? There’s an old saying where I grew up “Corazon que no ve, corazon que no siente”, “heart that doesn’t see, heart that doesn’t feel.” You really need to have some serious discussions. Talk about love, but that is not willing to communicate on such a critical issue is suspect in my experience and I am sure it is in others. Suspect does not necessarily mean guilty of anything, but foolishly trusting that it will resist temptation, never mind that by not dealing with it and acknowledging this weakness, the marriage bed is being dishonored. Satan is *not* to be trifled with. Leaving a spouse to deal with this alone is horrible to say the least. You *need* to get a dialogue going. Not just for yourself, but because your husband’s sexual needs are your business and you are supposed to be protecting him from temptation just as he is supposed to be doing for you.
            Start communicating.
            Prayers go with you.

            1. Chris Tian says:

              I hear you but at the end of the day I know my husband and my marriage, you don’t. I know what I’ve tried to do, my husband just isn’t very sexual I think if we are together for two weeks we’ll have sex once and he’s okay with that, I’m not. He doesn’t really care about intimacy outside of sex and it’s a lot to do with his culture. My husband always talks about “needs” so he doesn’t even talk if he doesn’t see a need. It took over three years just to get him to see the “need” to talk when he has nothing to say because before he could leave off calling for one or two days. I’m serious. He’s just like that. I want to talk, I want to explain. I want us to create a bond, he doesn’t. I can only pray about it and live with it because trust me he wouldn’t talk about it with anyone else so that’s a waste of time as well and he won’t read books either. It’s easy to make suggestions but you’re preaching to the converted. Also the reason we’ve been separated for so long is to do with immigration issues and the laws in Europe so it’s not by choice, this is the first year I’ve been able to move to be with him and he wasn’t even allowed into my country until the end of 2013. He who feels it knows it and I feel it and I know it and from the advice you’re doling out, it’s clear you don’t.

              1. HopefullyHelpful says:

                You are correct. I do not know you or your marriage. Nor am I by any means trying to judge you or your spouse. But I will stand by my main advice: Start communicating. Listen to Re’ Schlitt’s advice as well (he gave you the same advice). I doubt any will dole out the advice “don’t communicate with your spouse”
                My prayers to you and yours.

                1. Chris Tian says:

                  What part of this are you not getting? He doesn’t want to talk. How do you communicate with someone who doesn’t want to to talk about anything? I have listened to Re Schlitt, I found him helpful. When you can solve the problem of getting my husband to want to talk THEN and only then will I hear you, in the mean time you can stand by your comment all you like but it’s done nothing to help whatsoever.

                  1. HopefullyHelpful says:

                    Jay Dee, Quite a valid point. How do you deal with a true refusal to communicate? Any ideas? Might this particular issue deserve its own thread?
                    HopefullyHelpful recently posted..A Lonely Trek to the Narrow Gate – Part Three – Quest for Peace

      2. Re' Schlitt says:

        Chris, I totally understand your situation as I was millitary for 20 years and deployed more times than I can count. I dont know for sure if she watched porn, but I know for a fact that during those times my wife had “play” toys she used to satisfy herself when I was not home. in your situatioin I would consiter this as a better choice than watching porn as the images wont get into your head. You say you have a woman that you are talking to about your sex life, how involved and deep is she willing to go? Simply having someone to share it with and use as an accountaility partner could help you greatly. My advise would be to talk to your husband about this, he is going through the same thing you are and may be having problems coping himself. Also, you need to quit the porn. Obviously this is often easier said than done. you mentioned the porn causing you dreams and illuded to issues in your sexual history. If you are looking for possible help, I would refer you to the best person I know for this sort of thing. Her name is Shannon Ethridge and can be found at shannonethridge.com. good luck.
        Re’

        1. Chris Tian says:

          Just wanted to thank you for your reply. I’ve been able to look into a number of things, I realise that for me it’s not so much an issue of lust just some confusion relating to issues with my mother along with feelings of rejection coming from my marriage plus I’m REALLY hormonal at the moment and that is also compounding that, it’s just a need to feel close to someone and I think the women thing is because female pornography is more “tender” nothing more. Every time the issue comes up I pray and analyse but I will talk to the person you’ve mentioned if I can. Talking to the lady I mentioned before was helpful as I was able to see what it was REALLY all about, not cheating or wanting sex but a deeper need I wasn’t being honest about, it’s definitely something I need to untangle but it’s starting with me constantly reminding myself that it’s not pornography I really want and as I remember that and force myself to deal with what’s really there I’m already seeing changes. I’ll get there, I’m just grateful I’ve had the chance to confess these things here as that’s often the hardest part. Thank you all. xx

  4. HopefullyHelpful says:

    The only way I was able to overcome the habit was to get to the cause of the problem. Cold turkey is great if you want a sandwich. Yes, you can desensitize/retrain all you want, but if what drove you to porn has not been addressed, you will keep going back, constantly under temptation/frustration. Porn habits have emotional roots, so take it away without resolving the underlying issue leaves you open to depression and all other typical symptoms of sexual denial. Because, in effect, this is what is being done. Sexual denial, and that is one of the differences between tobacco, alcohol and drug addictions and porn use. Especially if married. We know we are not supposed to be in a drug-induced stupor. But we are supposed to be experiencing sexual fulfillment. That now leads to (self righteous) anger when porn is removed and almost guarantees a return, especially when quitting under duress.

