The Top 10 Signs You May Have An Addiction To Porn

Men looking into the sky free after addicted to porn

What Is the definition of Porn Addiction and How Can I Tell If I Have It?

In the past, it was widely believed that porn addiction wasn’t real; that it was just a myth made up by moralists trying to control people’s behavior. However, more and more studies have shown that pornography impact the brain in very serious ways. On top of that, porn addiction has been proven to cause serious problems in your work, relationships, and your sense of personal health and well-being. If you’re constantly preoccupied with watching porn or engaging in other sexual activities, if you keep going back to pornography despite negative consequences in your life, or if you’re just beginning to experience symptoms like restlessness and irritability when you’re not online looking at porn, it could be time to do something about it. To help you take action and really do something about this, let’s define what an addiction really is and reveal the top 10 signs that you have an addiction to porn.

Porn addiction definition

An addiction to porn has 3 characteristics (and this goes for any addiction)

  1. You have tried to quit porn but can’t seem to give it up
  2. You know the negative consequences of your porn addiction on yourself and others, but continue to consume and abuse it
  3. You have adjusted your lifestyle to make time and space to watch porn

“Porn addiction refers to a person becoming emotionally dependent on pornography to the point that it interferes with their daily life, relationships, and ability to function” – Medical News Today

These indicators are substantial and not to be glossed over. If you resonate with these characteristics, it’s important for you to take the rest of this article seriously. And I don’t say that to make you feel ashamed or guilty… I say that because I care so much that you know the truth… and I care so much that you get the right help for your struggle that affects SO many others too.

1) When it interferes with daily life

It doesn’t take long for porn to begin interfering with daily life… Most people spend mental energy hiding their addiction and stay up late watching porn. These 2 habits alone will cause a tremendous energy drain leaving you tired and without restraint. I remember experiencing this… I felt so drained all the time. I would spend my whole day thinking about how angry was at how tired I was (lol). It would make me feel hopeless about my life and then I would daydream about releasing the tension later that day, only to continue the cycle of madness once again. 

2) When it negatively impacts relationships

One of the worst symptoms of porn addiction is the deterioration of relationships. This goes for peer-to-peer, families, and marriages (and any others you have). Porn creates a lot of secrecy between friends and peers. It’s hard to be known and loved for who you are when you are always wearing masks. In marriage, it’s hard to feel connected when trust is constantly breached. One of the challenges here is that porn addiction can one very prideful. You may be, without knowledge, so inward focused, that you’re not even much fun to be around. Always thinking about yourself in a negative light, assuming what others are thinking, comparing yourself, and putting on a show to hide who you really are. Relati0nhips thrive on trust, respect, vulnerability, and safety. These are all very hard for someone to uphold if they’re addicted to pornography.

3) When it causes physical reactions

It can feel really embarrassing to admit, but addiction to porn causes things like porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), physiological impotence (PI), delayed ejaculation (DE) and premature ejaculation(PE). This is tragic because it makes sex, the very things God made for married couples to enjoy as a gift together, challenging and shameful. I struggled with all 4 of these and know firsthand how much they suck! Helena also struggled with delayed ejaculation as a woman, basically meaning she couldn’t orgasm as a healthy woman should be able to orgasm. The effects porn has on our sexuality are severe and not something to overlook. On top of this, it also skews the way you may relate to others, especially men relating to women. It’s common for a man to either cover his addiction to porn by avoiding it through withdrawal, or they may become overbearing and boastful as if they’re the top dog and would never struggle with this sort of stuff.

4) When your sexual tastes change

One of the most shameful symptoms of porn addiction is the hijacking of your arousal. This often causes the most shame in the men I work with. They ask “why am I attracted to something so twisted?” or “It makes no sense but I am turned on by ____”. Basically, our arousal is formed by our upbringing – what we see, hear, feel and experience. Something does not have to be sexual for it to become arousing or sexual. If something non-sexual was twisted with something sexual, for example, a longing to be seen by your mom and a video of an older woman pursuing a younger man, your good longing to be seen is now twisted with a certain genre of porn that you can access anytime you feel that void in your heart. These situations are what lead us to have fetishes and fantasies that don’t seem to make any sense. However, it’s often porn and other sexualized media that twist something good and make it erotic. From here, our sexual tastes begin to change… Have you ever heard of genres of porn that would make your head spin? They exist because people watch them, and people watch them because their healthy arousal has been hijacked by fake sex on a screen that seems to offer what they’re looking for. 

This type of work is deep and can often feel confusing to the men I work with. I love digging into their stories to help them see the ties between their good longings and their sexual arousal. It’s here that some of the greatest “aha” moments take place and real healing happens.

