Is Pornography Addiction Harming Your Relationship?

I’ve talked to a lot of young couples about relationship issues, and pornography is coming up more and more. People feel trapped by it and don’t want to talk about it. But whenever they do open up, they begin to experience freedom.

That freedom starts with understanding why porn use is holding you back from a healthier relationship.

If you have a porn addiction, it is easy to convince yourself that it doesn’t harm your relationship.

Perhaps your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t know about it, so you don’t think there’s an effect. Or maybe your partner knows you use pornography (or watches it with you) and doesn’t appear to have a problem with that.

But here’s the truth: more and more studies show that pornography addiction causes relationship issues for couples more often than in cases where no one in the relationship uses porn.

Emotional Impact of Pornography Addiction

Because addiction to pornography involves some unhealthy emotional patterns, it’s clear why using porn is connected to weaknesses and struggles in relationships, including:

  • Secrecy: Hiding an addiction means you cannot be truly open with your partner about your thoughts, your feelings, or the challenges you’re facing.
  • Shame: If using porn makes you feel ashamed, you might feel more withdrawn from your boyfriend or girlfriend than normal. That may mean you lash out in anger or bring conversations to a place of sadness or depression more than normal.
  • Fantasizing: Pornography is manufactured – it’s a fantasy that creates unrealistic expectations of sex and physical intimacy. For many couples, that creates strain. And it can sometimes even break a relationship.

If you’ve seen these issues, come up in your relationship, getting help with your porn addiction will be key to shifting the focus back to love, honesty, and being there for one another. And as soon as you start that work, you’ll be one step closer to conquering your relationship challenges.

The Effects of Porn are Real

Porn itself may be a fantasy, but the effects are real. Here’s what we learned from a Psychology Today report:

  • Relationships where porn is not used have lower rates of infidelity.
  • Relationships where at least one person uses porn increase both the likelihood and the frequency of infidelity (including cheating, hookups, and flirtatious behavior).
  • Porn use is likely connected to poor communication, and a decreased sense of commitment.

It’s important to remember that these findings were related to porn use (not specifically porn addiction). That’s why it’s so important to be vigilant about any porn use. If you make every effort to avoid it and to recover from your dependence on it, you’ll see great growth in your relationship.

Remaining Faithful During Recovery from Porn

Realizing the negative effects of pornography addiction is a harsh reality check, but there is no reason to despair. Faith and prayer can go a long way toward conquering anything, and God’s strength is always within your reach.

Amanda’s story is proof that there is always hope, and that trusting God to set you free is key to overcoming porn addiction:

“That cycle repeated endlessly for months. I would fall, pick myself back up, determined to “do better” or “try harder” next time, and then fall again. Finally, I was at the end of my rope. I thought I would never get out. How could that be?? This isn’t the kind of life God wants me to live, I know that, so why would He leave me stuck like this forever? There can’t be any way out, because God wouldn’t do that. He wants me to honor Him with my life, so why can’t I do that?! This thought brought me to the place I needed to be all along: on my knees before the throne of God. It was there that I learned a very important lesson. I can’t stay away from sin, and I can’t get out of the mess I made. God is the only one with the power to break me free, and all I have to do is go to Him and ask.”

I want to assure you: you and your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse are not alone in battling the effects of porn addiction. God cares about your journey, and we are here to help you, too. Reach out today for confidential relationship support from our team of HopeCoaches.

If you are fighting an addiction to pornography, you are not alone...68% of men and 18% of women use porn at least once a week. Read 7 Steps Towards a Porn-Free Life for help.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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