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3 Things Porn Use Could Reveal

2. What counts as compulsive use?

Shane Uchi / Unsplash
Source: Shane Uchi / Unsplash

The topic of pornography is a polarizing one that sparks constant debate about whether it is good or bad for individuals and society at large. One thing we know for sure is that it’s not going away anytime soon, which begs the question: Is there a right way to consume pornography?

Researchers studying pornography and the human psyche suggest that different kinds of pornography can be consumed in various ways – not all of which are categorically healthy or unhealthy. Here’s what porn consumption might say about you or a loved one, according to new psychological research.

1. Porn could be the secret ingredient for a healthy relationship

Most recent studies show a positive correlation between shared porn consumption and relationship quality. That is, the more often couples use porn together, the more functional their relationships appear to be.

“Using pornography together with a partner can encourage sexual communication and sexual experimentation, which can help people learn about each other’s sexual likes and dislikes and may bring people closer together,” explains psychologist Taylor Kohut.

There could be many possible reasons for this positive correlation. Here is a couple:

  1. It’s possible that simply engaging in a shared exciting and or novel activity with a spouse, like using porn together, may relieve relationship boredom and re-ignite sexual (and non-sexual) interest in one another.
  2. It’s also possible that people who are in higher-quality relationships are simply more open to experimenting with porn together.

Kohut is careful to point out that simply consuming porn together is not a one-size-fits-all solution for improving relationship quality. Indeed, considerations for your partner’s desire and appetite for such an experience are necessary.

“If you are worried about avoiding harm, you don’t just need to think about how porn might be affecting you as a consumer, you also have to consider how your partner feels about your porn use,” Kohut explains. “If they don’t like it and don’t think you should be using it, your relationship will likely suffer, whether or not porn is affecting you in any direct objective way.”

Also, Kohut mentions, a difference in porn usage can point to a difference when it comes to partners’ views about sexuality more generally, their sex drive, and their sexual needs. It might even be a wake-up call to have an open dialogue with your partner about it.

“What matters at the end of the day is whether you and your partner are on the same page, and differences in pornography use are a pretty clear indication that you may not be,” Kohut concludes.

2. Porn can be an extremely compulsive ‘drug’

Pornography is a powerful source of pleasure for many people and sexual pleasure is one of the core stimuli for the human brain. As such, unregulated access and non-stop porn consumption can be a recipe for compulsive behavior.

Psychologist Stephen Sammut argues that no one is above the compulsive effects of porn consumption as all of our brains are wired to reward instant gratification.

According to Sammut, compulsive pornography use can have a broad range of mental health consequences, including anxiety and depression. Other than this, compulsive porn use can affect:

  • How we perceive ourselves (self-worth)
  • How we perceive others; e.g. if we start seeing people as being there for our pleasure (objectifying them), the sky becomes the limit as to how a person may treat or mistreat another
  • Impacts on perception of living and reality: People become more comfortable living in the ‘unreal’ and therefore know less how to deal with reality
  • In general, if the dominating drive is to please ourselves (hedonistic), this drive is no different from that observed in drug abuse, where the drug user becomes preoccupied with seeking the stimulus at the cost of living a normal life and completing their daily duties

Sammut cites the inculcation of faith and morality into one’s life as a way to combat this. According to Sammut, the benefits of faith and mortality in resolving this issue are twofold:

  1. Faith and morals provide people with certain standards of behaviors that challenge their growth and development in addition to standards of how they should view and treat people
  2. At the neurological level, faith and mortality both promote upper brain, executive functioning. Therefore, faith coupled with personal motivation can take the brain’s focus away from impulsive functioning.

3. Porn consumption could be a symptom of a larger problem

Another new study shows that a person’s porn consumption could reveal a dark personality. Psychologist Miguel Diaz explains that pornography is characterized by a series of elements that are present in the profile of a dark or abusive personality, such as:

  • continually changing partners
  • cheating on partners
  • a search for new emotions in sexual relations
  • trying new experiences

Pornography in most cases also places women in a passive role, present only to cater to the pleasures of the man – and the man is shown to seek pleasure in dominating and causing pain to the woman. Both of these tendencies are associated with narcissistic and sadistic personalities.

This is not to suggest that everyone who consumes pornography has a dark personality, but that pornography consumption could be a telling sign of underlying personality blemishes.

Conclusion: As with most behavior, porn consumption and your attitude towards pornography is part of your larger life story. You may or may not want to indulge in it, but it might be worth exploring and understanding your relationship with it. It may help you arrive at a new level of self-insight.

Facebook image: NiP STUDIO/Shutterstock

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