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The Good and Bad Sides of Porn

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I want to start off by saying that pornography in and of itself is not a ‘bad’ thing. We have preconceived notions about porn being something bad. Men feel guilty about it. Women feel threatened by it. I want to talk a little bit about why porn is good, and why porn is bad. At the core, I believe that everything in moderation is the best format to follow. And a little bit of porn should be fine, as long as it’s not interfering with your sex life, social life, finances, job, relationship, family, responsibilities and so on. (Read: Most mental health professionals will in fact determine whether or not something is considered an addiction, or if someone is addicted based on the aforementioned variables of responsibilities. If something is being affected, such as any or all of job, relationship, family, money, chances are the individual has a problem or addiction, and will likely be treated as such by the mental health professional.)

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So, with that said, we are long overdue to begin to wonder how the internet’s biggest industry Porn, which continues to infiltrate our relationships, our sex lives, our bedrooms, not to mention the lives of teenagers who have the highest porn viewing statistics, and so much more continues to thrive, when it seems to have so many negative connotations? How can 63 million viewers be so wrong*? As a sex educator, I feel that a lot of it has to do with our attitudes about sex. Naturally, when we don’t feel comfortable talking about something, that we already feel we know so little about, and ill-equipped to talk about, read: yes, I am talking about Sex, its presence, in a highly graphic manner is going to intrigue us. Hence we are enticed to watch such movies and videos. But on the flipside, the messages we were sent growing up about masturbation, sex and nudity, and the silence we were fed when it came to anal sex, girl-on-girl or man-on-man sex, group sex or orgies, and sodomy may also lead to anxiety about what we see, which can lead to the on the better end, aforementioned feelings of guilt, and full blown addictions on the worst-case-scenario end.

For couples, porn can be a positive thing. Porn can be an igniter, a sexual interest peaker, initiator, instigator, something to shake things up, or make things more exciting. Couples who use it may do so as they might sex toys, erotic stories, trips to the adult store and more to keep life in the bedroom more exciting. Porn can be an effective addition to role-playing and fantasy play, to erotic storytelling or just plain and simply getting the mind out of the doldrums of the day to day life and bring some excitement at the end of the day.

For singles, men and women alike, porn can be a welcome helper at the end of a long day, filling in when imagination takes a nose dive for those busy career types who’s brain is fried at the end of the day, who haven’t had a sexual partner in weeks and are in need of an outlet of the sexual sort.

Yes, for many, porn is simply a nice, quick, available outlet made even more handy and accessible by the throes of our current technology to help give us a boost when imagination is running dry. Yet, for many, porn can become a debilitating, life threatening addiction, draining one’s bank account, depleting one’s self worth and self esteem, breaking up relationships, friendships, families, jobs and ultimately life.

Those mental health professionals who work with sex and porn addicts, on the other hand, may not see it like I do. The addiction model doesn’t necessarily recognize that a little porn here and there may be good for you sometimes and that it may be okay. Throw in the fact that most porn is degrading, not just to women, but to men too. It is hard pressed to imagine that even a little porn, that porn in moderation is good. If moderate porn watching is the gateway drug, then porn addiction is just a slippery slope away.

For couples involved in this, it can be very painful. Too often, women hear that they need to lighten up about their husband’s porn use, but when one partner is viewing porn and then lying about it, or denying how much or how often they are using or viewing it, then it is something that maybe should not be taken lightly. Because of its accessibility, be honest with yourself. If you feel concerned about your partner’s porn use, having a heart to heart with your loved one can shed lots of light. Get educated – it may just be that bringing the conversation to the forefront and open up new avenues to a fun sex life. But also, use your intuition, get educated on porn, and don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Then make a decision. If this is something you can live with, if you’ve made a compromise and things seem to be fine, or is this something you cannot live with, something that has the signs of escalation? If you and your partner are not seeing eye-to-eye about the porn use, it’s best to seek the help of a professional. Go with your gut and don’t let this potentially light and fun activity turn into a slippery slope.

References:
* http://www.thepinkcross.org/page/internet-porn-statistics

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© Copyright 2011 by Moushumi Ghose, MFT, therapist in New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments
  • shera g June 22nd, 2011 at 4:14 PM #1

    Lose the marriage and the life that you know to addiction to porn and then come back and tell me that it is not a bad thing.

