| October 8, 2014

A Man's Life

The Possible Pitfalls of Porn

vintage man in chair sad face newspaper in lap

Note: You can find this entire series in a convenient eBook for just $3.99. Available in our store or on Amazon.

In recent years, more and more young men – religious and not — are reporting that they feel outright addicted to internet pornography. Thousands and thousands are filling online porn recovery forums to discus their struggles, opening up to total strangers rather than their friends and family. It has consumed their lives and gets in the way of school, work, and relationships. Time that could be spent on their goals is instead spent hunched over a glowing screen with a box of Kleenex and lotion. Some men report that they prefer masturbating to porn to having actual sex with an honest to goodness real life woman. In fact, more and more healthy young men in their early 20s are visiting their doctors asking for Viagra because they no longer can get or maintain an erection with their sexual partner. Many of these young men happen to be heavy internet porn users.

What’s more, they report finding themselves turned on by increasingly disturbing sexual material, like gang rape scenes, as their porn use increases. They want to stop because, on a gut level, the material repulses them, but they feel like they have to watch the stuff because it’s the only way they can become sexually aroused.

What’s going on here?

We’ve already established that internet porn is extremely alluring and habit forming thanks to how easy it is to access an unlimited variety of sensory intensive videos. But because of the nature of internet porn, it can cause a whole host of problems beyond an intense craving to watch it after everyone has gone to bed.

In the world of evolutionary biology and human psychology it has been proven that animals and humans will often prefer exaggerated versions of a reward stimulus over one they’d encounter normally in nature, and — here’s the kicker — even if the attraction to the exaggerated version of the stimulus is evolutionarily and reproductively harmful. This is called a supernormal stimulus.

We see multiple examples of this in the animal kingdom: Birds will sit and take care of fake eggs that resemble those of their own species, but are larger and have more exaggerated markings and a richer hue. Territorial male stickleback fish will attack wooden floats painted red on the bottom if the wooden floats are painted a more intense shade of red than what’s found on their actual, natural enemies. Male jewel beetles will prefer to copulate with a certain type of beer bottle cap rather than actual female jewel beetles because the cap looks like an exaggerated version of their natural copulation partners.

We see supernormal stimuli influence human beings as well. Junk food is a supernormal stimulus of the salty, fatty, and sugary foods that our brains are naturally evolved to crave. In fact, as the book Salt Sugar Fat highlights, food companies spend millions of dollars engineering food with the perfect combination of these ingredients. These supernormal foods are designed to precisely activate our “bliss point” – registering as incredibly tasty while simultaneously compelling us to eat more. Think of the sensation of eating a Dorito, and the feel of that salt, sugar, and fat on your tongue; once one is down the hatch, you immediately want another chip.

In the area of sex and porn, male humans (generally) prefer exaggerated versions of female sex traits — big boobs, smaller waists, big hips. Make-up is designed and applied to accentuate and exaggerate features on the female face that males find attractive like the lips and eyes.

The likely reason supernormal stimuli are so much more alluring than ho-hum natural simulations is due to — you guessed it — our old friend dopamine. More dopamine is released when we encounter a supernormal stimulus than with the rewards found in nature.

Porn is the ultimate supernormal stimulus of our naturally-evolved desire for sex. For starters, porn often features exaggerated versions of female and male bodies doing exaggerated versions of sex, e.g., women with cantaloupe-sized tatas moaning loudly during marathon sex sessions with not just one but two or more men sporting giant penises artificially made erect by the injection of Caverject. If that’s not a supernormal stimulus, I don’t know what is.

Add in the visual intensity that video porn offers over static images or sex fantasies produced in the mind, and the unlimited variety of these films that are just a click away, and you’ve got a recipe for a super-super-normal stimulus. Compared to normal women and normal sex, internet porn likely provides stronger hits of dopamine, making it much more desirable.

Just as our physical bodies were not evolved for a diet consisting of Doritos and Twinkies, our brains were not evolved for the massive dopamine hits that today’s internet porn provides. To protect itself from the unnatural uptick in dopamine, the brain reduces the number of dopamine receptors in the neurons involved with sexual reward. And this is where we run into problems with the over-consumption of porn. Let’s take a more in-depth look at them.

The Potential Cognitive and Emotional Problems of Habitual Porn Use 

The need to find just the right stimulus to get aroused.

