Porn Can’t Compete With You

June 29, 2016

in Uncategorized

In Monday’s Porn: It’s Not What You Think post I said porn was not about sex. I explained how porn use is a way of self-medicating pain because porn gives the viewer a hit of dopamine. As with any self-medicating, the user will deny they have a problem and/or blame someone else. Husbands caught using porn often blame it on their wife. If she just gave them more sex or more variety, they would have no need to look at porn. There are several problems with this:

  1. You’d be hard pressed to find a married man who never looked at porn before he was married. Most men have seen thousands of porn images by the time they say “I do”.
  2. While sex with one’s spouse does release dopamine, partner sex is rarely as immediately available as porn. Sex is a great way to enjoy and get closer to your spouse, but it’s not a good way to get a fast, easy dopamine hit.

I'm way better than porn! © zazzle.com | stock.adobe.com

This is why some men who have plenty of sex with their wife still use porn often. They want sex with their wife for a variety of reasons, including some good, healthy, right reasons. They turn to porn to dull their pain. In their minds the two things are unrelated. If such a man satisfies the arousal caused by porn with his wife he may tell himself the porn isn’t a problem because he still wants, has, and enjoys sex with her.

While there are all kinds of problems with this thinking, it may be helpful for you to see his porn use and your sex life with him as two separate but entangled things. Porn is his drug. 

Porn is like high-fructose corn syrup. Starch is extracted from corn, then it’s processed with several enzymes to convert some of its glucose into fructose. The process includes being demineralized and purified with activated carbon two different times. The end product has almost nothing in common with the corn it came from. Porn is extracted from real sex, and then modified, and filtered. The end result has almost nothing in common with real sex.

Because porn is not sex, you don’t want to compete with it. If you were able to repackage yourself and twist your sexuality to be like porn, you wouldn’t be having sex with your husband. You would be having porn with him, and that’s not what God intended or what either of you need. Just as trying to live on high-fructose corn syrup would end badly, so does trying to replace sex with porn.

You are not porn, you are a beautiful daughter of God. Becoming porn would require removing most of what you are and converting the rest to something other than God intended it to be. Doing this would be destructive to you, harmful to your marriage, and an insult to God. 

You don’t have to compete with porn, porn has to compete with you! If your husband is looking for sexual intimacy, rather than a fix, porn can’t hold a candle to you. If he’s not happy with what you have to offer it’s not about you, it’s about him. The problem isn’t how you look or what you’re willing to do sexually; the problem is he’s looking for a high, not sexual intimacy.

The idea a man turns to porn because his wife is “failing” sexually is a lie. It would be like turning to used motor oil because there was no water! Porn can’t provide what real sex with another person provides, so a lack of sexual intimacy will never cause a desire for porn. I say this from personal experience. Even though I had used porn heavily a decade before, I was NEVER tempted to go to porn when Lori and I were having sexual difficulties. What I wanted was intimacy with my wife, and I knew from experience porn couldn’t provide what I so desperately craved. 

That said, if a lack of sex causes a man to experience anger, depression, or one of the other triggers I mentioned, then he might choose porn as a way of dulling said pain. He wouldn’t be using porn beause of a lack of sex, he’d be using porn to self-medicate the pain he felt because of a lack of sex. Of course he could easily ignore this distinction and blame his wife, but he’d just lying to himself about his problem.

Bottom Line: Porn use is never, ever, about a man’s wife. He may tell her it is to manipulate her, or he may tell himself it is to feel better, but it’s a lie.

~ Paul – I’m XY and I want sexual intimacy, not porn.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

libl June 29, 2016 at 2:17 am

So, this morning hubby is scrolling through YouTube during breakfast. He has his back to me, but I can see over his arm. He scrolls quickly through various video suggestions and pauses at some very little dressed young model posing provocatively. He stares for about 15 seconds before slowly scrolling again. Scroll. Scroll. Pause. It’s a picture of a woman with an orgasmic face. Scroll scroll scroll. Pause, a scantily dressed musician.

I tried to cuddle with him, get his attention with my sexual affection, and all I got was a half-hearted “mmmm” as he kept scrolling.

I am first wife in a harem of concubines. I get dibs because I married the guy, but he has access to thousands of women in thousands of ways, thousands of looks. And he does feel that masturbation to porn is a livable substitute for sexual intimacy. While real sex is preferred, if it causes him any difficulties (like taking the time to bring me to orgasm), he would rather masturbate.

