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Charlene Underhill Miller, PhD
Dr. Charlene Underhill Miller, a psychotherapist in Southern California, working with parents, couples, and families. She is a frequent and popular speaker to community groups, a professor, a wife, and mother. www.underhillmiller.com
Jul 31, 2018
Many individuals and couples try and convince one another that a “little porn” will help their intimacy, while teens convince themselves that a “little peek here and there” won’t hurt anyone…until it does. When the idealized love interest becomes the ever-present object in one’s mind and heart, taking over daily thoughts and real life interactions, one must wonder if they have an addiction to pornography.
Individuals question and defend whether or not their porn use is disabling, a fetish, a problem or an addiction. Regardless of the label, dabbling in porn often begins the end of their personal and relational stability.
Experts in the field of sexual addiction often ask their clients if their obsession has complicated their social, relational and occupational functioning. With the accessibility of online pornography, many have found it easy to access pornography during their school and workday. Easy access begins easy dependence. Gone are the days of having to drive to adult bookstores, dance clubs or massage parlors; much can be found online which gives parents and loved ones pause as they consider what is “normal” behavior and what behavior becomes a “problem?”
Addiction specialists think of potential addictive behaviors on a continuum ranging from infrequent, occasional, binging, to addictive, keeping in mind that all addictive behaviors are progressive over time. Any of these can cause problems personally or in relationships, regardless of the intensity of the problem. It is not uncommon for the “addict” to minimize the acting out even when their loved one is suffering. The use of porn often begins as one partner exploring pornography on their own, often to excess, and then trying to convince the other partner to engage in an “enhancement” to their intimacy. Sadly, what begins to happen is an envious experience of one idealized partner against the real-life partner.
Teens who access online pornography dangerously enter into the world of private sexual exposure that can alter their expectations for healthy relationships and can expose them to risky sexual relationships. Regardless, the secrecy cultivates painful experiences within the pornography user.
Here are some thoughtful reflections in contemplating whether you or your loved one is potentially addicted to pornography:
Many experts will help others consider their pornography use as a difficulty if it impairs their social, emotional, or occupational functioning. With that said, here are a few questions that families can ask of themselves in regards to any addiction, including the addiction to pornography:
If you answered “yes” to more than a few of these questions, there is a very strong probability that you have a significant relationship with pornography and that is can be causing difficulty in your family and love relationships, along with your relationship with yourself. Guilt, shame and fear accompany this addiction.
Regardless of where you find yourself on the continuum of pornography use—from occasional, to frequent, to obsessive. Then ask yourself honestly if pornography use ADDS to your intimate relationships and personal well-being. If it is becoming a problem, seek some help from a trained professional where you can begin to distinguish healthy intimacy from unhealthy obsession—real connection from a “little peek” gone awry. To help safeguard your children from stumbling upon inappropriate content, consider using parental control software to filter out bad content.