When there are fewer dopamine receptors on deck, as mentioned above, the porn user can’t feel the full force of the neurotransmitter’s effect. The receptors become desensitized. Thus to get the same buzz and reward, the consumer has to go looking for some new porn that provides the same level of arousal as before. So a user moves from sex scenes on cable TV shows, to amateur hardcore porn sites on the web. But after a while that doesn’t do it any more, so he begins the search again. The task of looking for just the right scene to get the blood flowing can begin to take longer and longer, as the user clicks through hundreds of sites and files to find the situation he thinks will do the trick. It’s what Mayer called in his aforementioned interview with Playboy Magazine, “the shot hunt”:

“Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generation’s expectations. How could you be constantly synthesizing an orgasm based on dozens of shots? You’re looking for the one photo out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish to, and you still don’t finish. Twenty seconds ago you thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw, but you throw it back and continue your shot hunt and continue to make yourself late for work.”

The daily “shot hunt” is not only time-consuming, but can cause problems when you’re trying to orgasm in real life, and the only “shot” you’ve got to work with is the woman beneath you. 

Turning to increasingly kinkier porn.

For many men, even finding the “perfect” scene of “normal” porn stops doing it for them. Their dopamine receptors are so blunted, they need something a lot more hardcore to get going, and they soon discover that porn that’s incredibly shocking, and in many cases even illegal (rape, bestiality, child pornography) makes them feel both guilty and aroused. With some hesitation, and a bit of a pit in their stomach, but with the drive for the return of their old dopamine levels spurring them on, they click on stuff that goes well beyond a normal sexual experience. And if you think that these are “extreme” examples, think again: up to 88% of all the scenes in porn videos involve some type of aggression, be it hitting, gagging, slapping, verbal abuse, etc.; a shocking 1/3 of internet porn searches have the word “teen” and it’s the most searched for type of porn according to PornHub’s statisticians; and sadly, the Internet Watch Foundation reports that child pornography is one of the internet’s fastest growing “businesses,” with viewership growing over 1,000 percent in the last ten years.

Why is this? Well, dopamine production fires up when we experience intense emotions, and that includes shock, anxiety, and guilt. Add those dopamine-producing emotions to an already dopamine-stimulating input like sex, and you have a recipe for being aroused by kinkier and kinkier porn. As men become desensitized to one type of porn, they must keep searching for more and more exaggerated and shocking types of sexual imagery to get the same kind of buzz as they did before.

Erectile Dysfunction and other performance issues.

As we mentioned in yesterday’s post, dopamine plays a big role in our sex drive, libido, and ability to get and maintain an erection. Reduce dopamine or blunt the reception of it, and bamo, no more boners. And that’s exactly what’s happening to more and more young men who are over-consuming internet pornography. The constant flood of dopamine eventually reduces the brain’s receptors for this neurotransmitter, which in turn blunts sexual arousal when they actually want to have sex with a human being.

Because these young men have conditioned themselves to be aroused by a superstimulus version of sex, normal sex (the kind we’re evolved for) just isn’t arousing anymore. Many men report having to watch porn before and/or while they have sex with their significant other, just so they can get an erection. If porn’s not available while they have sex, they have to replay porn images in their head in order to maintain their erection. What’s more, many men report on forums and to their doctors that they can no longer orgasm while having real sex. They can hump and pump for hours and not ejaculate. While the idea that you can last that long sounds good in theory, the inability to achieve orgasm with your partner may create significant issues in your relationship (not to mention her physical discomfort). Orgasm in both men and women releases large amounts of powerful hormones like oxytocin and prolactin that help bond a couple together. Sex that frequently and unintentionally ends without orgasm will almost certainly create frustration and distance between partners.

Further, a woman who can’t arouse or pleasure her man is likely to feel that she’s no longer attractive or desirable to him, which can be devastating to her sense of self-worth. And she’s actually right to feel insecure: studies show that people who look at porn find their partners less attractive. But the potential relationship problems don’t end there….

Relationship tension caused by a mismatch of expectations.

Studies on the effect of men’s porn use on the intimacy and sexual satisfaction of their relationships have found it to be almost uniformly negative. This negative effect arises on several fronts:

First, a guy’s penchant for porn can make his partner feel less attractive – like she can’t measure up to the supernormal babes in her boyfriend’s favorite videos. When college women were surveyed, those who felt their boyfriend’s use of porn was problematic reported lower self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction.

