Wow. That was unexpected.

A new study from The Journal of Sexual Medicine quotes four Dutch researchers who argue that porn ultimately has no seriously negative effect on sexual behavior. Pornography, the researchers say, is “just one factor among many that may influence the sexual behaviors of young people.” The study looked at 4,600 people between the ages of 15 and 25 living in the Netherlands and found that only between 0.3 percent and 4 percent of the sexual behaviors in question could be attributed to pornography use. They did caution, however, that the study “should not be interpreted as an indication that the influence … is negligible, nonexistent, or unimportant.”

Really? But what about its effects on sustaining a long-term loving relationship? What about its impact on marriage?

As a marital counselor I can say that addiction to pornography is one of the most malignant forms of marital decay in our time. It causes many husbands to be slowly weaned off an attraction to their wives as they pursue fantasy instead. It caters to the male need for variety in the most corrosive way. Rather than a husband developing an attraction for “vertical” variety – digging deeper into his wife’s personality and unearthing newer and more erotic aspects thereof by which to enhance attraction – he instead becomes hooked on “horizontal” variety, wherein only new lovers and new flesh will satisfy. Likewise, he cheats his wife out of her much-deserved right for his focus and attention as he is slowly pulled away from her to the airbrushed images he downloads on the Internet.
Let me disabuse you of the notion that husbands who download porn are sex addicts. Men who watch porn or go to strip clubs and prostitutes are not “sex addicts” so much as “orgasm addicts.” The sex addict actually enjoys sex. He loves the friction of sex, the intensity of sex, the loss of self that comes through sex, and the deep connection fostered through sex. He loves the strong emotions, the intimacy, and the sense of closeness that sex brings.

But the orgasm addict dismisses the strong emotions that sex conjures up, which is why he wants to skip sex and head straight for climax. For him, a woman is nothing more than the means to an end. At the moment of sexual climax, he reaches his intended goal not of feeling, but non-feeling, not of strong emotion but of emotionlessness, followed by the nirvana and bliss of sleep.

Many men today fear emotion. Raised with a false stereotype of machismo that is about conquest rather than connection, they have scarce training in how to feel. So they use pornography to objectify women as a means of ensuring that no woman will ever have power over them. Pornography fosters misogyny as men begin to see women as existing for naught but their sexual needs.

This is why many men today seek a variety of sexual partners rather than cultivating the erotic charge of passionate monogamy. They use variation to obviate connection. The more sexual partners they have, the more meaningless sex becomes. And the more meaningless it becomes, the less connected to women they feel.

Porn is the male orgasm personified. It is not smart, it is not entertaining, and it is not erotic. It is pure sexual detonation. The French are in the habit of referring to the male orgasm as le petite morde, or “the little death.” After orgasm, the male narcissist is granted the pleasure not of intense sensation, which the sex addict craves, but of numbness, which the orgasm addict seeks.

A love of sex in a committed relationship reflects a love of life, because during sex coupled with connection we feel intensely alive. But a love of orgasm actually reflects a subconscious desire for the death of non-feeling because after orgasm we feel expended and caput.

The transformation of men from sex addicts into porn addicts also explains why many men aren’t having sex with their wives, with approximately one in five American marriages being entirely platonic. On the national TV show I hosted for TLC, Shalom in the Home, of the twenty families we worked with in our first two seasons roughly half had not had sex in more than a year. And these were young couples, not men on a Viagra drip.

For those husbands wishing to wean themselves off a deepening porn addiction, Maimonides counsels that one extreme must be met by another. The extreme of neglecting one’s wife in favor of fantasy images should be countered by showing extravagant love to one’s spouse.

Put away the computer. Let go of the internet connection. And bask in the glory and beauty of the real woman who is your wife.

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