Pornography Use as Rebound and Retaliation by Ralph Lind

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Pornography Use as Rebound and Retaliation by Ralph Lind

I have noticed and recognized a pattern in my work with couples where one partner, usually male, will respond to his partner in a manner that seemed safer than other options in the moment…however very costly in the long term.
Couples come into counseling for usually one of two situations. First is a crisis of some sort. Often that will have to do with issues around sex: affairs, physical or emotional; clandestine sexual connections on the internet or in person; or pornography use that has created a huge problem. Secondly, couples come simply when they are at an impasse of some nature or another, and can’t get through it. The tried and consistently failed method of arguing to convince the other of the correctness of one’s own position and how wrong the other’s is, with ever increasing intensity, is often the breaking point that brings the couple to therapy. The interaction between marital conflict and pornography use is the combination of these 2 situations that frequently require professional intervention.
Men will frequently tire more quickly of the conflict and withdraw, or at least that is what it looks like. Women often intensify their efforts to get the man to reengage in the futile conflict and intensity escalates. The man takes the stance that might appear to him as the “high road”, “safer” and “reasonable”, and becomes passive conceding in a false manner to avoid further conflict, “…whatever you say Dear…”. I understand how men get to this point that Gottman calls “stonewalling”. That position comes from despair. I also also understand the dynamic where a woman has tried everything she has ever heard and read about (often considerable amounts) to get her partner to relate, connect and genuinely care about her. She too reaches despair, and her moving towards her partner pursuing connection often does not look pretty – men may experience this as controlling and feel disempowered. Men misunderstand this dynamic, call it aggression or mean spirited, and find justification for their withdrawal, further infuriating their partner who is already at the end of her rope. The common ultimate statement after each conflict is: “…he/she just doesn’t understand…if he/she did they would see that my action/position is caused by the others’ objectionable behavior”. And quite honestly, they are both absolutely correct. Any attempts to discern who is more justified in their attacking behavior or is more abused or in pain usually follows, with the same impasse eventually coming around that feels so very familiar and so dreaded to both.
This is a conflict no ones wins, and frequently one of the recourses men will pursue is their use of pornography, knowing how hurtful it would be if known. But may be viewed a “safe way” to get even or be consoled, or many other rationalizations. In this context masturbation to porn runs a high risk of becoming “preferred” over a real live, skin on skin, willing partner. Masturbation to porn is “always successful”, can be much less anxiety provoking than risking sex with partner with whom they are in conflict with. Porn belongs to the AAA club – “affordable, accessible and anonymous”. Although this rationale can bring severe consequences, it is often the result of couples inability to genuinely connect, become skilled in resolving conflicts, and nurture their relationship. Many seek help only after the behaviors, unacceptable to both, are found out. There really is a better way.
If any of this rings true to you and yours, or couples you care about, please give us a call. You are not alone, we can help.

Signs and Symptoms of Porn Addiction

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See post in Psychology Today by Sue Johnson: Losing a Loved One to Porn (and What You Can Do About It) How much porn is too much porn

Signs and symptoms that indicate addiction: 

  • Inordinately preoccupied with a potentially addictive substance or behavior (thinking about it, pursuing it, etc.);
  • Lost control over use (using even when they don’t want to, not being able to stop once they’ve started, etc.);
  • Lives are falling apart as a result (relationship issues, trouble at work, financial problems, legal woes, depression, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, social/emotional isolation, etc.).

Signs of compulsive porn use:

  • Escalation—increasing amounts of time that a person spends on porn, and/or an increased intensity of the material they view (moving from vanilla porn to hardcore, fetish, or violent porn).
  • Withdrawal—becoming restless, irritable, and discontent when porn is not available.
  • Dishonesty—lying and keeping secrets about porn use (amount of time, content they view, etc.).
  • Disconnection—loss of interest in family, friends, work, and previously enjoyable activities.
  • Sexual Dysfunction—loss of interest in real-world partner sex and/or problems with delayed ejaculation (DE), erectile dysfunction (ED), and/or anorgasmia (inability to reach orgasm)

NoFap Porn Addiction Recovery Resource Website

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NoFap is a secular porn-recovery community website. Founded by Alexander Rhodes in June 20, 2011 as a forum on the social media platform reddit that has continued to evolve. Th NoFap porn recovery program is called “rebooting” to restore and return the brain’s neural pathways back to ‘factory settings.’ The site offers access to supporting apps, forums, community supports and an online academy the provides a structured recovery program that costs $40 a month for three months.

We Need To Talk About Sex Addiction | Paula Hall

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TED Talk by Paula Hall Published on 29 Mar 2016. Sex addiction affects young and old, rich and poor, male and female.  This talk provides a good overview of how sexual addiction can emerge in our ordinary lives and the need for society to start talking about sex addiction and bring the problem out of the shadows, judgements, shame and secrecy.

Two quotes from Hall’s talk I found meaningful:

“power of compassion when we can embrace the fact that we all make mistakes we all have regrets we all struggle with difficult emotions and sometimes we don’t know how to handle them while we can start talking about issues like sex addiction with compassion.”

three things (I would like you) to take away from this talk: Firstly sex addiction is a real problem, secondly it affects people and thirdly by talking about it with compassion can begin to break through the secrecy and shame.”

Informative Intro Pornography Addiction Treatment Videos

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Pornography is the number one topic for internet searches. Pornography constitutes about twenty five percent of all search engine requests, and is the fourth most common reason people give for going on the internet. Here are two informative introduction videos on the impact of pornography to our lives, dopamine neural connections in the brain and stategies to change the porngraphy ‘mind map’ into one of relationship connection and intimacy.


The Science of Pornography Addiction by AsapSCIENCE

A Mind Map for Sex and Porn Addiction – Paula Halls Road to Brighton

Relationship Intimacy Tips

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Contempt pulls couples apart. Kindness brings couples together. 

The research by Psychologist John Gottman demonstrates this couple’s relational behavioral outcome.
For more information and background see Atlantic article Master of Love by Emily Esfahani Smith –

Showing real interest in the joys of your partner strengthens emotional connection and intimacy.
An act of generosity for self, partner and to the togetherness of the relationship itself.

We enlarge our circle of needs and wants to include our partner’s circle of needs and wants.
Generosity without quid pro quo.

This includes healthy relational boundaries. Neither giving too little or giving too much. A balance between individuality and mutuality. Where is the right balance point in your relationship? Do I need to extend and give a little more of myself to the relationship or ask for a need?

Experiment: During the morning consider a simple act of kindness and generosity given to your relationship during the upcoming day.