The following post contains excerpts from Week 12 of the Fortify Program. To find more useful tips to aid you in recovery, check out the full program.


Have you ever heard someone say that porn helps improve romance? Let’s talk about that.

The argument goes something like this, ‘Pornography may not give you real sex, but porn can make your experience of connection and sex better in real life.’ Is that true?

It’s a nice idea, and not hard to understand why people believe it. After all, it seems like porn could only have positive effects, right?

Like so many things, however, we can’t see clearly what’s actually happening until we follow something over time. And what happens to couples who use porn long-term? What happens to the romantic capacity of individuals who use porn long-term?

Well, we hate to break it to you— they don’t become Don Juan’s. The reality is that using pornography is a sure-fire, tested and proven way to make any of us a bad lover.

How Porn Leads To Bad Romance

We’re not exaggerating here. Research confirms that porn affects not only how much people love and how they express their love – but even what they love.  Let’s take those in reverse order.

1.  “What They Love”

For starters, even if you find someone you want to be with, porn teaches you that excitement comes from constantly searching for someone new, rather than finding excitement and fulfillment in an ongoing relationship with one special person.

Studies confirm that porn use leads people to have less interest in being in a sexual relationship with just one person – and predisposes them to see other people as an object for one’s own use (not exactly a great place to start if you’re looking for a healthy relationship).

A real relationship is about being with a person and falling in love with both their personality and their appearance— it’s about falling in love with everything about them. In a real relationship, you can feel a person there, you can see them smile, laugh, or cry. The physical pleasure of sex is connected to sharing a whole committed relationship.

With porn, however, people are stripped of a real personality. The entire thing is scripted and dramatized way beyond anything that would be experienced in a healthy relationship. Individuals are reduced to a collection of body parts, many of which have been surgically altered and airbrushed. The experience is anything but real.

Because of this, the more a person embraces porn’s version of what a relationship and sex should be, the more difficult it will be to have a healthy, loving relationship in real life.

2. “How They Express Their Love”

With prolonged use, porn users report that what turns them on begins to shift. Research over the last two decades shows a startling increase in sexual dysfunction— from 5% of men (ages 18-59) in 1992 to 30% of men (ages 18-25) in 2012 to approximately 53.5% of men (16-21) in 2014.

Researchers have found that when people are exposed to porn, their ratings for how attractive average-looking people go down. One eighteen-year-old explained to us: “I think it’s changed what I look for in a potential love interest. I used to be so much more focused on what matters—is she funny, is she smart, would she get my sarcastic sense of humor, do we have similar interests? Now I find myself more and more preoccupied with whether she has the ‘right’ proportions….I keep having to force myself away from that line of thought and remind myself that these are deep, complex people and are more than the sum of their parts.”

This impact shows up for people already in relationships as well.  Research has found that after men are exposed to pornography, they rate themselves as less in love with their partner than men who didn’t view porn. On top of that, another study found that after being exposed to pornographic images, people were more critical of their partner’s appearance, displays of affection, and sexual performance.

3. “How Much They Love”

With enough exposure, the people and situations that used to be arousing just aren’t enough – with more and more people beginning to prefer what they’ve seen in porn until eventually, porn becomes necessary to elicit any excitement at all. Some people report that they have to picture porn even while they’re trying to be intimate with their real-life partner. More than simply not being present to this person, this also ends up being completely unfair to the other person.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that several studies have found porn use correlated with an individual user being less satisfied with their sex life – and a couple as a whole being less happy with their sex life.

“Many guys say they can’t function sexually without porn,” says Dr. Don Hilton. “They either have to watch it with the girl or they have to think about it while they’re having sex. Basically, they’re just masturbating using the girl – they’re not really with her.” Some people even start asking their partners to change what they do in the bedroom to be more like porn, which can be disturbing, to say the least – since porn rarely depicts anything even close to healthy sex.

In sum, porn impacts what we love, how much we love – and even our ability to express that love!


You Can Unlearn This Education

And there you have it.  Want to become a bad lover?  You have a training program available at your fingertips, one click away.  I guess it’s true, pornography is a wonderful form of sex education.  Just take everything it tells you— and do the opposite!

But if you decide to keep clicking, be very clear with yourself about one thing:  the pornography industry has a vested interest in messing with your relationships.  Porn makers love disrupted and dissatisfied relationships.

After all, what kind of attention—and money—would they get if people were happy in fulfilling and joyful relationships?  Their own success is dependent on your relationships not going so well:  Because they become the mistress of choice for unsatisfied partners.

If this bums you out, then don’t go away— and hang with us.  No one has to be a bad lover forever.  As we’ll explore a little later, just because you’ve learned one way doesn’t mean you can’t learn another!

For now, just trust us. If you’re struggling with love right now, it doesn’t have to be this way forever.