  • James June 23rd, 2011 at 4:28 AM #2

    my wife and I have used it before but somehow it is not the same for me when I view with her. She is like too special to see some of those images, and even though I like it when I am alone, not with her. Does not feel right.

  • lucy June 23rd, 2011 at 11:21 AM #3

    Q.is porn good or bad?
    A.depends on the viewer.period.

  • caroline mcginnes June 24th, 2011 at 11:33 AM #4

    I agree with you-everything in moderation. I don’t feel threatened by porn because it’s not a big part of our life. Because of how prudish Americans are compared to Europeans for example, it’s viewed in a negative light by most. (In public, that is. Then some go back to their homes to watch movies with titles like Black Beard’s Booty.)

    Here’s a funny statistic: porn sells best in the conservative states, those same states that always go on about family values.

  • T.D. Abraham June 25th, 2011 at 2:48 PM #5

    @caroline mcginnes: I had to chuckle about the statistics. So hypocritical. I would wager that those yelling the loudest are the number one customers of the local “novelty” shop. They probably have a platinum loyalty card for it too. ;)

    Seriously, I think it’s the most sexually repressed men that are the most dangerous to women. Porn is an outlet for all that frustration imho.

  • Mel Stone June 25th, 2011 at 4:47 PM #6

    Whatever your personal opinion of pornography is, there’s no denying it’s a huge multi-million dollar industry. That’s one aspect it has in common with other magnets for addiction like alcohol and cigarettes.

    It becomes a vice just like the other two when you can’t control how much time and money you spend on it, and a serious one at that.

  • Bethany Buckley June 25th, 2011 at 5:38 PM #7

    Ugh. What I hate most about porn is how it turns women into nothing more than sexual objects. You can’t claim to respect women and be an avid watcher of porn too.

    Go ahead and dress it up as much as you like to justify it, guys. You’ll never convince me it’s not exploitation of vulnerable women who have had a rough life. Somewhere in their personal history there’s been a traumatic event that steered them ultimately to get involved in that seedy industry. No girl walks into a careers office saying she wants to be a porn star.

    That’s a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a mother even perhaps on that screen. How would you like it if it was your relative that strange men were ogling? Chew on that awhile and see how much porn turns you on now.

  • A.A June 29th, 2011 at 6:20 PM #8

    @Mel: Pornography addiction is indeed the real thing and I’m glad you noted that it is serious. Even though it is laughable to some, an addiction remains an addiction.

    A porn addiction is certainly not something we should laugh at like a bunch of schoolboys. That’s like laughing at an alcoholic. It requires treatment the same as any other addiction does to overcome its grasp.

  • Val Smarts July 1st, 2011 at 9:23 PM #9

    Sometimes guys just want to masturbate to porn. If you get overly offended by that, then you need to ask yourself this. Why would you grudge them that release of sexual tension? Would you rather your partner was constantly demanding sex, or would you rather they were looking at pornography occasionally?

    Anyway, a change is as good as a rest. Even when we have steak at home, we can still enjoy a hamburger occasionally.

  • Moushumi Ghose October 18th, 2011 at 2:52 PM #10

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions about porn. The truth is that it exists and a large part of the population watches porn, good or bad. Developing your boundaries about porn is good, Bethany, and knowing where you stand with your views is important. Having too rigid opinions about anything, however, can be detrimental to the communication and honesty about it (whatever “it” is, porn or whatever) in a relationship. That would be my only concern. Becoming educated if it affects your relationship, is my only suggestion.

  • Kevin December 19th, 2011 at 5:30 AM #11

    My opinion is that there is to much thinking that this is the way it should be! We are judging others by “our” standards. Just like sex that is the same day after day it will get boring, try to look at why others “need” anything? Communicate honestly your needs and wants! If they are not important to who your with, are they who you should be with? sex or no sex?

