Bella Vida Therapy

Molly Papp, MS, MPH, CSAT, LMFT #88196

Bella Vida Therapy

Molly Papp, LMFT

You deserve a beautiful life

Sex, intimacy, and relationship therapy

The Porn Trap

As a licensed therapist who specializes in sexual health issues, I get asked a lot of interesting questions, such as:

"Am I a sex addict? I like to have sex, a lot!"
"How do I attract people to date me? I'm so lonely; what am I doing wrong?"
"Sex with my girlfriend/boyfriend has really slowed down. How do I fix it?"
"Everyone watches porn; it's no big deal. But how much is too much? Can it affect my sex life?"

The last one is probably the most common, especially with men. Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry that has truly exploded over the past decade. Many men watch pornography on a daily basis and have no problem with it. When I say 'no problem,' I mean that they can still go to work, have a healthy sex life, and maintain friendships without rushing home to masturbate. If pornography is an addiction, it damages a person's life and preoccupies their time, thoughts and behaviors. It also leads to feeling guilt and shame after countless hours are wasted staring at a screen. That is more of what pornography addiction looks like.

For men (and women) who watch porn more casually, it seems less harmful; right? Sure, these type of people don't lose control of their lives or experience dramatic negative consequences due to porn. But what is the impact on their view of women and fulfilling sex? Millions of young people are being taught "how" to have sex from watching hired men and women engage in intercourse of some type. Yet what porn doesn't teach is intimacy. It shows the physical act of body parts being inserted in someway, but it lacks any type of connection. This can be extremely damaging to how we view sex. Sex becomes less of a way to express desire and longing for a partner and more of a way to have an orgasm with whomever is on the receiving/giving end. I am generalizing of course and referring mostly to heterosexual male/female pornography, however the point of porn lacking intimacy rings true over many demographics and styles. Porn tells us what we should look like, sound like, orgasm like; and they are ALL unrealistic! No one can live up to that, not even the actors or actresses themselves. They have a room of 20 people lighting them and applying makeup ever 5 minutes to ensure the perfect shot. Don't even get me started on the misogynist themes that porn encourages.

I don't mean to preach, but the point I'm trying to make is that porn may seem like sexy fun, but it slowly seduces over time. More and more exposure creates grooves in our brain. Meaning the first time you see a man ejaculate on a girl's face it's shocking, but the 5th time it's 'normal.' This also leads to the desire to recreate situations in porn movies. Once again, it's about the act or the novelty of the act, not the other person. This takes the greatest part of sex (connecting with a lover) away from the experience. Of course not every person you have sex with is your soul mate, but they are a human being. Intimacy with someone whom you like is great and someone you love is even better.

I know many people won't change their minds about online pornography after reading this, but the next time you do watch it try looking at what's actually going on. Look for typical things that happen during real sex: eye contact, kissing, cuddling, non-flat stomachs giggling. Chances are you won't see that. Chances are you won't find anything real at all.