Healthy Sexuality is Very Different from Total Abstinence and Self Denial

I realize that one of the things I don’t talk enough about on this site is what healthy sexuality looks like. I try very hard not to be an anti-porn crusader because I think it’s a waste of time, flies in the face of my beliefs surrounding personal freedoms (for both producers and consumers) and it’s ultimately not the way that we get a handle on porn addiction in this world. If you want any proof that banning pornography would be a pointless waste of time and resources, read up a bit on how America tried to outlaw alcohol early in the 20th Century.

So, while a pornography-free life is the best choice for me, much like an alcohol-free life is the best choice for me, my battle is not with you looking at porn. My battle is with you not knowing that if there are certain factors already in place (childhood trauma, other addictions) you may be more susceptible to becoming a porn addict and the consequences that come with it.

Since sexuality is such a wide-ranging topic, I rarely delve into it beyond aspects of pornography addiction. I was not an intercourse addict, nor voyeurism or exhibitionism addict, so I can’t speak to those aspect of the umbrella “sex addiction.”

Outside the realm of addiction, I have learned a lot about sexuality, but to be honest, I’m not completely sure that there’s as strong a connection between being a sex addict and abnormal sexuality as experts think. Abnormal sexuality is a side effect of porn addiction, not a cause of it, much like I believe unhealthy eating habits are a side of effect of food addiction, not a cause of it. I think that there are people who can use pornography in unhealthy ways that don’t rise to the level of addiction, and I believe there are many people who see any use whatsoever as addiction.

In doing the research for my latest book, and in doing some marketing since, I spent a lot of time on blogs and in online forums, like those you’ll find here on WordPress or on Reddit, learning from female partners of porn addicts. Simply reading their stories taught me so much, and at least here on WordPress, you know who you are. Places like Reddit are a bit different. There are a lot of women who confuse their disgust of pornography with usage that rises to the level of an addict. Removing any moral argument of whether they should or not, is it possible for a man to look at pornography once, or look somewhat regularly without becoming an addict? Statistics, history and facts lead me to say yes. I’m not endorsing it, I’m just saying as a scientific fact, it seems like it’s possible.

Despite one being morally opposed to it, their partner may use it and not fit the definition of an addict. However, if that partner’s use is harming the relationship, and is causing a disturbance to their sex life, I would argue that it is an instance of unhealthy sexuality. If he removes the porn immediately, but nothing changes when it comes to this couple’s communication, aren’t they still living in a world of unhealthy sexuality?


Healthy sexuality is a very individual thing, and it’s something that needs to be defined as a unit if you’re part of a couple. My wife and I would never participate in BDSM or be part of swingers’ groups, but if you’re part of a couple that wants to do this, likes to do it and it has no negative bearing on your life, is it unhealthy just because it’s out of the mainstream? I don’t think so.

I think if what you’re doing sexually is legal, you enjoy it, feel it is a natural extension of how you express yourself, it doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself, you’re not forced into it, it doesn’t have a negative effect on your day-to-day life and you’re not forcing anybody else into it, then it really can’t be unhealthy, even if it’s outside of societal norms.

We judge so much of this world on what we feel is normal and average. I believe most people want to fall within the 40th and 60th percentile of almost everything so they can feel like part of the larger flock. One of the ways of being part of a majority is to rail against a minority. I really try not to do this when it comes to pornography.

I’ve mentioned on here before that there are anti-pornography arguments that have been spewed since the 1950s that clearly don’t work. If it’s anti-woman, why are more women watching than ever before? If it degrades its participants, why is it becoming a huge work-at-home industry? If it’s only for those on the fringes of society, why do statistics suggest that the majority of men under 60 watch? If it’s a sin, why are usage numbers by the religious higher than that of secular society?

I can apply a moral filter to viewing pornography, and for me personally, I have one now that I didn’t have before entering recovery. I know it’s not as strong as many people’s, but I also don’t scream and yell about it the way some do, yet then don’t apply that filter to themselves. My moral issues with pornography have nothing to do with the arguments I listed above, and I don’t make them part of my presentations and rarely talk about them here because they cloud my overall theme that education about pornography addiction needs to be happening in this world.