  • Jan May 9th, 2012 at 5:36 PM #12

    I think the thing about porn that I’m trying to come to grips with is that I feel sad and disheartened that my guy wants to go to another “woman” for sexual pleasure… I am asking a lot of questions of my close friends-male and female-about the brain/emotional/distant/action connection involved in wanting/needing to watch it for sexual release. As his woman, I want to pleasure him and be all that he needs. So far it boils down to me not being able to separate the emotional bond I feel about sex and his lack of a bond when he views porn. That it’s “just sex” and it’s not even sex… I understand the concept-but the ability of being able to turn off the emotional switch is foreign to me. I’m just trying to understand it so that I can still believe that I am all that he wants to be with and good enough for him. Would a guy be truly comfortable with his partner viewing another man to bring her to that sexual release? I appreciate insights and opinions! I definitely do not want him to feel alienated or judged about it, and I am not going to ask him to stop…at this point I just need to know that my feelings are understood and cared about.

  • Moushumi Ghose May 10th, 2012 at 9:48 AM #13

    Jan, I think a lot of it has to do with our education (or lack thereof) about sex and human nature. We’ve been taught from an early age that sex should be with our life partner, and that he/she will be able to fulfill every need, fulfill every fantasy and that we will never want for another, if we do it is sinful and wrong, yet, this is technically a fallacy for the sake of marriage and monogamy which often goes against human nature. Marriage, monogamy are CHOICES we make, COMMITMENTS we make to each other, agreements, and not necessarily what nature would have wanted for us. A healthy couple recognizes that attraction to other people is normal, but one need not always act on it, and can talk about it. Talking about the uncomfortable things, sitting with our discomfort and anxiety is key in relationships, because relationships in the end are all about acceptance, honesty and communication.

  • Boomzy May 29th, 2012 at 6:34 PM #14

    People can develop an addiction to almost anything. People often get addicted to foods, unhealthy ones in particular, but it would be ridiculous to suggest that someone not eat in the off-chance that they could develop an addiction, nor would I strike fear in children by telling them that if they even try sweets, they are in some sort of danger. We can’t go blaming porn, or video games, or anything else for our addictions or our failed relationships. As a matter of fact, a great deal of the problems arising from such things as porn are actually a result of the stigma rather than these habits themselves. If a super religious person finds out their partner has watched porn, there doesn’t have to be any addiction for fighting to ensue and for the relationship to be affected. That’s another problem. The fact that the stigma may create tensions that may affect such things listed in this article as signs of addiction.

  • Jimmy July 9th, 2012 at 9:25 PM #15

    The only reason I would go for porn is to release my sexual sort. Why isn’t my wife enough for me? It should be, but yet I would resort to porn. To prefer porn over her is insulting to her and if I “follow my heart” and do what pleases me I would soon want to have real sex with another person. Shes okay with porn, but wud she be okay with that too? If not then I wouldn’t jeopardize my marriage and keep my desires locked up inside.

    Conclusion: I love my wife but porn is tempting to any human being, and if I have to keep my desires locked up, then why not STOP producing porn and let my wife be the only queen in my life. You can’t put different delicious cakes on the table and expect me not to even once think of leaving my daily cake for a new experience of taste!

  • heather August 18th, 2012 at 7:51 AM #16

    i’m dealing with this now…any advice on how u worked thru it?

  • Moushumi Ghose August 21st, 2012 at 8:48 AM #17

    Hi Heather, If you’re partner is in the throes of a porn addiction, the best thing to focus on is self care for yourself. But, if you are asking about use of porn in your relationship the best thing is communication. If you need more info feel free to email me directly.

  • Graham October 11th, 2012 at 3:17 PM #18

    Thankfully my fiancée is quite understanding about porn’s usefulness. When I’m horny and she’s not I go for release and she’s happy with that. I amcompletely open and honest about it and it’s certainly not an everyday thing. Having said that, a friend I know is addicted to porn to the extent that it has negatively colored his sexual expectations from his girlfriends. As a result he never has had a long term partner. Porn can twist the minds idea. In these cases porn is of course highly detrimental. However in your average male porn every now and then merely serves a function to release tension. We still love and desire the partner in our lives and would choose sex with her over porn any day.

