It’s no secret that COVID-19 has left its mark in a rather life-altering fashion. As a result, we’ve all been forced to adapt in ways we probably never imagined. 

Online porn addictionNot surprisingly, all the stress, loss, and isolation from being required to socially distance from friends, family, and coworkers has taken a substantial toll on mental health

Coping with all the uncertainty and finding an escape during the pandemic has looked a little different for everyone. In fact, an increasing number of people have turned to pornography.

Since March 2020, a number of sources have reported anywhere from a 16 to 30% increase in online pornography access in the United States. After making what’s described as its “premium content” free for 30 days, Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography website, reported an 18% increase in users.

Not surprisingly, the uptick has been attributed to people having fewer scheduled commitments and more time unaccounted for at home. Professionals in the field, including internationally recognized sex educator Justin H. Lehmiller Ph.D., add that in addition to needing something to fill their time, many use porn as a coping mechanism for anxiety, loneliness, fear, and negative emotions.

The Irony of Pornography

As something people seek out as an escape from real emotions and to combat loneliness, the experience of viewing porn often leaves users feeling, well, lonely.

In a vicious circle, studies have shown that when pornography use increases, so does loneliness. As loneliness increases, so does pornography use. While it’s always available, this fantasy world never truly satisfies the need for true human connection. While it may provide a rush and temporary relief from feeling alone, the realization of this isolated experience often leads to feeling lonelier than ever. 

The Real-World Consequences of Pornography 

No doubt about it, pornography is big business. Not only are 28,258 users watching pornography online every second, but $3,075.64 is spent on it during the same timeframe, according to statistics from Webroot Cybersecurity.

…the experience of viewing porn often leaves users feeling, well, lonely.

When porn use becomes excessive, there can be any number of real-world consequences. For instance, researchers have found that married men and women who use pornography are “more likely to get divorced than men and women who do not.”

Deemed an intimacy killer, those who become accustomed to getting pleasure from watching pornography may form unrealistic expectations for sex with their partner. This can lead to a decrease in trust and true connection, and for many, like former NFL player Terry Crews — who detailed his struggles with pornography in a video series called Dirty Little Secrets — it’s difficult to give up.

Like anything that interferes with someone’s ability to have healthy relationships, pursue vocational goals, and enjoy their favorite hobbies, repeated pornography use can cause great harm to your well-being if it becomes the focus of your life.

Symptoms that separate the casual user from someone who may truly have a problem include:

  • Keeping your porn habit secret from your partner
  • Reduced sexual satisfaction with your partner without porn
  • Inability to quit watching or accessing pornography despite its negative impact on your life
  • Being unable to think about anything else, even when you’re not watching
  • Logging on to watch porn during work or social situations
  • Viewing porn causes feelings of depression, shame, or guilt

Finding New Ways to Cope

Rather than turning to pornography to deal with the underlying emotions that are fueling your anxiety, loneliness, and frustration during the pandemic, finding another outlet can be a much healthier alternative. 

Whether it’s practicing mindfulness, going for a run, checking in with family or friends on Zoom or FaceTime to see how they’re coping, reading a good book, or re-engaging in a favorite hobby, taking time away from the computer can be a gamechanger for your mental health and relationships.

If you or someone you love struggles with compulsive pornography viewing or sex addiction, our skilled team at Gentle Path provides a holistic approach to helping men confront their issues in a nonjudgmental setting. Contact our team today to find out more about how we can help you rediscover satisfaction in life through healthier avenues.