One of the main arguments against pornography is that it degrades women. It does. But it’s easy to assume that the degradation runs one way. It does not. What happens to us guys when we use porn? What happens when we build our sexuality around porn? It’s not good news because our brains are good at learning things. It only speaks the language of images. Whatever images we feed our brains will create neural pathways that deepen with repeated use. It’s how we learn how to do things, and this is what happens with porn.
Over time our brains and bodies learn that porn is sex. Our brains come to associate sex with solitude, self-touch, and the unnatural colors and bodies found in porn. The brain starts to learn that sex means watching other people have sex, or watching women from behind a screen or in a chair. Sometimes they’re looking at you and sometimes they are not, but your brain learns that they cannot be touched because they are two dimensional.
The long-term effect of this training can be severe. Our brains can learn to see an actual person as an intruder on our private sexual experience. The effects of porn certainly might explain why so many guys have “intimacy issues”. For the porn-trained brain, sex is an isolated place.
How ironic that the most intimate of human acts can be the most lonely. And yet, like an addiction, guys can fall into a very deep pit that is tough to climb out of.
Let me be clear. I am no prude. I am talking only about what happens when we use porn. I am not talking about your imagination, unless it is simply replaying pornographic imagery. If porn is all you have, and for many boys and struggling men it is, then sex becomes less about pleasure and more about a practice that becomes less fulfilling over time.
Biologically, our brains tend to need more stimuli to get the same pleasure over time. So guys tend to drift into the harder stuff, and therein lay more isolation. You can see where this is going. It can spiral out of control and become a true addiction. But this takes years to happen and is not actually the major concern for most of us.
The greatest danger comes to those who think that porn is a natural part of their sexuality. It is these boys that have my pity because they are selling sex short and distorting the way they see themselves and those they are with. I understand why porn is powerful. Real sex is scary because it is deep and vulnerable. Porn is “safe” because it is shallow and fleeting. Porn is the fantasy that the girl looking at the camera is looking at you and wants you. You are accepted and desired.
The problem is, when you grow up and enter into a real relationship with a real person, you might have built up so many deep neural porn paths that you may not be able to engage authentically with a real person.
Of course we all want a deep profound sexual life, but porn erodes your masculinity. It is no longer a question whether or not you have a relationship with porn. The question is what you want that relationship to be. Make sure you know the cost before you click.