9 Common Signs Someone Has a Porn Addiction

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A friend of mine recently came out and admitted to being an addict. We were all gathered around ready to support her with what we assumed was an alcohol or drug addiction. What a surprise to hear her admit that she was addicted to porn!

Admitting to an addiction always comes with a certain amount of shame, but porn addiction is still a huge taboo in society. Yet, she had seen porn addiction signs in herself, and with her partner’s support had gone for counseling.

Porn has a chemical component, but unlike other drugs that you shoot up with, porn triggers changes in brain chemistry, which causes behavioral addiction.  

My friend had become addicted to the thrill of watching porn, and what had seemed an innocent lustful pleasure at first, soon became a destructive third party to her relationship. 

Concerned, I asked her just what porn addiction signs one has to watch out for, as I didn’t want to miss something if I was #AskingForAFriend. Do you know the signs of porn addiction?  

What Is Porn Addiction?

As you can imagine, the quick explanation of porn addiction is when someone can’t get enough of watching pornographic imagery and videos. However, it runs much deeper than a few snuff films or peep shows. Porn addiction is a mental addiction in that it affects your brain chemistry, which is where the addiction part comes in. 

Your brain loves dopamine, which makes you feel good. So your brain will drive you to engage in activities that make you feel better, such as watching porn (which is then a behavior addiction).

However, once your brain becomes saturated and more “thrilled” by one source of dopamine (such as watching porn), you no longer want to participate in other activities, such as hanging with your family and watching safe movies, that usually bring you joy. 

As a result, your quality of life is negatively affected and your brain constantly drives all your behavior toward getting its fix of dopamine releasing primary activities (in this case, porn).

In reality, this can mean being unable to climax normally, not wanting to be intimate with your partner, rushing home during your lunch hour to watch porn, and hiding porn everywhere.  

It becomes harder and harder to control your impulse to engage with the porn content that excites you. The people around you suffer, your work suffers, and you start constantly fantasizing about porn.

Your brain craves the high of that sex-related dopamine rush, and you are totally addicted to that sensation. Ironically, sex starts not being as satisfying as watching porn is.

Once porn has begun interfering in your daily life, you should seek help as you are addicted to porn. 

Causes of Porn Addiction

So why is porn addiction a thing? A 2019 study found that 3-6% of the study participants were addicted to porn. However, given how new the concept of porn addiction is, the actual rate of addiction could be much higher. 

There are a few reasons why porn addiction has become more prevalent:

1. Availability

In the past, porn was a socially frowned upon pastime. Couples who watched porn had to find their thrills in secret. While going to strip clubs was more acceptable, the notion of actually watching porn was less socially normalized

Today, there is a huge range of pornography available, catering to diverse “needs.”   

2. Normalizing the Watching of Porn

Social media has not only normalized the watching of porn, but it seems if you don’t, you are prudish and no fun at all.

Films, series, and podcasts all seem to encourage the casual use of porn, promulgating that it helps couples explore a wider range of sexual activities and achieve greater pleasure. 

3. Growth of the Porn Industry

The porn industry has been legalized in many countries, which makes the availability of porn much more widespread.

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The brain becomes so flooded by thoughts of porn that you can’t focus or do your job. 

The porn industry is also excellent at marketing its wares, and it is constantly coming up with new fetishes and fantasies to satisfy a growing market. 

4. Porn on the Web

Pornography is widely available on the internet, and a simple image search will dish up millions of pornographic images.

There are also many porn sites that offer services online, from watching live shows to downloading porn episodes. Plus, there’s a lot of content on the dark web. 

5. Porn Apps 

Of course, porn, like other industries, has kept up with technology, and you can now live out your fantasies with porn apps that use stories to guide the user through various porn sequences and “adventures.”

You can even sign up for dating and other sites that cater to specific porn fetishes, such as Adult Friend Finder.

Who Is Vulnerable to Porn Addiction?

Children are especially vulnerable to porn addiction. Since their minds are more easily saturated by dopamine, children quickly become addicted.

Mentally, children and teenagers are less equipped to deal with pornographic imagery and really understand what they are seeing. Children don’t have as firm a self-esteem as adults, which is why they are vulnerable to porn. 

Those with unhappy relationships will also be more likely to escape from reality into porn, and the addiction is real. Instead of working through issues with your partner, you end up fantasizing in a dopamine-soaked voyeuristic pleasure

The Effects of Porn Addiction on Relationships

A relationship is a safe space built on trust. When you or your partner becomes an avid porn user, this can cause a serious break in trust between you both. There are also several ways that porn addiction can directly lead to a relationship failing

Essentially, when you are addicted to porn, you won’t be as interested or invested in your partner. If you want to continue your porn habit, you will try to encourage your partner to watch with you, but most likely, you indulge in private. 