He has told me before….”I just want to get my rocks off, not make love.”

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Sarah June 29, 2016 at 5:22 am

Is your husband not a believer? If so, I can see how hard that would be.

If he is, I would feel an obligation to help him stay away from temptation. In other words, I would buy Covenanteyes, put it on the home devices including his phone, and wait for the huge fight. And if he “has to have it”, he’s an addict who needs help. Whatever else he says is just deception, cover, and the addiction talking. I am positive if he were a drug addict, you would not go buy him street drugs and enable him. He’s in the same situation if he’s been trapped in his sin. To me, it sounds like he’s been “overtaken” by porn. Galatians 6:1

I know that you have it rough already. I am NOT beating you up. But what you put up with is by definition accepted by you. And if you accept his porn use, you’ll end up accepting all the consequences.

If you read my comment yesterday, you will know that I had a man I loved leave me for porn. So, I do realize what I’m saying.

The end of the story is that our breakup devastated him when he came back after spending weeks without me. He had not changed. I refused his second proposal, all his pleas, his crying, his declarations of love when he insisted “I’m a normal guy. I just was being honest. Every man wants a kinky wife and a virgin bride. You’re treating me like I’m a leper.” I told him, “No, I am treating you like an unrepentant man who has sinned against God, me, and your own self. I will forgive you, but since you have no wish to change, I will not come back.” Within a year, he was totally broken and suffered a series of setbacks causing him to nearly lose everything . He got into counselling, got accountability, and moved on to work a job and help with a family member’s missionary work after true, sincere repentance. Four years later, I had moved on and had the pain of telling him I was engaged to someone else when he called asking if he could try again. He told me would always love me and profoundly asked my forgiveness for what he’d done.

God’s in the business of restoring lives.

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Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm

@libl – The last sentence is the problem. As long as that’s all he wants, you’re both getting cheated.
That said, somewhere inside he must want more. Perhaps he’s so hidden it he doesn’t feel it anymore, but it must be there. The question is why does think he doesn’t deserve what he wants, or why does he think he can never have it? Whatever his reason, it likely has little or nothing to do with you.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Get Honest With YourselfMy Profile

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wynd June 29, 2016 at 5:25 am

Proverbs 27:7 “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.”

There is a saying that “Sex is like pizza, even when bad, it is still good”. Porn is chewing on the greasy pizza box, perhaps even eating it. It has a picture of pizza on it, this means it is food, right? It only “satisfies” hunger pangs in the very short term, then you must deal with the uncomfortable reality of having eaten cardboard. It never satisfies long term (or even short term), it doesn’t (and can’t) deliver on what it promises (intimacy, feeling wanted, etc.).

On the flip side (not justifying porn use in the slightest, just unwrapping parts of the allure of “porn as a drug”):

Porn never has a “headache”.
Porn is never sick or tired.
Porn is never binge-watching on Netflix.
Porn is always available, especially now that with internet and smartphones.
Porn is never too busy.
Porn never makes cutting remarks in public (or in private).
Porn is never angry or bitter at the user.
Porn never says the user is a failure and a disappointment.
Porn never nags about the income or frustrations in life.
Porn never rejects.

Porn is not actually about nudity or sex; those are just the external appearance of the bait on the hook. What porn is actually selling (the advertised product) are intangibles. Desirability. Intimacy. Respect. Power. Control. That it only delivers a false shadow of these things, a fantasy not reality, is inconsequential. Advertising works because we are all foolish creatures. Does the Big Mac you receive at McDonald’s look like the one you ordered on the sign? Does the right brand of plastic food wrap make your Thanksgiving dinner perfect like the one on TV?

A friend of mine made the comment: “As a single man, I watched porn and fantasized about having sex with the women. As a married man, I watch porn and fantasize about being wanted.”

The porn=self medicating addiction line of thought makes a lot of sense.

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Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 12:18 pm

@wynd – Your list of things porn never does reminds me of the story of the guy looking for his keys under a street light. When asked where he lost the keys he points to the middle of a dark grassy area. When questioned on why he’s not looking where he lost the keys he explains “the light is better over here.”
Porn will never give us what we want, but it is available so we lie to ourselves about it not being what we want.
Your comments about your friend looking at porn when single then when married are very telling.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Get Honest With YourselfMy Profile

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libl June 29, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Porn doesn’t ask to be pleased in return. After all, it hurts his hand and makes his tongue sore to give me pleasure. I take too long.