Second, the APA reports that men’s porn use is “associated with lower sexual quality for both men and their partners” as well as “lower levels of sexual intimacy in their real-life relationships.” This is especially true when someone uses porn at a high rate, as this tends to lead to emotional withdrawal and “increased secrecy, less intimacy and also more depression.” Psychologists are not sure if high porn use causes these negative effects, or is correlated with them; does porn use make the relationship rocky, or is the relationship rocky already, leading the man to turn to porn for sexual satisfaction? They argue that it is likely both, and that the factors end up feeding each other: “If a couple goes through a dry spell, the man may watch more porn to fill the void. Some women may feel threatened or confused by that response. They often report feeling less attractive, like they could never measure up to the X-rated actresses. The result: even less sex, even more porn and a relationship that continues to falter.”

Another way porn can get in the way of healthy and strong relationships is that it may be teaching you unrealistic sexual practices that you or your partner aren’t comfortable with. One of the most powerful ways we learn how to do things is by watching others. This is thanks to mirror neurons. If your sexual education has come largely from viewing hardcore internet pornography, you’re probably, consciously or not, learning what you think “normal” sex should be like from it.

In porn, women scream in ecstasy after a guy ejaculates on her face. That turns you on and the woman in the video seemed to like it so you figure your sexual partner would like it too. So you give it a go only to find your mate is stunned or even repulsed by the act. What is often forgotten is that sex in porn is choreographed to turn on a third-party viewer, not for the people actually taking part in the sex. Replicating sex scenes you see in porn is the equivalent of replicating martial arts moves you saw in a kung fu movie in an actual street fight. It doesn’t translate well.

In a recent study amongst British teens, both boys and girls have reported feeling pressured into engaging in anal sex even when they didn’t enjoy it all that much. Several reasons were given, including avoiding the risk of pregnancy, but the young adults also reported that they felt pressured to do so because that’s what they’ve seen in porn. This isn’t to say that it isn’t possible for men or women to enjoy anal sex — plenty do — but this study bolsters the idea that pornography may be unconsciously conditioning you to engage in sexual practices that you and your partner don’t actually want to try, but feel you “should” engage in.

Now, it is certainly true that there are absolutely women out there who are up for all sorts of kinky things. I’m not saying this isn’t the case. What I am saying is that if a guy has been a heavy porn user, and his partner hasn’t been, he may try to get her to do things she isn’t comfortable with. And if both parties have watched a good amount of porn, they may try to create a sex life based on what they have learned is “normal,” even if they’re not actually enjoying it. Man initiates awkward attempts at strange positions; woman screams and moans loudly, just like she’s seen the porn stars do. Both partners can feel like they’re playing inauthentic roles, and neither feels like they’re keeping it real.

If you want to try out new sexual practices with your partner, look through a book together on the subject — one with boring, static diagrams. And together decide what you’d like to give a whirl. That way, you’re both on the same page, and you don’t have a slickly-produced video to compare your own likely awkward and humorously executed results with.

Depression, loss of impulse control, and social anxiety.

Many men who use porn heavily report several behavioral and emotional problems. Depression, impulse control, and social anxiety are some of the top ones. Now it could be the case (and often is) that the reason men who use porn heavily have these issues isn’t because they consume porn, but rather that they heavily consume porn because they have these issues. Porn, like drugs or alcohol, is often a way to self-medicate and to make yourself feel better. For these men, treating the underlying issue — be it depression or social anxiety — can help them stop using porn as much.

However, it is also possible that porn use can cause these problems, and that they can be traced to structural and chemical changes in the brain that can accompany heavy porn use. Recent research has shown that the dopamine desensitization that comes with prolonged exposure to an excess of dopamine can cause depression. Which makes sense. One symptom of depression is the lack of motivation to do things that once brought you joy. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of motivation, so if your brain is desensitized to it, motivation decreases, and you get into a funk. Many men on porn recovery forums have reported that once they eliminated porn from their lives, symptoms of depression alleviated as well.

Many men in those forums also report having social anxiety or extreme shyness, which has gotten in the way of advancing their careers and in forming nurturing romantic relationships. Studies indicate that reduced dopamine receptor sensitivity might be partly to blame for this issue. Here again, men who have self-reported have found that eliminating porn from their lives reduced or eliminated that anxiety. By eliminating the source of overweening dopamine production, their synapses were able to “heal” by getting dopamine receptors back to normal.

