It is wrong to claim pornography has no effect on relationships. Relate the UK's largest provider of relationship guidance estimate that 40 per cent of couples that come to them for support refer to internet pornography as a contributing factor to their problems.
The relaxation of the British Board of Film Classification guidelines in 2000 means hard core porn is available as never before. If you are under the age of 30 you have grown up in a digital age, where the use of social media and the internet are part of our everyday life, unfortunately it also means that for some; sexting, online bullying, trolling and increasingly extreme online pornography are also the norm.
Studies have found that when people engage in an activity which they hide from others, an activity which they are not proud of, in this case watching porn, it not only hurts their relationships and leaves them feeling lonely, but it can also make them more susceptible to psychological problems. For both male and female porn users, their habit is often accompanied by problems such as depression, anxiety, body image issues, insecurity and relationship problems.
The more pornography a person consumes it is likely that they will find it harder to develop a real relationship with a real person. They will find it hard to be stimulated by a real person and many users will start to feel that something is wrong with them.
Online porn really does give people unacceptable, distorted messages about sex and intimacy. If young men in particular believe that online pornography provides a realistic view of sexual relationships, then this can ultimately lead to inappropriate expectations of girls and women.
Young women too may feel pressured to live up to these unrealistic interpretations of sex. In hard core porn the women are always willing and appear to enjoy humiliation, pain and non-consensual sex. The images available today are nothing like images from the past. If you go online and look at what today’s young people are viewing, it’s a world away from the type of pornography a generation who grew up in the 70s and 80s might be familiar with. The vast majority of female porn actors have surgically enhanced breasts and female pubic hair is almost entirely absent. Females who view pornography may view their body image negatively because they feel they cannot compete with the women on screen, further enhancing issues with which many women already struggle.
Porn can display scenes which feature both physical and verbal aggression and young people watching it may think that is what their future partners want, or that this type of behaviour is normal. Porn rarely represents healthy consensual sexual activity. Porn films just like mainstream movies are scripted, time will be spent on the lighting storyline (if there is one), positions, make up and costumes. A fair assumption would be that young people who have had little or no experience of a sexual relationship, will find it difficult to understand what is fact and what is fiction.
In 2016 Pamela Anderson spoke at Oxford University to give a lecture on the dangers of porn consumption and how we are all in need of a ‘sensual revolution.’ Some may think that she should probably disqualify herself from the whole issue of access to porn, as she appeared in Playboy and had a sex tape stolen from her home, which was exploited around the world. However, she is honest and open about her past and has said that she knows she is part of the problem. A mother of two boys herself, Pamela, 49, also aired concerns about children watching porn and how they “think that’s what love looks like” and “men and women are being affected by this because young people are looking at this thinking, ‘This is how I have to act and behave in a sexual relationship.’”
A recent study in America, presented at the 2016 American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, suggests that men and women who begin to consume pornography partway through their marriages are more likely to get a divorce than their non–porn-consuming peers. Further evidence from Researchers at the University of Oklahoma who interviewed thousands of married adults over the course of several years in the study “Till Porn Do Us Part?” found that porn use by a husband can double the chances of a married couple getting divorced and porn use by a wife increased that chance by three times. In the USA over 50% of divorce cases involved one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”
Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction, is a condition affecting young men and cases of PIED are on the increase. Some would think that erectile dysfunction will just affect older men, however a recent Italian study found 25% of all new patients with severe erectile problems were under the age of 40. For men porn can lead to impotency. Recent research in Australia has found that when viewers are exposed to porn several times over an extensive period of time, they begin to have a lesser reaction to porn and a lower libido, which then sometimes develops into an inability to obtain an erection. Porn will overstimulate the brain and can decrease a person’s sensitivity to dopamine (the neurotransmitter involved with seeking pleasure). Therefore, the more porn is used, the more the consumer will need to achieve arousal.
In 2016 Sexual therapists in the UK linked the easy access to porn to men struggling to be intimate with a real woman and NHS Digital figures show the number of prescription items dispensed for erectile dysfunction in England over the last decade has more than doubled. This reinforces what more and more doctors are seeing: physically healthy men struggling to get an erection. Of course one of the biggest issues is that sufferers will be reluctant to talk about the problem, it can take a lot of courage to go and explain the problem to a GP.
Some people will argue that viewing porn can help boost libido, and also suggest that it improves relationships, but there is another side to this argument. Regularly viewing pornography will dull the response to sexual stimulation over time and a 2011 study, published in Psychology Today, found that porn-users need increasingly extreme experiences to become sexually aroused. The report concluded that the endless exposure to Porn is creating a generation of young men who are hopeless in the bedroom.