Currently, as far as I know he isn’t using porn, but dabbles in gray areas of provocative YouTube videos, and I am sure he sees plenty of porn at work. Even if he doesn’t click on the click bait, it is still there, easy as pie to stare at in thumbnails.

I get it. Sometimes, it is like a wreck on a highway. Looking away is tough. But, it is the underlying attitude that looking is still ok. That movies and TV shows with ample graphic nudity and sex are ok to watch so long as he doesn’t watch it for THAT. That glancing at the woman masturbating on the co-worker’s phone is ok, so long as he doesn’t pull it up on his own phone or stare too long.

If our sex life were fantastic, I don’t think I would mind too much that lewdness happens to pop up in life unavoidably, and sometimes interesting movies have that token scene, but my rotten sex life only amplifies all the smut available to him.

I wish I could get to the root and I am tired of complaining to Paul about it. I have tried to work within hubby’s boundaries, but the loss is still great. I have daydreams about life without him, and I don’t want that, but I feel more trapped in my marriage than secure.

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Jolie June 29, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Porn is the Stepford wife every man dreams of. Little do they realize they are “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

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Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

@Jolie – “Porn is the Stepford wife every man dreams of.”
Not every man. Not even most. Men who are secure in themselves want women who are the same. If a man wants a Stepford wife it means he’s afraid of real women. One more case of it’s not about her, it’s about him.
(Maybe I should add IMHO, but I bet I could find plenty of support for this if I cared to try.)
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Get Honest With YourselfMy Profile

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K June 29, 2016 at 9:55 am

@Paul You’ve said before (I believe on TGH) that you didn’t really believe porn was an addiction. Then I read where were beginning to think some people might be addicted. I don’t remember the specifics of what you wrote. Based on these 2 articles, it makes me wonder what you current thoughts are. Do you now believe porn is an addiction?

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Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 12:23 pm

@K – From a brain biology standpoint, no, porn is not addictive. It doesn’t affect the brain the same way drugs and other true or”hard addictions” do. Porn use is like compulsive gambling or shopping. These “soft addictions” give us a dopamine high, but they don’t do all the things drugs et. al. do.
Another difference is we can go days or weeks without feeding a soft addiction, while a hard addiction leaves us unable to function if we don’t feed it. Hard addictions add a dependence on the substance to avoid withdrawal, soft additions don’t have this component.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Get Honest With YourselfMy Profile

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K June 29, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Thanks. I understand this distinction between “hard and soft addictions”, but am still struggling with your use of the word addiction to describe both. Is it possible that some people become addicted to the dopamine high? Don’t some people get extremely anxious if they can’t gamble, shop or watch porn when they “need the high” it provides? Does this anxiety ever impair their ability to function? Couldn’t this sense of extreme anxiety be similar to the physical withdrawal of alcohol or drugs?

I’m not arguing this one way or the other, I’m trying to understand your thoughts on the matter. If you don’t believe it is an addiction, I’m not sure I completely understand your thought process for these articles. I’m making a separate comment which will explain my thoughts about this and, perhaps, why I think whether or not it is an addiction matters.

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Paul Byerly June 30, 2016 at 10:04 am

@K – I see a soft addiction as something that we chase for the dopamine high. When we are feeling good, we don’t need it. We could also use anything else that gets us a shot of dopamine. I suppose we could say the addiction is to dopamine, but given dopamine is a natural and necessary thing for life that feels like a stretch.
A hard addiction gives us dopamine, but in addition, the substance is addictive. Even if we feel good or do something else to get dopamine, we feel withdrawal without the substance.
Alcohol is an interesting one because it can be a soft or hard addiction. For many, it’s a soft addiction they turn to when they need to self-medicate. Such folks can go long periods without a drink. For some it’s a hard addiction – they suffer withdrawal if they go very long without a drink.
The reason it matters is the best treatments for soft and hard addictions are different. Understanding an addiction allows for better, faster, more successful treatment.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Her PerspectiveMy Profile

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K July 1, 2016 at 11:57 am

Thanks, I see where you’re coming from.

