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Study: Men's Porn Habits Hurt Women's Self-Esteem

When does a harmless habit become hurtful?

By Kristin Wong Jun 4, 2012 4:39PM

Photo: Patrick Sheandell O'Carroll/Getty ImagesAs a generation of men are growing up with virtual sex lives, their real-life partners are becoming increasingly unhappy, a new study finds. Specifically, young women with porn-loving partners feel they just can't measure up to Jenna Jameson—or whoever happens to tickle their man's fancy.

Destin Stewart is a clinical psychology intern at the University of Florida. After her clients began complaining about pornography use in their relationships, Stewart decided to study exactly how porn use is affecting those relationships.

She surveyed 308 college women (ages 18 to 29) and asked them about their current partner's pornography habits. She also wanted the women's perspectives on their relationship quality, sexual satisfaction and self-esteem. Stewart found that the ladies who reported their partners looked at porn more frequently were not only less happy with their relationships, they also had less self-esteem and were less satisfied with their sex lives.

Stewart told LiveScience that when some women discovered pornographic material on their partner's computer, it made them "feel like they were not good enough, like they could not measure up."

While one might argue that the men weren't there to confirm their habits in the study, it's apparent that pornography is negatively affecting an increasing number of relationships. Psychiatrist Norman Doidge studied the effects of porn use in his patients and then reported the findings in his book, The Brain Changes Itself:

"They reported increasing difficulty in being turned on by their actual sexual partners, spouses or girlfriends, though they still considered them objectively attractive." Doidge wrote about his patients. "When I asked if this phenomenon had any relationship to viewing pornography, they answered that it initially helped them get more excited during sex, but over time had the opposite effect."

Stewart says that when porn becomes a problem in relationships, she advises women not to compare themselves to porn stars. She also urges couples to communicate and compromise.

"It's just about trying to do some education about what is realistic and unrealistic and trying to get couples to be honest about what their wants and needs and desires are," Stewart said.

As much as we women would love our men to only have eyes for us, let's face it. As long as there are women willing to do anything, everything and put it out there for the world to see, men are going to look. But Aristotle said to seek moderation in all things, and while I don’t think he was referring to watching online porn, it's not bad advice.

Tell us on Facebook: Do you think porn is hurtful or harmless?

Photo: Patrick Sheandell O'Carroll/Getty Images

More on love & sex from MSN Living:

10 Ways to Improve Your Love Life (Right Now!)
The Secrets to Great Sex (in 50 Words or Less)
5 Sexy Steps to Get Out of Your Date Rut

 
1008Comments
Jun 5, 2012 6:01AM
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"..harmless habit"?  That's how the author begins the article with that subtitle. It really contradicts the point she tries to make.