    And we also need to stop focusing almost exclusively on male porn use, and keep in mind the large segment of female porn captives. Current figures show 17% of women admitting “porn addiction” and that number is growing fast. The difficulty here is that women do not have to be the least bit interested in sex to have sex. Just might need some KY, and some even hide their habit by letting their spouse get more sex. And will the male complain?

    1. Askmehowiknow says:

      This is step two for many long time, especially early indoctrinated users that use it for “medication.” But it is only able to be approached effectively once you have a little sobriety under your belt. You can start step two without fully completing step one, but you gotta start step one first and in earnest because that is the indication that you want to change. Without this, the pain of step two will throw you back over the edge if you haven’t accomplished moving toward at least some level of sobriety first.
      But you are absolutely correct that it must go further. And step two is actually the hardest part.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        Sounds like suggesting a drunk shouldn’t drink anything, including water, for a while.
        You don’t cut out the good to try and quit the bad.

        I’ve seen this with people who are struggling with an issue with another member at church as well. They decide not to go to church so they can heal. They rarely come back. Church wasn’t the problem. Sex isn’t the problem. Drinking isn’t the problem. It’s the relationship/porn & masturbation/alchohol that should be cut out.

        1. Askmehowiknow says:

          It would be absurd to say an alcoholic is to stop drinking anything to stop alcohol. You know that. But would it be absurd to say stop going by the bar for coffee? Yes I know sex with wife is different than sex with mind….but does my brain know that? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. It was thinking sex with that computer screen hottie was pretty awesome. Maybe I can’t trust it always?

          You may know more about it than I do. It’s now only 33 years after my first adolescent exposure to pornography, broken home, skipped childhood. Now after 22 years of marriage, I only know a few things. One of which is if I had known 22 years ago what I know now, I would have gladly traded 60, 90, even 300 days of reboot time if it would have changed the first majority of my marriage into what the last few years have been. A reboot was part of that change. I fought against it. Even afterwards questioned the results. But I have seen and felt the change. I now know I can do without sex and I will not die, I will survive. I can control it and it does not control me. There is only one way to reach those conclusions that I know of and believe me I tried countless others first. Mine was 67 days, no release at all. 5-7 days once a month now has no negative effect on me anymore. My wife now too knows I can do without it. This has strangely changed her attitude for the positive. She no longer feels like an object. I can offer her the grace to say “not tonight” or just be too tired and she’s not worried I’ll blow up on her anymore. I can tell you, that is positive change toward more sex, not less.

          To apply so heavy an importance on the physical act of sex on its own – while I agree it is important – is to overemphasize it to the detriment of what marriage was meant for. Sex does not equal love. For many therein lies the biggest problem to be overcome. That cannot be overcome until you learn to love without sex. Then one can truly experience what sex was really designed to be. Then you will find a passionate marriage most appealing and not a cheap substitute instead.

          I believe there are varying types of porn addicts. We all have a few things in common, but every individual has a slightly different experience and hence a slightly different road to recovery. Sometimes it’s just a mild physical habit, like biting ones nails, that can be overcome with simple habit breaking techniques. Others, many, must go much deeper. I’m not suggesting a 60-90 day reboot is absolute. But a detox can often significantly speed the process. And it won’t kill you. It will only feel like it will – until it feels like it won’t. The dopamine receptors take time to regenerate after they have regressed from over-sensitization. Sex of any kind hits the reward center and prolongs this regeneration. The vicious cycle must be broken. I’m not just citing scientific studies – I’ve felt it. I now feel the difference. It’s better now.

          If you just want to keep paying the therapist to say you can keep having sex so you can keep having mediocre sex, then by all means be my guest. Or you can give your brain 60-90 days to regenerate and break out of the ruts you’ve created, learn new pathways. Keep paying the therapist if you want but spend that time letting them help you learn how to show and feel love. Then when your head is clear, the sex to come will blow your mind! That’s how it was for me and many I’ve known and heard from. Your mileage may vary.
          Askmehowiknow.