That education should be part of overall healthy sexuality for everyone because I believe with knowledge usually comes health. Beyond that education though, it’s not up to me to tell you what to do with it and it’s not up to me to determine what is sexually healthy for you or not. Would I ever watch porn with my wife? No. Is porn healthy to watch with your spouse? Well, statistics show that married couples who watch porn get divorced at higher rates than those who don’t. That said, there is truly not enough data that you can extrapolate watching porn together equals doomed marriage. Are there couples who watch porn together and have happy marriages. Yes. Their healthy sexuality is not mine, but it’s also not mine to judge or infringe upon.

If you’re asexual, you’re asexual. If you want to change your gender, or dress up like a different gender or whatever, that’s fine with me as long as it’s safe, legal and consensual. Be gay, or straight, or celibate… just be genuine to who you are in the healthiest way possible. Most people who try to eliminate sexuality as part of their life as a function of recovery end up in the camp of “sexual anorexia” which is just the other side of the spectrum of unhealthy sexuality.

I don’t talk a lot about healthy sexuality on this site because it looks different for every person out there. What you may see as one person’s repression is totally their comfort zone and vice versa. I’m not here to dictate to you what is healthy sexually within your life or your life as part of a couple. I’m here to say if pornography is part of it, it may lead to other problems, or it could exacerbate problems that already exist, as it did in my personal case. What I am here to say is that both of us need to continually define healthy sexuality in our own lives and continue to strive for it, without judging others.

If You’ve Ever Wanted to Help My Cause, This is It

The last six years or so have been a ride. I thought alcohol rehab in 2014 would be the end of it. I thought the same for sex/porn addiction rehab in 2015 or jail in 2016. Then there was my first book and launching this website. Initially designed as just a promotional tool, I had no idea the outpouring of not only support, but inquiries looking for help I’d receive through the site. Most surprisingly, half of them came from the partners of pornography addicts who were lost and looking for any life raft in their sea of doubt, sadness and betrayal.

I realized that my mission could not end. Much like the disappointment I felt when I couldn’t find any relatable, non-highly academic books on pornography addiction at the start of my journey, I felt the strong calling to create something for these partners. It’s hard to describe this calling other than to say I feel like it’s what I’ve been put here for.

I came up with a concept for a new book and thought of only one person to co-author the book with me. I met Tony Overbay, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist on his popular The Virtual Couch podcast and we instantly clicked. Thankfully, he liked the idea for the project, and we spent the next 18 months working together on it.

The result is He’s a Porn Addict…What Now? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions. 

Online Flyer for BookWhy two authors? I explained it to someone the other day using an analogy to tattoos. Let’s say there’s an artist who apprenticed under the best in the industry, inked tattoos on thousands of people and regularly won awards for it. But, he or she doesn’t have a single tattoo on their body.

Then let’s say there’s another person, who is heavily tattooed and has probably spent more than 200 hours under the gun. They’ve experienced the pain, the thrill and the stigma that comes with having so many tattoos.

So, which one of them is the tattoo expert? My belief is that they both are, coming at it from different angles and together giving a better overall picture than either could individually. This book has a licensed therapist and a recovering addict. This has never been done for a book in this genre before. I think it gives a more complete picture to an addict’s partner than anything that has been produced in the past.

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Today is Black Friday and it will be Cyber Monday in a couple of days. Sandwiched between the two is Book Launch Sunday, when He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? will be officially released and begin shipping.

I’m not pretending it’s a good Christmas present. It could certainly create a lot of awkward laughs, but releasing it now is just the ways things unfolded. I’m not sure if the timing is bad or doesn’t make any difference. I just can’t think it’s good.

I’m also not going to pretend I understand all of the ins and outs of how Amazon ranks books or promotes them. I know it’s important to come out of the gate strong and to receive decent reviews. My greatest fear right now is that the book gets lost in everything else people have on their minds this time of year. The reality of the world right now is 64% of books are sold on Amazon while only 7% are sold in stores. This book is so important to me and important to my future and I fear being a victim of circumstance and bad timing.

I want the partners of pornography addicts to easily be able to find this book on Amazon in the next few months. I want therapists and doctors to learn about it, sample it and decide if it could be a valuable resource for many of their clients. I believe clergy members could learn a lot that would come in helpful in counseling their parishes. I even think addicts themselves could glean quite a bit from it. But they all have to be able to find it before it disappears.

I may passively push my book moving forward, and plan to basically link people back to this post over the weekend with my entries, but this will be the only time I straight-up ask you to purchase it. Please buy my book TODAY. Even if you’re not somebody who can utilize the book, I’m sure you know at least one person who can. If not, donate it to your library, church or local women’s charity. Give it to your therapist for one of their patients. Somebody you know can use this book. If you can’t afford a book, you could share this article with others on your blog with those who may be able to afford it, or need it. Come Monday, this book must be decently ranked on Amazon if it’s going to have a chance to maintain relevancy.