5) When you feel shame, embarrassment, or guilt

Most people turn to watch porn because they feel overwhelmed by their emotions and need to numb the pain… this is what people often call a “release”. The challenge with porn addiction is that we were not made for addiction… This is why we feel so much remorse after watching porn and masturbating. For so long people thought of this as a religious issue, but over the years, there has been a ton of brain science done to prove that porn damages the brain and causes severe atrophy. This is important because we can see that it’s not just morality that says “porn is bad”, its science! With these 2 together, it’s no wonder one would feel shame, guilt, and embarrassment after watching porn.

6) When it creates negative moods in general

I was the worst of them all… I was in a constant pity party state and it sucked for my wife. I was a man who lived in the lows and tried to bring people down with me. However, when something was going well in my life, I was on top of the world! Sadly, these moments never lasted and I would crash HARD. The reality is, porn addicts, don’t know how to stay even keel. They have high highs and low lows… this is what keeps them dysregulated and running for comfort the moment conflict ensues. One cannot have a truly good mood when one lives on the peaks and in the valleys. You must learn to live more even steven and regulate yourself. However, this is nearly impossible when self-blame and judgment are so intense. Because so many porn addicts hate themselves, they live in this constant battle making them short with themselves and others. Basically, you’re always critical, towards yourself or towards others, and it begins to take a major toll on your life.

7) When it doesn’t relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression

Oh, the catch-22 of porn addiction… The very reason so many says they run to porn is the very thing they get after they ejaculate. Escaping to porn because of stress is one of the most common reasons I hear. Sadly, it’s these very people that, milliseconds after they orgasm, feel the same stress, anxiety, and depression, at times, even more, severe than before. It’s because of something called “tolerance”. It means that you need more of something but enjoy it less. How stressful! Once your brain gets accustomed to the hit of dopamine it’s been getting, it will require more dopamine to get the same hit. So you are constantly striving for more porn, or in most cases, risker porn, to get the same hit as last month. Eventually, this creates such stress and ultimately, such shame because it brings you down paths you never thought you would go… This is the sad reality of the porn addiction progression for so many.

8) Wanting more control over viewing porn

Most people, without knowing it, turn to porn because they want to control it. And they want control because they feel out of control. When we feel out of control, we feel as if our power is dissipating. This can turn us to anger, entitlement, pride, and other emotions that can turn nasty quickly. When this happens, you’re going to end up looking for a way to feel powerful and in control. And this is where porn comes in for so many… Porn was made for degradation. The very place where you have power and control over others. Not literally, but in your own little world. And that’s exactly what the porn industry is all about – selling you a narrative that you can enter into and feel your pain fade away… for a moment at least.

9) Feelings of loss or numbness after using pornography

After ejaculation, it’s common to feel the loss of your values, character, decisions, promises, and whatever else you hold dear. You may have said “ill never do it again” or “I love my wife too much to hurt her again”, but here you are, watching porn. The pain behind the decision to view porn is greater than any pleasure possible. The pain is what removes the pleasure in an instant. After ejaculation, you come back to your senses (pre-frontal cortex) and realize what you did. It’s at this moment that you may feel a sense of loss or even numbness because what you did is not at all what you want to be doing.

10) Using Porn as a coping mechanism

I don’t believe we were made to use substances to cope. I believe we were made to have healthy coping mechanisms, but substances like porn would not at all fit under that category. It cannot help you cope… look at all the things that I already mentioned and try and make a case for how it could possibly be a good coping mechanism… Erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, tolerance, brain atrophy and so much more. I think it’s much wiser to utilize relationships and personal passions as a way to cope. Sadly, these are both hindered greatly by a porn addiction! This is something I see A LOT. Men who do not know how to utilize their passions and relationships to help them get through hard times. Isn’t that sad? The very thing they need is hindered by the very thing they want to stop.

Now if you are looking for some encouragement to what the benefits of quitting are, read our recent blog: 8 Benefits to Quitting Porn

Conclusion:

There you have it, a powerful list of the top 10 signs you may be addicted to porn. I hope the definition was helpful for you and that this list has given you much to consider. These are no joke! If you’re here thinking “man, I see all of these in my life” or “I definitely resonate with enough of them to be concerned” then I want you to know I am here to help. The first thing I want to say is that knowledge is power. However, it’s not “power” as that famous quote says. Knowledge + action is power. You now have knowledge of what an addiction to porn is doing to your life and how you may be affected. Now it’s time to take action and do something about it. It’s only in action that you can recover and restore all that porn has stolen from you.

Shawn Bonneteau

Shawn Bonneteau

Author of this Article

Shawn is the co-founder of Secret Habit. He loves to write, speak and coach men. He has a story of addiction to porn and masturbation, as well as a struggle with Erectile Dysfunction that haunted him for many years into his marriage. He feels called to use his story to bring hope and healing to those stuck in sexual bondage.

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