Evidence is growing that pornography use can negatively impact attachment trust in the adult pair-bond relationship.
The surge in Internet use over the past ten years has been accompanied by an equally serious increase in online sexual activities, such as pornography viewing and its combination of accessibility, affordability, and anonymity. With this surge in Internet pornography access has come significant evidence of growing compulsivity and addictive behavior among some users.
Pornography invites and reinforces a non-intimate, non-relational, and therefore non-demanding and easy sexual experience. Pornography is detached, disconnected physiological arousal suited to the self-engrossed preoccupation typical of addictive experience and escape. Thus, compulsive pornography use clearly risks scripting self-indulgent, and self- focused pleasure stemming from a surrealistic virtual world, resulting in intimacy and erectile dysfunction when with a person’s real-life partner.
It is not surprising, therefore, that “the vast majority of partners use words such as “betrayal,” “cheating,” and “affair” to describe the significance that their partner’s involvement in pornography They rank the deterioration of trust as the most significant negative impact of pornography use. Pornography is viewed, as it were, as a virtual infidelity and trust-breaker. It is often seen as well as just a chance opportunity away from actual infidelity. Such rational inference is supported by research finding that exposure to pornography resulted in a significant increase in the acceptance of actual infidelity, a decrease in considering a relationship commitment as an essential institution, and a decrease in viewing frequent or occasional infidelity as cause ending the relationship. Thus, there is research to support the experience of a partner’s viewing of pornography as similar to the betrayal of an extra-relationship affair and behavior that reasonably casts doubt on the attachment security and safety available in the relationship. Parallel deception and lying to hide and protect pornography use represent a secondary negative impact on relationship trust.
Whilst trust is often the primary issue, the partner may feel unattractive, question their self-image. Often following the discovery and the partner accesses the pornography, they are surprised that the material their partner is viewing is diametrically opposed to their beliefs about their partner and are often shocked.
Whilst experts such as John Gottman agree that the discovery of porn addiction may not end the relationship, issues such as trust, communication, and addressing the addiction need to be worked through. Couples counselling and addiction counselling can be beneficial in the healing process.
In conclusion, a partner’s compulsive involvement with pornography and programming in its relationship and sexuality scripts, combined with deception, can produce changes in perceptions of one’s partner as available, responsive, and trustworthy, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. This results in a decrease in attachment security. Attachment erosion in turn appears likely to mediate significant deterioration of authentic intimacy and negative impacts on adult relationships . Separately and together, these effects represent significant jeopardy to the relationship and need to be addressed for the relationship to survive.
For pornography counselling please call John Arber today on 0418 720 176