Imagine this scenario – it is one that plays out in counseling rooms and therapy sessions across the globe:

A spouse discovers that their husband or wife has been hiding a secret: they have been secretly sneaking away and viewing pornography online for several years. While they have been successful at hiding their secret, the deeper they have journeyed down pornography’s dark rabbit hole, the less secretive their actions have become.

The spouse is hurt, and begins to realize that there have been signs of this hidden behavior resting just under the surface:

  • A lack of interest in spending intimate, intentional time together.
  • Increased screen time in the bed late and night and early in the morning.
  • A marked reduction in the amount of sexual intercourse and “flirtatious” behavior.

For years, the spouse figured that the withdrawal was simply the result of increased hours at work, the added stress of family life, or other typical busyness. However, this new revelation has pulled back the curtain – consistent and prolonged viewing of pornography has damaged their ability to desire and engage in intimacy.

Viewing and engaging in pornography has increased exponentially in the past decade. The advent of the internet and the smartphone has led to an estimated 40 million Americans regularly visiting websites featuring pornography. It may come as a surprise to learn that it is not only men engaging with pornography, nearly one third of those 40 million online visitors are women.

When it comes to porn habits and addictions, there are various damaging consequences to prolonged exposure. Not only does the instant access to intimate material and online voyeurism lead to increased desire for sexual gratification outside of a significant other, the very relationship itself can become weak and fractured as desire for friendship and intimacy dries up. Consider these three key areas that pornography can irreperably damage:

Trust Is Broken
Sexual intimacy naturally involves deep levels of trust and vulnerability. You enter into a relationship that opens you up to be truly known – physically, emotionally, and sexually. If you discover that a partner has been engaging in those vulnerable and intimate moment with others – and in the case of pornography, strangers – deep layers of trust and intimacy can be shattered.

Intimacy Is Drained
While sexual and physical intimacy is a vital part of a healthy relationship, it is not the only ingredient in the recipe. Emotional intimacy is just as important – if not more so – for the development of a long-lasting relationship. By engaging in the consumption of pornography, the one-way gratification of sexual desires can lead to a draining of the need or desire for emotional intimacy. Instead, the other becomes an outlet for sexual gratification. This can lead to a complete loss of the true, foundational intimacy that is necessary for a thriving relationship.

Expectations and Desires Are Ruined
Long-term exposure to pornographic material and videos has been proven to damage relationships due to its development of false stereotypes and unhealthy expectations. As viewers engage in pornographic portrayals of sexual intercourse, individuals can begin to desire those same acts – and place impossible expectations on their spouse or significant other. These expectations and desires can lead to dissatisfaction, frustration, and a sense of failure for both involved.

Nurture Intimacy Again

Prolonged exposure to sexually explicit materials can rewire our brains to crave everything but intimacy with our loved ones. However, once you realize that you have begun to drift away from those you love, all hope is not lost. In fact, realizing that pornography and sexual addiction has damaged your intimacy is the first step in repairing and restoring the relationship.
You are never alone when it comes to restoring the intimacy that has been lost to pornography. The team of professional counselors at Novus Mindful Life is here to help you or your loved one find freedom from the chains of pornography. Using proven methods, you can begin to heal from the damage of pornography or sexual addiction and find healthy and safe ways to rebuild trust, intimacy, and sexual expectations with your partner.

Interested in learning more? Contact the Novus Mindful Life team today to discover how personal counseling tailored to your unique needs can help you restore intimacy.