Love You Hate the Porn
Counselor Toolbox for Mental Health...

 
 
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Love You, Hate the Porn
by Mark Chamberlain, PhD
Facilitator: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counselor Education
Host: Counselor Toolbox Podcast

CEUs are available for this presentation as part of the Sex and Pornography Addiction Recovery Coaching Certificate Track https://www.allceus.com/member/cart?c=42 or as an individual 2 hour class at https://www.allceus.com/member/cart/index/product/id/1000/c/
Want to listen to it as a podcast instead? Subscribe to Counselor Toolbox Podcast

Objectives
~ Explore the impact of pornography on relationships
~ Identify common reactions to finding out about porn
~ Explore needs that may fuel negative cycles
~ Interventions “Relationship Rescue Breaths”
~ Improving intimacy
~ Dealing with insecurity, vulnerability and grief
~ Helping your partner understand what porn does for you
~ Addressing triggers for porn use
Prevalence and Problems
~ 70.8 percent of men and 45.5 percent of women thought they would watch.
~ 22.3 percent of men and 26.3 percent of women thought pornography had no role in a romantic partnership (Olmstead et. al)
~ Michael Kimmel reported in his 2008 book Guyland, young men often watch porn with their peers and for different reasons than older men. Kimmel writes that “guys tend to like the extreme stuff, the double penetrations and humiliating scenes. They watch it together with guys and they make fun of the women in the scene.

Impact of Pornography on Relationships
~ “After viewing pornography, participants became less satisfied with their real-life sexual partners, saw monogamy as less desirable and faithfulness to one’s spouse as less important, and were more prone to overestimate the prevalence of less common sexual practices” (p. 5)
~ “After viewing pornography subjects became more cynical in their attitudes about love and more accepting of the idea that superior sexual satisfaction It attainable without having affection for one’s partner” (p. 5) (Zillman and Bryant 1988)

Impact of Pornography on the Relationship
~ “The partner viewing the pornography had less faith in his wife’s fidelity.” (p. 6)
~ Spouses/partners complained that
~ Their pornography using partner had less sexual desire for them
~ They way they were treated during sex made them feel more like a sex object (Bergner & Bridges 2002)

Impact of Pornography on Relationships
~ Association between consumption of pornography and engaging with multiple and/or occasional partners, emulating risky sexual behaviors, assimilating distorted gender roles, dysfunctional body perception, aggressiveness, anxious or depressive symptoms https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30761817

Effects of Pornography
~ Robust dopamine response
~ Void of oxytocin after masturbation
~ Sleep deprivation
~ Erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and an inability to reach orgasm
~ Body adjusts to the intensity of the neurochemical response by dampening its response leading people to feel worse than before they started
~ The shame of pornography use builds walls between partners brick by brick
~ Porn is always available
Effects of Pornography
~ The more people seek pornography, the more isolated they feel
~ Porn teaches viewers to objectify their partners
~ Porn sets unrealistic standards and expectations
~ Partners who have caused pain in their relationships may feel they have lost privileged status and withdraw out of shame and to spare the NP partner the pain.
Common Reactions
~ Helplessness
~ Inability to look at spouse without being reminded of the infidelity
~ Nightmares
~ Worrying your partner is thinking about the porn when with you
~ Suspicion
~ Hypervigilance to your partner
~ Depressive/GAD symptoms
~ Withdrawing from others
~ Becoming more critical towards your partner
~ Becoming increasingly angry toward your partner
~ May want to turn to the PU Partner for reassurance and comfort and “punch him in the face and get him away from me” at the same time

Questions the NP Partner May Ask
~ Why am I not enough?
~ Am I not desirable?
~ Does he/she want to leave me?
~ Does he/she think about porn when he/she is with me?
~ What else has he/she lied about?
~ Is he/she having an affair?
~ How could I have missed this?

