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Why Men Use Porn (and How to Get Yours to Stop)

We're lonely little boys, playing with our toys...

We're lonely little boys
playing with our toys;
trying very hard
to not make any noise.

- a male patient, addicted to pornography

Women never asked that verbal venting
would be such a great tension reliever;
it just is...
And men never asked that sex
would be such a great tension reliever;
it just is...

In a (.com) time, long, long ago; in a galaxy, far, far away, I was the Couples Coach at one of the internet's premiere women's sites. One of the columns I wrote in response to a reader's question regarding men using pornography generated much controversy. It also was very helpful in showing the high toll that using pornography can have on a man's life. You might want to share this with individuals and couples who are having problems with this.

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Why Men Use Porn (and How to Get Yours to Stop)

Dear Dr. Mark,

I have been trying to talk to my partner about his pornography addiction for two years now. He defends its use as being only for personal pleasure. He also says he can't masturbate without it and that the intimacy he has with me is the "real" thing. The fact that he does this is ironic because he follows a spiritual path whose sacred law is that nothing shall be done to harm the women and children. We have an 8-month-old daughter now and I don't want to hide anything from her as she grows up, yet this seems like a sordid secret. Would he be able to live with himself if his daughter came to him one day and said, "Hey Dad, I want to be a pornography star"? In the meantime, it's hurting me. When I make love with him, I'm flooded by all these images and I get sick to my stomach. Even though he's tried to tell me that I'm his "Number-One Goddess," I don't believe him. When we're out, I can't help thinking that he's undressing every woman he meets. HELP!

4spirit
What would you do?

 

Couples Coach Dr. Mark Goulston replies:

Dear 4spirit,

You might not like what I am going to say, but please hear me out. For women, verbally venting their frustrations is a great stress reliever. No one knows why; it just is. Well, for men, an orgasm is a great stress reliever (not to say that that isn't also the case for women). No one knows why; it just is (Actually in an upcoming Usable Insight, you will discover that there is a reason why these work, based on recent findings in neuroscience).

There are two kinds of sex -- sex with love and sex just for sex's sake. Many husbands feel guilty about having sex just for sex's sake with their wives, because they feel like they are using her as a thing (as opposed to making love to the person they care about). So instead of using their wives as things, many men use pornography and masturbation (and often feel ashamed or even pathetic for doing so - one man in a couple's session when confronted yelled in embarrassment, "Meet Hilda!" and pointed to his right hand). I'm not advocating it or saying it's a wonderful practice, I'm just saying it's fairly common and not always unhealthy. Pornography and masturbation (in moderation) have probably saved more marriages than they have hurt. I think it's pretty sad, but it's just a fact of modern life. The trick of course is to do it in moderation rather than letting it become a full time substitution for real sex.

To give you an idea of the stress men feel, one man asked me a few months ago if I knew what the definition of a shower was. I told him I didn't. He told me: "A shower is the place where grown men go to cry when they're afraid they can't keep the promise they made to their wives and children to always take care of them and don't want their family to see how afraid they are."

If you can show your husband that you understand the pressure and responsibilities on him, he may feel less alone and less stressed out. And if he feels less stressed out, he may not need to resort to pornography as much. Take him aside and say to him: "Nobody, including me, knows how awful the pressure from all your responsibilities makes you feel. And nobody, including me, knows that sometimes -- even though you love me and our children -- you wish you could be single and have nobody to worry about but you. Isn't that true, honey? I'm sorry it's so tough." From there, you may be able to start a dialog about what is worrying him and help him find positive ways of dealing with the pressures in his life.

Dr. Mark, Couples Coach

If this take on relationships speaks to you, check out Mark's critically acclaimed book, The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship: How to Fall in Love Again...and Stay There (Perigee, 2001). If you want to discover the secret sauce to connecting and communicating with the people you love, check out his recent international best selling book, "Just Listen" Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (Amacom, 2009).

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_______________________________________________________

 

I think Dr.Mark gave a poor answer.Such behavior cannot be blamed on stress.Everyone has stress in their lives and there are many healthy ways to relieve it.Any behavior that hurts another family member is not acceptable.I feel SAA(Sex Addicts Annonymous should be contacted.They have a wonderful program that helps a man,or woman,understand their problem,work through it and make ammends to those they have hurt.

04:11PM EST 02/26/99
---Posted by Anonymous

I know this sounds strange, but I am a female and I agree with Dr. Mark. A lot of women eat chocolate during PMS, and that makes them feel better and less wound up. Masturbation does the same thing for men. At first I was a little puzzled about the frequency of my partner's porn hours, but now we've talked about it and I understand. Just try talking to your partner so you can understand, too. It actually makes sense when you sit down and listen. But if your man is using this and not having any sexual experience with you, he has a problem.

04:34PM EST 02/26/99
---Posted by anonymous

READ MORE COMMENTS FROM 1999

Mark Goulston, M.D., is the author of the new bestselling book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

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