  • naive stefan December 18th, 2012 at 5:17 AM #19

    in general, porn is bad for anything and everything that men and women have to go through in their lives, erotica as opposed to porn, is interesting and exciting, access to porn should be stopped the same way as access to semi-automatic guns in the usa, both kill the innocent – whether physically or mentally, lean about abuse in porn and sexiness in erotica and how these free access influences the next generation

  • Tz March 29th, 2013 at 10:27 AM #20

    Well it’s about reality. Watching naked, nude girls obviously might be fun exciting for us. And that erection feeling followed by that amazing orgasm! We Can do anything for that, Really??? The question requires an immediate reply but only after reading this article! So the game has started it is “Voyeuristic feeling” versus “Being human” (the virtue which is really very rapidly getting extinct).

    So do we ever think about the girls working in those films? Nearly 90% of them are exploited, abused. A stat might give you reduced percentage but when it comes to human perception… I am not wrong! Would you allow someone to insert a rod or something in your body and then play it like as if you were an animal? Just see their faces, try to put yourself in their shoes. Would u do that just for fun? Nope! Money? Yeah or Maybe! But why for money?

    Dudes! It’s all about circumstances… It’s about situations… It’s about to keep yourself alive. We are lucky to have parents who buy for us, work for us. But for the unfortunates who run away from their families (maybe to save themselves from being abused) or abandoned by their step-moms and dads :-(

    There are countries where 12 years old girls are abducted,thrown into prostitution and then they land up being in porn industry. Getting a bit dramatic? Maybe- but alas! that’s true. We say that they work voluntarily, no one forces them. But if your adolescence and your teenage has been about receiving money and getting f***d, making movies, distributing among public then when u grow up after spending 5-6 years in that filthy environment… You might say “Porn is not wrong!”

    So what did we learn from the above dramatic lecture? For some it is b**s**t… Never mind you won’t realize until circumstances turn you around and for others who regard it as good! Learn from it… preach it! And most importantly try to control yourself. If you cannot control yourself how can you think to control others when you are a boss or something.

    A bit of facts- it has been witnessed that most most of the porn stars when they lose their charm and their attractive body in their old age commit suicide. Some commit even when they haven’t lost yet. Reason: guilty conscience? Penniless? No. Family? No. Respect or dignity? It’s up to you to decide!

  • carla May 26th, 2013 at 7:16 AM #21

    I am going through this right now. My husband is watching porn on his phone but he only does it when im not around and it has made me unconfortable. We have been together for almost 2 years and im 7 months pregnant with our first baby. We have great intimacy and we do it about 3 times a week. Itjust makes me feel unconfortable the thought of him desiring another woman or wanting something more. I spoke to him once before about this and he said it was just entertainment but the fact that he is being secretive about it hurts and worries me… I dont wanna come of as insecure or nosy by asking again but what should I do or is his behaivior ok and im the one thats exagerating?

  • Moushumi Ghose May 31st, 2013 at 3:06 AM #22

    Hi Carla,
    Thanks for your question. If it continues to bother you, I would suggest just having open honest conversations about your relationship and sex life in general. Some porn watching is totally normal, and can benefit his libido and thus your sex life. Sometimes however it could be fulfilling an entirely different need and then it could be a slippery slope. Encourage him to talk about what fulfills him, what his needs/desires are and ask him if you are meeting those needs for him, and if not, how you might be able to. Also, talk about what you enjoy and like. Sex during pregnancy is also another issue, ask him what his thoughts are about that. All in all, I would recommend having open honest conversations about sex, in general and see what information he offers up. And, then, trust your gut. Hope this helps.

  • Cameron June 21st, 2013 at 10:07 AM #23

    I just wanted to thank you Moushumi Ghose for your responses. Your views should definitely be shared on a broader scale, as they don’t seem biased in anyway, but understanding of porn and it’s uses, and understanding of people in general too.

  • Cameron June 21st, 2013 at 10:20 AM #24

    And Tz your comment is very ignorant of the reality of porn. Some girls are exploited, as well as some guys too.

    However, there are a handful of guys and girls who go into the porn industry knowing exactly what they want to do…and most seem to do it just to get a little money here and there, rather than a full blown job.

    You saying 90% of them are exploited is percentage completely made up, as I have yet to see studies that have that broadly and accurately determine the exploitation rate or percentage of girls AND boys.

