Confronting him about his pornography addiction. Part 1

Blogger’s note: This is part one of a two-part article about the devastating affects of pornography use and pornography addiction on men. Over 50% of all divorces cite pornography as a primary reason for the marriage’s failure and still porn remains a multi-billion dollar industry. We now have an entire generation of boys and men raised on a steady diet of cheap easily accessible sex. Today the average age of a boy’s introduction to porn is just eleven. It’s a growing epidemic blind to race, age, creed, or economic background and if this trend is to ever change, I’m convinced it will need to be women who lead the way. 

Men, inherently, don’t talk about their problems. For the vast majority even the thought of mentioning a struggle or challenge to another be it personal, relational, or professional is no less than an admission of defeat. It would be like replaying the VHS tape of that day on the ball field at eleven years old when we dropped the fly ball or missed the touchdown pass while everybody looked on in stunned disappointment. It’s a reminder of the embarrassment of past failures and shortcomings and the wish to, once again, go hide under a rock. None of us, most especially men, want to be humiliated as it makes us feel isolated, alone, defenseless and given the alternative most of us gladly accept the loss of an arm than ever be reminded that we can’t live up, perform, or excel. Much of this feeling comes from a culture that glorifies success, a corporate America that does not accept failure, and lessons learned growing up from men around us.

The modern man’s modus operandi, when faced with a serious problem or crisis, is to keep his mouth shut and work it out on his own. He rarely seeks advice and never asks for help; he allows his ego and pride to view any appeal as waiving a white flag surrendering his manhood. And the women in his life know this phenomenon all too well. They’ve experienced the frustration and helplessness of seeing him disappear in that infernal cave as he pulls away distancing himself while he figures things out.

•♦•

It’s estimated that 70% of men look at pornography on a regular basis and 25% or more view it daily with 10% being admitted pornography addicts; but given the propensity of men to down play any personal defects I’m convinced these numbers are much higher. Pornography is arguably the most significant character crisis facing men today and young women are beginning to feel the affects of dating and marrying a generation of men raised on a steady dose of easily available pornography. In the January issue of GQ Magazine a twenty-something woman humorously and graphically retells her experiences dating men who are unable to separate sex with a keyboard from sex with a real person.

A man looking at pornography is nothing new. Since the days of ancient Greece and Rome when brothel and bathhouse walls displayed artist renderings of couples in various sexual positions like an erotic menu of sorts allowing a bashful ‘John’ to simply point to what he wanted.

With the topic of pornography slowly moving in from the fringe of our cultural conversation the debate seems to center on the ‘why’. Why are men so drawn to pornography? Many say it simply reaffirms that we are visual creatures by nature while others claim it’s a better alternative than cheating with both bearing witness to men’s seemingly genetic disposition for sexual variety. But that really doesn’t answer the ‘why’ question. I believe a better one is addressing what men are actually doing when looking at porn. Maybe the answer is just too obvious to even mention or possibly it’s too embarrassing for anyone to admit, either way the answer boils the viewing pornography down to really nothing more than a means to an end. Men don’t watch porn like they would ESPN or CNBC. Men are viewing porn with intention and purpose, not some haphazard time waster. The images provide the necessary stimulation to generate a desired outcome. It follows the same logic behind why guys don’t window shop, if you’re not going to buy something what’s the point?

•♦•

Some professionals have declared pornography to be no less addictive than crack cocaine or crystal meth, and I agree. Amidst all of the data, reports, and surveys conducted around the who and where of pornography what isn’t being discussed is the depravity that can ensue the more we view it. Much like the druggie who starts out as a casual user, eventually the addiction takes hold and she now requires stronger stuff to achieve the same high. For the porn addict who started out casually watching soft core as a way to spice things up a bit it eventually turned to hardcore because, like the drug addict, the images must now be harder and more shocking to reach the same euphoria. And if left unchecked the depths to which a porn addiction will take someone can be startling. Just like most junkies didn’t start out on heroine, most men aren’t intrinsically drawn to fetish porn such as rape fantasies – it happens over time.

Serial killers Ted Bundy and Gary Bishop both claimed pornography addiction was the primary driver behind their heinous acts. Bishop, when interviewed shortly after his conviction said:

“Some of the (pornography) material I received was shocking and disgusting at first, but it shortly became commonplace and acceptable. As I continued to digress further into my perverted behavior, more stimulation was necessary to maintain the same level of excitement.”

Bundy said hours before his execution:

“You are going to kill me, and that will protect society from me. But out there are many, many more people who are addicted to pornography, and you are doing nothing about that.”

This certainly shouldn’t be seen as an indictment that every porn user will eventually become serial killers but both men’s stories point to the highly addictive nature of pornography and how its consistent use can take men down paths never imagined.

And it’s on those dark paths that a porn addiction begins to manifest itself outwardly in the relationships around him. Since he has become so mentally and visually desensitized by the ever-intensified streams of explicit images and stimulation, real sexual relationships can soon fail to satisfy his needs. His partner is not able to please him sexually, because she doesn’t represent the necessary fix he has grown accustomed. Marijuana doesn’t have the same affect on a habitual heroine user as it once did. So to compensate he attempts to merge his sexual fantasy with his sexual reality by asking her to participate in and be what he sees online.

Click the link for the conclusion to Confronting him about his pornography addiction. 

This is an excerpt of the final interview with serial killer Ted Bundy in 1989 just hours before his execution in Florida’s Maximum Security Prison. His words are elegant and articulate but his warning, regarding pornography, is dire and frightening.

Fatal Addiction: Ted Bundy’s Final Interview with James Dobson from shirley rose on Vimeo.

