Watching smut is ruining your sex life

Watching smut is ruining your sex life

SexJanuary 03, 2013

Not only does porn provide a psychological oasis to allow the mind a respite from the rigors and stress of conventional life, it also serves as a valuable tool for injecting some spice and novelty into a stale sexual relationship.  It may be utilized as an educational resource for adolescent virgins who, without access to porn, might inadvertently fuck up their first intimate encounter.

With all of these benefits, it’s hard to deny porn’s value—so why are so many people perturbed over the modern male’s obsession with modern porn? It turns out their concerns are valid (even if their intentions aren’t), because the consumption of (and masturbation to) porn is advantageous only in moderation. Yes, scientific research has discovered too much pornography is a bad thing. In fact, its addictive properties are so potentially devastating it has the capability to not only completely destroy your sex life, but every other part of your life, too.

To fully appreciate the prospective life-crushing aspects of porn addiction, one must recognize how its consumption creates unrealistic expectations of real sex. A majority of researchers and industry-related experts agree porn raises men’s sexual expectations, so much so that what they come to regard as normal sexual activity is in fact completely contrary to reality.

For example, porn actresses are usually portrayed as bosom-enhanced versions of slut Barbie, ready and willing to perform any depraved sexual act their male partners can think up—which, generally, isn’t the case.

The more a man watches hard-core porn, the more he begins to believe women are thrilled to be blasted in the face by a shot of cum. Not only does this unrealistic portrayal make actual sexual encounters appear much less gratifying, it demeans both genders’ self-esteems. (Note: Rooster recognizes there are perfectly proper women who, in the privacy of the bedroom, actually enjoy a cum shot to the face. Test those waters at your own peril, gents.)

While women may adversely compare themselves to the ridiculously proportioned female porn star, men may vainly compare themselves with porn’s super studs who shoot liter-sized loads from nine-inch schlongs—as if that’s the masculine norm. By measuring their sexual prowess against this standard of male virility, men’s egos take a hit, sowing self-doubt. Feeling inadequate, men will emotionally distance themselves from their partners. Similarly, women who perceive the female porn-star physique as the idyllic archetype of femininity will become hypercritical of their own physical dissimilarities.

These perceived shortcomings might fester subconsciously, magnifying personal insecurities and other misgivings regarding a normally viable partner and becoming destructive to a relationship. Confusion and humiliation sow the seeds of this destruction. Harboring discontent, both partners become emotionally alienated and lonely as their once-healthy relationship begins to deteriorate.

Closely tied to this phenomenon is a man’s lessened ability to forge a truly erotic union with a woman. Hard-ore porn’s exhibition of exploiting women as sex objects compels men to view their real-life partner as simply a tool to orchestrate their orgasms. The hard-earned intimacy of a healthy relationship grounded in affection, love, acceptance and emotional commitment (as opposed to just sex) escapes his attention, causing him to devalue not just his partner, but also the entire female gender. Eventually, a man may prefer the pseudo-intimacy of masturbating to porn to the genuine intimacy achievable only with a real-life partner.

Excessive pornography viewing (and subsequent masturbation) hinders the human instinct for monogamy through its abuse of the brain’s reward system. While porno-flicking (jumping from video to video), dopamine is released with each new stimulation, creating a neurochemical reaction closely associated with the brain’s mechanisms during the process of falling in love. The human ability to locate a life partner is dependent on blasts of dopamine flooding the brain’s love circuits; which means, theoretically, that one could fall in love with a particular smut flick. Intimacy between two people is an evolutionary adaptation of the human species, and having a brain that’s sensitive to the high of falling in love supports monogamy. Earlier in the species’ history, monogamy was a stronger instinct not only because there were drastically less options, but because it was beneficial to survival.

However, in today’s era of widespread Internet pornograpy, humans’ instinct for monogamy is weakening. According to a 2007 study, mere exposure to pictures of sexy females causes men to devalue their real-life partner—rating her lower on not just attractiveness, but also on warmth and intelligence. In a similar study, after consumption of pornographic material, subjects reported less satisfaction with their intimate partner in terms of perceived affection, appearance, sexual curiosity and performance. The most notable finding in the studies was that men tend to assign increased importance to sex without emotional involvement.

As with any behavioral addiction, pornography’s addictive potential stems from desensitization. With repeated exposure to a stimulus, the brain requires more frequent and intense provocation to provide the same level of arousal. Through this mechanism, too much pornography (and getting off on its images) can diminish sexual performance. The viewer becomes so accustomed to whatever hardcore kink he’s gotten himself into, that sex with a living, breathing partner no longer does it for him. As the chronic porn-viewing masturbator becomes super-sensitized to cyber representations of sex, his or her brain becomes desensitized to real sexual relations. Men can find themselves actually going limp when suddenly immersed in a flesh-and-blood encounter, which is obviously detrimental to a normal sex life and a healthy relationship. 

