Should you be dating if you have a pornography addiction? No doubt, you are not alone. The pornography path for men is common. Statistically, a boy will most likely see porn for the first time around the age of 10. Throughout high school and college, he’ll watch more porn. Left unaddressed, he will attempt to stop this habit, but will continue to watch it into his marriage. Studies suggest porn negatively affects relationships.
Does Porn Damage Relationships?
In a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, data suggested rabid porn use “was a significant factor in 56 percent of their divorce cases the prior year.” More compelling data was published in 2016. A study presented at the American Sociological Association might be one of the first to address porn’s affects on marriage.
Married people who start watching porn are twice as likely to be divorced in the the following years as those who don’t. And women who start watching porn are three times as likely to split.”
How does porn affect relationships?
It sets unreasonable expectations. In the end, pornography harms the intimacy and the sexuality of the relationship. It’s not just men who struggle with it. More women are beginning to come forward as well. Pornography is an equal opportunity addiction and affects relationships in both sexes.
the association between pornography use and couple dissatisfaction can be explained by men’s aggressiveness, women’s lower sex drives, and poor within-couple communication.”
Before you begin a relationship, stop watching porn.
Some experts suggest you might need to wait a year post pornography addiction before entering a relationship. Marriage or a relationship won’t solve your addiction, even though a lot of guys might believe this. According to Lawyer Thomas Alvord in his paper Safeguarding Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Marriage, “Research has shown that relapse is very common amongst recovering porn users at the six- and twelve- month marks. Therefore, the seven to twelve month period is a starting indicator to see how someone will begin, handle, and maintain sobriety.” Complete sobriety may not happen until years two to five.
Something that I discovered while researching this topic is that while I’m abstinent from watching pornography, I’m still in recovery. There’s a difference between abstinence vs. recovery. A recovery plan needs to be instituted, similar to any addiction. This is often described through inner, middle, and outer boundaries. The inner boundary includes the behavior you wish to stop (in this case pornography). The middle boundary addresses triggers that may lead to the behavior (stress, arguments, lack of sleep, traveling alone, etc). The outer boundary includes healthy behaviors that may help in recovery (being in community, journaling, daily affirmations, exercising, etc.).
Be open and honest about your pornography addiction.
As Craig Gross, founder of XXX Church, mentions in the video below, bringing up your porn addiction on a first date isn’t recommended. But, waiting too late to discuss this issue can also be problematic. If you’re considering proposing, it might be a good idea to share your past addictions before you’re engaged or married.
Once trust is established, transparency can help build a stronger relationship. In the event someone reveals their addiction to you, it doesn’t mean you should end the relationship. Instead, “become educated on the issue, work on building open communication in your relationship, set boundaries to protect yourself, and learn to recognize honesty about progress in recovery.”
Here are some characteristics of someone on the road to recovery from Vauna Davis, MA, Executive Director, Utah Coalition Against Pornography :
- Being honest about their struggles —without wallowing in shame
- Understanding the difference between abstinence and recovery
- Being able to describe what they are doing to recover
- Full participation in therapy, 12-step group, education, and regular visits with a church leader or accountability partner
- Willingness and a plan to continue recovery steps through their life (remember: recovery = healthy living = lifetime commitment)