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10 Signs of Porn Addiction That Might Be Harming You

by | Aug 25, 2021 | RECOVERY, SEXUALITY

A man recognizes the signs of porn addiction.

Internet pornography is a contentious subject that gets many people hot under the collar — whether they’re ashamed of their own sexual activities or concerned for other people. Just like gambling and eating disorders, excessively viewing pornogrpahy can turn into a behavioral compulsion. If you’re worried, knowing the signs of porn addiction (compulsive porn use) can help you decide if it is time to get help.

Top 10 Signs of Porn Addiction

1. Sexual Dysfunction

Perhaps the most evident signs that pornography addiction has become problematic are your sexual health cues. As men get older, there is a natural decline in sexual function. However, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to be able to get an erection while watching pornography but not with a real-life partner. If this has happened, your brain’s reward circuit is working against you. The result of this for many men is problems such as premature ejaculation, an inability to achieve or sustain and erection for sex, or a loss of sensation during sex.

While having a compulsive disorder tends to send many people spinning headfirst into denial, the best way to see the changes you want to see is by seeking help with a mental healthcare professional who specializes in treating sexual concerns. Start off by talking to a trusted friend, counselor or your primary care doctor. When you start to shed light on your concerns, they have much less power over you.

2. You Obsessively Hide Your Habits

Another clear sign of porn addiction is if you feel like you’re constantly on the brink of getting caught watching porn. Hiding away in the bathroom late at night or early in the morning — or sneaking off during work hours — are signs that you could be struggling with a form of porn or sex addiction.

It’s easy to blame other people for the fact you have to hide what you’re doing, telling yourself that it’s just because they’re uptight. However, when you truly think about your behavior, you know it has crossed a line from healthy to destructive in your life.

3. Guilt Is Overwhelming

Guilt is a very dangerous emotion that can perpetuate an endless cycle of online porn addiction. Some people use behavioral addictions to cover up challenging emotions or distract themselves from the reality of life. An unanticipated consequence is that compulsive activity almost inevitably makes you feel worse in the end.

You use porn to escape, but when it’s all over and you’re just left with guilt and shame — you feel worse than when you started. Then, to cover this up, you spiral further down into the depths of addiction. For many people, addiction treatment is the only way to break the loop of guilt and shame and acting out.

4. Your Porn Use Is Escalating

A sign of hypersexual disorder or any other type of addiction is escalation. With drugs and alcohol, this is represented by the need to use higher quantities of substances with increasing frequency.

With porn addiction, it often starts off as viewing pornography with increasing frequency, but it can also escalate into illegal or extreme porn, porn that violates your value system. As your brain gets used to seeing porn, it craves more extreme stimulation, which can lead to wanting more as your brain habituates to that level of stimulation.

5. You Blame Your Partner

Denial is usually present in most people who have an addiction, especially while they’re in the pre-contemplation stage of change. An aspect of this that can tear relationships apart is if you blame your partner for your porn over use. Your excuse might be that they won’t perform certain sex acts or they nag you — but deep down, you know know your use has become compulsive.

6. You’ve Lost Attraction

It’s also very common for people in the throes of porn addiction to lose attraction to their partner. This is because they get so accustomed to the unrealistic ideals of beauty they see on-screen, that a person in real life no longer meets their standards. Conditioning your brain to experience arousal with one set of beauty standards and images that align can make it difficult for your brain to access desire with partners in real life.

7. Anger Is Becoming a Problem

Lots of people who struggle with substance abuse or behavioral addiction also struggle with anger. Addiction rewires the circuits in the brain that are responsible for pleasure, reward, motivation and mood. By obsessively directing your desire and attention to one thing, you deplete stores of vital regulatory neurotransmitters and leave yourself much more vulnerable to negative emotions.

8. Problems Are Occurring at Home and Work

A clear sign that your online pornography use is out of control is if your work and/or homelife are suffering as a result. If the amount of time you spend watching porn is disproportionate and you’re not fulfilling your responsibilities as a result, it’s time to seek professional help.

9. You’re Spending More and More Money

Process addictions might not seem as outwardly harmful as substance use disorders, but they can tear your life apart. People who have fully lost control can spend thousands of dollars every month in the never ending pursuit of your next fix.

Many individuals who observe signs of porn addiction in their lives tell themselves that they’re completely in control, but realistically, anyone in control of their actions wouldn’t spend an excessive amount of money on such a shallow reward.

10. You’ve Lost Interest In Things You Once Enjoyed

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists anhedonia or loss of interest as a sign of addiction, and porn addiction is no different. Because your brain is so focused on one particular type of reward, even things you used to enjoy seem less inviting than spending time viewing x-rated images and videos online.

Recognize Signs of Porn Addiction? Get Help Today

Viewing porn can be just as harmful as drug or alcohol addiction when it’s no longer within the realms of your control. If you’re worried about your sexual behavior, or nice some of the signs of porn addiction in this article, mental health professionals trained to work with compulsive sexual behavior can help you reset your relationship with sex. Find out more about healing from porn addiction and start your recovery journey today.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.

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Author Bio

Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a Licensed Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and PACT II trained Couples Therapist. She is the Founder of Modern Intimacy. Follow her on IG @drkatebalestrieri and @themodernintimacy.

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