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5 damaging effects of watching too much porn for your own sex life

From mismatched desires to unrealistic expectations, here are some side effects of watching too much porn on your sex life.
A woman watching porn on her phone
People watch porn for various reasons, but excessive consumption can be unhealthy. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 24 Dec 2023, 11:08 pm IST
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Be it as a guidebook to sex education or as a mere means of getting that dopamine rush and being sexually aroused, people have their own reasons for watching porn. While most of these reasons are absolutely harmless, watching excessive porn can be injurious to your sex life.

In a 2018 study, published in Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, it was indicated that individuals who watched too much porn were dissatisfied with their sex life.

Why do people watch porn?

To understand how watching porn affects our lives, it is important to understand why people tend to enjoy watching porn. Niyatii N Shah, sexually educator, counsellor, author and intimacy coach, says it’s as natural as humans being driven towards sex. When we feel sexually aroused (excited), our brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which is like a feel-good messenger. It makes us feel pleasure and rewards us for things that our bodies consider important. That includes sexual activities.

Besides this, porn contributes to psychological factors such as fantasy and imagination. “Watching porn can be like entering a make-believe world where people can explore their dreams and use their imagination. It is like having a controlled space to think about things that might not happen in real life,” Shah tells Health Shots..

Watching porn is also a way to de-stress for some people. “When we get sexually excited, endorphins are released. These hormones make us feel good. This can act like a natural stress-relief button, making us feel more relaxed,” explains Shah.

A couple in bed
Watching porn can lead to couples having unrealistic expectations in bed. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Is watching porn bad for relationships?

The impact of pornography on sexual relationships is a complex and nuanced topic. While not fundamentally damaging, excessive or unrealistic consumption of porn can potentially pose challenges to intimate relationships. Here are some reasons why watching too much porn may have side effects for your sex life.

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1. Unrealistic expectations

Pornography often presents stylised and scripted scenarios that may not reflect the diversity and complexity of real-life sexual experiences. “Too much of porn may lead to one having unrealistic expectations about body image, sexual performance and the dynamics from your partner,” explains Shah.

2. Communication challenges

If not discussed openly and honestly, differences in individual preferences or discomfort with certain aspects of porn can lead to communication barriers between partners. This is why porn is bad for you. “Expectations can be mismatched or there might be some discomfort from one partner’s side. This can create tension if not addressed,” she says.

3. Performance pressure

Regular exposure to highly performative scenes in porn may contribute to performance pressure, leading individuals to feel inadequate or anxious about their own sexual abilities. “This pressure can impact self-esteem and hinder sexual enjoyment,” explains Shah.

4. Diminished intimacy

Excessive reliance on porn for sexual satisfaction may lead to a diminished focus on real-life intimacy and emotional connection with a partner. “Couples may find it challenging to bond on a deeper level if sexual interactions are predominantly influenced by pornographic content,” she says.

5. Addiction concerns

Compulsive or addictive consumption of pornography can negatively impact an individual’s overall well-being and may lead to decreased interest in real-life sexual experiences. “Addiction can not only hamper the relationships, but also mental health,” says the expert.

However, different couples react differently to consumption of porn. Some may find that incorporating porn into their relationship enhances intimacy, while others may experience challenges. Open communication, mutual respect, and a shared understanding of boundaries are crucial in navigating the potential effects of pornography on a relationship.

A couple refraining from sex
Watching excessive porn can lead to mismatched expectations. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How to enjoy porn safely?

This does not go on to say that porn should not be watched at all. You can continue to enjoy porn, keeping a few things in your mind. It is very easy to look up to porn for sexual inspiration. However, it should not, in anyway, be a medium for sexual education. “While porn may depict sexual acts, the content is produced for entertainment purposes and often involves scripted scenarios designed to cater to fantasies,” explains Shah.

Besides this, ensure that the content depicts consensual and ethical practices among all involved parties. “Differentiate between the scripted scenarios in pornography and real-life relationships and dynamics,” says Shah.

Also, be mindful of the frequency and duration of porn consumption to prevent it from becoming compulsive or interfering with daily life.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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