Guys, Relationships and Porn: Part Deux
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

By: Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC

If you suspect that the use of pornography is coming between you and your wife or girlfriend, it probably is. It’s not something that’s totally comfortable for guys to talk about with their women, and yet for a lot of couples, it’s the elephant in the room.

Some of the stats on pornography are staggering. More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month (comScore Media Metrix). This stat especially stood out to me: 70% of all online porn access occurs during the 9-5 workday (Message labs monthly report, March 2004).

If we’re that willing to risk our wives leaving us, and our bosses firing us, it must be pretty addictive to get online and surf for porn. But why?

Men are visually-oriented creatures, so there is a natural attraction to porn. From an evolutionary standpoint, men are attracted physically to women who they deem fit to mate with, and the most potentially successful genetic carriers of their DNA.

But in the 21st century, we continue to operate with those outmoded evolutionary responses. On a deep level, we are concerned about survival, but day-to-day, we have much less to worry about than our ancestors did.

We now live in a culture that has stripped sexuality down to the visual basics, and has removed intimacy and emotionality from the equation. In fact, most cultural vehicles — from movies to music to magazines — promote a sort of hypersexuality which continues to erode the other elements needed in healthy and functioning sexuality.

This is where men and emotional intimacy problems come in. Mens’ attraction to visually oriented things (like Internet porn), and combined with emotional withdrawal and avoidance, this creates a perfect storm of relationship problems. Men will retreat to porn as a way to not deal with the emotional intimacy problems that they are experiencing within their relationship. This creates a vicious cycle, because porn use further aggravates the problem is already inherent within a marriage or relationship.

This is a dangerous issue because many spouses may or may not know that their guy is using (or addicted to) porn as a surrogate for their relationship intimacy. Men may not even know that it’s a problem for themselves, but the first step is just to name the problem. Realizing that this is an issue for many guys is just too much; women need to know that this is an issue, and it may be a major contributing factor to the unhealthiness of their relationship as it is now.

Help is out there. Starting a conversation with your spouse or mate is a difficult thing to do, but if you identify your relationship success and intimacy as deeper, stronger values for you and your mate, then you may prioritize those things over continued avoidance and porn use. helping yourself is identifying those values that you hold closest to your heart, and not compromising on the junk food when it becomes a problem for you and her together.

Author : Jason Fierstein MA, LPC
As the "man that men will talk to," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC, is a counselor for men and couples and practices in Phoenix, AZ. He works with guys who want to improve their lives, and make happier wives. He is currently accepting new clients. Please visit his profile for more information or to set an appointment.