You may find yourself wondering whether pornography or other sexual acting out behaviors are really as big of a deal as people seem to make them out to be. It’s common to hear people say, “I’m not really hurting anyone, or cheating on my wife. Why are people making such a big deal about this?”

You may or may not be ready to accept the ways your behaviors can be damaging to yourself and to those around you. Let us share some of the common ways people are hurt by pornography to help you begin to see why there is so much concern about it.

Pornography has a numbing effect

In the years we have worked with pornography users, we find that prolonged exposure to pornography begins to desensitize people to other’s emotions or pain. Many pornography users do not understand, or cannot accept, how their behaviors affect others. This is a huge threat to your ability to maintain healthy relationships. Pornography can prevent you from really knowing how to “be there” for your wife or other family members. Often, pornography users don’t realize how bad things have become until their wives are talking about separation or even divorce.

Pornography can be addictive

You don’t have to look at porn every day to be addicted. Addiction isn’t about how often you do something. It’s a pattern. You may already be in the middle of an addiction if…

1. You use pornography to experience a different mood (lowering stress, getting a “high,” or escaping from reality)

2. You have experienced consequences for your pornography use (like damage to your relationships, difficulties at work, or religious sanctions)

3. You have made a decision to stop, but continue to go back again and again

The bottom line is that if you have tried to stop, but haven’t been able to, you are likely experiencing the effects of addiction. The sooner you seek help, the better.

Pornography encourages objectification of people

For frequent porn users, people become objects of lust. An object is something to be used, or something that gets in your way. Many addicts are surprised to find out that their wives feel objectified all of the time. Their comments, stares, or sexual demands can create deep trauma in their wives, who fear they are simply part of the addiction. The basic problem of objectifying others is that it makes it very hard for you to really connect with others or have real relationships. This inevitably leads to isolation and depression. And this just fuels the addiction.

Pornography presents lies about sex and relationships

Pornography is full of lies about what real relationships should be like, or about relational sexuality. These lies include the following…

1. Having sex is my right. If I am married, my spouse is obligated to help me meet my sexual needs.

2. Sex should always be spontaneous and easy. I should not have to work to have a good sexual relationship.

3. My spouse should always be interested and ready for sex.

4. If I don’t have sex regularly, I will die

Believing the lies perpetuated by pornography will almost always result in treating others as objects and becoming isolated from your own ability to empathize with others.

Pornography is real betrayal

Whatever you have told yourself about how your pornography use “should” or “should not” affect your spouse or family members, you may need to rethink things. Many women experience their husbands’ pornography use a betrayal of marital commitments and a betrayal of the marital relationship. Spouses of addicts feel compared, rejected, and betrayed. No amount of arguing or convincing will change their minds. It is crucial that you understand that however you think your spouse¬†should¬†respond to your pornography use, the actual emotional response if the only thing that really matters.