True Story: My Ex-Boyfriend Was A Porn Addict

True Story: My Ex-Boyfriend Was A Porn Addict
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“You just don’t know how to get me off,” M. snapped.

Humiliated, tears immediately sprang into my eyes. Every guy I had dated or hooked up with had always been more than pleased with our sex life.  M. had always had a problem getting and staying hard. But now that I was confronting him, he was blaming it on me. Once M. became erect, he would stay that way for a while until he lost steam and went limp. As for having an orgasm, it was relegated to a once in a while event. We would cheer as though he was a toddler who managed to make it to the toilet to pee.

In the film “Don Jon,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a man who is so addicted to porn he cannot enjoy sex with a real woman. Just like the protagonist, M. watched porn every day. Scared of what the answer may be, I began to wonder, Was porn the problem? In pop culture, porn is often seen as an affirmation of masculinity. The idea of porn addiction always seemed nebulous at best, something invented by the religious right. I assumed most guys watched it from time to time, but it never occurred to me that my partner could actually be addicted to it. Until it happened to me.

In a Cambridge University study, neuroscientist Dr. Valerie Voon ran a series of tests comparing the brain activity of self-described porn addicts with those of healthy males while watching porn. While the control group was excited by the imagery, the compulsive users’ brains were twice as active, similar to someone addicted to alcohol, drugs, or nicotine.

When a user keeps watching porn a new dopamine spike is created causing the viewer to become accustomed to each additional hit. Over time, the brain’s receptors becomes less sensitive to the dopamine creating a need for increasingly extreme experiences to become sexually aroused. In other words, regular sex with a real live woman does not produce enough dopamine or enough novelty and excitement, ultimately causing — you guessed it — erectile dysfunction.

Nonetheless, from a clinical standpoint, pornography addiction has yet to be classified as a disorder. One reason is the advent of internet porn is still relatively new, making research on it scant. But for reformed porn addict, public speaker, and teen counselor Gabe Deem the lack of research is irrelevant.

“I never had any traumatic experience that led me to [porn addiction]. I simply had access to it [on the internet]. My fetishes became increasingly hardcore as I built up a tolerance. It would start off with normal guy and girl. Then gang bangs. Then throat banging. Then rape porn.  You’ve got to escalate to get the same rush.” By the time he was 23, he had full blown erectile dysfunction.

In the old days, men had to stick to Playboy and Penthouse to get their kicks. Now even a 12-year-old knows what bukkake is thanks to the internet. Ten years of easy access to a veritable smorgasbord of increasingly extreme porn were making men (including M.) think requests for deep-throating and threesomes were normal and that every woman enjoyed anal sex and pussy slapping. This isn’t your old-school Vivid Video giving rise to porn addiction; it’s hardcore or “gonzo” internet porn.

Gail Dines, author of Pornland and founder of StopPornCulture.org, couldn’t agree more about the changing world of porn.  “I was giving a lecture at a university and the professor had warned the students there was going to be explicit content shown. The women were shell-shocked as they watched [the hardcore porn] because most women think they know what porn is but they don’t.  The men asked why they had been warned at all. It all seemed normal to them. ‘Normal’ porn no longer exists. No story line. Just gagging, intense pounding, ‘gaping’ where they open the anus to hideous levels so it gapes open. Then there’s ATM, where they put the penis into her mouth without washing. Three to four men and double penetration. Deep throating and gagging. Spitting her in the face and calling her a cunt. That’s typical gonzo. And women are being expected to keep up with this.”

I certainly had felt the pressure. “Angelina Valentine [a porn star] gives the best BJs,” M. once said. “You should watch her so you can deep throat too.” Trying to make him happy, I gave M. a blow job for so long that I developed an inflamed muscle on my jaw. Yet he still wasn’t happy. He simply didn’t understand why I wasn’t as “enthusiastic” as Ms. Valentine, never mind the fact that she was getting paid. He expected me to relish his penis as though I were a starving child desperate for a sandwich. To be fair, it wasn’t as though M. was completely selfish. He showered me with affection and love all the time. But when it came to sex he suddenly turned into a different person.