          1. HopefullyHelpful says:

            I had to get to the heart of the problem first. I had forced 100+ day “reboots” more than once (actually normal), and all they did were fuel resentment. Maybe because I did not have a true addiction, and my reasons for quitting were not because my spouse was suffering deprivation–she actually *wanted* me to watch/take care of it myself. That’s why I tell people to try and analyze first.
            When I spent some time in Ireland, I remember the strangest medical advice I’d heard till then: It was an older gent, who had finally decided to get sober (well, not get passed-out drunk every evening). The doctor told him going cold-turkey had a higher chance of killing him than his drinking habit, so placed him on a soft-landing program.
            Never jump until you know there is water in the pool–but if you really want to jump, you only need a quick peek to check.

  5. TH smiles says:

    Wow Jaydee great article. And you guys great comments. My question how do you get someone to read this article? I know a couple who would greatly benefit from this. I dont know if he still watching porn but their sex life is non existing. It is said that he doesn’t want sex from his wife cause she isn’t into oral sex. Thinks it’s a sin. So he fulfills this by watching porn and pleasuring his self. He has watched porn for as long as 15 years maybe. I have talked with her and tried to show her Song of Solomon but I think she is just not going to have any part of it. I dont know they are very special to me. He also depressed and takes depression medicine. It’s a big problem in their marriage. He is kinda shut out in other areas as well.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Getting them to read it is easy. Send it to them.
      Getting them to change…that’s hard. You can’t make them.

      1. TH smiles says:

        Yeah their kinda stuck in their ways on both sides. Bull headed. I’ll just keep praying.

    2. HopefullyHelpful says:

      If he is taking anti-depressants, he should be speaking to his doctor to change his prescription. As well as talking to that doctor about his sex-drive. His wife can also leave a word to the doctor as well. The doctor won’t discuss the patient with her, but she can give out this information to the doctor.

  6. Sherrie says:

    My husband has been using porn and marterbaution on and off ever since he was a teen. He’s 47 now. He doesn’t think its a addiction. He thinks all men do it. The big lie. I convinced him it’s time to start having sex with me, because I feel now he’s cheating. He’s said he’s stopped with selfsex. Just a week after he stopped he can’t get hard at all with just me. 🙁 I’ve only had sex 7 times in more than a year. I have a high sex drive too. I think I still love my husband, but I’m not sure anymore. Frustratingly waiting.

  7. Re Schlitt says:

    Sherrie I’m deeply sorry for what your going through. While your husband is right that a majority of men watch porn, that does not mean it’s a good thing or that it does not have a negative effects on their sex life and marriage.

    Your husbands ED issues during sexual intimacy are a direct result of the porn he has exposed himself to. He has essentially reprogramed how his brain becomes sexually aroused making sex with you difficult. While many suggest an abstinence period for the addicts brain to go without any stimulation and “reboot”, With my clients I go the other direction suggesting the couple be as sexual as they can be as often as possible to get the addicts brain used to the real thing again. How long it takes depends on how serious the man is at beating it and how much support he has from his wife. He will also need an accountability that he trusts and it porn free to share what he is going through, what troubles he is having, and to receive encouragement from. I’ve been through it and it’s difficult to say the least.

    1. Sandi says:

      I wonder what the wives of these men think of your advice? Is this the same advice you would give to men who are unfaithful in real life, rather then just unfaithful in their virtual life?

      Seems a bit insensitive to me. 🙁

      1. HopefullyHelpful says:

        Only if you are confusing real life with the virtual life.
        Keep in mind even Jesus did not consider “adultery in the heart” as grounds for divorce.
        So we need to keep our perspectives that only real life is real.
        I would not automatically say the ED is directly linked to porn without a lot more information, especially without hearing from the husband first. The ED could be emotionally based and thus only overcome through what he sees in porn.
        We see a single, short, one-sided post and comment based on what our experience and training would most likely be an answer. It is not insensitivity. Quite on the contrary if you think about it.

  8. TJ says:

    Just curious. (I really enjoyed the article.) Is there something on this site talking about ways to improve an otherwise boring and very repetitive sex life amongst newlyweds (less than a year) so that One or both of us DON’T turn to porn to try and spice things up? Context: Some conversations have been had over the course of the year about addressing the issue and at the end of the day, my wife says she doesn’t have the self confidence to try anything new. She either laughs the whole time or is embarrassed. She thinks it’s funny when I try to set a mood and just wants to cut to the business. Any good posts I can refer to?

