In the last couple decades, with the new normal of in-home computers, the internet, and smartphones in the hands of most of the population, we have come to experience speed and instantaneousness in ways that were previously unfathomable. Our lives have changed so rapidly and, in many ways, for the better.

In the midst of all this progress, we have certainly seen room for improvement, and many of us have mourned the increasing sense of human disconnection, in spite of being almost constantly “connected”.

No cyberspace reveals this false sense of connection as powerfully as online pornography.

Dr. Grant Hilary Brenner, M.D. is a psychiatrist who has compiled three essential reasons porn use causing problems, especially relationally.

First: Regular pornography use decreases sexual satisfaction

A 2018 study found that more frequent porn viewing was associated with decreased sexual satisfaction.

Here’s a fundamental way to understand this. The brain loves a shortcut.

When you eat a meal of roasted chicken, peas, and mashed potatoes. Messages are sent to the “pleasure center” in your brain and it begins to glow and hum sending out to the body sensations of pleasure and satisfaction.

However, when you consume Flaming Hot Cheetos messages are fired to the “pleasure center” like bullets. The brain lights up and rings like a bell.

Pornography is much like those Flaming Hot Cheetos. It is a faster route to an end result and always leaves you wanting more.

In increasing measure, young men are experiencing what is called porn-induced erectile dysfunction. What this means is that due to the amount of porn they are watching they are not able to maintain an erection without it. Their brains have been trained to use the shortcut to their pleasure center.

Second: Pornography Use Increases Feelings Of Loneliness

There is a vicious cycle we find with porn use: pornography leaves people feeling lonely, and feeling alone leads people to use pornography. There is an inherent loneliness associated with pornography, and much of that is tied up in feelings of shame. The general themes of pornography are eroticism, objectification, promiscuity, and misogyny, these run fully counter to the intimacy and secure attachment required in safe and meaningful relationships.

Third: Pornography Use Increases Divorce Rates

Not surprisingly, with decreased sexual satisfaction, and increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, marriages more often struggle to survive. It is not uncommon for couples to describe their use of pornography as an enhancement or supplement to their sexual relationships. But according to a recent study, pornography use is a better indicator of relational disruption and disconnection than it is a tool for marital enrichment.

If pornography is wreaking havoc in your most meaningful relationships, if it feeds in you a deep and pervasive sense of loneliness, consider setting a goal of reducing your porn intake.

If you find the process of cutting back or eliminating pornography more difficult than you anticipated, you may be dealing with porn addiction. You can get help from a professional, or from a group focused on sexual addiction, and learn tools for coping with stress and understanding the hole that pornography has filled in your life.

If Cedar Tree can be a help to you as you work to understand and end your addiction to pornography, please give us a call.


Consuming Ecstasy: Representations of Male and Female Orgasm in Mainstream Pornography, Séguin, Rodrige, and Lavigne (2018)

Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bidirectional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation, Butler, Pereyra, Drap, Leonhardt, and Skinner (2018)


Till Porn Do Us Part? A Longitudinal Examination of Pornography Use and Divorce, Perry and Schleifer (2018)

Matthew Hanlon

Matthew Hanlon

Men & Couples Therapist | MA, LMFT

I help men and their families, who are hurting, angry, and struggling to find their way through life’s challenges, to create real and lasting change.

Call for Free Consultation | (630) 397-1900 

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