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D. June 29, 2016 at 10:05 am

No offense intended here, but I think you’re stating an incomplete thought. I believe it is confusing to just leave it where you’ve left it without fleshing your idea out a little more. Here’s what I mean:

You wrote:
“That said, if a lack of sex causes a man to experience anger, depression, or one of the other triggers I mentioned, then he might choose porn as a way of dulling said pain. He wouldn’t be using porn because of a lack of sex, he’d be using porn to self-medicate the pain he felt because of a lack of sex. Of course he could easily ignore this distinction and blame his wife, but he’d just lying to himself about his problem. Bottom Line: Porn use is never, ever, about a man’s wife. He may tell her it is to manipulate her, or he may tell himself it is to feel better, but it’s a lie. You don’t have to compete with porn, porn has to compete with you! If your husband is looking for sexual intimacy, rather than a fix, porn can’t hold a candle to you. If he’s not happy with what you have to offer it’s not about you, it’s about him. The problem isn’t how you look or what you’re willing to do sexually; the problem is he’s looking for a high, not sexual intimacy.”

I believe it just might be about his wife and this is why: It’s not the sex that a man really wants – it’s not sexual intimacy – it’s the emotional connection – emotional intimacy with his wife – and he wants that any way he can get it.

And it’s too simple to say it’s a drug. We know that people give up addictions when those addictions are replaced with feelings of belonging – of being loved and accepted. I don’t believe men would turn to other avenues of trying to get their emotional needs met if they had someone in their lives that made them feel truly loved and gave them a sense of belonging. That’s why I married my wife. I assume that’s why all men marry. If women stop making men feel loved, wanted, and desired, men will feel rejected and search out their need-meeting in other ways. (Women do the same thing.)

When men use the word, ‘sex,’ we mostly mean the physicality of it – but that’s really a misnomer because men don’t want sex, we want the emotional connection and good mental, spiritual, and emotional feelings we get from it, not just the good physical feelings. We are coming to understand sex for a man is about his emotional connection to his wife, not just a release. Therefore, (presumably since his wife isn’t meeting her husband’s emotional need any other way) he must try to get that need met however he can. If he can get it through sex with his wife, then great! But, if not, then he searches other places for connection, like drinking, sports, gambling, and porn, which are all utterly empty.

The anger and depression a man feels is not because a wife can’t satisfy her husband sexually, it’s because she is not satisfying her husband emotionally. What I’m proposing is that most women think emotional connection only happens when you talk about your emotions. That’s true for women, who can connect emotionally much easier than a man. And women can connect in a variety of different ways emotionally than a man typically does. However, I believe that men can connect emotionally in more ways than just physically, also. Women, however, don’t know the other ways to connect with a man. They don’t know the ways that are important for the man to feel that emotional connection. (I believe most men don’t know any other ways either.)

Besides sex, I think some other ways a woman could satisfy her man’s emotional needs could be: encouragement from the woman – tell us we are doing a good job, adoration – that look in her eyes that implies desire for her husband (men can see this). A woman could spend time with her man. When I ask my wife to come out and help me change oil on the car, she absolutely hates it because she doesn’t know what to do and just feels self-conscious and feels in the way. But I don’t care if she doesn’t know anything other than she loves me and she’s going to stand by me. Loyalty is important. When I’m under the car, and ask her to hand me a wrench or hold a light or just to stand there if I need something or just to talk, it speaks volumes to me. (She can’t be standing there reading a book or playing on her phone either.) She needs to be present. Just watch me and be present. (I don’t know why this is important to me, but it fills me up emotionally.)

When I’m in the recording studio or building a piece of store-bought furniture, or a bicycle for our child, I want my wife there beside me to “help” me do it! Even if she feels helpless for the task at hand, there is another task that she is uniquely qualified for – that deeper help of fulfilling her man’s need of being there for him – of investing herself, her time, her attention, her energies – spending that on him. I can tell you from experience that knowing that my wife wants to be here, by my side right now, that she could be other places, doing other things, but she’s choosing to be here and wants to be with me and isn’t rushing off to do something other than just being with me, speaks innumerable good things to my heart. It’s probably coming back to that adoration idea. (It may also communicate/translate/fill our emotional needs so men don’t medicate – fill those emotional needs – with those other things like drinking, sports, gambling, and porn.)

