Porn addiction, like any addiction, is not something that anybody wants to have. Nobody wakes up in the morning with a bright smile and a goal to develop an addiction to porn. In fact, a lot of people struggling with addictions like these have no idea that they’re addicted to anything at all. 

If you’re interested in learning how to properly identify a porn addiction, then you’ve found the right page.

The challenges and impact of living with a porn addiction

As you develop an addiction to anything, whether it’s porn or heroin, your life will begin to change. Granted, the changes caused by a porn addiction probably won’t be as drastic as they would be if you had an addiction to shooting heroin. Porn addiction isn’t going to kill you. 

Ironically, though, the perceived lack of danger is actually one of the reasons that porn addiction is becoming so common. Because it’s not physically harmful, many people — perhaps even society at large — allow sexual addictions to slide under the radar. 

However, just because sex and porn addictions aren’t inherently dangerous doesn’t mean that they’re inherently free of symptoms.

In addition to the direct symptoms caused by porn addiction, you may find other surprises. People may start to treat you differently, and your social life might change. You might find that your thoughts and behaviours are different than they were before you started using porn. 

Whatever the case, you won’t make much progress until you learn how to recognize the symptoms and impact of porn use. When your porn habit expands and starts to affect other areas of your life besides your personal pornography time, this is when your addiction can start to cause problems.

Why it’s challenging to identify porn addiction

Many types of addiction are very easy to identify. People with drug and alcohol addictions, for example, will show lots of symptoms. These obvious symptoms are usually hard, if not impossible, to hide. People with serious addictions show very clear physical and psychological symptoms such as facial scabbing, drooling, erratic behavior, shaking, and glazed-over eyes.

One of the reasons that porn addiction is harder to identify is because it doesn’t cause so many obvious symptoms. Whereas people with drug addictions are often visibly under the influence, unpredictable in their behaviors and reactions, people with porn addictions aren’t going to experience these drastic changes. Since porn addiction takes place behind closed doors, most of the changes that people experience will only be known to them - and sometimes, not even then.

Because of the private nature of porn addiction, the friends and family of people addicted are often at a loss. They might suspect that something is up, but they’re not able to prove that their loved one has an actual addiction to porn. This is why it’s a good thing that you’re looking at this page yourself. Trying to identify a porn addiction in yourself might be difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging. However, at the end of the day, this shows strength and courage.

And yet, this is another reason that porn addiction can be difficult to identify. It requires a great deal of strength to acknowledge that you have become powerless to an addiction. Many people find it easier to simply brush their addictive behaviour under the carpet. Instead of acknowledging it for what it is, some people prefer to take the easy route of denial.

If you are genuinely interested in improving your overall health and well-being, then it’s in your interest to work through any addictive behaviours that you have. The simple fact that you’re here, working on learning about addiction, shows that you have this strength and determination. That’s the first and most important step for anybody who wants to recover from the addiction, and it looks like you’ve already nailed it.

Begin to take accountability

If you’re here and reading this article, then you’re already on the way to taking accountability for your addiction. For many, this is the hardest step, and it’s also the reason that so many people spend years trapped in the cycle of addiction, relapse, and recovery.

Again, this isn’t as obvious or severe with porn addiction as it is with substance addiction. However, the same cycles are present. Most likely, you are here because you’re interested in breaking out of this cycle.

But first, let’s make sure your intentions are straight and your goals are clear. Why, exactly, are you curious about whether or not you have a porn addiction? When taking accountability for your addiction, there are a few things that you might want to check in with yourself about. Be honest with yourself here, and don’t be afraid to take your time with these emotional check-ins. 

If you’re really going to open up to yourself, the following topics can seem very heavy and challenging to think about, let alone feel. Nonetheless, these common issues might tip you off regarding your addiction.

  • Your relationship has been affected by your porn use.
  • You have tried to stop using porn but you find that you’re unable to.
  • You’re spending a lot more time watching porn than you want to but you’re unsure if you could stop.
  • You recently became exposed to pornography and haven’t been able to stop using it since. 
  • You come from a family or a background that doesn’t encourage or support sexual behaviour and are struggling to come to terms with your porn use.
  • Your friends or family have started to talk to you about your porn use.

These are just a few of the reasons that people may want to take responsibility for their addiction. There are plenty of other reasons, however. The most important thing is that you remain conscious of how important this self-work is. By taking the initiative and moving forward on your own, you are taking a step to cut the addiction off before it becomes too serious.