Many of our sexual encounters felt staged. M. would describe the tediously specific way I was to touch him. It felt calculated, not sexy. Every session in the sack became a scorecard of sorts. Was my blowjob perfect? Should I have fingered his ass too? Did I twist my hand enough? Did I squeeze my PC muscles? Did I moan enough? I had the distinct feeling if I didn’t perform as requested, I would eventually be tossed aside.

Unlike M., Deem sensed porn was part of his problem. “I had met a gorgeous girl I really liked and when we went to have sex my dick had no response.” Deem says. “I knew it wasn’t alcohol or performance anxiety. After doing some research online, I decided to try to masturbate without porn. But I couldn’t get hard. It all hit me; the selfishness of me pursuing porn over a loving relationship kicked me in the gut. So I decided to stop watching porn.”

Still not sure if it was truly the porn that was causing M.’s ED, I initiated an experiment. M. would stop watching porn for a week and we would see what happened.

In a complete 180 turn, M. was able to stay hard and orgasm a whopping 70 percent of the time (yes, we counted). Considering that his orgasms had become as frequent as a sighting of Kim Kardashian without makeup, this was a huge achievement. However unlike Deem, after a couple weeks, M. was back to his regular porn-watching schedule.

Before you call me an anti-porn handwringer, let me clarify. Up until this point, I could have cared less if he watched porn or not. I’ve watched porn before — like most women — for educational purposes and occasionally to get off. But I didn’t need to watch it. And I certainly wasn’t watching gangbanging every day to get off.  Just as not everyone who drinks becomes an alcoholic, not everyone who watches porn is an addict. But when enjoyment turns into dependence, therein lies the problem. As Deem points out, “There’s nothing more sex negative than not being able to keep your dick up.” And with the increased availability of extreme porn via the internet, a new generation of men are finding themselves developing addictions that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Porn is becoming less like an enhancement and more like a ball-and-chain.

“Porn isn’t reality!” says behavioral researcher Andrea Kuszewski. “For example, lots of men get off on the idea that women are just dying to give them oral sex, they are incredibly turned on while doing it, and they orgasm every time they have sex with them, that they are writhing around in agony all day just waiting to see them at the door so they can rip their clothes off because they are just so manly and irresistible. That isn’t real. And those are the people that ultimately have problems with being ‘addicted’ to porn, because they have convinced themselves that this is what sex means, this is what relationships should be like, and this is what is sexy. That’s just run of the mill disillusionment.”

I knew the feeling. M. was obsessed with my performing “correctly,” complaining that I wasn’t “popping that pussy” enough and that his hand was always better. Yet he could never precisely say what it was he needed. It didn’t matter if I was doing a split over him, riding him all night or using one of our sex swings, it still wasn’t enough.  And if I did engage in things he was interested in (rimming, prostate milking) he accused me of not liking it. I was beginning to feel like a circus animal. It was becoming painfully obvious to me that M. had become completely brainwashed by years of daily porn use. He was no longer able to make the distinction between fantasy and reality.

Paradoxically, when M. and I did try a classic porn move (the ol’ pearl necklace) he couldn’t do it. “I love you. I can’t,” he said. It seemed as though I would be damned if I did and damned if I didn’t, stuck between some blurry space between Madonna and whore. In the meantime, my own sexual needs were taking a back seat to his obsessions. I wanted him to work on his fingering skills. I wanted more foreplay. I liked toys. I wanted less calculation and more wild passion. And most importantly, I wanted him to actually remain hard and not run out of breath as he often did after just 10 minutes of having sex. Just as in the porn he watched, sex was all about his pleasure and getting himself off. My experience was secondary. M. was beginning to feel embarrassed. “I’m beginning to think I can’t fuck you,” he said sadly.

Ultimately our demise was one that was inevitable. He truly believed he needed porn, threesomes, deep throating, and anal sex to be happy in the long run, unable to see the real problem was not the acts themselves but his addiction to porn. I loved him, but I was tired of the criticism and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone who knew more about gangbanging than making love.

Months later when we met up for a drink, he confessed something to me. “The happiest moment of my life was with you when we were cooking in your kitchen.” he said with a forlorn look on his face. It was ironic that his happiest moment had nothing to do with sex but love. It’s just too bad he couldn’t see it.

[Photo of guy watching porn via Shutterstock]

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