Porn Addiction Signs–What are They?

Posted on by Dr. Kevin Skinner

During the past six years I have been gathering data from individuals looking for help because of their involvement in pornography. More than 4000 men and women have taken an online survey during this time. What signs have I identified that indicate a pornography addiction?

Let me begin by saying that the word addiction is often misused. In fact, some people argue that we shouldn’t use the word addiction with pornography. I actually agree that the word addiction is over used, but I disagree with those who argue that pornography is not addictive.  After reviewing the literature, listening to my client’s, and looking at my research data I am convinced that we can and should use the word with addiction with pornography. Consider the following answers to questions available from the Assessing Pornography Addiction Survey: (Please note: I have bolded the key findings from each question listed below)

Concept: Feeling Out of Control

I cannot seem to stop the fantasies that run through my mind.
  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 2168 45.7 48.4 48.4
false 2104 44.3 47.0 95.4
na 204 4.3 4.6 100.0
Total 4476 94.3 100.0  
Missing System 273 5.7    
Total 4749 100.0    

 

What this means is that 45% of individuals in this self selected survey struggle to stop their thoughts–they can’t get pornography off their mind.

Here’s another question on feeling out of control.

 

I believe that I can stop looking at porn at anytime.
  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 1869 39.4 41.8 41.8
false 2330 49.1 52.1 93.9
na 272 5.7 6.1 100.0
Total 4471 94.1 100.0  
Missing System 278 5.9    
Total 4749 100.0    

 

Nearly 50% of those who took the survey felt that they couldn’t stop viewing pornography at anytime. That often creates a feeling of hopelessness. None of us want to feel that something has that much control over us and yet for many who are trapped in pornography it is a common feeling.

How Porn Impacts Relationships and Emotions

Now let’s look at how pornography influences a persons relationships and emotions.

 

I have distanced myself from a partner when I have looked at pornography.
  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 2245 47.3 51.3 51.3
false 1738 36.6 39.7 91.0
na 392 8.3 9.0 100.0
Total 4375 92.1 100.0  
Missing System 374 7.9    
Total 4749 100.0    

 

What we see is distancing oneself from a relationship. This is one of the reasons why I wrote the article Addiction and Intimacy.

 

I have chosen to view porn. rather than be sexually intimate with a partner (if not married, view porn rather than be with friends).
  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 1916 40.3 43.9 43.9
false 2169 45.7 49.7 93.6
na 279 5.9 6.4 100.0
Total 4364 91.9 100.0  
Missing System 385 8.1    
Total 4749 100.0    

 

One of the common traits of addictive behaviors is turning to the behavior to escape from negative emotions. Consider the statistic which indicates that many individuals are turning to pornography as an escape from their emotional pain. This is a common behavior in individuals who smoke, drink, and use drugs.

 

When I am feeling down, I often turn to pornography to make me feel better.
  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 2696 56.8 63.6 63.6
false 1434 30.2 33.9 97.5
na 106 2.2 2.5 100.0
Total 4236 89.2 100.0  
Missing System 513 10.8    
Total 4749 100.0    

 

The next response is one that makes my heart hurt. It is sad and difficult to hear the many stories I have heard from individuals who feel hopeless because of pornography. Pornography is a “joy killer.” It sucks the life out of life and love. It makes people feel hopeless.

 

My involvement with porn makes me feel hopeless
  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 1988 41.9 46.9 46.9
false 2090 44.0 49.4 96.3
na 157 3.3 3.7 100.0
Total 4235 89.2 100.0  
Missing System 514 10.8    
Total 4749 100.0    

 

I have just touched the surface the surface of pornography addiction signs. I will continue to build upon this list with addition signs in the near future.

In the meantime, if you want to see more signs you can take the FREE Assessing Pornography Addiction Assessment. It offers valuable feedback and suggestions. It will alsol help you identify more signs.

Thanks for the question.

Dr. Kevin Skinner

 

 

 

8 Responses to Porn Addiction Signs–What are They?

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  2. evaone says:

    great info. thank you for sharing it.

  3. leftempty says:

    My thoughts on this are, Wow, I know the addiction is real, but I cant get my head around this situation, My husband is addicted to porn and alcohol, I have only been married for 4 years, I think I am done with this marriage…….I havent the energy to deal with this, I am not 20 years old anymore, ..I cant say I saw red flags with this ..I know for sure, I would not have married him. my husband is a highly functioning person, great job, shows up for it all…..but whats happening now…he showed up for me in the beginning of the relationship, now its all going down hill….I cant say I am the cause of this he’s nearly 50, he has been doing this for years……..I personally believe …he is selfish, and childish….there comes a time in life …WE ALL NEED TO TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT OURSELVES AND SEE WHAT SORT OF HUMAN BEING WE ARE …..AND WHERE WE FIT IN THE WORLD…sorry I have no time for this sort of behavior..
    I have spoke to him about this…of course ….he is transparent and he cant see that…which I think is really sad……he thinks he hides his behaviors well….HE DOESNT …..I DO LAUGH OVER THAT ONE!!!!!!!!!! Anyway …just came across this so thought I would put my thoughts down

    • Dr. Kevin Skinner says:

      Thanks for sharing “Left Empty.” It is sad to hear and see your pain. What many in our society fail to see is the disconnect that occurs in relationships because of pornography. Your emotions and feelings are much deeper than what you shared. The hurt, neglect, lack of trust, and overall pain can’t be measured but it is real. I wish you the best as you move forward. My regards, Dr. Skinner