Identifying porn addiction symptoms

In the following three sections we’ll look at common physical, mental and emotional signs and symptoms of porn addiction. As you read through these sections you might find that many of these signs and symptoms hit home for you. 

It’s normal to feel anxious and worried if you recognize yourself being described below. However, it’s important to know that many men and women have overcome their addictions to porn and gone on to have healthy and fulfilling sex lives. However, to overcome the problem, first you must acknowledge how serious it has become.

In later sections, we’ll discuss how porn addiction can be addressed and how you can learn to ‘reboot’ your sexual experience so that you can start to overcome negative signs and symptoms. So, what are some of the common signs of porn addiction?

One of the key ways to know that your porn use is a problem is if you find it is interfering with your life. You’re struggling to control your porn use even when you want to avoid it. This, in itself, indicates there’s a problem.

But there are also many other signs that people who are addicted to porn find commonly occur:

One of the key signs you’re addicted to porn is if you start losing interest in real sex. You might find that being with another person doesn’t excite you in the same way watching porn does and that you prefer watching artificial sex on your screen.

Many men find they start having trouble getting and maintaining erections when they aren’t watching porn. You might find that without porn you develop an inability to orgasm during real sex.

You might find that without porn or imagining porn you struggle to masturbate satisfactorily.

Many people also experience unaccustomed premature ejaculation. Others develop delayed orgasm.

You might find that you begin to escalate your porn use to harder and more niche porn, even areas that aren’t part of your normal sexuality.  Some people report moving onto fetish niches that they don’t usually find exciting or rewarding as their porn use increases. 

Other people find they are drawn to porn that doesn’t align with their previous sexual preferences or orientation  - for example watching gay porn if previously you have always felt heterosexually aligned or vice versa. Note that your sexual tastes can and often change as you go through life, however, if you find that it is only porn that seems to influence rapid or large changes in your sexual tastes then this can be an indication of porn addiction. 

You may experience escalation as a ‘porn paradox’ – where you start to crave certain porn even though you don’t actually like it.

You may also suffer from a range of emotional and social symptoms which we will explore in the next section. 

If you are experiencing these kinds of symptoms it could be likely that your porn habit has become or is becoming an addiction.

Identifying a porn addiction by its effects on your relationship

A lot of people first figure out that they have a porn addiction because it starts affecting their relationship. Porn addiction involves the use of very intimate and erotic material. If you’re in a monogamous relationship, and you’re frequently using porn, this can create some friction or tension. Many people are not surprised to find that their partner is uncomfortable with the idea of them watching porn.

If your partner has discussed their distaste of your porn-watching habits with you, this could be a sign that you are developing an addiction. However, this isn’t always the case. Some people simply don’t like the idea of their partners using porn at all.

If your partner does choose to call you out for watching porn, they may have their own issues to work through. Porn may call into question your partner’s values and ethics. They may also have some sort of emotional trauma, insecurity, or self-doubt that gets triggered when they see you watching porn.

If you are absolutely certain that your porn use isn’t serious enough to be considered an addiction, then you might want to talk to your partner about why they feel so strongly about it.

Even if your partner doesn’t have a problem with you watching porn, you might notice it affecting your relationship on your own.

Porn use tends to change peoples’ sexual habits. Your views, opinions, and approach to sex and intimacy can change drastically because of porn. These changes are often most obvious in your relationship.

The opposite can also be true: changes in the emotional or sexual component of a relationship can drive someone towards watching porn. If your habit with porn is a new thing, there’s reason to believe that this might be the result of your relationship. If you’re not finding yourself satisfied or engaged with your partner, it’s natural to turn to other sources for fulfillment. This is one of the many reasons that people start using porn.

In either case, if your porn use becomes so rampant that it further interferes with your sex life or relationship, you might be developing addictive habits. The porn industry sets very high standards on sexuality. Taking these standards into the bedroom, especially with a partner who does not watch porn, can create a lot of tension.

You may also find that you’re putting pressure on yourself because of these high standards. If your partner is used to you performing a certain way, and suddenly you change your entire approach to sex because of porn, they might be caught off guard.

Porn use can also change your physical sexual ability. If you’re a man, you might develop problems with erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. Both of these issues can interfere with your relationship.

Porn can also interfere with non-romantic relationships such as those with your friends. If you find that you often opt-out of social situations in order to watch porn, it’s quite likely that you’re dealing with an addiction.

Conclusion

Porn addiction is a very real problem, but it’s not always easy to identify. Learning to recognize the symptoms of porn addiction, as well as learning to be honest and self-reflective, is key for anyone hoping to overcome this particular sexual addiction.