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Adrian Tiller, MFT

The Problem with Porn

If you watch porn, how often? And for how many years?

Do you have any problems with a partner around arousal, erection or climax?

Men who grew up with a computer probably grew up with porn. The availability and temptation are simply too great. Porn and masturbation become a habit but may feel like an addiction.

With an unlimited array of on-line lingerie ads, bodies, beauties, and fantasies, the intensity of sexual pleasure and release get hot-wired to images of young, pretty and perfectly shaped women—or men. Every single climax strengthens these neural pathways. Day after day, year after year, a man unwittingly programs his body to react and respond (like Pavlov’s dog: stimulusà response) to images and video clips of idealized actresses and models, amateur or professional. Unfortunately, this pattern can lead to problems with getting an erection and achieving orgasm.

It’s easy to control and manipulate video images, but less so with walking, talking human beings. Girlfriends and boyfriends have needs and preferences—and complaints. Emotional closeness takes time. The reality and requirements of day-to-day intimate communication are more complicated than apps and websites. 

When variety and more intensity are desired—or required—to maintain a level of excitement, different forms of sexual interaction might be explored—video chats, massage parlors or prostitutes. Often secrets and shame result and financial troubles can occur. After years of watching porn, some men realize they have insecurities about body image, performance or penis size.

This problem is not only limited to heterosexuals but also impacts gay and bisexual men. Gay men already have availability for quick hook-ups. Many more men desire and seek “just sex” than women. If sex on the first date is the norm, creating and sustaining intimacy and emotional closeness can be more challenging.

Even married or partnered men can turn to porn for a quick relaxing release or to avoid life’s realities. Porn can be an obstacle to intimacy and act like a third party in a relationship. A guy might secretly masturbate and then feel guilty when his partner voices a need for more sex.

After recognizing this emotional and physiological problem, some men have chosen to decrease or give up porn or masturbation—or both. They learn how to re-set their bodily responses and transition to a more authentic way of interacting with partners. And they choose reality over fantasy. This process takes time and motivation but change is possible and the payoffs are tangible and permanent—long-term intimacy within a sustained relationship, which, in time, can lead, if desired, to marriage, family and children.


Adrian Tiller, MFT, San Francisco

 Practice Locations
San Francisco, CA 94123
Novato, CA 94945

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Articles by Adrian are below

Porn and Panic
The Problem with Porn
When Paic Attacks

Self-esteem & Selfish Parents
Improving Self-esteem
Coping with Self-Absorbed Parents

Intimacy for Gay Men
Intimacy for Gay Men

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Last Modified: 4/2/2020  


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