Recognizing the Warning Signs of Pornography Addiction in Yourself or Others

It’s been quite a while since I’ve talked about this, and I always worry that some of the more important, educational articles get buried by ones that might be more entertaining, so I think it’s probably once again time to talk about the signs of pornography addiction.

As always, I want to mention that I am not a doctor, and this should only be considered a guide. If you see these behaviors in yourself, I urge you to do more research and schedule an appointment with a professional addiction therapist to establish your current condition and plot a recovery path.

If you see these behaviors in loved ones, remind them that they can always talk to you, that you are not there to judge them, nor shame them, but you’re concerned they may have a problem and if they ask, you’re there to assist them getting help.

These symptoms were taken from

Early Warning Signs

  • Lying about, keeping secrets about and covering up the nature and extent of porn use
  • Anger or irritability if confronted about the nature or extent of porn use
  • Sexual dysfunction with real-world partners, including erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation and an inability to reach orgasm

Just because these are the early signs, it doesn’t mean that they ever go away. I was confronted by two women in I my life long before my addiction reached a critical point. One was a girlfriend when I was 20 who happen to see I had a pornographic video tape among my collection of non-porn tapes. She was very anti-porn, so I threw it away in front of her. She didn’t know about the box full of porn I had hidden elsewhere.

I gave that box of porn away before I met my wife. She discovered I looked at porn when I accidentally left it up on my computer. Because we didn’t have problems in the bedroom, she let it go, but I greatly underreported my use of porn to her and passed it off as a “boys will be boys” thing.

Ongoing Signs

  • Escalating amounts of time spent on porn use, with hours and sometimes even days lost to pornography
  • An inability to form lasting social and intimate romantic relationships
  • Intense feelings of depression, shame and isolation
  • Disintegration of relationships with family, friends and romantic partners
  • Loss of interest in non-porn activities such as work, school, socializing, family and exercise

The shame and isolation I felt was because I knew I had to keep my dependence on pornography a secret. Unlike my alcoholism, porn wasn’t something I engaged in around friends, so the feeling of isolation was certainly there. I never lost days to porn, but before I entered the critical phase, just as my life was starting to take a turn, my usage certainly increased. Instead of just looking at it late at night for 20-30 minutes, I was also starting to view it during the day, and I might look up at the clock and realize 2-3 hours had elapsed.

For as long as I can remember, I was never able to just sit and be with myself. Deep down I knew who I was – a scared little kid not built for the adult world who was faking his way through. As my world started to crash, I withdrew from so many people and activities, but porn was always there for me. Even if it was bad for me, which I knew on certain levels, it was always there and I could count on it.

Critical Signs

  • Viewing progressively more intense or bizarre sexual content
  • Escalation from two-dimensional porn viewing to use of technology for casual, anonymous or paid-for sexual encounters, whether in-person or via Webcams
  • Trouble at work or in school (including reprimands and/or dismissal) related to poor performance, misuse of company/school equipment and/or public use of porn
  • Physical injury caused by compulsive masturbation
  • Financial issues
  • Legal issues (usually related to illegal porn use)

And this is where it all went bad. Thankfully, I believe I was only in this phase for 6-8 months before the police intervention served as a major wake-up call and was the impetus to turn my life around. I made that move to webcams because I needed to escalate the addiction to the point of interacting with somebody else. Could that have eventually led to meeting someone in real life? I’ll never know, and for that I’m glad.

My business was falling apart, my finances were crashing and in the end, the legal issues hit me like a ton of bricks. All because I didn’t get help in time. I wasn’t aware of porn addiction and it’s a big reason I talk about it now. The more people know, the more likely they are to get help. I implore you, if you think you may have a problem, or even if this blog entry just raises a few red flags, seek help. A place to start can be the RESOURCES page on this site.

7 thoughts on “Recognizing the Warning Signs of Pornography Addiction in Yourself or Others

  1. These are very good but I would specify a few more from my own personal experience. (1) emotional withdrawal from family and spouse. (2) complete lack of intimacy with spouse either physical, verbal, emotional, mental.

    You know a little of my story. From the other side of the scenario, I felt completely alone in a house full of people. I had no intimacy with my husband at all. The physical part wasn’t even the most difficult. We didn’t talk. We didn’t connect on any level. He was devoid of compassion or empathy toward his family. He was always withdrawn into his own head, mentally covering his tracks and obsessing over not getting caught.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing additional signs. I’m sure many others can relate.

      Until I got into rehab, I didn’t realize that intimacy extended well beyond just physical with my wife. I had a complete lack of emotional intimacy with anybody. Empathy is something I’ve actively had to work on in recovery.

  2. I really appreciate your honesty. It’s helpful for those who are are struggling to admit the fact that they might need help. It’s also helpful for betrayed partners who tend to blame themselves (at least on some level) and maybe don’t fully understand addictions.

    1. After my first book came out, it was an absolute shock to me that I had just as many, if not slightly more partners contact me than addicts themselves. There is such a need for education about porn addiction in this world for so many different reasons.

      1. I’m not surprised. A lot of the time partners are blind-sided so they have a desperate need for knowledge and understanding. It’s good that you can speak into that need.

  3. I had so many diseased excuses for my sex/porn addiction. My wife should be more interested in me, I deserve personal attention after working in a stressful job and the money I am paying prostitutes is helping them find better lives to name but a few delusional attitudes. It was all about me and my ego.

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