• Anthony Dimitrion, LCSW, ACS

Opinion: The Truth Behind Pornography & Sex Addiction

Updated: Nov 8



Pop science, high profile actors caught in a lie, and faith-centered spokespersons have been blaming, shaming, and demonizing pornography and masturbation for decades. It’s the “cause of infidelity”. It’s the “reason why I couldn’t keep it in my pants”. It’ll “send you to hell”. It’s why “I had sex with another man”. The list goes on…Then comes the so-called self-help groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous, faith-based rehabs for sex and porn addiction, and pages upon pages of groups on Reddit for individuals trying to “recover” from their “affliction”. The thing is…there is no affliction or addiction. Pornography, masturbation, and sex for that matter are not a disease to recover from. Human sexuality has been shamed for centuries leading to rigid assumptions and unrealistic expectations about what is and isn’t appropriate for a person to erotically engage in. This has led to discrimination and marginalization of individuals who are not straight, cisgender, monogamous, or erotically vanilla.


So what does this have to do with pornography addiction? Well, if something is called an addiction solely because of the frequency someone is engaging in it or the judgement being laid upon it, then I would be considered a Netflix Addict because I watch Netflix for hours every single day. I would also be considered a Biking Addict because I go on a bike ride 4-6 times a week for an hour each time. Oh, and I would be considered a Facial Addict because my partner doesn’t like how often I go for a facial and thinks it’s a waste of money. Do you see what I mean? Something can’t be an addiction simply because of judgement or the frequency at which someone is engaging in it. Actual addictions lead to physiological changes in one’s brain. This is something that research has yet to prove when it comes to frequent pornography viewing, masturbation, or sex. I would argue that the idea of addiction is used as a scapegoat for pornography viewing and masturbation/sex that someone morally defines as wrong or shameful.


Here’s what I think—it doesn’t matter how often you watch porn, how frequently you jerk off, or how much sex you have if it doesn’t interfere negatively with your work, personal, romantic, or social life more often than not. If I choose to masturbate while watching porn 4x a day and I still get to work on time, respect not watching during work hours, pay my bills, and have a mutually satisfying relationship with my partner is there a problem? What if I choose not to be in a relationship at all and decide to have sex with multiple partners a week because I find it fun. Am I hurting anyone or betraying my responsibilities? Oh, and if I decide on a free weekend to watch porn for 3-4 hours while edging, am I doing anything wrong? The answer in my mind is an astounding NO! I can engage in my sexuality however I want as long as it is honest, consensual, and respectful of the personal values and boundaries of myself and all others I sexually and romantically engage with.


Now when a partner’s opinion is added to the mix, we have a different debacle. They are now inputting their values and opinions into the mix…Do I ignore my partner’s feelings? No, however we should have an open and honest conversation about our values and beliefs about masturbation, sex, pornography, and monogamy. If at any point they differ, we need to explore together what feels appropriate and acceptable in our relationship. I.e. can I gift my partner monogamy, even though I believe in non-monogamy? Or can I gift my partner the agreement that it is okay to watch pornography as often they want because I know it hasn’t taken away from our sex life. If we cannot agree, then we need to discuss whether or not our relationship is viable in the long run or if we need to engage in couple’s therapy to explore these concerns further with a qualified third.


The moral of this article is that pornography addiction is nothing more than shame. If you believe that your pornography viewing is problematic, take some time to check in with yourself. Is it interfering with your ability to work, socialize, or be intimate with your partner? Would this be problematic if you were single? What if it hadn’t been discovered by anyone else? If your answer is still yes, then it could be helpful to meet with a sex therapist like me (Anthony Dimitrion, LCSW, ACS), so that you can further explore the role that pornography, masturbation, and sex play in your life.

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