Finally, habitual porn use may cause a weakening of brain activity in your prefrontal cortex (PFC) called hypofrontality. The PFC is the disciplined, executive part of your brain that helps you act in a way that aligns with your goals. It’s what helps you plan for the future, stops you from eating that Twinkie when you’re trying to go Paleo, and keeps you from surfing away from a long article like this one in order to check reddit. While there are several factors that lead to hypofrontality, research suggests that reduced dopamine receptors in the PFC is part of what weakens your executive functioning, leading to a reduction in willpower and impulse control. This is yet another reason why men who look at porn, but want to stop, have a hard time doing so — their ability to say no to their primal drives has been weakened by the very thing they’re trying to quit.

Yet again, men who have been able to eliminate porn from their lives report seeing an increase in willpower and impulse control that impacts not just their ability to stay away from porn but all areas of their lives. They find they procrastinate less and have an easier time sticking with goals they’ve set for themselves.

Is Porn Use an Addiction? 

What about when porn use turns into a full-blown addiction? Is that another one of its pitfalls? Can it even truly become an addiction or is it just a habit?

Suffice it to say, these questions are the subject of much heated debate.

Currently the DSM-5, the Bible of psychiatric diagnosis (which, just like the actual Bible, is super controversial) does not consider behaviors like porn use, eating, or gambling, to be addictions. Only dependence on substances, like drugs, alcohol, and nicotine, are “officially” considered addictions. You can have a look at the criteria the DSM-5 lays out for substance abuse dependence, here. The list includes things like strong cravings for the substance, the creation of professional and relationship problems, needing more and more of the substance to get the same high as before, difficulty quitting, and withdrawal symptoms when doing so.

Looking over that list, one can easily see how certain behaviors outside drug and alcohol use would seem to qualify as an addiction. Millions of people have reported behaviors like compulsive gambling, shopping, and web surfing as meeting several of the criteria.

So, while the DSM-5 still does not currently consider behaviors to technically be addictions, a case could be made for labeling compulsive porn viewing as such. Different studies have both supported and contradicted the idea of porn being addictive. Given the length of this post, I won’t go into the details of these studies; this article from the APA does a good job examining the two sides of the issue. Ultimately, drawing the line between habit and addiction is always going to be subjective, no matter what scientific research and opinions are brought to bear on the question.

Given the inherent squigginess of the habit vs. addiction spectrum, I personally strongly believe that it’s better to frame it as the former. This is not at all to downplay the severity of compulsive porn use, nor to deny its extremely strong pull (I just spent 4k words yesterday explaining the intensity of the attraction!). Rather, it’s because I think porn is such a problem, that I believe calling it a habit is the best way to go. Let me explain why.

Labeling impulsive behaviors as addictions may hinder an individual from feeling capable of conquering an undesirable behavior. “Addiction” is a very loaded – even scary — word. When we tell ourselves we have an addiction, we’re implying that we’ve lost control of ourselves, that our ability to make our own choices is impaired, and that it may even be impossible to change course. Something else is in the driver’s seat, so to speak.

Thus, calling an undesirable behavior an addiction has the tendency to shift us from an internal locus of control to an external one. Research has shown that those with an internal locus exhibit greater control over their behavior and deal with challenges and stress better. Those with an external locus of control, on the other hand, feel like they’re a victim of powers outside themselves, which leads to stress, anxiety, and depression. The desire to soothe these hopeless feelings will then often lead right back to porn. And on the cycle will go.

Religious Men and Porn Addiction

Another problem with framing habits as addictions is that there’s a tendency to label any undesirable behavior as such, even though the pattern of behavior doesn’t meet the criteria for addiction. It’s a way for someone to reduce cognitive dissonance about their behavior and how they think of themselves as a person. When it comes to porn, this tendency is especially common with religious men.

A recent study found that people who consider themselves to be very religious have a higher chance of self-identifying as being addicted to internet porn, despite, in some cases, having only watched it once.

I’ve seen this sort of thing first-hand with religious men. They’ll confess to having an addiction to porn, but when you suss out the extent of the problem, you find out they masturbate to porn two or three times a week. I’m sure for them, their use feels like an addiction (because they don’t want to do it at all), but it doesn’t come close to being an addiction under the DSM’s, or any reasonable, definition.

For these religious men, to view porn is a spiritual transgression and complete abstinence from porn is the ideal. Thus if they find themselves surfing to a porn site once or twice a week to masturbate, there’s a dissonance between their behavior and the standard their faith has established. To ease that dissonance, instead of taking responsibility for the spiritual lapse, they pathologize it by calling it an addiction. By so doing they shift their locus of control to an external one and decide that they aren’t themselves doing it – instead, porn is doing something to them.

