BlogLoss of Intimacy and Connection
I remember the day that my mother-in-law instructed me how to best connect to my sister-in-laws, who are substantially younger than me. My mother-in-law stated that it is best to meet them on their own turf, reaching out to them via text, rather than any other archaic way such as having a phone conversation. That was a sad day for me. I remember decades of connecting with my sister-in-laws through phone calls, hearing their beautiful voices, intonation, moods, cheerfulness, laughter, tears, hope, concern, and love, that just couldn’t be conveyed through a text. No matter how many emoticons are attached!
I feel that this same loss of intimacy and connection has taken place in our love making, sex and romance. Since Internet pornography first began, around 2006, the prevalence and pervasiveness has increased ever since. Research studies from Cambridge University, (2014) have shown that individuals who view porn on a regular basis, often experience such problems as erectile dysfunction, low libido and difficulty climaxing, when engaging in sexual activity with their partners. It has been reported that sexual dysfunction for men age 40 and under, has jumped from less than 3% of the population to around 30%! This isn’t even taking into account the impact on those over the age of 40. It is difficult to imagine how impacting this is on our relationships. These effects are due to an actual modification of our brains, the neurotransmitters, neuropathways and neurochemicals.
Just as tolerance can occur with repeated use of a drug, alcohol or substance, repeated use of porn encourages the user’s desire for new and novel images and experiences (Voon, Mole, Banca, Porter, Morris, Mitchell, Lapa, Karr, Harrison, Potenza, Irvine, 2014). This increases the need for stimulation, for the individual to desire to look for novelty, shock or surprise, in order to not get bored. This need for increased stimulation can create a form of tolerance, similar to substance use. Just as with substances, dependence can be progressive, with the need for additional stimulation increasing as one continues to use, ultimately distracting individuals from responsibilities, relationships, and connection with others, while feeling the need to find the next “high.” Research has shown that the progressiveness of the desire for stimulation from porn can lead to isolation, fetishes, voyeurism, anger issues, neglect of social obligations, loss of jobs, damaged intimate relationships, use of escort services and cybersex, suicidal ideation, large expenditures and loss of money, diminished libido, difficulty with sexual arousal, and erectile difficulties in intimate sexual relationships and other highly impacting behaviors. And often the erectile difficulties that can occur in intimate sexual relationships, are not seen with the use of sexually explicit material.
Speak to individuals of past generations regarding their sex and love making and you will most likely hear them recall the feeling of touch, the rushing of blood, hormones and neurochemicals, sharing of vocalizations, smelling various scents, absorbing warmth, expressing desire and passion, acting playful, swelling of bodies together, seeing their partner’s enjoyment and tasting the excitement of sharing that moment with another. These are the things that can lead to strong connection and intimacy and just can’t be experienced with a click of a mouse or a swipe of the screen.
As the stress in our society has increased, and individuals are looking for ways to survive, self-sufficiency and isolation has also increased. The use of porn as a self-soothing, stress reducing aid has grown to epic proportion and is impacting all facets of society. Its impact knows no boundaries, not socioeconomic, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation or age.
If you are burdened by an entanglement with Internet pornography, there is a way out. The first step is to acknowledge the impact that it has had on your life and to seek professional help. The professional clinical staff at Community Presbyterian Counseling Center can be of help. Reach out today.
Cambridge Study: Internet porn addiction mirrors drug addiction. (2014, July 10). Retrieved from http://yourbrainonporn.com/cambridge-university-brain-scans-find-porn-addiction
Voon, V., Mole, TB., Banca, P., Porter, L., Morris, L., Mitchell, S., Lapa, T.R., Karr, J., Harrison, N.A., Potenza, M.N., Irvine, M. (2014, July 11). The full study: Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours. Retrieved from http://yourbrainonporn.com/cambridge-university-brain-scans-find-porn-addiction
LMFT, CATC, CCTP