I would be deeply in your debt if you’d consider it and I would be happy to let you cash in a favor on me anytime. This isn’t about the 98 cents I get on each copy sold. I’m at a crossroads the next couple of days and need your help.

I’m so proud of the work Tony and I did on this book. Positive reviews from heavy-hitters like Dr. Doug Weiss and Dr. Mark Goulston have only bolstered my enthusiasm, but it’s now zero-hour.

If you’d like to read their reviews, learn more about the book, or purchase a copy, please use this direct link to head on over to Amazon.com (or whichever version you use in your country). Thank you.

 

 

Questioning the Changes in My Attitude Toward Healthy Sexuality

I’m anti-pornography, but I’m not militant about it. I understand that pornography has been around as long as man could draw on the wall of a cave, and getting into a battle you can’t win seems like a waste of time, energy and resources. There’s also the civil libertarian in me who doesn’t want to tell you how to live your life because I don’t want you to tell me how to live mine. But, yeah, I’m anti-pornography.

When you’re a heroin addict, a gambling addict, an alcoholic, a video game addict, a cocaine addict, etc., the goal is clear in recovery: Stop using or stop behaving that way. My goal was clear, too; stop using pornography. But, much like with food addicts still needing to eat, a further goal for a sex or porn addict is that they are supposed to develop healthy sexual habits and attitudes. Moving completely away from sexuality is known as being a sexual anorexic and that can be just as unhealthy as being an addict.

Without going into too much intimate detail, I feel like I’ve achieved much healthier sexual habits, but I’m wondering if my sexual attitudes, which were once “anything goes between two or more consenting adults” have swung too far in the other direction.

In researching several podcasts that I’m going to be on, I have spent a fair amount of time being exposed to the titles and icons of a lot of sex-based podcasts out there. Some pitch themselves as lurid (usually hosted by someone in the adult entertainment industry), others as health-based (usually hosted by someone with real credentials, or some sort of “sexual shaman”) and there’s a segment that just seems to treat it as matter-of-fact (usually a couple of friends just talking about sex.)

I’ve looked at the descriptions of some of these shows, because they seem like perfect places for someone like me to warn the masses about the potential dangers of pornography. I mean, I’ve got a pretty good story and I’ve got a ton of statistics on my side. I don’t see myself as a missionary, but you go where they need you – even if most reject you.

Further, I’ve been connecting with a lot of people on LinkedIn lately, mostly medical professionals. I have stumbled upon many people who fall into that “sexual shaman” category where they may have some degree they earned in the 1980s, but they’ve taken a New Age approach to sexuality. I tend to not connect with these people.

Frankly, what a lot of these podcasts and alternative sexual healers are pushing scares the hell out of me. I don’t think it would have 10 years ago. Back then I probably would have wished I had gone down their road of openness and experimentation. Today, though, I’m kind of repulsed.

I’m not sure that should be my reaction. If you and your partner (or partners) decide to embark on a journey that is far more kinky than anything I’d be comfortable with and it’s consensual, or you’re able to talk communicate about sexuality on a level with a frankness most people can’t muster, is there anything wrong with that?

I’ve never been a BDSM guy, but 10 years ago, I was a live and let live guy. If whips and chains do it for you, just have a safe word and don’t hurt anybody. Today, I tend to gravitate more toward a “they are deviants” point of view. Nothing changed with them. It changed with me.

I’ve been to red light districts in a few major international cities and I’ve stayed at a clothing optional resort in the Caribbean. Those places now seem gross and I really don’t want to judge the people buying or selling the sexuality, but I can’t help it.

Maybe I’m just getting more conservative with age. Maybe all of the fallout of my recovery has caused this shift. It could be I’m just a hypocrite and dismissed that extreme sexuality before because I was hoping to be a part of it. Something has caused a change in my attitude toward what “healthy sexuality” means.

Objectively, I still say if it’s between two or more consenting adults and you can keep it behind closed doors, I really shouldn’t have any input into your sexuality. I also respect the First Amendment enough that I’d stand next to these people and fight for their right to say whatever they want on their podcast. Nobody should ever dictate Free Speech.

Subjectively, none of it’s for me and I wonder if going that far in the other direction, unintentionally or not, is a good thing.

