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What is porn addiction and is your partner a porn addict

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January 29, 2022
Reviewed by: Rajnandini Rathod

What is porn addiction and is your partner a porn addict?

Sarita* and Vivek* were a happily married couple of about 5 years (names changed to protect identity). They led an active life which also included a healthy sex life. All this changed when Vivek got a pornographic clip that he found very interesting. Although Vivek had seen porn before, this time he felt he needed to see more. Slowly, he started spending more time on pornography much to Sarita’s annoyance. The final nail in the coffin was when Vivek was unable to perform without watching a pornographic clip at the same time. Their sex life dwindled as Vivek got his high from watching porn. Thankfully, due to Sarita’s ultimatum, Vivek got help for his porn addiction and today he is on the mend.

Porn addiction is more common than one would want to believe. As per data shared by one of the world’s largest porn websites, more than 90 billion videos are viewed every year and more than 70 million visitors hit the site every day. Indians are one of the largest consumers of porn. In fact, according to psychiatrist Dr Pawan Rathi, “Lockdown has increased porn addiction, wherein about 30 per cent more visitors were recorded as compared to last year,” Dr Rathi said.

What is pornography?

Depictions of erotic nature have been created by almost every civilization, both ancient and modern. In India alone, there are quite a few temples that depict sex in various forms through erotic sculptures. However, one needs to bear is mind that representations of sex often had a deeper spiritual meaning and hence they were found in religious places across countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Japan, China and even in ancient cities of Rome and Pompeii.

As technologies evolved, erotica became replaced by pornography. Through the mediums of photos and videos, sex became more graphic, catering to a wide range of fetishes, aimed at providing the highest form of pleasures, firing the brain’s reward circuits. It was devoid of any spiritual meaning and was purely meant to be highly addictive entertainment.

What classifies as porn addiction?

There is a lot of debate about whether ‘Porn addiction’ is even real. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) does not recognise “porn addiction” as an official disorder. However, habitual viewing of porn may be considered as Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder (CSBD). The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) defines CSBD as an impulse control disorder.

Multiple research that compared the brains of people who compulsively watched porn to the brains of people who were addicted to drugs or alcohol came up with different results, leading researchers to believe that it is more of a compulsion than an addiction.  

Signs that show your loved one is addicted to porn

Whether it is a compulsion or addiction, compulsively watching porn may lead to problems. Here are some of the signs to watch out for if you suspect your loved one is addicted to watching porn.

Your partner doesn’t spend as much time with you and is also socially unavailable.

You find that your partner is spending more time alone and is not interested in engaging in activities that both of you enjoyed previously. Your partner is also avoiding spending quality time with family members or friends.

Your partner is not interested in sex or doesn’t engage fully.

You find that your partner is less affectionate and there is a decrease in non-sexual physical touch like hugging and caressing. Your partner doesn’t initiate sex and even if sex does take place, your partner is not fully present in the act.   

Your partner cannot perform without watching porn.

You notice that your partner is no longer aroused by foreplay and needs to watch pornographic material to either get aroused or to culminate the act.

Your partner is rough during sex or has unusual demands in the bedroom.

Your partner is forcing you to try positions or sexual activities that you are uncomfortable with. Upon your refusal, your partner becomes angry, aggressive or resentful.  

Your partner keeps commenting about your appearance.

Your partner has started objectifying you. Either your partner is obsessed with your sexual organs or may find that your body and its features aren’t sexy enough or aren’t the right size or proportion. They even ask you to lose or gain weight depending on their sexual fetish.

You no longer recognize your partner

Your partner is withdrawn and sullen and has trouble staying calm. Your partner is no longer sleeping well and is constantly moody. Keeping their porn addiction, a secret may cause your partner to act out defensively.

How can you help your partner overcome addiction?

Chances are that if your partner is addicted to porn, you may be left feeling rejected, humiliated and lonely. However, if your partner is willing and you are ready to give the relationship another chance, there are ways to help your partner overcome their “porn addiction”.

As mentioned earlier, pornography addiction is not defined or recognized as a formal mental illness yet, however, treatment is widely available. These treatments have worked well for other forms of addiction problems as well.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps a person identify why they have an addiction, why they behave a certain way, how they can challenge these behaviours and then change their patterns of thinking.

Group Therapy

“Safety in numbers”, is a common saying and it has some truth to it. In group therapy, porn addicts are less likely to feel judged. They are more open to learning from those who have overcome their addiction. Having a mentor can go a long way in controlling the urge to watch porn.

Hypnosis

Although controversial, hypnotherapy may also aid in helping a person deal with their porn addiction. Venka de Rooij, a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in London, has successfully treated porn addiction through hypnotherapy. According to her, clinical hypnotherapy tries to uncover the root cause of the addiction by accessing the subconscious mind.

Finding Alternatives

The energy spent on watching porn can be channelled towards more positive habits. If watching porn is a coping mechanism, then the therapist can suggest alternatives that are just as fulfilling and rewarding. For e.g., taking up football coaching or art classes.

Medication

Medication may help with some cases of porn addiction. Pharmacological intercessions focus on targeting hypersexual or compulsive sexual behaviours with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

 In the absence of consensus on whether porn addiction is a true mental disorder, ‘therapy’ is the safest bet as a line of treatment. A combination of CBT, group therapy and couples therapy where a partner is involved, may help turn in positive results.

In closing, a person may or may not have a porn addiction. What matters is the compulsive viewing of pornography shouldn’t affect the emotional, physical and mental wellbeing of the person watching it or the loved ones around.

Sources

 Weir, K. (2014, April). Is pornography addictive? American Psychological Association.

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography

 Staff reporter (2021, August). Indore: Seminar on porn addiction discusses 95% jump in traffic during lockdown, other issues. https://www.freepressjournal.in/

https://www.freepressjournal.in/indore/indore-seminar-on-porn-addiction-discusses-95-jump-in-traffic-during-lockdown-other-issues

Pietrangelo, A., Legg, T. (2019, January). Everything You Need to Know About Pornography ‘Addiction’ https://www.healthline.com/

https://www.healthline.com/health/pornography-addiction

History of erotic depictions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_erotic_depictions

Dr. Fulbright, Y. (2011, November). 8 Signs Your Partner Is Addicted To Porn. https://www.huffpost.com/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/8-signs-your-partner-is-a_b_106566

Kashyap, N., Arzt, N. (2020, December) Pornography Addiction: 5 Treatments That Are Proven To Work. https://www.webmd.com/

https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/porn-addiction-treatments