“My porn use makes me feel bad about myself.”

My porn use makes me feel bad about myself

Porn use, and Men

I hear this quite a lot from male clients: ‘My porn use makes me feel bad about myself.’ I have yet to encounter a woman who says this about herself. Issues with porn consumption is almost exclusively a male issue, even though a lot of women watch it, too. I think the reason is that men tend to be more visual than women, and that porn is ideally suited to male sexuality. Porn is a very sophisticated product, and is even better at drawing us in than social media and other infinity pool sources (next clip, please…). This is especially true for mainstream porn. You may feel that you have more of a choice with curated amateur porn, because the actors have bodies like you and me, and it may take a little scrolling and effort to find clips that turn us on.

What does Porn Use make us feel like?

How come something we do makes us feel bad about ourselves, and what does ‘bad’ stand for? It could be a physical feeling, a lack of vitality, feeling that we are wasting time when so many other things seem important, but there is also a perceived judgement of society. We are both the individual, and part of society, and by adopting society’s view, or what we perceive as such, we judge ourselves.

Porn and Performance

Young men today are usually very much aware of possible detrimental effects of porn use in terms of sexual performance, and do their very best to put a limit on their consumption.

How do you feel after porn use? Unsatisfied, sullied, sad, empty, the longing for a partner unfulfilled if you are single or in a sexless relationship?

Here is the question I would ask you: What does watching porn help you cope with?

Porn is not bad per se, and I’m not a hardliner, and will never recommend to just cut it out (it does work for a small minority of clients, though). What’s really important is to look at this issue in the context of the individual life. Please consider that your porn use may have a function in itself. It may help you relax or go to sleep, it may be daily ritual, it may get you in touch with your sexuality, it may even make you happy – even if ever so briefly.

What’s the Extent?

Here are a few more questions you might want to ask yourself: Do you always use porn when self pleasuring? What’s the average time you spend watching porn, per day, per week? Do you feel that your porn use is out of balance? What’s the rest of your life like?

Addiction or Compulsion?

Although porn addiction is not a thing in my opinion  there can be a strong compulsion to engage with it. Men have described it to me as ‘rolling down the side of a mountain’, i.e. once they start, there is very little perceived choice.

Strategies to manage Porn Use

Here is a strategy that I often recommend: When watching porn, touch yourself anywhere else but on your genitals. Breathe. Take time to notice your pc muscles – is there any tension building? Where are you at in terms of arousal, on a scale of 0-10? Try to fill your entire body with arousal. Move. Stand up if you like. If you want to touch your genitals, you need to switch the porn off. What does it feel like, touching yourself? Can you re-create what you just saw, in strokes? Do you want to place yourself in front of a mirror, and imagine you yourself are a porn star? What changes in your body in higher arousal?

The second strategy that clients report to me are time windows. They set themselves times when they can indulge as much a they like, maybe a week, and then not watch for two weeks.

Shame may be both the Result and the Culprit

Thirdly, shame is often the issue itself. It helps to come clear about your porn use, and talk to a non-judgmental coach about where you are currently at. Feel free to drop me a line, and we can take it from there.

Photo by Mitchell Griest on Unsplash