Jun 5, 2012 5:51AM
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THIS ARTICLE HITS THE NAIL ON THE SPOT, I HAVE TO AGREE 110% AGAIN I AM A GUY AND I HAVE A OBSESSION WITH PORN AND I HAD A VERY ATTRACTIVE GIRL AND IVE HAD MANY ATTRACTIVE GIRLS SENSE. I CAN SAY FROM MYSELF PORN IS THE RUIN TO MOST MY RELATIONSHIPS OF COURSE I WOULDNT OF ADMITTED IT AT THE TIME AND ONLY ONE GIRL KNEW OF THE HABIT AND SHE SEEMED TO STRUGGLE WITH IT. SHE WOULD TRY TO DO THINGS TO SPICE UP THE RELATIONSHIP AND THE SEX. IT JUST DOSENT WORK, UR NO LONGER SATISFIED WITH THE PARTNER U HAD. I WOULD TAKE PORN OVER SEX WITH MY MATE, SEX WITH HER WAS LIKE A CHORE BUT SHE WAS AWESOME IN BED, I FEEL IN LOVE WITH THE FANTASY THESE WOMEN ON TV MADE AND STARTED FALLIN OUT OF LOVE( IN A SENSE) WITH MY MATE, ITS LIKE U REALLY WANT A SLUT, BUT U REALLY DONT BUT U REALLY DO, AND EVERYTHING THE PERSON SAID ABOUT WOMEN IN THE ARTICLE ON HOW WOMEN FEEL, THAT ONE  THAT NEW TOLD ME THE EXACT SAME THINGS, OFCOURSE I JUST LAUGHED AND SAID UR BEING RIDICULOUS, I LOOK BACK NOW AND SHE WAS RIGHT, I MEAN SHE WAS ALWAYS MY FAVORITE SEX PARTNER AND SHE WAS GORGOUS I MEAN SHE WAS THE FIRST GIRL TO EVER GET ME OFF FROM BEING INSIDE HER( ANY OTHER GIRL WE WOULD GO HOURS THEY WOULD GET TIRED OF HAVING SEX BEFORE I GOT OFF) WHICH I GUESS THAT MADE HER SPECIAL AND I LOVED HER TO DEATH BUT EVENTUALLY IF U WATCH PORN SO MUCH, IT KIND OF DESENSITZE YOU TO UR PARTNER CAUSE LETS FACE IT UR AVERAGE GIRL IS NOT GOING TO PERFORM THE WAY THOSE STARS DO. THEY WILL NEVER EVER LIVE UP TO THAT. AND AS THE SONG SAYS "WHEN A WOMANS FED UP" IN A SEX LIFE AND HOW U MAKE HER FEEL SHE WILL GO ELSE WHERE TO GET IT AND TO FIND SOMEBODY WHO CAN LOVE HER AND NOT SOME FANTASY ON TV. AND I WAS STROLLING THESE COMMENTS AND ONE STUCK OUT TO ME ALOT IT SAID IT IS ADDICTIVE AS CRACK, WELL I NEVER DID CRACK BUT I HAVE SMOKED CIGGS, WEED, DONE COKE, AND PERHAPS A FEW MORE DRUGS AND PORN I HAVENT SMOKED CIGGS IN 3 YEARS AND QUIT COLD  TURKEY CAUSE I JUST DIDNT WANT TO ANYMORE, ONLY DID COKE ONCE AND DIDNT LIKE IT AND WEED IS ONE I CAN GO FOR A LONG TIME AND NOT SMOKE YEARS AT A TIME BUT HAVENT SMOKED THAT SINCE MARCH, STARTED UP IN NOVEMBER BUT BEFORE NOVEMBER IT WAS 1 YEAR IN 2 MONTHS SINCE I HAD SMOKED WEED AND EVEN LONGER PERIODS BEFORE THAT, SO TO ME DRUGS IS PLUMB EASY TO STOP WHEN I WANT TO, PORN ON THE OTHER HAND IT IS ONE OF THE HARDEST HABITS TO BREAK, NOTHING COMPARES OR EVER WILL, IT IS THE DEVILS BEST TEMPTATION THE MOST I CAN GO IN A GOOD BREAK IS A WEEK OF LATE, PRETTY SAD, I HATE PORN WITH A PASSION, BUT STILL SO ADDICTING, I WOULD SAY IF U HAD A CHOICE DRUGS OR PORN, DRUGS IN A HEARTBEAT BEFORE PORN, DRUGS ARE EASY TO STOP IN A SENSE,( I WOULD SAY NEITHER, DRUGS ARE BAD FOLKS) BUT IF FACED WITH A CHOICE, DRUGS( RELATIVILY EASIER IN COMPARISON TO STOP). CAUSE ONCE U GET DEEP INTO PORN WOW, GOOD LUCK GETTIN OUT OF THE HOLE YOU DUG  AND IVE  DUG MINES FOR ABOUT 15 TO 16 YEARS STARTIN OFF WITH MAGS WHEN I WAS 14 THEN TO  MOVIES WHEN I WAS 18 AND IT IS SO EASY TO GET TO IT ON THE WEB AND ITS FREE U DONT HAVE A CHANCE, I FEEL SORRY FOR THE KIDS THESE DAYS THEY ARE GOING TO BE SO BAD OFF CAUSE THEY CAN JUST PUT IT IN A MSN SEARCH AND THERE IT IS FULL SCENES(AT LEAST WHEN IT COST MONEY I HAD TO PUT FORTH EFFORT, I COULD WEIGH PORN INTO BILLS AND SAY NO, I DONT WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY, NOW ITS FREE, AS I SAID THE DEVILS BEST TEMPTATION, WORST FOR ME) IVE BEEN TRYIN TO GET OUT OF THE HOLE IVE DUG FOR 2 YEARS NOW, HARDEST BATTLE IVE HAD TO FIGHT, IVE THOUGHT ABOUT HYPNOSIS JUST TO GET THE THOUGHTS OUT MY HEAD TO MAKE THE DESIRES GO AWAY, MAYBE TAKE OUT MY EYES BY CHANCE, AS JESUS SAID ITS BETTER TO ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH NO EYES THAN HAVE THEM AND THEY STUMBLE YOU AND GET TOSSED IN GEHENNA,. IF EVER A CHOICE DONT DO PORN , THATS MY INSIGHT I HOPE IT HELPS SOMEBODY( MOMENTS OF HONESTY U GOTTA LOVE THEM)