As the researchers of the aforementioned study noted, this perceived addiction “has been linked to several real elements of psychological distress, such as depression, compulsive behavior and anxiety.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because, remember, that’s what happens when you have an external locus of control. Moreover, I’d argue that by calling themselves addicts – even though from a clinical sense they obviously aren’t — these men are just making it more difficult to stop looking at porn because the addiction label puts them in a position of helplessness or, worse, they may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they do become full-blown porn addicts.

So if you’re a religious man who happens to use porn a few times a week, don’t be so quick to call it an addiction. Sure, it feels that way, but calling it such is more likely to hurt than help.

If you’re trying to stop using porn (for whatever reason) and you are calling it an addiction, you handicap yourself by starting off with a frame of reference that you don’t have, or can’t regain, control of your behavior. While acknowledging that porn is a significant problem in your life is healthy, I think there’s a point where dialing up the seriousness actually makes it harder to quit. It makes the problem seem like a giant boogeyman, something you won’t be able to shake without a big-time intervention, rehab, special expensive retreats, that sort of thing.

If, on the other hand, you think of your porn habit just like any other habit you want to break, that debilitating weight goes away. Telling yourself that you’re “changing a habit” seems more in the realm of possibility and puts you in a proactive mindset. Even the way most “porn addiction” experts treat compulsive porn use is exactly the same as how you break any bad habit from swearing to biting your nails; so if you’re going to ultimately address the problem as a habit, why not frame it as a habit from the get-go?

For these reasons I think the very best way to frame porn is as “sexual junk food.” The all-powerful drive for both food and sex have been around since the dawn of man. We’re evolved to eat natural food, intermittently, but now find ourselves with crap-tastic offerings available on every street corner, at every hour of the day. This never-ending glut of junk food can be difficult to resist, but if we don’t, we end up obese, anxious, and depressed. In exactly the same way, we’re evolved for sex…with flesh and blood humans. But in our modern world, we’ve got virtual sex on tap 24/7. Gorging ourselves on it diminishes our spirit, enervates our virility, and harms our relationships – all the very best things in life. Porn is sexual junk food that promises nourishment, but leaves us feeling sicker and emptier than before.

In saying using porn is a problem, I’ve ticked off those who are more liberal on this practice. And now, in saying it should be thought of as a habit rather than an addiction, I’ve likely earned the ire of those who hold more conservative positions. That’s okay with me. I can’t stress enough that the reason I think we should frame porn use, even of the compulsive variety, as a habit rather than an addiction is not because I don’t think it can be a serious, soul-sucking issue for some men. Rather, I’ve taken this stance because I know how debilitating a serious porn habit can be. If I thought that labeling compulsive porn use as an addiction could help guys quit, that’s how I’d label it. But I earnestly believe that it is quite the opposite.

But What About Porn in Moderation?

At this point, some of you are probably thinking, “But Brett, aren’t you making the argument that porn is okay to use in moderation then, if you don’t have moral beliefs against it? Does every guy who looks at porn suffer the problems outlined above? If porn is like sexual junk food, isn’t it okay to have a Twinkie now and again?”

While I know many would like me to answer these questions with “No way!” that would be disingenuous. Are there some guys out there who use porn in moderation, who don’t feel like it’s brought serious ill effects into their life, and who don’t feel addicted or even compelled to look at it? Sure, definitely. The effects of porn use I have laid out will still exert an influence, but in a much milder way that may not significantly interfere with their quality of life.

To return to the junk food analogy, while there are definitely those who can eat one Dorito and stop there, many find stopping at that one chip to be pretty difficult. Knowing this dynamic, there are various courses people choose to take. Some continue their moderate consumption habits, as they enjoy these occasional indulgences and feel confident they can keep them in check. Some have realized they can’t just eat one Oreo, and go cold turkey, and thus don’t keep it in the house as a temptation. Some are confident they can consume junk food in moderation, but still decide not to touch it, simply because they know it offers little benefit beyond the initial pleasure of ingestion and they enjoy the confidence and health boosts that accompany eating completely “clean.”