I saw the woman wearing the t-shirt that read, “I’m way better than porn.” My question to that is, “Why?” What does a real woman offer that porn does not? If nothing other than her body, then there’s no real difference to a man. If, on the hand, the woman offers her heart in encouraging the man, spending time with him and spends her energies, time, and talents specifically on a project for her man, if she adores him and lets him know it, if he catches her looking at him (and please let us catch you looking us up and down), if you say to us, I want to be with you, and I like you, then men would easily choose the real woman.

I’ve found that women complain that men look at porn and not at them, but perhaps these women aren’t offering anything more? We all want to be known. We all want to be loved for who we are. Do women think that men don’t need that? That we’re just empty inside? That we’re just sex machines? That makes us nothing more than sex-objects – (something that women themselves loathe to be)! Why, then, do women treat men as though women don’t have to give anything more than sex to satisfy men? I think it’s short-sighted to think that men are so shallow that all we want is sex. I can tell you from my own experience that I want more than sex. And, if men had to choose, I think we’d take encouragement, attention, and adoration instead of sex. Anyone can just lay there, close their eyes, and endure, but it takes something extra to say something nice; Something extra to want to be there. Something more from the heart of the woman needs to be invested into a man, something more has to be risked from the woman’s heart that speaks more to a man’s heart than simple physicality. If women (and men) could find out what these other ways are, maybe people wouldn’t have to have sex so much – maybe sex wouldn’t be so full of worry, hesitancy, and second-guessing. Maybe we could all relax a little about the issue and just enjoy it.

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Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm

D. – I agree men are looking for emotional intimacy when they seek sex. I’ve discussed that here and over on TGH recently. As you point out porn can’t provide this, so porn is not the second choice to sex with one’s wife.
Porn is about medicating the pain of being refused, limited, or accommodated without real intimacy. So yes, a wife’s actions can lead to a man choosing to turn to porn, or alcohol, or gambling, or so many other ways of medicating pain. She has caused him to be tempted, and Jesus warns we pay a high cost for doing that to others. But the man chooses his drug, and which drug he chooses has nothing to do with his wife. So, a man’s porn use is never about his wife.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Get Honest With YourselfMy Profile

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Jolie June 29, 2016 at 4:03 pm

@D

“Why, then, do women treat men as though women don’t have to give anything more than sex to satisfy men?”
Because we are told over and over and over again that is how a man knows his wife truly loves him (by sharing her body with him) and that sex is the main way a man expresses his love for his wife. Sex is how a man receives his emotional intimacy needs. And this seems to be true for many men.

I think the socialization of males gives them very few tools in which to express and accept intimacy other than through sex.

I may be wrong, but, I believe many women would LOVE to give and receive affection and intimacy in ways other than sex. I bet a lot of women beg for other forms of intimacy. I’m just not sure we’ve given men/boys the tools to feel intimacy in any other way.

I appreciate your insightfulness. It’s refreshing and gives me hope.

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Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 5:15 pm

@Jolie – Most men can’t feel much love in any other way if sex is messed up. In a world where most marriages have poor sex lives, most men only feel love via sex. Or more accurately, only try to feel it in sex.
I was never as bad as some, but I certainly wasn’t feeling love very much in other ways when our sex life was poor. As sex got better I started to feel loved in other ways. These didn’t replace sex, they just provided more ways to feel love. Could I have learned to feel love in those other ways if sex never got better? I’d like to say I could, but I have my doubts. In a less broken world, with far fewer lies and perversion of love and sex, I could have. In the world I live in, I fear I could not. I will be forever grateful to Lori for working to show me love and emotional intimacy through sex so I could find all the rest there is.
I agree socialisation gives men very few tools other than sex. I think this is a case of learning pushing biology even further down a valid road.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Get Honest With YourselfMy Profile

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B(me) June 30, 2016 at 5:21 am