  4. Karen says:

    I am at a crossroads in my marriage because of porn. I have ask my husband for a couple of years to go to counseling over his lack of interest in intimacy in the bedroom, he refused. I accidently found that he has been involved with porn.
    I now feel very inadequate and my self worth is at a all time low. I am having a hard
    time wrapping my head around what it is that he gets out of viewing porn, when
    I am right here and have been all along. I am a very willing partner and would love
    to try new and exciting things in the bed room, but he seems to have no interest, there is always some excuse. I have even told him to wake me up if mornings is better for him “intimacy with him is more important to me than sleep”. He cant touch the girls on the porn sites and again I am right here. We are in counseling now, but during intimacy I feel as though I am always in competition with what I saw that he had downloaded and face, although I look pretty good, I will never look like that.
    I don’t know if I can get beyond this, I shouldn’t feel like there is competition for my
    husbands attention in our own bedroom afterall he chased me and ask me to marry him yet now that he has me his actions say to me that I am not really what he wants even when his words say that I am.

    • Dr. Kevin Skinner says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      There are a couple of core things that you need to remember. First, pornography is addictive. Imagine that your husband was coming home drunk at night–the bottle would matter more than intimacy. Porn is his bottle. Second, individuals trapped in porn often struggle to create deep intimate bonds in their relationships. In my special report Addiction and Intimacy, I discuss why it is difficult to create intimacy when you have an addiction.

      One of the challenging elements often overlooked in porn addiction is that frequent usage will release a lot of testosterone into the body system and when there is too much testosterone in the body humans do not desire connection. This is one reason individuals trapped in pornography struggle with healthy human intimacy.

      I truly feel sorry for you. You want your husband to love you. Please understand his addiction is more about him than it is you. Unfortunately, many women internalize their husbands involvement in pornography. They feel inadequate and not good enough. While this is easy to do, it is not accurate. Look at where your heart is–you want a better relationship with your husband. If things don’t change you will have to make a difficult decision. However, before you do that–please consider to approach him in a loving and kind way and tell him your honest feelings. If he responds he will do some of the following things:

      seek professional help
      get a sponsor
      attend a 12-step group
      develop more compassion for you
      show you that he is striving to quit

      I wish you the best as you travel through this difficult journey. I also hope your husband will reach out for help. There are solutions, but those trapped need to take the steps towards recovery.

      Best regards,

      Dr. Kevin Skinner

  5. Megan says:

    Hi, I have been with my alcoholic husband for 13years. Throughout this time he has had long stretches of drinking which have been very stressful and extraordinarily hard to tolerate. I have two children from a previous relationship and we have a beautiful, bright loving boy.

    Both during these drinking episodes and during sobriety he has also struggled with porn addiction. He admits to having a drinking problem but I don’t think understands how much the porn has damaged our relationship. I don’t think he knows why it bothers me so much.

    When I first suspected he was doing porn I was pregnant. He bought a new lap top and would regularly take it into the bedroom for a day time nap. He also had it in the room when I returned home from shift work late at night. Often the computer was still humming under the bed whilst it shut down and he’d be pretending to be asleep. I couldn’t accuse him of anything because I didn’t have proof. I didn’t want him to blame my paranoia. But one day he’d forgotten to erase the history and I had my proof. I cried and shouted and almost blew a valve. He very unremorsefully said he’d stop. At this time he was sober and had taken a second job mowing as well as his day job. I believe he was using this often as an excuse to leave the house to view his porn.
    A couple of days later I had a still born. I didn’t realise at the time how mentally unwell I was at that time. The combination of the porn and the stillborn was extraordinarily painful. But I’m very stoic and not good at asking for help. And because of the circumstances the porn was pushed aside and not dealt with.

    He was quite supportive through this time but it wasn’t long before the porn returned and then the grog due to fighting over the porn. I can’t describe the devastation to my self esteem that it caused. After 4 babies and my body did not tolerate pregnancy well I felt absolutely physically discussing. Vile. I could nearly look in the mirror at myself. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or adventurous enough in bed, like I was repulsive to look at and I must admit while I was pregnant we rarely had sex(not my choice- I like sex more when I’m pregnant) I felt emotionally, physically ans sexually deserted. Not just neglected absolutely deserted.

    Anyway he is still doing the porn and just started up with the grog again. I don’t think I can tolerate it anymore. No self respecting woman I know would. I’ve read a lot of helpful advice about restoring marriages on the net but I never seem to get any heart felt or truly remorseful apologies from him. His attitude is it won’t happen again and lets get over it and not talk about it anymore. Well I’m sorry that may suit him but I’m actually festering with resentment for many, many things. Things that I’ve not even mentioned.

    With all his problems- the one that completely devastates my sense of self is the porn. It is the one thing that doesn’t just damage our relationship, but it damages me.

    • Dr. Kevin Skinner says:

      Dear Megan,

      Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience. It sounds like your husband doesn’t have any idea how his behavior is influencing you. For some reason he has it in his mind that he can just tell you that he is done and that is good enough. What he needs to understand is that pornography is addictive. It alters the brain. It alters how you think and feel. It alters relationships. Until he understands this and takes actions to reclaim his life, he will be aloof to your needs and pains. Pornography seems to seriously damage individuals ability to have compassion, especially for the people whom they should be loving.

      I hope he will somehow wake-up and realize that his actions are hurting you.

      I would suggest that you seek additional support for your hurt and pain. It is difficult to deal with the emotions you shared with me by yourself. If you can, I would seek professional counseling from someone who understands addiction and in particular how pornography influences individuals and their relationships.

      Best regards,

      Dr. Skinner

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