Fascinating Stats: Does Watching More Porn Make You Realize You’re Bisexual?

Note from Josh: Let me preface this article by saying that I think the following data is fascinating. I do not want any conclusion drawn that it somehow shows I have any negative feelings toward anybody’s sexual orientation. I have no problem with any gender or sexual identification. I say be who you are, not who others tell you to be. I do, however, think that any data we can gather that further illuminates who is watching pornography can do nothing but help us understand the grip it has on people. I draw no value judgment on this data, but I thought it important to share. If any disparaging remarks are left in the comments section about gender or orientation fluidity, they will be deleted.

While I think their product is garbage, I have always been complimentary toward Pornhub’s annual release of their analytics, which give us a better understanding of how more people are using porn, exactly who those people are, where they’re from and what kind of material they are looking at. Recently, another very popular site released data that was compelling about the sexuality of their viewers.

While PornHub is the nation’s 7th most popular visited site, xHamster, the creator of this new report, is the 27th. For statistical purposes, their content, like PornHub, is all over the place, not catering to any particular demographic. xHamster claims that it polled around 11,000 of its users to get this data. If true, that’s an amazingly large sample group and since their site is one of the most popular in the US, should paint a relatively clear picture of who is using their site.

I’m taking the screen captures directly from their blog. It’s completely SFW and there is no nudity at all. It goes more in-depth than I do here. Obviously trigger warning, but if you’re interested in seeing the other stats, the link is: https://xhamster.com/blog/posts/934387

Here’s the first slide…

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Their site reports:

“…while women who watch porn were more than twice as likely as men to identify as bisexual, nearly one-fifth of men in the study identified so as well. These are much higher numbers than have been previously reported.”

Consider the 11K interviewed, I have no doubt this is accurate, but it is surprising to me. When given the luxury of anonymity, over 32% of porn users do not identify as heterosexual. Personally, I would have thought the straight and gay numbers would have been higher.

On to the next slide:

Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 1.42.07 PM

Now, we have to remember that this is a pornographic website, not a site that interprets the Bible. While you can’t really stereotype a porn user into any specific demographic these days, those who use the Internet tend to be younger and more liberal than the generations prior.

It’s hard to get a real statistic on how many people overall in the US are gay or bisexual, with figures ranging from the low single digits to the high teens depending on which study you look at.  I think these numbers are much higher than the overall national average, but it is telling that they are tied to porn viewing.

Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 1.42.18 PM

For me, this is the most fascinating slide in the entire study. There is no correlation between homosexuality and frequency of porn usage, and it clearly drops in frequency among heterosexuals, but it grows among bisexuals.

This leaves a lot of unanswered questions: Does this graphic speak to a bisexual person’s tendency to watch more porn or a person who watches a lot of porn’s tendency to identify as bisexual — and how many of these people who are identifying as bisexual have acted on those feelings in real life?

The site attempts to analyze some of the data by getting even deeper:

We also wondered if there was some way that women porn fans — 38% of whom in our study identified as bisexual — might be somehow skewing the data. So we repeated the calculations with just men. The results were even more dramatic.

Just 10.8% of men who watched porn once a week identified as bisexual, but 27.2% of men who watch porn multiple times a day identify as bisexual. (After all, if you’re looking at naked men all day — even if there’s a woman in the picture — maybe it opens you up to a broader ideas about human sexuality.)

I think it’s absolutely fascinating that more than one-out-of-four men who view porn on a daily basis through this particular site identify as bisexual. It again brings up a lot of interesting questions and I mostly wonder if these men have engaged in a bisexual physical relationship away from the computer.

Since the frequency of viewing is at least once a day, it might be safe to assume that these are the problem viewers who are either addicted or close to it. That means that they have built up a tolerance to run-of-the-mill “vanilla” porn between a man and a woman. Like the alcoholic who starts with beer and moves to the harder stuff, are these viewers watching more exotic or extreme genres of porn? If they are, and they find themselves not repulsed by what they see on screen, might they make a leap that they are more open to different kinds of sexuality other than just heterosexual? One of the top guys at xHamster told the New York Post that was the conclusion they reached:

“We can only provide correlation, not prove causation, but it would seem that watching porn more frequently helps show users what sexuality can be,” xHamster vice president Alex Hawkins tells The Post. “The more porn you watch, the more you may think, ‘Hey, that’s actually somewhat of a turn-on. Maybe I’m not as totally straight, or gay, as I thought.’”