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10 responses to Confronting him about his pornography addiction. Part 1

  1. mcravener

    Thanks for bringing up a good and very neglected topic. Two things I totally agree with: men do shy away from airing their problems to those they are close with, and yes pornography is for most men a means to an end. I think the use of pornography is a symptom of this hesitance to be intimate, similar to not being able to talk about personal issues/failures. So I guess habital use of pornography within a relationship would be a cause for divorce.

    Here’s where I absolutely don’t agree with you: the addictive nature of pornography.

    I see pornography as an expression of a natural urge. So if pornography is addictive, so is sex. But it doesn’t spiral us down into more and more depraved sexuality. True some people are proclaimed sexual addicts who misuse the act, looking for the next kick, and I equate an addiction to porn and an addiction to sex to be interconnected for those few. Check out the movie Autofocus (2002) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0298744/ – to see what I mean.

    Sexual addicts need treatment to get out of this spiral, and there is such as thing as Sexual Addicts Anonymous, but for most pornography is simply a substitute for sex, which extended can also mean a substitute for intimacy. Keeping a distance from intimacy is as you say a cultural “guy thing”, so although this also should be addressed, sadly very few will find a way to do so.

  2. Papa – Author

    Thanks for the response, I debated even allowing for comments, as I don’t feel most people are anywhere near ready to talk about this.

    “I see pornography as an expression of a natural urge” – you don’t truly believe this? Pornography is a distortion of a natural urge, not it’s expression. That would be no less than saying murder is an expression of the natural urge of self defense.

    My statement on the addictive nature of porn is as much from personal experience as it is from scientific fact. The sub-genres of pornography are in direct contradiction to our nature yet they are being made for a reason, to meet demand. Humans don’t wake up one morning and suddenly have an affinity for much of the twisted material that is being produced today. As I said before that happens over extended use, much like the drug addict.

    Thanks for the movie recommendation, I checked out the trailer and will watch it.

  3. Great post, and as you stated, one that most men are unwilling to talk about.

    The tragic tale for many men is the downplay of the effects of pornography…especially the long-term. Guys don’t want to admit that their actions may have a debasing effect on their minds…which in turn means their relationships.

    Being a Christian, this reveals a very real spiritual condition that is anything but pure in its intentions. Pornography doesn’t satisfy our innate desires, it is a twisted form of sexuality that is a consequence of the misuse of sex, not a natural ramification of it.

    Having been a man was exposed to it young, I can attest that it has a life-long impact that has to be fought and guarded against…every day. The more we stand against it with posts like this, the less likely men are to simply dismiss it as benign. At least it will cause guys to think!

    Thanks for the post!

  4. mcravener

    Well as you wrote watching pornography for men is a means to an end. What content the pornographic industry actually produces is something else altogether, their influence is far too large when we live in a society of reduced social interaction. But quoting serial killers views on pornography seems like a stretch to what use a normal man would have of pornography. You really can’t equate the two.

    It’s like the 80’s scare of Ozzy Osbourne lyrics making children kill themselves, when it happened that one unhappy teenager found a song text that (to him) explained his situation and what he then did. Which the media latched on to – a simple explanation to all that was wrong in this child’s life – some lyrics. To others the same lyrics might just be a way to vent pent up frustrations, rather than act out on them.

    The pornographic industry banks on the human sex drive, and can uncontested definately distort how sexuality and intimacy is expressed (like in your GQ link), but naked ladies (or scenarios) in print or on film have been around for over a century, and as you mentioned, Greek and Roman frescoes were also made on the same topic. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that visual stimuli is a part of human sexuality.

    Again, addiction exists, and some are more prone to it, and the larger context of the society in which we live (or lack thereof) may also promote types of addictive behavior, sexual/pornographic addiction being one. Still I have a hard time equating the ramp effect of physiological addiction (like to heroin or meth) where you need more and more, to using pornography, to in simple terms “get off”.

  5. I used to enjoy porn. No shame in admitting that. But, the men in my men’s group helped me and others realize its damaging effects. Now, I don’t indulge in it except on the rare occasion. I still LOVE looking at good-lookin’ women so in that regard, I’m still addicted. But, I devote my sexual interest to my wife…where it belongs.

    Not easy. Men need other men. I speak and write about this often. We tend to keep too much inside. I so believe in men’s groups and support and foster them when I can. That is why I have a regular segment on my Radio Show with a men’s expert – Wayne Levine – called “The Men’s Room.”

  6. Papa – Author

    Bruce you will appreciate my follow-up tomorrow, then.

  7. NicePeace

    My SO likes to say that all men look at porn. I asked him if I looked at porn as often as he did how would he feel about it? He told me I would be abnormal. I call BS. It isnt normal, it is just available. Men get pleasure seeing other women because it feels good to them. Women may not be visual but we enjoy what feels good. So is it cool if we do what feels good too? I think it is, under these circumstance,s if it is available. It is no wonder why women can be so resentful and angry all the time. We never seem to feel good enough no matter how much we love, diet and try to please men.

  8. I’ve debated myself on whether to respond to this. I’m not a user of the pr0n and I never was prior to my current relationship. I think pr0n is like booze, cigarettes, or any other vice. If a person, a man, is wired a certain way, then yeah, dirty pictures and videos can trigger a negative reaction.

    Now, once that negativity happens, I think, just like talking to someone about drinking, smoking, drugging to much you should step in and talk to them about it.

    I’ve never dealt with this like I have bozoe and drugs. I imagine the shame level is the same.

  9. Lisa

    Loved this post. I especially loved this response to an above comment:

    *“I see pornography as an expression of a natural urge” – you don’t truly believe this? Pornography is a distortion of a natural urge, not it’s expression. That would be no less than saying murder is an expression of the natural urge of self defense.*

    Amazing analogy that I plan to quote you on when debating this topic and defending the unnatural nature of porn. Thanks for speaking out.

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