Porn ≠ Intimacy

An orgasm might feel good, but it’s no guarantee of sexual fulfillment.  Sex is more than just an orgasm, more than just a physical transaction.  We want more than sexual gratification, we want intimacy and connection and love.

Whenever a person watches porn for the first time, there are some mental hurdles that need to be jumped.

In his book Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks The Male Brain, Dr. William Struthers outlines the process by which a person mentally deals with the thoughts and feelings that result from viewing porn (p. 50-54).

First, there’s denial. In this phase, a person will deny that they consume porn with any regularity.  Sure, they’ve seen porn before, but they certainly don’t make a habit of it.  Struthers notes that it’s often difficult to get men to admit they watch porn, unless the condition of anonymity is in place.

The second phase is minimisation. This is where a man will admit that he watches porn with some regularity, but he claims that it is not a habit, and that he is totally in control.  It’s no big deal in this guy’s life. 

The third phase is normalisation.  In this phase a man will own his habitual porn consumption and justify it with the idea that everyone else is watching porn too.  We see this idea among those who say that watching porn is a modern rite of passage for boys to become men.  We see it where people say that watching porn is a healthy way to explore one’s sexuality and a healthy way to spice up a relationship that’s struggling in the bedroom.

The fourth phase is rationalisation and justification.  Rationalisation is all about the thinking and reasons whereby a person gives themselves permission to watch porn.  It could be as simple as a person telling themselves they’ve had a hard day, or thinking that porn fulfils a physical need.  Justification is all about the reasoning a person uses after they’ve viewed porn.  It’s the excuse that makes the behaviour acceptable.  At this stage, not only is the behaviour normal, it is also (to the person involved) rational and justified.

The last phase, according to Struthers, is celebration. This is where a man not only claims that his interest in porn is normal, but he goes further to boast about it and celebrate it as something positive and masculine. Here the man considers his collection as not something to hide under the mattress, but put on display.  Think Barney Stinson’s wall of porn in ‘How I Met Your Mother’. 

For Struthers, this whole process actually achieves the opposite effect of what sex is supposed to do.  Sex, according to Struthers, is about intimacy between a man and woman.  Porn is completely devoid of intimacy.  Because porn doesn’t satisfy deeply, men press further into the world of porn consumption, which only increases the lack of intimacy that men really long for.

Considering that most porn use is done solo, the only intimate connection that grows is between a man and his own hand.  Now that’s intimate.