Watching porn without your partner knowing or their informed consent is akin to cheating on them.

If you coerce your partner into watching with you or you guilt them into giving you permission to watch without them, then you are a manipulator, which is not a stable or healthy way to commit to a relationship

Most partners feel like they can never measure up to the porn you indulge in, and if you clearly enjoy being aroused and satisfied by porn much more than any intimacy with them, they will feel inadequate and disrespected

9 Porn Addiction Signs

While some of us may watch porn for the novelty of it, or because we feel like our love-life misses something, not all porn users are able to control their urges.

Some porn users become abusers and addicts because they can’t lead a normal life without watching porn. 

But there are some other signs of porn addiction you should be aware of. 

1. There’s No Stopping It

When you are addicted to something, you can’t stop using that addictive substance. Drinkers can’t go without a drink, while druggies can’t do without a fix.

A porn addict can’t go even a few hours without watching porn, listening to the huff-and-grunt soundtracks, or going online to partake in porn. 

This is not healthy. 

Imagine if you were addicted to eating toffees every five minutes. You would be morbidly obese in a matter of weeks.

Likewise, watching porn every couple of hours (or even minutes in some cases) leads to your brain chemistry getting messed up (just like an overweight body). 

If you believe you are not addicted to porn, then set yourself the following test. Can you go without any form of porn for the next week and not feel anxious, moody, insecure, or agitated? 

Going without any substance (even milk) may be tricky for a few hours, but then you accept that you won’t have any. Porn addicts can’t go without their flesh-fix. 

2. You Can’t Focus at Work

How many times have we heard about someone who got fired for having pornography on the work computer? Porn addicts can’t do without.

They have fixes with them at all times, whether that’s images on their phone, videos on their computers, or pop-ups on their social media. 

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Porn addiction begins to dominate your life, and you start neglecting basic things like personal hygiene, eating, and exercise. 

Worse, within a few minutes of arriving at work, you are already thinking about watching porn and satisfying yourself.

The brain becomes so flooded by thoughts of porn that you can’t focus or do your job. 

3. Don’t Want Sex

Here’s a shocker! When you are a porn addict, you don’t want to have actual flesh-on-flesh sex. Porn is an addiction of the mind. It’s all about the fictional sex object.

While you may fantasize about porn and being in bed (or on the countertop at Pizza Hut) with that sex-idol, you don’t find any thrill in having actual sex. 

The result is that you and your partner grow distant. You no longer find them fulfilling. 

While the world places pressures on us that can make us grow distant and too stressed to enjoy sex, a real sign of porn addiction is when you and your partner engage in sex, but you find no satisfaction or climax.

In extreme cases, porn addicts may even be repulsed by their “normal vanilla” partner. 

4. It Takes More Porn to Be Sexually Sated

As with any addiction, when you get used to the current fix, you need a stronger or different fix to get your thrill. The same holds true for porn addictions.

Instead of watching safe porn, you start watching more and more risky porn, or you watch porn in places that are inappropriate, such as at work, in church, or at the mall (because part of the thrill is getting caught). 

If porn drives you to inappropriate sexual experimentation, you may engage in pornographic fantasies by having dangerous sexual acts.

Porn addiction can lead to violent sexual fantasies that can cause physical damage to you and your partner if you choose to enact them.

While porn is legal in many countries and states, it depends on the type of porn. Some disreputable porn producers still use underage girls to film porn with, which means that watching it is no longer legal. You could end up with a criminal record if caught out. 

Child pornography is also not legal, but when you are driven by the pleasure instinct, you may watch this, not knowing that you’re actually watching an underage child being abused. 

5. Decreased Physical Health

Porn is not only an addiction, it’s an obsession. As with other addictions, it begins to dominate your life, and you start neglecting basic things like personal hygiene, eating, and exercise. 

Your focus is on watching your next grunt-session, so you forget to eat, which eventually causes issues such as stomach ulcers, detrimental weight loss, and vulnerability to chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and inflammation. 

Since you sit and watch porn all day and night, you will suffer misalignment of your spine and wrists and place strain on your eyes. Before you know it, you are in physical agony because of the lack of mobility and poor circulation. 

6. The Burden of Guilt

Many addicts never turn to others for help, even though they may know their addiction is harmful and that they need help to quit. Why? They are ashamed. 

Admitting to suffering from porn addiction is not something that most people look forward to doing. It’s something that brings shame on them and their partner.

Society is only now normalizing the watching of porn, but admitting to being addicted to it is shameful. 

So if you find it difficult to discuss your porn habit with people, you have to ask yourself whether it’s shame holding you back. If you feel ashamed and guilty for watching porn, it is a sign you aren’t doing something that you really enjoy and can be proud of. 

That shame causes mental discomfort, and you withdraw further into your addiction to self-soothe. It’s a vicious cycle that keeps people trapped in their addictions. 