D, I find your comment fascinating. We’ve been married almost 20 years. Lately, my husband has been wanting me around for things I am absolutely worthless for. And it’s confusing the heck out of me! Your comment sheds some light.
My husband is a master carpenter, can fix anything, has a great eye for everything. I am an inept, bumbling fool who can’t fix,made irate,mor design a thing. I have always felt like he got jipped – he’d really be much happier with one of those amazingly talented women from HGTV.
For example, when we first got married and we were painting, he’d always tell me how I was doing it wrong. So I stopped painting so he wouldn’t have to “fix” my mistakes, or waste his time correcting me. I tried to surprise him a couple years ago after he painted and we got new furniture by buying curtains and pillows to decorate the room. I expected him to be so happy. His reaction was a “well….that looks….nice.” I immediately packed it all back up, we returned it all, and he picked stuff that looked better. It was a complete fail for me, as are all projects I attempt. I had really, really thought the curtains looked good and stylish, but his pick was much better. I have had to make peace with the fact that I stink at doing things most women excel at.
And so, lately, when he wants us to do DIY projects together, I bow out. I stay out of the way. I absolutely hate feeling like I’m in the way, slowing him down. He asks me to go with him to the store all the time. For what? I’m no help. I’m just in the way. When he builds something for a client I stay far away from his garage. I’m just going to distract him or break something. My presence is a nuisance. Lately this has seemed to bother him. He acts like he can’t figure out why I don’t want to “help”. Duh. Would you want to help if he needed a Joanna from HGTV, and you were just a bumbling idiot who was always in the way?
It drives me absolutely insane that this seems to make him feel sad. I’m staying out of his way so I don’t wreck stuff and cramp his style, and so I don’t constantly remind him how he got stuck with the worlds most incompetent woman, and he sometimes acts like this makes him sad. And I’m trying so hard to do what’s best for him! It’s infuriating. I never once thought that he might want me around just to have me around. That is a totally foreign idea to me that doesn’t make any sense, but your comment really shed some light on things and got me to thinking.

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B(me) June 30, 2016 at 5:22 am

That shouldn’t say “made irate” – it should say “decorate”! Argh! See, I can’t even get this stupid autocorrect thing to stop changing everything I say!!! ?

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IntimacySeeker June 30, 2016 at 6:58 am

“Why, then, do women treat men as though women don’t have to give anything more than sex to satisfy men?”

In my experience, from my perspective, I have not done this. I admit I overfocused on sex when I learned that sexual intimacy was key to my husband’s emotional connection with me. But I’ve always understood that sex is a fundamental, crucial part of our relationship rather than the ONLY gift I have to offer or the ONLY experience with me he desires. Many couples affirm that when sex gets better, the whole relationship gets better. Sex opens the door to more intimate conversation and deeper friendship with our spouses.

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Jolie June 30, 2016 at 9:20 am

@Paul & @IntimacySeeker

So, what happens when the sex gets worse? What happens when it becomes physically more difficult? For instance, menopause, vaginal atrophy, orgasm and arousal problems, low desire, ED, prostate issues. What happens when the sex becomes messed up and a burden? Will the husband become angry and depressed and turn to porn when the physical bodies quit cooperating with his emotional needs? What happens when the fundamental, crucial part of the relationship is crippled? Will the husband no longer be able to feel love for his wife?

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Paul Byerly June 30, 2016 at 10:22 am

@Jolie – It depends on how the couple sees sex. Is it a joint blessing, and worth extra effort to keep it that? Or is it mostly for him and not worth a lot of effort to keep it good for her?
I think a lot of women tell themselves it’s not worth the extra effort not because they don’t want it to work but because they don’t put enough value on their own pleasure. If hubby doesn’t put enough value on her needs then downplaying her own pleasure is a safe way to go.
On the other hand, I do see how it could be just more work than it’s worth at times. A man who pushes when his wife says she doesn’t want/need it may be helping her with what she really wants, but he could be pushing her for his own needs.
There are solutions for all the problems you mention if the couple is willing to work at it. Unfortunately pride, fear, embarrassment, and low self-esteem get in the way. Another problem is the lies we have about what is and is not right sexually. For example, if a man can’t get an erection, his wife can give him an orgasm by hand, mouth, or vibrator – PROVIDED they are both okay with that. Or, a wife struggling with menopause can orgasm if she stimulates herself while hubby kisses her and fondles her breasts – PROVIDED they are both okay with that.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Her PerspectiveMy Profile

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IntimacySeeker June 30, 2016 at 10:49 am

@Jolie Good question. When sex was nonexistent in our marriage, my husband was angry and depressed and turned to masturbation, and resented having to do so. He felt love for me but didn’t feel loved by me. I think now that we have grown in our understanding of one another, we could face any of the physical issues you describe with much more grace than earlier in our marriage.

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Christina Rhoads June 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

I love your line, “You would be having porn with him, and that’s not what God intended or what either of you need”. It is so clear and abrupt… in a way that makes the thought a stop sign. I really love this site and all you do here. I hope more and more people flood to this site and others like it who are advocates for married intimacy.