If you don’t have moral compunctions about porn, which course should you take? Can porn be just like eating and drinking alcohol? You will have to weigh what you feel are the pros and cons of porn use for yourself. As you do so, keep in mind the ways that porn consumption is different than that of food or alcohol (or other potentially “addictive” behaviors like video games or exercise):

  • Porn is related to our sex drive, and the drive for sexual rewards sits at the very top of the behavior reinforcement hierarchy. So achieving moderation in porn is even harder than it is for something like eating junk food.
  • We all need to eat, and even junk food offers calories; you could technically live on Twinkies alone (and a multivitamin). But you can cut out porn from your life altogether.
  • Things like food and alcohol have a set satiation and novelty pinnacle — if you develop a tolerance for these substances, you can reach a point where there’s no way to increase the hit you get it. If you develop a tolerance for drinking lighter drinks, you can move to hard liquor, but there’s always going to be a point where you black out. (You might move on to harder drugs, then, but you’ve reached the peak of what alcohol can do for you.) With food, you can’t go higher than stuff specifically designed to hit your bliss point. You can eat more of it, but once you’ve tasted all the grocery store’s chips and cakes, you’ve made all the rounds. But with porn, there is an almost infinite variety and endless choices out there. The endless novelty of online porn creates a hungry, hungry itch that may make moderation usage harder to maintain than that of alcohol and food.
  • While things like food and alcohol are readily available, nothing matches the availability of porn. You can’t press a button and have a Twinkie or a beer appear in your hand, but you can instantly access porn anywhere, anytime from your phone.
  • After you eat a Twinkie, you can exercise off the calories, so that it’s almost like you never consumed it at all. But the images of porn stay in your head, usually forever.
  • Partaking in food and alcohol is a tangible, sensory experience, while porn is almost entirely virtual. While this is not scientifically proven, I feel that increasing levels of abstraction in our life, even in small ways, decreases our sense of well-being. It makes us feel more disconnected from the rhythms of life.
  • While food and alcohol can be binged on in private, they also have an important social component. Eating and drinking in moderation can have the benefit of enhancing our relationships, and thus happiness. Viewing porn, though it may be done with one’s partner, is almost never done amongst friends, and is most likely to be done alone. It at best does nothing for our sociality, and at worst increases feelings of isolation.

All of which is to say, that compared with other potentially addictive behaviors like eating junk food and drinking alcohol, porn use may be harder to keep in moderation, offers the least benefits, is easiest to cut out of your life completely, and will be missed the least if you do. Its absence may even improve your life. I truly believe it will.

Here’s a parallel example from my own life. I used to surf sites like Business Insider and reddit. I was never addicted to doing so, and this habit never significantly impacted my life in a negative way. But the only pleasure I got from it was brief and mindless, it was an unwelcome distraction from work, and I simply found I felt emptier rather than fuller after doing so. Plus, it was still an itch I had to swat away when I really did need to focus, and every time you resist an impulse you lose a bit of your valuable, limited supply of willpower. So I blocked these sites completely from my computer. My life has not become dramatically different after doing so, but I do feel a little happier and more focused. I could have kept my surfing habit in moderation, but why bother when the modest benefits of cutting it out completely outweigh the inferior “pleasure” I now do without.

When Tim Ferriss (who, from what I can tell, is not a religious guy) cut out porn and masturbation (and booze) for 30 days, he found incredible benefits in doing so, including higher testosterone, greater focus and willpower, and a huge surge in productivity. He was amazed at how “dramatically your life can change if you quit porn and masturbation for a short period.”

Bottom line: the less junk you consume in your life – whether that’s porn, fast food, or mindless internet surfing – the better and sharper you’re going to feel. Yet many men understandably feel that without at least a few “vices,” life just ain’t worth living. As you mature and decide what indulgences you’d like to keep, and which you’d like to jettison, simply keep in mind the points above; my advice would be to remember that sex is the most powerful drive there is, so if you’re going to cut out the junk in any area, that’s the category that will give you the most bang for the buck – the most increase in willpower, focus, well-being, and health in your relationships.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, why not do an experiment like Ferriss’ where you go without porn for a month? If you feel like your life improved, well, you found something that improved your life. If not, well, no harm, no foul. And if you found you couldn’t go a whole month without porn, it’s time to reevaluate how casual your relationship to porn really is.

If you do decide to quit porn completely, whether for moral or religious reasons or simply because you don’t feel it contributes to the excellence of your life, tomorrow I will conclude the series by offering tips for how to do so.

Read the Other Posts in the Series

Men and Porn: An Introduction
Men and Porn: Why is the Pull of Porn So Strong?
How to Quit Porn

Tags:

Last updated: July 19, 2016


Show Comments