Functions of Pornography
~ Self-soothing
~ Instead of turning to partner
~ Due to alexthymia (confusing different drives, inability to articulate the problem)
~ Sense of connection
~ Vitality
~ “The very [people] who are most desperate for affection and approval are the ones who usually can’t ask for it; instead they project blame and rejection and perceive the worst in others.” (p. 114)

Needs Fueling Negative Cycles
~ Husbands need acceptance from their wives
~ When a husband’s pornography viewing is discovered he may feel like he is now unacceptable
~ Wives need a sense of closeness with their partner
~ When a husbands pornography viewing is discovered she may feel like he is sharing the most intimate part of himself with someone else (even if only in fantasy)
~ When partners turn to porn when distressed, that denies their SO the opportunity to nurture and provide acceptance and validation (reaching out vs acting out)

Why It Is Hard to Be There
~ Stress hormones are dumped when people experience distress
~ Gottman found that women tended to present as more heated and passionate while men actually reacted internally and physically to a much greater degree and took longer to re-regulate.
~ When in distress
~ Women tend to share their distress to soothe it
~ Men tend to try to fix it or avoid it altogether
Heat, Hurt and Hope
~ Heat is an emotionally intense situation
~ Hurt is the fear that situation brings regarding the relationship
~ Hope is the willingness to convey to your partner exactly what is going on and what you need.
Emotional Trauma
~ Trauma is a sense of helplessness and loss of control and safety.
~ Why does the NP partner feel unsafe?
~ The NP partner may be traumatized by the use of pornography as well as the awareness of the secrecy and lying that accompanied it.
~ The porn stole the partner
~ The NP partner had the “emotional breath” knocked out and now needs to restore it

Emotional Trauma
~ Common methods of trying to restore trust and safety
~ Checking computer histories for ongoing betrayal
~ In-depth questioning about whats and whys
~ Checking cell phone records
~ Obsessing about appearance
~ Withdrawing to self protect
~ Lashing out in anger to make the hurt known

Dealing with Vulnerability
~ Most partners have more moments of insecurity and vulnerability as things progress toward restoration
~ They will need more reassurance
~ Security is not everlasting it is like a
battery that regularly needs to be recharged
Dealing with Grief
~ Grief comes in waves
~ It doesn’t necessarily represent holding on to resentment.
~ Identify grief triggers
~ Develop distress tolerance skills
~ Write the new narrative

Questions to Discuss
~ How do you experience life differently now than before the discovery of my pornography use?
~ How have my behaviors impacted your feelings and beliefs about intimacy?
~ What fears do your currently have about the relationship? What makes them worse? Better?
~ What do we need to do so that you can feel safer?
~ What aspects of my behavior were most painful for you?
~ What do you see as being the most important priority in our relationship at this time?
~ More questions on pages 84-85

Purging the Pain
~ Make opportunities to discuss feelings and the right course of action
~ Set aside adequate time each day to talk in greater depth and just listen to fears, frustrations and hurts and understand and empathize. (both ways)
~ You don’t need to verbally respond to fix it, convince your partner you are doing better etc. Listen. Empathize.
~ The speaker needs to avoid getting upset if the listener does not say the exact right thing. (Otherwise the listener will be focusing more on the response than what is being said)
Relationship Rescue Breaths/Intimacy
~ Be fully honest about past sexual behavior
~ Provide accountability for whereabouts
~ Commit to complete electronic transparency
~ Show a willingness to seek help
~ Initiate family activities and 1 on 1 activities
~ Offer to spend time talking about the NP partner’s day
~ Recognize that physical presence does matter
~ Don’t try to prove what isn’t – Do more of what needs to be
~ Stop explaining, defending and minimizing. Just let the NP partner be heard.

Relationship Breaths cont…
~ Help your partner get what we all want—the feeling of being loved
~ Talk about what it looks like to be loved
~ Pay attention to each others love language
~ Create greeting and parting rituals
~ Increase touch –or at least closeness
~ Communicate more
~ Share mealtime mindfulness
~ Validate and appreciate the other person (acceptance)
~ Listen and empathize (closeness)
~ Share laughter

Other Interventions
~ Install net-nanny programs
~ Install firewalls that only the NP partner has the password to
~ Begin gradually reconnecting—Consider taking sex off the table for a month
~ When unable to masturbate, courting type behaviors may re-emerge.
~ Open a dialog about sex (yes-no-maybe list)

Summary
~ Pornography viewing impacts the viewer
~ Cognitively
~ Emotionally
~ Physically
~ Interpersonally
~ The NP Partner often feels betrayed because she/he feels the porn dominates the UP partner’s thoughts and fantasies
~ Pornography use is often a means to self-soothing and relief or pleasure during periods of distress
~ Masturbation’s effects on the UP user’s physiology can lead to obsessing about porn and the compulsion to watch it