Pornography Addiction: Even A ‘Mild’ Case Can Harm Relationships

Pornography is so easily accessed in our digital age, with free-to-view porn sites all over the internet. The number of people accessing porn sites each month is higher than the number accessing Amazon, Netflix and Twitter combined. Most might think of pornography as harmless, or ‘just a bit of fun’, but it can cause a great deal of harm. Pornography addiction is real, and we need to fight it.

Why Is Pornography Harmful?

Firstly, pornography gives a distorted view of sex, relationships and how women experience sex. For someone who has already experienced a sexual relationship before watching pornography, this is not a major issue, but for the many, many teenagers for whom pornography forms some of their earliest introductions to the world of sexual relationships, this can be very damaging indeed. The majority of pornographic films show little in the way of exploring the intimacy and trust that a fulfilling and rewarding sexual relationship should contain. They also suggest that women will always orgasm from vaginal intercourse, which for the majority of women is generally not the case. Sex is a complex interaction, with many aspects being very personal, and partners learning about each other’s likes and dislikes over time, something that is not conveyed by pornography.

Addiction to pornography is also harmful to relationships. A study conducted in America has found links between pornography addiction and anxiety over relationships. The lead researcher, Nathan D. Leonhardt of Brigham Young University in Utah, said about their findings: “Basically, those that believe themselves to have a problem with pornography start to believe they are undesirable as a romantic partner, or ‘damaged goods’ in the dating market”. He also noted that the isolation resulting from these feelings makes it more difficult to actually stop watching pornography and that this seemed to be particularly difficult for those with religious beliefs. The American Psychological Association have reported that, based on international research, between fifty and ninety-nine per cent of men, and between thirty and eighty-six percent of women regularly view pornography. A report by the Kinsey Institute on pornography usage found that nine per cent of those who responded found themselves unable to stop watching pornography.

Who Is Becoming Addicted to Pornography?

Historically, the opinion amongst the general population is that watching pornography is the province of men, particularly young men, and that only men really have a problem with pornography addiction. This is not the case, however, and like any other addiction, anyone from any background can become addicted to pornography.

At the Chains Be Broken Conference in Glens Falls, New York State, Jessica Harris spoke to a group about her pornography addiction. She told conference goers that she was first exposed to pornography by accident at the age of thirteen. She was, she said, searching online for science videos, and stumbled across a pornography site. She said, “I went from being a 13-year-old kid to being a young woman who just watched hard-core porn. And as I tried to get out of the page, it kept taking me deeper into the site.” At that age, she was a shy and awkward child, and did not fit in with the ‘popular girls’. She thought that, by watching porn, she could be like those girls who, even at that young age, were starting to have sexual encounters. Unfortunately, Harris became consumed in the websites, and her school work and daily life became affected. She tried to stop, but couldn’t, and eventually thought that the only way to stop would be to get caught. When at college, the college administration called her in to speak to her about the pornographic websites she had been visiting. But to her amazement, they told her that they knew it could not be her, it must be her boyfriend. Because women do not have a problem with porn…

Harris did eventually manage to get over her addiction to pornography, with the help of a friend who spoke to her and allowed her to admit she needed help. She now travels worldwide to speak to teenage girls about pornography and its problems because, she says, it took so long for her to get help.

Statistics from the American Psychological Association show that each year about forty-two percent of young people between the ages of ten and seventeen have visited a sexually explicit website, either accidentally or deliberately. There is also increasing evidence that young people who are viewing pornographic material on a regular basis view sexual relationships as a function similar to eating or sleeping, with no emotional content.

The keynote speaker at the same conference, Dr William Struthers, said that pornography is an increasing issue for young people. He said, “There is a whole generation of young people who would rather just watch porn … they can’t have intimacy and sex becomes instrumental.” Struthers also spoke about how regular watching of pornography is making people lose their ability to correctly interpret social cues. He said of regular pornography users, “They think that porn is applicable in real life. A large part of their day is spent in their mind thinking of sexual issues.” His team are currently carrying out research into this issue.

Where Can People Get Help with Pornography Addiction?

As with any other addiction, experienced professional help is key to recovery. At Addiction Helper, we have experienced advisors who are able to give free advice on the treatment services available. Our advisors are available twenty-four hours a day, so if you would like any more information, please call us today.


  1. (The Medical Daily) Signs of Pornography Problem: Perceived Porn Addiction Harms Relationships Even If Use Is Mild
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