Does Pornography Affect My Love-Life?

So you’re using pornography on a regular basis to masturbate and you want to know whether this practice negatively affects your love-life? Let’s answer this question with a brief discussion about pornography and what it ‘teaches’ the person who uses it on a regular basis. You can then decide for yourself.

Your interest in sex with another person is a natural psychological and physical need. The physical part of this is the tension relief and pleasure you’ll derive from orgasm with another person. If sex with another person is not possible, masturbation is the solo alternative.

Masturbation has its place in the development of a person’s sexuality. It can be practiced as a solitary tension reliever or as the self-stimulating part of a sexual experience with another person.

Because masturbation is associated with orgasm, it can become a compulsive activity for a person looking for something pleasurable to distract away from unpleasant thoughts or feelings. Pornography coupled with compulsive masturbation is a difficult combination to resist for anyone in need of a strong distracting activity. This kind of masturbatory practice sets the psychological stage for the greatest level of vulnerability to pornographic influence.

What kind of lessons does pornography teach? For starters, it teaches that it is possible to rely upon pleasurable solitary sex without an emotional and sexual relationship with another person. The excitement and control pornography provides circumvents any needs for relationship and love, and goes right to the physical orgasm. The ‘hook’ is the ease in which sexual excitement can be stimulated by pornography culminating in orgasm.

And the forms of high definition pornography available these days are so explicitly potent and so varied that it does the job quickly and irresistibly for many individuals. It’s entirely conceivable that a person could avoid, for an extended period of time, the needed ‘lessons’ that come with trying to work out a love relationship with a sexual partner. In other words, feel a false satisfaction with pornographic stimulated masturbation.

Another lesson that’s taught by pornography is, the illusion that aggressive self-centered sex can be more pleasurable than sensitive more mutual love-making.  Aggressive sex often involves the activity of dominating one’s sexual partner. Of course, implied in the act of dominating another person is to control him or her regardless of his or her needs and desires. In effect, aggressive sex is ’empty sex’ because its one way focus is on ‘getting off’ or simply ‘fucking,’ as it is commonly called.

This is opposed to healthier forms of love-making where sex is experienced as both giving and receiving love in the form of sexual pleasure. After a steady diet of empty sex in the form of pornographic images and non-intimate sexual contacts, you could start believing that this is the only form of sex worth having, or even more directly, the ‘best’ sex possible between two people.

On a more practical level, pornography teaches a lot about ‘how to’ have sex with another person. Much or most of what pornography teaches has little or no intimacy, never mind love, included in it. I’m using intimacy in this context to mean, a loving emotional interaction between two people. Multiple partners, ritualized forms of abuse or mistreatment, sexism, along with an emphasis on sex for sex sake illustrate the point. What is missing is what can be taught to people about what happens to sex when it’s intimate.

In my view, the pornographic industry exists and has grown because we still have hangups about sex. We still struggle with trying to live with what is sexual in our natures. The conscious rules and regulations that govern contemporary sexuality still necessitate the creation of an underground of sexual experience that doesn’t see the light of day. We are either under-sexed or over-sexed because the vital connection between sex and love is too often discounted or ignored.

The bottom line is, sex needs love. Love is the feeling that makes sex personal. Sex mixed with love forms a third entity that is different than each can be separately. This doesn’t mean sex is bad on its own, just limited. The pornographic industry has found a way to capitalize on sex apart from love and not for the betterment of people.

They know, a lot of people are hungry for love (especially younger people) and they’re prepared to starve us to death for the dollar. The most common form of this occurs when someone, whose sexual needs have been shaped by pornographic lessons of love studied and observed over time, starts looking for love.

Such a person, starving for the love that can be given freely in a relationship, tries to make the pornographic methods he or she learned work in love. Inevitably, he or she will suffer the disappointment this usually brings. To break free you have to first realize there is much more than what you are asking for out there and in you.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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