John Mayer once admitted he’d rather jerk off to images than have sex, which seems like a strange statement for a famous musician capable of pulling tail whenever he wants. Science is now telling us that it’s not so strange, that porn’s barrage of dopamine fireworks can produce a drug-like high more compelling than sex with a familiar mate. Dopamine (a neurotransmitter responsible for alertness, focus and pleasure) will eventually completely rewire a porn addict’s reward circuitry to such an intense degree that dopamine release becomes totally dependent on cues associated with the porn ritual.

As with other behavioral addictions, dopamine is constantly emitted during pleasure-seeking behavior—perpetually strengthening the addicted brain’s rewired reward system. After the repeated association of anticipation, desire, craving and release, the chronic viewer/masturbator loses all ability to experience pleasure through any different, previously satisfying activities. Incapable of enjoyment through other means, he dives deeper into the vicious cycle of behavioral addiction—until hardcore porn becomes his sole source of satisfaction.

Driven to re-energize these now-resistant pleasure circuits, the addict will increase the frequency and intensity of his habit. Eventually, the brain adapts to the increased efforts by further decreasing dopamine signaling. Consequently, overall satisfaction levels decline and responses bottom out. After this apex of pornographic dependence, his erections become sluggish and lethargy takes over. A pornographic-dependent masturbator can suffer from such an extreme degree of dopamine deficiency that Olivia Wilde naked in his bed, talking dirty and tickling his testicles, couldn’t turn him on. This phenomenon, as Bill Maher once observed, is what led Hugh Grant to leave Elizabeth Hurley at home and hook up with “Marvin Hagler in a wig.” The phenomenon has become so prevalent that the term
“copulatory impotence” was coined to describe those who can get it up for Internet porn, but not for a partner.

As Bernell Christensen explains in his article, “Giving Up Everything for Porn—It’s in Your DNA!” (2007),

“Porn viewing releases many of the same chemicals triggered by drug use. Over time, these chemicals change the brain in significant ways. Basically, the frontal lobes shrink and become increasingly handicapped.

This is the part of the brain that controls reasoning, logic, values, goals, self-discipline, self-restraint and willpower. At the same time, the Limbic System of the brain is hyper-activated and becomes dominant. This part of the brain has one narrow focus—the intense pursuit of instant pleasure and reward at the cost of everything else. …Bent on getting the pleasure rush of porn … this is what the Limbic System says to the Frontal Lobes—‘I don’t care if you lose your job, your marriage, your future or anything else!’”

It’s evident the overindulgent porn viewer can eventually rewire his or her brain chemistry just as severely as that of a meth or a heroin junkie. All addictions end up impairing higher neocortical functioning. When the most primitive, appetite-driven part of the brain takes the reins, judgment is seriously compromised. Under the influence of porn, you’re liable to take risks that can jeopardize your education, career, relationships and family life. If you’re obsessed with pornography, you’ll not only lose precious time, sleep and energy, but you’ll endanger your physical and emotional well-being.

A porn addict must suffer through a long, painful process to have “normal” sex again—a recovery period lasting six to 12 weeks is necessary. Addicts may experience not only a temporary loss of libido altogether, but insomnia, irritability, panic, despair, concentration problems and even flu-like symptoms.

In the long run, fantasy based on pornography creates more stress than it alleviates; craving the unattainable is ultimately unsatisfying. In contrast, relaxed intimacy with an emphasis on affectionate touch soothes, and automatically strengthens bonds. A warning to those already on the precarious path to pornographic dependence: Turn back immediately. Stop beating your meat to gang bangs and go find that special girl willing to share her soul—and her loins.

Ah, if it were only that easy. 

----- The Coolidge Effect -----

By definition, The Coolidge Effect is a phenomenon—seen in nearly every mammalian species that has been tested—whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners, even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners.

Porn dampens your sexual responsiveness to your partner by over-activating three brain mechanisms. First, an ancient biological program in the brain overrides natural satiety when there are lots of mates begging to be sexed. Your brain perceives each new individual you view as a valuable genetic opportunity. Second, too much stimulation can numb the pleasure response of the brain for a time, pumping up cravings for more novel stimuli. Therefore, a familiar mate (that one you’re dating) appears less and less enticing. And finally, too much stimulation of the brain’s sex-and-mating circuitry obstructs the mammalian instinct toward monogamy.

Dopamine—the neurochemical behind all motivation—is central. Without it we wouldn’t bother to court those we find attractive, pursue climax or even eat. When dopamine drops, so does motivation.

The uniqueness of Internet porn can goad a user relentlessly, as it possesses all the elements to keep dopamine surging. The excitement of the hunt for the “perfect” porn scenario releases dopamine. There’s always something new, always something kinkier. Dopamine is released when something is more arousing than the last, causing nerve cells to fire like crazy—and getting you even more hooked.

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