    1. HopefullyHelpful says:

      You’re going to make some of us jealous with the “very repetitive sex life” talk.
      Just type in “spice up” in the search bar should get you started.
      You can help her build up self-confidence just by looking (not leering) at her well and often. NOTICE her, what color lipstick, what color underwear, how lovely her eyes look, how curvy that outfit makes her look, how graceful she looks in the shower, how elegant she looks when you go out together, how lovely she looks when she smiles just so, how beautiful she is just lying next to you in the morning, unkempt, morning breath and all. Never be embarrassed to tell her at all times of the day, anyplace you may be. Be humble in your words and sincere from your heart, and never, ever, be caught ogling another woman, whether on TV or walking down the street, let alone have your eyes or head turn to follow (this can be difficult, but you can train yourself).
      On those times she actually asks you how she looks, do not just answer. Stop, take your time and let your eyes wander all over her appreciatively and then let her know your opinion, which should always be “beautiful”, “gorgeous”, etc., and if something really is not OK (most men won’t really know, anyway) you might add something like (EXAMPLE ONLY) “I think the blue scarf would show off your eyes better”. Oh, and only use the word “sexy” when appropriate (when she is trying to be sexy, and learning that can be challenging).
      Good luck and remember the honeymoon is only over when you let it end.

      1. TJ says:

        Thanks! I’ll type that in and see what comes up. Your suggestions are very good too. I will give these a shot and see how things go.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My husband has recently confessed a porn habit he’s had since a teen and all through our marriage. He quit, but now he wants all kinds of new things, most of which I’m trying to embrace(we had a pretty vanilla sex life). One thing I can’t wrap my mid around is that he wants a threesome, or more specifically he wants to watch me have sex with another man. He says the thoughts just won’t leave his head. He’s started with dirty talk recently and always phrases things as generic, so it makes it sound like I’m enjoying this particular sex move but not specifically with him.
    He knows it hurts me deeply when he brings up 3somes, it really makes me feel objectified and that he doesn’t love me. He says he loves me deeply and this just really turns him on and would intensify his love for me and make him feel even closer to me. When I get upset he’ll drop it for a few weeks and then he brings it up again. I don’t know what to do. There’s no way I’m having sex with someone else.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s a difficult position to be in. You have to be very clear about your boundaries. Some of things he suggests may not be bad, may even be beneficial, but obviously the threesome idea is not.
      If he really wants to stop the ideas from coming up, he needs to stop feeding those neuropathways. He needs to work not to think about, not to talk about it. He needs to starve those neuropathways, and the only way to do them is non-activity. But they’re going to keep coming up for a while. Our brains try to keep connections alive, so it’s going to try and jump start thoughts about it. He’s going to have a battle on his hands.

      Luckily, the Bible gave you a way to help him:

      Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Corinthians 7:5

      Help him with his self-control by continuing to invest in your physical relationship with him, and definitely not anyone else.

      1. Anonymous says:

        I’m definitely not depriving him, we’re having lots of sex and I’m trying new things. I will keep praying for him and doing my best to help him. But threesomes I just can’t do. I’ll have to try to get him to stop talking about it to starve the neuropathways….but the problem is he thinks they’re ok to do.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Sorry, I didn’t recognize you from the threesomes post immediately.
          That is a bigger problem, that he doesn’t believe adultery is a problem. I think you may need to have a discussion about that. Does he have a reasoning for believing it’s okay, or does he just want it and doesn’t even care to rationalize it.

          1. Anonymous says:

            No reasoning, he just wants it and thinks he’s wrongly believed all these years it was a sin. He feels he’s been depriving himself thinking it was wrong, and has now come to a realization that it’s ok and wants to do it. He’s told me “and you call yourself a Christian!” Because I won’t love him in his love language(wrong sexual acts). Although I show love in plenty of other ways.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              That’s not a love language. Maybe he should actually read the book.
              He’s going through a much larger crisis than just wanting threesomes. I think you need to talk to your pastor.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Actually the newest studies show that it’s the thought that porn is bad that causes most of the psychological issues not the actual porn, in other words it’s these articles that cause people anxiety and depression not the porn there watching.
    Coffee for example is physically and mentally addicting but since it’s socially accepted coffee doesn’t cause anxiety, depression and other psychological issues. I’d recommend couples where one of them watches porn to just accept it, there not cheating on you and there not doing it because they don’t love you, there just letting out there desires in a safe harmless way, you can physically force someone to stop doing something but not to stop wanting it, the more you resist your desires the more they grow, the reason for this is because your giving something(porn in this case) so much significance so you’ll always be thinking about it. A demonstration you can do on yourself is just try not to think about polar bears, it’s impossible, while you usually wouldn’t randomly think about polar bears when you try not to you just can’t stop, but if you don’t even try to stop and keep on with your life you probably won’t think about them because they don’t have any significance in your day to day life. If you try and force someone to stop watching porn they may either; secretly watch it and be very anxious about it, or they may; stop watching it and crave it very hard and be even more anxious about.
    On the other hand if you just let go they may either; keep watching it regularly and no harm done, or they may; stop watching it because there just preoccupied with other things and it was never such a big deal until you made it a big deal.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hmm…it was my understanding that coffee can cause anxiety, depression and other psychological issues (http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/6/432.full). If so, then that argument doesn’t really stand up.

      Besides, I don’t think there’s much of a comparison between porn use and caffeine use. It’s not the anxiety and depression that are the really worrisome parts.

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