I don’t know what it all means, or if it has to mean anything, but it’s interesting. I hope that actual scientific research is done into sexual identity and porn usage in upcoming years. xHamster, despite publishing porn garbage, has provided us with an eye-opening look into its users that can be a jumping-off point for real study.

I’ll leave you with this final slide…

Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 1.42.47 PM

That’s depressing. There’s still so much work to be done.

Stories from Jail: Realizing the Role Intimacy Plays in Sex and Porn Addiction

As a man of above-average means and intelligence, I was thrust into a world very unfamiliar to me with men I otherwise would never have had the opportunity to engage with when I served six months in the local county jail in early 2016.

There was the occasional outlier (I was in minimum security and in jail, not prison, so I admit I didn’t see the worst of the worst), but I would guess that 60% were there tied to drug/alcohol abuse, 25% for domestic violence and 15% for sex crimes. Maybe some were awaiting trial, while others were serving their sentence, or temporary locked up because of a probation violation, but in my non-ethnically diverse area, this is how it broke down with the 60-80 guys I got to know during my time there.

For someone on the outside who enjoys buzzwords of the day, they would have seen this group of men and immediately said, “This is the very definition of toxic masculinity.”

As somebody who, at the time of my sentencing, had just done nearly four months of inpatient rehab for alcoholism and sex/porn addiction, along with hundreds of hours of one-on-one and group therapy, I think I served as a bit of a de facto life coach/advisor for many of the men.

One of the reasons so many of these men trusted me with their stories was because they knew I sought help for my porn addiction. Despite being locked up for other reasons, the vast majority of these men had clear issues with both sex and pornography.

I recall one man (a domestic violence offender) who came to me off to the side one day and told me that he’d heard me talking to other guys. In his early 30s, he said if he did the math, he probably had slept with 1,500 women. When you break it down as two or three one-night stands per week over a little more than a decade, the number isn’t so unrealistic.

I remember his saying to me, “It sounds like a lot of these have only been with three or four women in their life. It makes me think I may have a problem.”

Another man, there for a probation violation because he was belligerently drunk in public (again), confided in me that he watched 5-6 hours of porn every day and even when he was holding down one of his rare jobs, he’d go to his car during his lunch break and watch porn on his telephone. It had never occurred to him that this could be an issue.

“Sometimes I watch with buddies, sometimes by myself and I don’t *Insert your favorite euphemism for masturbation* a lot of the time. When I’ve had girlfriends we’ve watched it together,” he said.

“Why do you watch it with other people?” I asked.

“I dunno. Cause it’s funny. Or sexy. It’s like a bonding thing I guess,” he responded.

“How else do you bond with people?” I followed up.

“It’s not like I only look porn. I meet a lot of people in bars,” he said.

“Isn’t that the reason you’re here?” I asked, motioning to nothing in particular in the room, about the same size as a doctor’s office waiting room we shared with 6 to 10 other guys.

“I’m gonna think on that,” he said.

Later that night, he came to me, asked to sit on my bunk (standard jail protocol) and said, “I feel good when I drink and I feel good when I watch porn. I don’t feel good too many other times. So maybe like you, my porn watching is just as bad as my drinking and I never knew it.”

“At least it’s not too late for you,” I thought to myself, yearning for the day in the near future I’d be released, hoping he’d get help before his porn problem ever become as critical, or depraved, as mine.

It was in that moment that I recognized while I thought I had real intimacy in my life, I wasn’t unlike many of those men.

I was surrounded by plenty of people in my real life, just like my fellow inmates were. It didn’t matter mine had better jobs, higher educations and could afford nicer things. It didn’t matter that I had two loving parents, a supportive wife and kids who thought the sun rose and set with me while they may not have been that lucky. None of us were willing to stick our neck out and create relationships that went deeper that what was on the surface.

They never felt unconditionally loved, trusted and cared for by any parent or guardian early on, or by any partner as they grew and entered into the world of adult relationships because they were unable to give what they were getting…and when I thought about it…it was my story, too.

Isn’t the physical act of sex and the visual stimulus of porn completely just on the surface? We all intuitively understand the difference between “having sex” and “making love.”

Intimacy is vulnerability, and it’s not just about being physically intimate. When those men came to me with their issues, they were being vulnerable. They shared things with me I never would have shared with anybody.

Despite being more than two years sober at that point, it dawned on me that my recovery had miles left to go and it had nothing to do with porn or sex.