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Paul Byerly June 29, 2016 at 12:11 pm

@Christina Rhoads – Thanks for the kind words. What I’m sharing this week has taken many years and many conversations to understand. I pray I can share what I think I know in a way others can use.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Porn: Get Honest With YourselfMy Profile

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K June 29, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Thanks for this series of articles. You have given me much to ponder, and I appreciate your approach. I agree porn often becomes used for the dopamine high and people who struggle with porn have triggers that need to be addressed in order to become free of porn. But, I don’t agree porn has nothing to do with sex or the dopamine high is only reason people watch porn. And, not everyone who has watched porn, has ongoing struggles with it.

I doubt the reason most people first watch porn is because they know they will get a dopamine high and are seeking it out to cover some sort of uncomfortable feelings. Just like the first time most people take a drink, take drugs, gamble, shop, overeat, etc. is not usually to medicate pain. Yes, some people do knowingly turn to these things to medicate pain from the very beginning, but not the majority. It only becomes about medicating pain after they realize that’s a by-product of the action. And, even then, only some people continue to do it solely for that reason. Those who do it mainly for that reason, are usually addicted to the stimuli.

In the beginning, people watch porn for a variety of reasons: curiosity, to see naked women, to get aroused, etc. It’s later they continue using it to medicate pain.

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Paul Byerly June 30, 2016 at 10:24 am

@K – I agree curiosity is the reason we start, and the hook to our sexuality pulls us in.
When I say “porn use” I mean an ongoing habit. At that point I don’t think it’s about sex.
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K July 1, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Ok, so here’s where I’m still having trouble totally agreeing with porn not being about sex for everyone who has an ongoing habit.

I don’t drink much, but I do drink. I like to have a glass of wine with dinner sometimes. I like trying different craft beers from time to time. I will drink socially if I think it’s appropriate. But, I also have no problem abstaining in social situations. I hate the feeling of being drunk so I don’t drink enough to make me drunk. I’m scared about becoming addicted to any substance so I’m keenly aware of “triggers” that could cause that to happen with alcohol. Before drinking I ask myself why I’m doing it. If I think, “I’ve had a stressful day, I need a drink.”, I won’t do it because that can lead to problems. If I have physical pain (I have chronic pain), I won’t drink if there is any hint that I may be seeking to dull the pain. I don’t have a soft or hard addiction to alcohol. I sometimes drink, so you could say that I have an ongoing alcohol habit. But, my reasons have nothing to do with the dopamine hit or with trying to medicate pain.

So, while I agree there is a component of medicating pain in many cases, I do think it’s possible for someone to have an ongoing porn habit and for it to be primarily about sex. I also think that most men watching porn don’t realize they are self medicating with porn. They consciously think it’s about sex. For me, that does make it about sex and infidelity. What is in their mind matters a lot.

As far as getting free from porn, I do agree most people need to get real about their reasons, pain or otherwise, and identify triggers that may cause them to act out.

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Paul Byerly July 1, 2016 at 12:53 pm

@K – I don’t think porn is about sex because I don’t think it IS sex. It’s a portrayal of something that is similar to sex, but it’s not sex. Even if it were a video of a real couple having real sex, it would be a recording of the sex, not sex.
Think of it this way; is watching people drink anything like drinking yourself?
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K July 1, 2016 at 2:14 pm

You’re walking a fine line with that one. No, porn IS NOT sex. I completely agree. It is, however, used by people for sexual reasons and to help them act out in sexual ways. I think you’re making it too black and white when there is a lot of grey involved.

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Paul Byerly July 1, 2016 at 7:57 pm

@K – I hear you. My real concern is calling porn sex degrades sex.
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K July 1, 2016 at 9:02 pm

On that point, there is no dispute. No matter how someone thinks about it, porn degrades what sex is intended to be.

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J. Parker July 2, 2016 at 7:40 am

This is why the phrase “be his porn star” has always bothered me. It demeans the wife and trivializes sexual intimacy in marriage. I’m not here to be his ready-to-go quick fix — I’m here to be his one-and-only beloved. Thanks for highlighting the difference!
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Paul Byerly July 2, 2016 at 1:56 pm

@J. Parker – Amen to that! Being his porn star is several steps down!
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