7. You’re Moody All the Time

Mood swings and anger or frustration are clear signs of most addictions, especially if you can’t get your fix. The same happens when your porn addiction isn’t satisfied or if you can’t get your regular high from the porn you usually enjoy.

You can become aggressive, upset, and depressed for no apparent reason until you realize you haven’t had your porn-induced high.

Being moody is challenging to the people around you, and your relationships suffer because you have chosen your addictive relationship with porn over them.

The moodiness and depression results from chemical imbalances in your brain, as your brain now craves the dopamine high that porn used to create. 

8. All Your Money Goes Into Porn

Let’s face it, porn costs money. Each time you log onto a porn site, buy a pornographic magazine, subscribe to a porn service, or download a porn fix, the dollar bills are rolling out of your bank account. These all begin adding up as your habit becomes an addiction

Just like drug addicts start running out of cash and dive deeper into debt to fuel their habit, those with a porn addiction also begin feeling the financial pinch.

If you are shelling out all your money on porn to experience that dopamine high, you won’t have money left for your family. 

Of course, no addict ever admits to how much money their addiction costs, so it’s time to add up and face reality. Take the time now to sit and calculate just how much money you spent this month on porn.

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Mood swings and anger or frustration are clear signs of most addictions, especially if you can’t get your fix.

Include every single cent you laid out on porn, products related to porn, and downloads, strip club and adult club fees, and more. Write that figure down on a page in large red numbers. 

Now calculate how much of your salary you spent on porn this month as a percentage. Was it 10%, 20%, 30%, more? What percentage of your salary does your rent cost per month? Food? Your car down payment? 

Okay, which is more, your porn habit or your monthly responsibilities? If you’re an addict, you are likely spending way more on porn than any of these monthly costs.

The sad part comes next: What did you or your family go without this month so you could view-up on porn?

Did your kids miss out on a school field trip or get a much smaller birthday gift (or none at all) than they deserved, simply so you could watch your porn-fixes? 

9. You Want to Quit, But Can’t

Perhaps you know you have a problem. You want to stop viewing porn, and each time you do, the satisfaction is quickly followed by shame.

Yet, each time you promise yourself you will cut back or stop doing it all together, you end up watching another porn movie, or sign up to yet another porn service. 

This is classic addict’s remorse. Quitting is hard, it takes knowledge and support, and if you try to do it but never succeed, you will likely sink deeper into porn addiction. You need help, and there are several services for those who want to quit their porn addiction.

How and When to Find Help for Your Porn Addiction

The first step is knowing you have a problem. If you are in denial about your porn addiction you won’t want to change anything.

As with any addiction, it’s not a case of “cutting back” or just doing it “socially.” You have to quit, and there’s no half-measure for porn

A recovering alcoholic doesn’t suddenly just drink one drink a week. Instead, they stop drinking completely and they avoid contact with alcohol as the temptation can easily cause them to slip back into the bottle.

For you, it is much the same. You have to quit porn completely or risk sliding back into the temptation and the dopamine high that keeps you trapped. 

Luckily, you are not alone

There are institutions and support groups that help people successfully overcome their porn addiction. You can talk about your addiction and get the knowledge to help you create a healthy relationship to sex and intimacy by speaking to a sex educator or therapist.  

You can also sign up for a 12 step program specifically designed to quit sex and pornography addiction with groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous

Finally, your family can also find support with an organization like Codependents of Sex Addicts.

Therapy may take different forms, depending on how your porn addiction manifests, but you can expect to work through psychotherapy, relationship counseling, and the necessary lifestyle changes

Your therapist may help you with self-awareness techniques such as affirmations, but they will also prescribe or recommend mood-stabilizing medication to help you deal with the “crash” of no longer having porn-induced dopamine flooding your brain. 

Remember that there is joy with post-traumatic growth.

Final Thoughts on Porn Addiction Signs

My friend has been quite open about her porn addiction signs. She admitted that it all began when her husband suffered a drop in his libido, which resulted in him not sexually satisfying her.

The result was that she felt frustrated, which is why she began exploring alternative options with porn. At first, she felt good, but soon, she wanted more, and the kinkier it got, the better she felt. 

Before long, she was addicted

It’s so easy to slip into the porn addiction trap with society’s twisted cultural norms regarding sex. Instead of focusing on couples talking about sexuality and intimacy, they are pressured to explore new sex thrills.  

Anxiety, societal pressure, depression, relationship challenges, and lacking self-awareness can all lead to craving a release, and porn seems to offer an easy way out (at least while you are watching the porn). 

Learn more about other addictions that society doesn’t consider addictions, such as shopping addiction, and become more self-aware of the impact of your choices and avoid addiction.

And if you're looking for more informative articles about addiction, be sure to check out these blog posts:

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