5 Warning Signs You Should Quit Porn … Today!

Porn damn near ruined my body at age 39.

Like many men, I started looked at and watching porn in my early teens, and did so for decades – mostly Victoria Secret catalogues and late night, soft-core Cinemax movies – without noting any obvious negative affects on my body or my relationships (I mostly didn’t watch porn when in a relationship).

Then I got a smartphone.

Then smartphones got porn.

By the time I hit 38, the iPhone in my pocket had become an endless supply of cocaine for my porn habit.

I never thought I was addicted during the few years my habit flourished. I only watched a few hours a day, usually at night to help me fall asleep (by 3 or 4 am), and I was single, so I wasn’t hurting anybody (although, I may have carpal-tunneled my right forearm).

But then unwanted things started happening to my body (like premature ejaculations), and wanted things stopped happening (like erections), whenever I was in the intimate presence of an actual woman.

That’s when I realized – to my horror! – porn was unfaithfully screwing my sexual health!

It scared me enough that I quit, full-stop. I was still single then, but when I met my current partner a full year later, my body still hadn’t fully recovered.

It was a solid 2 years after I quit that I finally felt confident my body was back to its pre-smartphone vigor and responsiveness.

Since then, I’ve coached other men who didn’t think they were addicted to porn, either, yet who suffered negative consequences just the same.

Addiction is tricky when it comes to human sexuality.

We’re wired to enjoy sexual imagery and play; humanity goes kaput without it. Healthy sexual expression then, in all its myriad forms, is about conscious personal choice and balance. Repressing sexuality due to social or religious pressure, shame, tends to create other pathologies, like infidelity and porn addiction.

It’s like holding a beach ball underwater until it’s so pent up with sexual frustration and resentment it finally leaps out of the water and sleeps with the personal trainer.

So when it comes to porn (so to speak) and a healthily sexually expressed you, here’s the truly meaningful question:

Is watching porn creating beneficial experiences for your body, mind, relationship(s)? … or impairing them?

5 warning signs to help you answer that:

1) You sometimes prefer porn to your partner (or compare her to porn)

I get it. Porn is an endless buffet of pliable, responsive women enthusiastically willing to do or be whatever and whenever you want.

Even if your partner is most adventurous, no human can compete with the on-demand sexual variety available in that phone in your pocket nestled up cozy against your desire.

Beware: Watching porn can cause you to devalue the human you love, who loves you.

Comparing her to a fantasy world of sexual partners who never say no, never feel bad, never complain, never gain (or lose) weight, or whatever your enduring fantasy, will inevitably change the way you see your partner – especially as she changes in all the ways a woman may – and it won’t go well for either of you.

2) You ejaculate prematurely or not at all, or your erection is unreliable.

The younger you are, the less likely you are to know how your body functions without the influence of smartphone porn.

I’m 44. I knew my body before I found in-hand on-demand porn at 36. By 39, it was clear to me something was seriously, frighteningly off.

It’s not so simple to blame porn for unwanted ejaculation or erection issues. Everything from the enduring effects of childhood sexual trauma to smoking and poor diet can affect sexual function.

However, if you can get a solid erection and/or ejaculate how you want with porn, yet struggle without porn, particularly when with your partner, then porn is definitely not working for you.

3) It regularly distracts you from more important concerns (work, rest, relationship).

All time is free, and you can spend it however you choose. Like anything, watching porn requires time, energy, focus. If you’re using porn when you know, deep, deep down inside, that your time would better be spent playing catch with your kid, or writing that book, or finishing those TPS reports, or doing that Bryan Reeves program your lady’s been begging you to do with her, well … porn probably isn’t serving you.

4) You treat your partner like your own personal porn-star.

What turns one woman on turns another woman off.

And to complicate matters, what turns one woman on today might turn the same woman off tomorrow – to your dismay, though you wouldn’t have any other way.

Yet so many men impose what they see in porn onto sex with actual women.

You can learn a lot from porn. Some things can even be fun to try with your partner. But your best guide, when it comes to sex with your partner, is your actual partner.

The most mutually satisfying sexual interactions – no matter the techniques, positions, places, or costumes – absolutely require partners who are sensually attuned to each other’s excitements and pleasures and thus able to play off them.

Otherwise, imposing what you see in porn onto actual sex with a person is likely to miss your partner’s mark, and even outright hurt her. She might go along with it, even if it does hurt, for women aren’t generally supported or encouraged to discover what they authentically want sexually, outside of merely being providers of a man’s pleasure.

With a mutual willingness to explore and experiment, along with communication and sensitivity to boundaries, you can make sex an adventure you go on together. Which is the best way to keep things exciting while also maintaining real intimacy between you.

Your woman surely does want to please you, and many women will do so at the cost of their own pleasure. But that doesn’t serve either of you in the long run, or in a quickie, either.

5) Your chosen intimate partner is consistently bothered by your porn use (or you’re hiding it).

