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How Watching Porn Impacts Your Dopamine and Relationships

Unlimited porn is a massive experiment that we don’t really know the consequences of yet.




Watching porn is incredibly common.


Several adult websites are among the 100 most visited websites in the world.

Most people think that watching porn is totally harmless, no worse than watching a movie or relaxing with a TV series after a long day at work.


In addition, mainstream media typically portrays it as harmless or even healthy.

Internet porn is not only extremely accessible these days, but constant exposure to sexual images is practically inevitable. Commercials, movies, TV series, and even news websites contain pictures of half-naked and sometimes even fully naked people.


Before screens and magazines, you didn’t get exposed to nakedness that easily. Today, sexual images are everywhere.


But a lot of studies are starting to uncover the harmful effects watching a lot of porn can have.


And several authorities, such as Andrew Huberman, are starting to speak out against it.

So, is watching porn harmful or not?


Watching porn is the epitome of instant gratification

There are super hot models, lighting, makeup, editing, HD, anime, endless variety, and much more available just a few seconds away at all times. Just a few key taps away, you can find endless stimuli.


It is not following our sexual drive that is unnatural. It is the way we follow it when we watch porn that is unnatural. Porn stimulates us a lot without any effort, which is very different from how nature intended it to be.


With porn, you can open new tabs and look for the “perfect scene.” If you get bored, you can find a new scene in seconds, keeping your dopamine levels elevated for unnaturally long periods.


To find a real-life partner, you have to put yourself out there, face rejection and uncertainty, and work on yourself. Online, you can watch the world’s hottest models in seconds without effort.


If we constantly satisfy our drive with instant pleasure through a screen, we lose the work ethic and drive to make ourselves desirable in real life. Why? Because we have already experienced the reward, and working hard seems less worthwhile.


As a result, you will not be as motivated to work on your confidence, social skills, charisma, and discipline to make yourself a desirable person.


Our brain has developed in environments with scarce resources, which is different from what we face today. There is a massive mismatch between what our brains have evolved for and the massive stimuli we experience in our everyday lives.


How watching porn impacts relationships

There are many ways watching porn can impact romantic relationships negatively.


Here are some of them:

  1. Higher chance of experiencing sexual dysfunction.

  2. Your brain becomes rewired to get aroused by something different than meeting a partner.

  3. Porn can impact commitment.

  4. It can decrease intimacy.

  5. It may thwart expectations.

  6. It can affect your health, drive, motivation, and energy since watching porn influences your reward system negatively.

  7. Porn can affect your charisma and social skills negatively. You can find some anecdotes here.

  8. Porn can fuel objectification, lessening intimacy and connection.

  9. It can make you less interested in sex with a partner.


At the end of the day, watching porn might be one of the most antisocial behaviors there are. Every time you are watching porn, you are voting for a lonelier future.


If you watch a lot of porn, what you get aroused by might change due to neuroplasticity. Sadly, a lot of people experience losing interest in real-life partners. Some can only get aroused by porn.


This study which looked at data from over 3500 people in committed relationships, found that any porn use consistently influences romantic connections negatively.


And according to this study, married people who start watching porn are around twice as likely to divorce in the following years. The researchers didn’t think they saw these results because people started watching porn due to being unhappy in their relationships. Instead, they pointed to the potential damage caused to intimacy when one or both partners in a committed relationship watch porn.


There could be some benefits to watching porn with your partner, and for some people, it can spice things up. But secretive watching in a relationship will typically only have downsides. And watching a lot of porn will take its toll on your dopamine system regardless.


How watching porn impacts your dopamine system

You can keep your dopamine elevated for unnaturally long periods by watching porn. If you begin to lose interest, you can open a new tab and continue chasing that “perfect scene.”


Porn is not the same as sex, where you perform and get exhausted afterward. Men are programmed by evolution to want to procreate with as many females as possible. When we get exposed to novel content (new performers), our interest surges, and we experience a spike in dopamine.


That is why the endless models, videos, and images you find online can cause so much damage to your dopamine system.


You can see more naked hotties in the next hour online than your ancestors could in their lifetimes (except maybe Genghis Khan). And every time you see a new model, your dopamine rises, and you get renewed interest.


As a result, you may overextend the natural satiation mechanism by watching porn, especially if you see a lot of content during your sessions.

This is what makes watching porn, and especially looking at a lot of different scenes and with many different tabs, so damaging.


If a healthy way to watch porn exists, it would be to watch one movie and not look for more novel content.


Here are some potential side effects of a disrupted dopamine system:

  • Poorer ability to concentrate

  • Lower sex-drive

  • Lower self-esteem

  • Anxiety

  • Feelings of shame

  • Lower drive, motivation, and enthusiasm for life


Many people report that they become much less socially anxious and awkward after stopping watching porn.


These anecdotes make a lot of sense when we look at the potential side effects of having a disrupted dopamine system.


I experienced this myself in my early twenties. Watching a lot of porn made me numb, unmotivated, socially anxious, and unable to focus properly due to “brain fog.”

When I managed to stop, my motivation returned, and it felt a lot more natural to be social and spend time around people.


We all know that instant gratification will cause problems if we overindulge. If you constantly eat junk food, avoid going to the gym, and procrastinate studying for that test, we know very well it will cause trouble. I would argue that watching porn is similar but, in some ways, even worse.


As the Roman statesman Seneca said:

“Pleasures, when they go beyond a certain limit becomes our punishments”.

When you waste your sexual energy on pixels on a screen, no wonder your drive and motivation in life take a hit.


Several studies have found that people who watch a lot of porn may escalate into watching more extreme or unusual content.


This is a sign of tolerance and typically happens when dopamine levels fall, and receptors become more desensitized.


As a result, the user has to chase even stronger stimuli to experience the same pleasure.


Final thoughts

Quitting porn can be life-changing. Your brain suddenly stops experiencing artificial dopamine spikes, and your situation is seen objectively and objectively.


As you know, the dopamine spikes you experience when watching porn will reduce your motivation and make you less likely and willing to do the tough stuff in the short term that is required to get that premier life.


You will get busy working towards real goals instead pretty quickly. In addition, you will experience a stronger sensitivity to dopamine if you stop overstimulating yourself.

The result is that you will become more enthusiastic and more goal-oriented.


Suddenly, you feel a strong desire to achieve something!



Disclaimer: This advice should not be viewed as a clinical treatment. Consider seeking professional help from a therapist if you struggle; don’t consider this article a substitute for treatment.




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