Jun 5, 2012 5:24AM
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And likewise, women spending hours watching romance comedies and HGTV make it next to impossible for their man to measure up to increasing expectations... Everyone is suffering from being compared to the unrealistic "reality" coming at us from all directions...
Jun 5, 2012 5:04AM
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A man is frustrated because his woman gives him insufficient sex. So a man turns to porn. A woman has no idea how hard a man is governed by his sex drives. First the man wants sex with the woman; the woman turns him down, then the man goes to porn for an outlet. IT IS NOT that the man turns to porn first; IT IS that he doesn't get enough sex from his woman, and THAT causes him to seek porn.

 

She who has the pussy makes the rules. Her rules deny her man enough sex.These clinical psychologists are CLUELESS as to how much sex a man really needs all of his life..

Jun 5, 2012 4:57AM
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Ok, let's be fair, no porn for men, no soap operas, romance novels, "Fifty Shades of Grey" and most importantly... NO VIBRATOR for women.  It's hypocritical and wrong to chastise a man for porn while 95% of all woman have their "battery operated boyfriend" in the dresser drawer. I don't believe men expect you to compete with porn stars, but have you tried taking care of yourself? If he married you when you were fit and you are 10x the size you were then, what do you expect? This doesn't mean he doesn't love you, that's why he stays. But, you look nothing like the woman he was attracted to and married.
Men are visual, woman are mental, if you expect him to be thoughtful, romantic and passionate towards you, he should expect you to stay in shape and do the sexual things you did when you met.
Sorry if this is harsh but it is the truth. I will take an "average" woman who takes care of her body and is sexually generous over a porn star any day of the week. Most men will.

Jun 5, 2012 4:55AM
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My husband and I have been married for seven years and I have never turned him down for sex, but he still feels the urge to watch porn behind my back. For me it's hurtful. I'm thinking the sex with me may not be good if he still feels the urge to look at porn. It hurts my feelings. I don't know how much longer I'm gonna be with him if he affects my self esteem like this. 

Jun 5, 2012 4:35AM
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Porn is nothing but filth and smut.  It is NOT making love, it is fulfilling a warped sexual desire and fantasy. 
Jun 5, 2012 4:33AM
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A man can beat of if he wants boys. This article is not about that. It is about them needing porn to fulfill their sexual desires becasue they can not derive pleasure from a healthy relationship with a loving woman. Porn makes men feel that women should be something that they are just not. That they should be silent and willing to do anything at any given moment. It desensitizes the men to actual romance and real human interation.  Most of us are not sluts. We have jobs, are mothers, and carry a huge load of other responsabilities.I mean come on you don't trust sluts, but you want one on demand. No wonder it causes the average woman that has not had plastic surgery and has the right to be herself aquire distorted self images and low self esteem. If you want to love a woman then love her, but if you want to beat it to porn then don't keep an unwanted woman hanging around making her feel undesireable.

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