You’re gonna upset your partner throughout your life together. You’re going to say things, eat things, choose things, think things, do things that she would prefer you didn’t say, eat, choose, think, or do. That’s inevitable. Changing your behavior merely to please her is like stepping onto a slippery slope with greasy feet: You end up angry at yourself (projecting that as resentment at her) as the target for her satisfaction moves (it will).

However, being insensitive, uncaring or indifferent to how your behavior affects her is also like stepping onto a slippery slope with greasy feet, only now you’re disguised as a piñata and she has a baseball bat and desperately wants candy.

Because although she probably doesn’t like the idea of you getting turned on by even virtual women on your phone, it’s your lack of care and concern about how it affects her that hurts her even more.

You may even decide that once-in-a-while porn is actually good for your relationship – from your perspective, it may actually be! – but that’s irrelevant if she isn’t on board. This then becomes a courageous boundary conversation you must have together. She needs to be clear about her requirements to feel safe and cherished in the relationship, and you need to be clear about your requirements to feel trusted and respected. (I offer scripts to help you do this in my online program, “The Boundaries Program: Relationships Suck Without Boundaries!“)

So, should you quit porn?

That’s for you to decide … Actually, it MUST be YOU that decides.

Quitting porn can be hard. Your smartphone is always in-hand, ready, willing, and uncomplicated.

If you don’t genuinely want to quit, you won’t be able to ignore the incessant, pleading whispers emanating daily from below your waist, where you stash both your sex organs and your smartphone with access to all the porn in the known Universe.

You must decide whether porn is serving you or harming you.

The signs are clear, when you know what to look for.

♦◊♦

P.S. If you decide to quit, consider getting support (12-step, therapy, coaching, etc.). If you’d like to learn more about how I can help you, contact me.

P.P.S. Yes, this post is full of (mostly) unintended yet unavoidable sexual innuendos.

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  • Thank you Bryan, I believe this is a really important topic and I hope it gets widely read and embraced. When in a similar situation quite a few years ago, I didn’t appreciate what was unfolding. The apparent subtlety is destructive.
    I really appreciate your newsletters, and wish I could attend some of your courses – but why don’t you offer some in South Africa?!!

  • You absolutely hit the nail on the head here. My husband won’t stop with the porn, behind my back, and is constantly lying about it to me. He won’t stop no matter how many times he leaves me alone crying. We have had a million talks about ir, yet he still chooses porn over me and even used MY phone to do it! I can’t take it anymore and feel like it’s killing me inside. Idk what to do anymore. He’s only 25 and already can’t keep a hard on with me during sex. I know it’s the porn causing this. Idk what to do anymore but I’ve even considered leaving him many times bc of it and he just never seems to care. I can’t trust him, and i feel like things will NEVER get better. I’ve even tried going along with it and trying it with him only for him to be turned off by my interest 🙁 it seems part of the addiction is the going behind my back and sneakiness! I’m terrified he’s going to get desperate and cheat on me one day bc of it. Is there any way to get through to him? I’m 5 months pregnant witb his child, and I am scared this is what will end our marriage and our family we haven’t even built yet….. can you please help in any way? Thank you

    • Sabina,
      Your story breaks my heart. Most guys in his age group don’t know how much damage they are doing to their own brain or to their marriage. I have been there and know how easy it is to lose focus on what is really important.
      I also know it is possible to change and repair the marriage, but it takes a lot of work and won’t be “solved” overnight.

      Jay

    • Sabina, my heart aches to hear your story. I’m so sorry. Just know, your husband has no idea what he’s doing. At 25, he’s among the first generations of men to sexually mature with porn in his pocket, always at the ready. Countless young men – and their intimate partners – are suffering this fate.

      It’s tragic.

      As I shared with Rena above, you have a serious boundary violation issue happening between you.

      I have a program that helps you clarify and stand for your boundaries, in ways that respect your husband yet still honor you. “Boundaries: Relationships Suck Without ‘Em!” @ http://www.bryanreeves.com/boundaries

      You’re pregnant, so this is a time when you feeling cared for and relaxed would serve you and your child well. (though don’t worry, I doubt any woman in history has EVER felt fully cared for and relaxed throughout her pregnancy!)

      It’s up to you to decide when to really stand for more healthy boundaries with your husband – which also means enforcing meaningful consequences when violated (I help you figure all this out in the Boundaries program) – knowing that your husband may not be ready to meet you there … which can be very stressful.

      I’m very sorry you’re going through this.

      If/when your husband is ever ready to get support around this very real challenge he faces, you can send him my way.

