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Porn addiction: Why am I addicted to porn? 5 questions to ask yourself

Start by asking yourself these questions

If you're reading this, you're probably wondering whether you're addicted to porn, and why that is.

Loads of guys (if not all) watch porn, right? So how come for some of us it becomes a problem: a habit you just can't kick, and one that wreaks havoc on your life?

You might be asking yourself:

What makes you different from other guys who can just dip in and out of porn sites with no more attachment than watching Netflix.

There's technically nothing wrong with watching porn – the main problem is the habit you can develop around it, and its adverse effects on your life.

If you do get addicted (which is actually a lot easier than you might think), it's most likely to do with how your brain works.

Let’s investigate what comes into play, and what makes a difference to whether or not you wind up addicted.

What are the main signs of a porn addiction?

You might have a porn problem if:

  • You turn to porn as your main coping strategy for relieving stress, or to get away from unwanted emotions.
  • You have no control over your porn usage, and tune in compulsively at all hours.
  • You think about watching porn. A lot.
  • You've tried to quit or cut down - and can't.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms like mood swings when you're not able to use porn.
  • You've noticed changes in your taste and tolerance (going for more extreme porn, and having to use for longer).
  • You're experiencing sexual dysfunctions (like porn-induced ED or anorgasmia).

Any of the above sound familiar? If yes, it's time to be frank about your relationship with porn, and get proactive about fixing it.

Start by asking yourself these questions.

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Why Do You Watch Porn?

Studies show that porn affects 1 in every 2 users in an unhealthy way, meaning it's pretty damn easy to wind up with a toxic porn habit.

Turns out there's a link between why people turn to porn, and whether or not it becomes an addiction.

Guys who can watch porn in a casual way are usually watching it as a distraction, to educate themselves, or ideas for the bedroom. Also, a lot of these dudes are in relationships (we'll have a look at that in a bit).

Guys who do get addicted usually go for porn for one or more of these reasons:

  • To reduce stress
  • As a coping mechanism
  • To tune into sex activities that verge on the extreme / abnormal (and that you can't access so easily IRL)
  • To relax
  • To fulfil needs and feel satisfaction

In a 2015 survey reducing stress came out as the number one motive for watching porn. Think about times when you've been super stressed: how often have you turned to porn to release that tension?

Getting to the bottom line of why you watch porn can be a really positive step. It's easier to find solutions to a problem when you know what's at the root of it, and what got you there in the first place.

How well does your brain manage stress?

If you're switching on porn when you're feeling stressed, it's quite possible you have a problem.

So how did that happen? And why do some people have 'healthier' ways of combating stress than others?

There might be an answer in epigenetics: the study of how easily your genes can change based on your environment or events in your life, and basically how plastic your brain is.

Did you know that having gone through neglect or abuse as a child affects the way your brain deals with stress? Research has shown that if you experienced tough times as a kid your brain will have changed on an epigenetic level.

What's actually happened: molecules called methyl groups pop up and block the production of receptors (in the hippocampus) that regulate your brain's response to stress hormones.

This leaves you with fewer tools in your mental toolkit for handling stress. As a result, you turn to external tools for a quick fix when stressed (cue addictive habits).

We've all heard it said that as kids, our brains are like sponges. When you look at epigenetics, it's true – young brains are more malleable and more prone to change. But psychologists have discovered that adult experiences can also cause significant shifts in our mental make-up.

If you've ever had a bout of depression, for instance, there could be changes in your nucleus accumbens – part of the brain’s reward system, a circuit thatplays a key role in how and why addictions develop.

The reward circuit is a vital piece of the addiction puzzle. This part of the brain drives us towards natural experiences which are rewarding and good for survival (food, sex, bonding). When the reward system picks up on more extreme, less natural versions of these experiences (e.g junk food, porn) it releases extra dopamine (the ‘go get it’ neuro-chemical) which is what gets the addiction process started.

Going through depression or something equally life-changing can distort how the nucleus accumbens works and change how well your reward system functions, making it a lot easier to develop addictions.

This might all seem a bit daunting: it's not like you can turn back time and erase the bad experiences you went through.

On a positive note, it's actually just as possible to rewrite aspects of your brain's genetic code with positive thinking and experiences. By focusing on improving your mindset, being more optimistic and treating yourself to more uplifting experiences, you can change your DNA for the better.

Are you in a healthy relationship?

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While this might sound unfair to the single lads reading, statistics have shown that if you're in a steady and happy relationship you're less likely to get addicted to porn.

But there's more to it than just having good sex regularly = no need to watch porn.

Many of us have been in, or are in relationships where we're having good sex, yet we still find ourselves sneaking to the bathroom for a cheeky one. What's that about?

