July 02, 2018
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Pornography use has exploded in recent years. The average age for exposure to internet porn has dropped to a mere 10 years old, and porn has gotten increasingly violent and abusive as time passed. Rather than “Playboy” centerfolds with sultry smiles and strategically placed strands of hair, children see men and women who are bound, spanked and abused. Worse, the actors pretend to enjoy it. 

This young exposure to porn is no doubt part of why there is an epidemic of porn addiction in the Western world. People save thousands of pornographic photos to their phones, have favorite porn sites and regularly watch porn for long periods of time. Slowly, the brain becomes hardwired to deal with porn. Normal sexual responses become tied to porn instead of living, breathing human beings. Pleasure centers in the brain are overloaded, so the body cuts back on the chemicals that give a person that famous “rush.” So, the person watches more porn, searches for more extreme videos and generally escalates their behavior. The brain eventually cuts back on the feel good hormones again. The person, once more, increases their use in search of that old pleasure. An addiction is formed.

Addictions of any kind cause serious damage to a relationship. Whether a person is addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, social media or porn, there is going to be serious fallout in their interpersonal relationships. Addiction has been the death of many friendships, family bonds and marriages. 

Most people are aware that addictions are not something to mess around with. They are dream killers and homewreckers. What if a person is not, however, addicted? Plenty of people have the occasional drink with dinner without ever developing alcoholism. Why is porn any different? Why do spouses react so strongly when they realize that their significant other is watching porn? Why do they act like they have caught their spouse with either an actual living, breathing lover or a loaded syringe? 

There are a number of reasons that a spouse’s porn use feels like betrayal. One of the largest is simply because porn use is, by its very nature, usually a carefully guarded secret. Most people do not sit on their couch and watch porn while their spouse is cutting up fruit for a snack in the kitchen. They do not sit on the back porch with their laptop and click through porn videos while enjoying the breeze. Instead, porn watching is usually done alone with a locked door between the porn watcher and the rest of the house. That is assuming that person watches porn when anyone is home at all. Plenty of spouses wait for their loved ones to leave, then go hurry to the laptop and go hunting through one of any number of x-rated websites. 

Secrets are not welcome in relationships, and porn is a dirty little secret. Part of what causes the feeling of betrayal is that the porn-watcher has been lying to their spouse. They were “checking their email” or “reading the news” when they were really watching internet porn. If they watched on-demand porn, they quickly changed the channel when they heard their spouse’s car in the driveway. They lied repeatedly in order to keep their secret. Their spouse is undoubtedly hurt by the fact that the porn-watcher lied to them.

The fact that porn watching is kept such a careful secret means that people are on some level aware that they should not be watching it. There is no reason, after all, to hide something that is perfectly acceptable. Something shameful or forbidden, however, needs to be hidden. 

In addition to the secretive and shameful atmosphere that surrounds porn watching, many spouses are hurt by their loved one watching porn because of what porn itself is. Porn is images or videos of strangers in sexually explicit positions or performing sexually explicit acts. It is recorded sex. Human beings are wired to pair bond with sexual partners. When a spouse turns to porn, however, they unintentionally, end up bonding not with their loved one but with the image on the screen. This can leave a person less interested in sex with their actual partner and eventually lead to the loss of any sexual interest in living people at all. Even if this does not happen, a spouse can still feel betrayed because sneaking off to watch porn gives the impression that the porn-watcher is left unsatisfied by their living partner. The actual human being is not young enough, pretty enough or good enough to hold the porn-watcher’s interest. This can easily lead to insecurity on the spouse’s part.

Porn can also feel like betrayal because of what is depicted in the recorded sex. Internet porn is known for being hardcore to the point of violent. A person who stumbles over their partner’s porn stash might be horrified by what they find. They may be disgusted by the fact that their partner finds the degrading language, flagrant objectification and physical violence depicted in the videos arousing. They may be somewhat frightened by the idea that their partner may want to perform similar acts or simply be revolted by the idea that this is what the person they love is fantasizing about when they are alone.

Some people feel that porn is an innocent addiction or harmless practice. There is nothing innocent about the way people become addicted to it nor is there anything harmless about the pain it can cause a person’s spouse. The secrecy that surrounds watching it, the violence actually depicted and the potential loss of interest in real sex all come together to form a sense of betrayal that can bite nearly as deeply as adultery. Plenty of porn-watchers claim that they would never actually sleep with the people depicted on the screen, but that is not how their spouses feel. So, just as with an actual affair, there is a choice to make: be loyal to the spouse or chase after the sexy lover? The choice is the same, and the consequences can be shockingly similar. Choose carefully.