      With love,
      Bryan

  • Hi, Bryan it’s been awhile since I read/opened my email. Well I opened it today and this email hit home HARD!!! WOW… He enjoys porn a lot(phone, laptop, videos…) and claims I do…I watch it because it seems to be the only thing that he enjoys. There is no foreplay from him. I’ve even told him I’m not one of those porn stars because of the things he wants to do. And not to treat me as one. Yes, I read Fifty shades of Grey type books and he comments about that. But I don’t bring that stuff to our bed and have no desire to do such. My husband has been having issues for a few years and recently visited the “men’s clinic” for erection problems. During our visit there the MD actually told him whatever he has going on in his head is affect down there, that there is nothing wrong with it getting up. During the visit they give an injection to see if there is a ED problem. $3000 later I now give him injections when he wants to do it and he’s up within 10 mins. And literally the first time I gave him the injection he laid there and said “ok its up do what you want with it” (nope I’m not turned on at all) and yes a video was going. Maybe I’ve enabled it because I allow it. He has told me I need to go and get the same help he got because I don’t get in the mood. Well there is no intimacy, touching….. I love him, but your article is spot on and sounds like my husband. We’ve been married 16 years and I have now resorted to using BOB as my foreplay. Of course there’s other issues going on but that’s for another time. Sorry for the rant and lengthy message. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

    • Rena,
      I wish your story were unique. I see some many guys going down this path and wish they knew the pain they were causing for themselves and their significant other. Even after some of them get help, they still stay stuck in self-centered defensiveness over what they have done.
      Many women like you feel the pressure to be the “cool” spouse/girlfriend who engages in porn with them, while feeling used and betrayed during the event. With the constant flow of porn or sexualized material it is difficult to know where to draw boundaries and how to hold to them.
      I am sorry you have gone through this and hope both of you find the help you need.

      Jay

    • I like Jay’s feedback. Things aren’t likely to change as long as porn remains normalized and welcome (even if reluctantly on your part) in your relationship. This is a tough road to recovery, and your husband will likely only even be willing to make changes when you decide this doesn’t work for you anymore and make a stand for healthy boundaries.

      I know even that can be tricky, as your husband isn’t likely to take well to changes he isn’t on board with. You might want to check out my program, “Boundaries: Relationships Suck Without ‘Em!” … it can help you clarify and stand for boundaries in ways that are respectful towards him, yet still honoring of you. ( http://www.bryanreeves.com/boundaries )

      Is that helpful?

  • Bryan:

    I am a fan of your work but I gotta say, I think you really dropped the ball….

    Now, I can think of 5 good reasons why a man should quit porn and none of them have anything to do with your boner; here is a good place to start:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gx5g379tIGs&t=12s

    When will our voices become louder and more important than a mans erection? Me, me, me.

    We, all women, are dying a slow and painful death of the heart and until we are courageous enough to demand to be viewed as more than a means to an end, nothing will change. Nothing but the movie/pic he clicks on next.

    • Madison,
      You may enjoy my wife’s site His Porn. Your Pain. Healed. I put her through the years of pain by lying and destroying trust with her. She knows the pain many women feel when they are repeatedly told, “It is just something guys do.” or “If you were sexier.” Or other painful useless comments.
      I am sorry for what you have gone through and hope you find some healing for your life.

      Jay

    • Hi Madison … a few years ago, I wrote “6 Reasons Why Men Must Give Up Porn” – it’s here: https://bryanreeves.com/6-reasons-why-men-must-give-up-pornography/ – an article oriented more towards men who can already see something destructive about porn. However, in THIS post (the one we’re commenting on now) I decided to speak more to men who don’t think their habit is actually hurting anyone because they don’t see any obvious harmful effects. I have seen THAT demographic – men who don’t believe it’s hurting anyone – to be FAR GREATER in number than men who are already aware something is off about porn.

      Otherwise, I’m totally with you, and working to heal this by speaking to every perspective.

    • I have to respectfully disagree Madison. I watched your video, and I have to comment. For my personal situation, Bryan was so accurate with what my husband struggles with(and I suffer from), that I swear it seems like he jumped into my husband’s head and wrote this! Not everything has to do with women’s rights. I do agree with a lot of your video’s points,
      however that is just one angle and viewpoint on the problem. I am all for women who choose to work in the industry (but ONLY by their OWN CHOICE), and dont have any jealousy or anger towards them. My plethera of negative feelings towards it is pretty much aimed at the media, men who abuse the industry, advertising, and our society for accepting sexual actions just as they would for any other normal thing. You do raise valid concerns, but I want Bryan to know his article was really, really, helpful for me and validated all of my self doubt, and being told “I’m over reacting” or ” being stupid” “all men do it [yea, but not all men do it 15 times a day ignoring when their wife is standing there in a sexy outfit they picked out]”

  • Brian,
    Thanks for your courageous post. Many guys won’t talk about the damage porn does to them or their spouse. I went through the process with my wife and it took years for our relationship to recover.
    With a lot of hard work and humility, I was able to repair my marriage and rebuild trust. It wasn’t easy. I hope you will continue to have this conversation because you are a huge voice to men and women dealing with the pain caused by a problematic porn habit.

    Jay

    • Thanks Jay, I really appreciate that. I was fortunate to catch and rid myself of this addiction BEFORE I got into my current relationship. I know so many couples are struggling with this, and many don’t even know this is part of their problem. I applaud you for doing the difficult work to heal this with your partner. That is no journey for the timid of heart.

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