Being in a relationship needs to involve more than a good sex life: you want to be feeling safe, satisfied and rewarded on a regular basis.

Unlike 97% of mammals, we humans are pair bonders, which means we're our happiest and healthiest when we're coupled up. We need what evolutionary psychologists call bonding behaviours, i.e being affectionate with your partner and showing each other love for the sake of it, and not just as foreplay to sex.

Bonding behaviours give your brain a rush of neurochemicals like 'cuddle chemical' oxytocin and reduce levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol.The more bonding behaviours in your relationship (that aren't just as foreplay), the more easily your brain produces oxytocin, which helps you combat stress and feel good.

When you're engaging in bonding behaviours frequently, you're also sending signals to your amygdala (the primitive part of the brain) that it's ok to relax and there's no need to be on guard.

So, if you and your partner are regularly sharing hugs and giving each other strokes, loving looks and words, you probably have good mental tools in place to handle stress. This means you're less likely to go for extreme tactics to reduce stress (like porn) when you can have a cuddle instead.

Here's a different scenario, which can still apply if you're in a relationship... You go for intense stimulation (yup, porn) which makes your sensory tolerance build-up. This leads to you searching for more hardcore content, which numbs you to expressions of love and affection IRL.

Yep… This scenario sucks.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be porn addiction free. So it's not quite as simple as just being in a relationship = no porn addiction. If your relationship isn't fulfilling the primal need for bonding, you're probably still turning to porn to feel satisfied

So if you're in a relationship, be sure to get extra cuddly with your partner.

Single guys reading, know this: bonding behaviours in non-romantic relationships will have similar benefits. So it's time to embrace some bromance!

How much has the internet affected your porn habit?

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash


Depending on how old you are, you may remember the good old days of dial-up internet and snail pace web connection. Back then, dealing with constant freezing and buffers mid-porn session was pretty standard (and a total vibe killer).

These days, we take for granted our super high-speed internet, not just at home, but wherever we go with our phones. We're now exposed to way more porn content than before, which we can access whenever and wherever we want.

Having speedy internet access and a huge range of porn available makes the potential of an unhealthy habit start to snowball:

The easier it is to find and stream porn, the more porn you watch....

The more porn you watch, the more your senses numb...

The more porn you need to watch, and so on.

Here's something to consider: how long have you had a fast internet connection for?

It could be that those of us who now have a porn addiction are also the ones who've been plugged into high-speed internet and smartphones the longest, from a younger, more impressionable age.

As we touched on earlier, when we're kids our minds are still forming, and so what we're exposed to then can have a bigger impact. So the generations who've had high-speed internet since childhood are more likely to get hooked – not just on porn, but also online gaming, social media, and phone use in general.

On the other hand, take a look at your older friends, or any technophobes you may know (i.e the ones who clung to their old Nokia burners the longest). Maybe these are the guys who are less bothered about watching porn – partly because they just haven't had easy access for as long as you have, and so an addiction hasn't had the time to develop.

How often do you watch porn? The more you watch, the more you want (and need).

Photos by Franco Alva on Unsplash


Finally, if you have a strong, untameable urge to watch porn (and a lot of it), it's possible you're also turning to new types of content, stuff that might have even grossed you out in the past.

Studies have shown that over time, compulsive porn use blunts your response to stimuli, causing you to go for more hardcore genres that shock, surprise, and even induce fear or anxiety.

'The current porn epidemic gives a graphic demonstration that sexual tastes can be acquired, Pornography, delivered by high-speed internet connections, satisfies every one of the prerequisites for neuroplastic change.' Norman Doidge MD; 'The Brain That Changes Itself'.

The problem with porn is, just like other addictive activities or substances: the more you use, the more you want and need. And, similar to a drug addiction, as your tolerance builds up you can wind up having to seek stronger, more powerful highs.

So another reason you might be addicted to porn while your mates aren't: the problem snowballs – the more porn you watch, the easier it is for a casual past-time to turn into a nasty habit that's hard to quit.

One last thing: if you’re addicted to porn, it’s not down to a character defect. Online porn is highly addictive (more addictive than gaming in fact). So if you’re looking at your buddies and wondering why you got the short straw on this one, realise two things:

  • Porn viewing is ubiquitous these days, and it’s very easy to get addicted
  • Some of the effects of addiction are a lot more subtle than others. So chances are, other guys you know also have a porn problem, they’re just not aware of it.

Time to reboot?

REMOJO is the app you need. Check it out for the most effective way to say farewell to porn and reclaim your life.

For more research-backed BS-free articles about porn addiction head to our blog.




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