    And you also assume that some people don’t want things done to them that are done in porn when in reality some girls AND boys like certain things being stuck in them, here and there. You assume that all people want in a sexual relationship is “normal” vaginal sex which is simply not true, and never has been true.

    But it is clear to see that you have written response filled with pathos, or appeal to emotion, to try to victimize porn. IF you want anyone to truly pay attention to you, step away from the dramatic pathos you exhibit, and try to understand that first of all not all porn is this dramatic thing you try to make it out to be,”there is porn with only foreplay, soft core porn, and even amateur porn where people basically upload home videos of themselves to the internet, and and a plethora of other forms” and understand that porn is simply a natural act by humans captured on tape, and distributed to people.

    IF you are condemning porn(in the vague and generalized sense you think about), you are in essence condemning any video taped sex, and those who make it, which includes a lot more people in society than you think. This makes it seem that your problem is not necessarily with porn, but with people’s personal choices, you’re ignorant assumptions, and your ego.

  • Jeni April 25th, 2014 at 10:39 PM #25

    Ted Bundy watched porn. Just saying…

    As a woman, I can easily say that I do not want my husband looking at porn. How does that help OUR relationship to have someone else in the corner? A magnanimous relationship is the most pleasurable, so if pleasure is what you’re looking for, then stay away from porn.

    If you don’t think a little kid should be watching it, then neither should you. And that goes for everything inappropriate on tv.

    The only people defending porn are the ones that use it. There are people that have seen it and see the danger of it. Don’t be blinded. Not everything that feels good is good for you. Respect yourself more than watching trash like that. Porn is never between magnanimous relationships.

    You know whether it’s right or wrong deep down. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’ll admit it, but you don’t have to let yourself be in bondage to something so addicting.

    For those of you that say that porn is bad, try to stop watching it…if you can’t, you know it partially owns your desires.

  • tammy July 28th, 2014 at 3:36 PM #26

    My husband and I have talked about this. I have found things on his computer and phone. We have watched it to gether. I’m not opposed to it. But I feel like we don’t have sex as much as we should. We r in our late forty so I know thing drop off a little. But my fear is that he is addicted. How do I start this conversation again?

  • Moushumi G. August 1st, 2014 at 12:14 PM #27

    Hi, Yes, it sounds like you would like to have more sex, which means you would like to feel more connected to your husband. It’s important to let him know this. I recommend starting the conversation away from the bedroom, at a neutral time. Bring it up slow but honestly. People can get sensitive around the subject of sex, so be honest and let him know this is important to you to discuss, and then let him come around. I also would caution you about bringing up the porn in the same conversation. This conversation should be about your needs, about wanting more intimacy and should not focus on your fears or insecurities around porn. The porn issue suggests you are feeling neglected and trying to find a culprit, which can be ineffective and misdirected. We tend to jump to porn conclusions.

  • Kristy August 2nd, 2014 at 9:47 AM #28

    So what’s moderation vs too much? Is almost every day moderation? I would think moderation would be more like just a few times a week, at most.

  • John Pierre Fouad M. August 24th, 2014 at 5:01 AM #29

    @Moushumi G. God bless u of ur good positve rich and informative comments and helpful as well including this article that u wrote it! :) With Love,
    From john Pierre :)

  • Solidus September 4th, 2014 at 11:17 AM #30

    Stop talking about porn like it’s an “okay” or “cool” thing to do, it causes so much problems. Best decision of my life was to stop masturbating to it.
    Here are lots of testimonials about the great benefits of quitting porn and masturbation, this is a MUST-READ : reuniting.info/download/pdf/0.BENEFITS.pdf

    Porn can ruin a man.

  • Moushumi Ghose September 5th, 2014 at 7:09 AM #31

    Kristy, Good question. Moderation, in clinical terms, means that it does not interfere with your daily life, your work, your relationship, your family, and your finances. Solidus, I agree that if you feel you cannot have a healthy relationship with porn and manage your boundaries, as with any addiction abstinence is best. Please note: not everyone gets addicted to porn. It is important to recognize the differences. Many people medicate their anxieties with porn.

  • April September 7th, 2014 at 4:08 AM #32

    Marcel Proust believed tɦat thе proper voyage of discovery isn’t јust about
    looking for new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
    Thanks foг giνing me a neѡ vision.

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