Your Relationships and Sexuality: The Porn Generation and the Aftermath

My friend came into the office looking tired and depressed. Obviously something was very wrong. “She left me, and I wasn’t even cheating!” “Tell me what happened,” I asked. He started to explain his porn habits. His earliest exposure was in his early teens. At first it was occasional glances and guilt ridden attempts to access his dad or elder brothers’ Playboy magazines. This went on and escalated through high school and college. There was still a hint of shame, but it made way for addiction.

Slippery Road. The pages of soft porn magazines were replaced with an enormous world of ever-expanding web pages – full of nude naughty girls apparently wanting to just have sex all day with anyone. He told me, with a wry smile, that during his college years he had to repeat some classes because he would get stuck watching porn all night and miss his early morning lectures. Now it seems to affect his whole life, his relationships and his job. Two weeks later, he was asked to leave the office due to allegations of sexual harassment. Obviously something was not right.

Today due to bandwidth and technology advances, video is the new web experience, and the multi-billion dollar porn industry knows just what to do with video.

Promiscuous Culture. This is an everyday thing though. Really. In a recent survey of college students in the US, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPTUP) determined that more than 80% of men and more than 50% of women said they had been exposed to pornography by age 14. The same survey has shown that 25% of teen girls and 33% of teen boys have had nude or semi-nude images – originally meant to be seen by someone else – shared with them online or on mobile phones. This phenomena has become more widespread due to almost every teenager walking around with a mobile device capable of taking high quality pictures and videos. Recently a group of under-aged youths in South Africa were arrested for ‘raping’ a 14-year old girl. What perspired was that the sex was consensual and that they filmed it for entertainment.

How it affects us all. Is behaviour like this normal? How does exposure to pornography contribute to behaviour and will this impact on our relationships, marriages, or our children later in life? If you met more than 5 people today chances are at least one or two of them have watched porn today (or will). Porn affects not only the user but also the ‘passive’ user. When relationships suffer, the whole of society is affected

Signs of addiction and recovery. How do you know you are an addict? Here are some guidelines.

You are on a path of * violent mood swings and strong cravings to satisfy your need to watch porn. You become anti-social and will let watching porn infringe on time with family and friends. * increasingly neglecting responsibilities. You miss deadlines, become less dependable at work or school or in your relationship. * seeing more and more legal issues coming up. Divorce, debt, or any other issues related to your addiction. You may find it hard maintaining a job and you may start spending money you don’t have feeding the insatiable appetite for more and more hardcore material as your tolerance is built up. Eventually financial hardships follow.*

Recovery is not an overnight switch though. It takes effort and sometimes just common sense. Like all addicts, there is the denial element, the “I can stop at any time” syndrome. We will assume after reading the above paragraph, you must admit you fit the profile. Pornography addiction is like any other addiction because it follows the same psychological (and sometimes physiological) pattern.

The dependent becomes addicted to a specific release or high reached after performing some kind of ritualistic act or behaviour. The relief or elation becomes a coping mechanism to deal with emotional and other life issues. Because addiction is cyclical, this scene will repeat and escalate in varied ways to reach the desired level of release. The thought process leading to this repetitive pattern becomes embedded as beneficial behaviour despite negative consequences for the addict, and in many cases, for other people. It may be years before the addict becomes fully aware of the consequences of his actions leaving him feeling out of control.

There is hope. Recovery is possible. Addicts hardly ever can do this alone though and many times intervention is the best way to bring a positive change. Willpower is not enough unfortunately especially if you have had setbacks before. The help and support of those around addicts is crucial for long term results.Some tips to start the road to recovery: * Addiction is not a ‘terminal’ disease. It is not a disease period. You have a choice and you have to make it. * Get help from family and friends. Only with help will you truly be able to live free from addiction. Accountability software for internet addicts is one of the most effective ways to get help. * Don’t wait for rock bottom. The earlier you identify your problem, the better for all. * It didn’t work before, it won’t again. Setbacks may be part of the road to recovery. Don’t use setbacks as a reason not to commit to a better outlook on your life. * Intervention may be the way to go. Hopefully there is someone that cares for you enough to organise an intervention. By installing accountability software on computers in your home or business, you can monitor the internet use and even filter it. Usually this type of software demands a code to be uninstalled.

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