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Toxic effect of pornography on relationships

Written by Bunmi Sofola
~Vanguard Nigeria. Sunday, June 17, 2018.

In my early teens, I vividly remember sneaking into our father's bedroom from time to time, my heart always in my throat for fear of being caught. I was drawn to a stack of Playboy magazines my dad had surreptitiously hidden amongst flies he always brought from the office," said Ephraim. He's now 28, has a fantastic job and a string of girlfriends-but is not thinking of marriage yet. He is now a member of millions of online pornographic junkies. "As I salivated over the 'full frontal' centrefold, with those glamorous models spread-eagled across pages with come-to-bed eyes and staples through their midriffs-I rushed to my room and masturbated.
"Only, as I grow older, my experience of porn has been very different from my dad's. I'm part of the new generation of men to grow up with internet pornography as part and parcel of everyday life. I've never had to pay for it nor faced the embarrassment of asking for it. When I get tired of one image, there's always another… and another… and another. All I need do is type the words: 'free porn' into an internet search engine and there'd be thousands of hits, with most sites containing hundreds of pornographic images.

"Internet porn was part of my life throughout my early 20s and now at 28; I'm increasingly aware that I have a problem. I'm not yet ready to admit I'm an addict, but there's no denying that internet porn has become a deeply ingrained daily habit. As it is now, I struggle to get through a day without at least one visit to one of my favourite sites.

I'm sure a lot of your readers will be mouthing a silent: 'Yuk' as they read this and I entirely understand their reaction. But what they need to know is that I'm certainly not alone-I'm convinced that virtually every man of my age with access to the internet will log on to internet porn sites on a reasonably regular basis. You see, men, by and large, like porn and enjoy using it-it is getting caught using it that they don't like.

"Today, soft-core porn barely exists. Internet porn is now almost entirely 'hard-core'- which involves female and male models graphically engaged in an extraordinary variety of real sex acts. For years, I thought my internet porn habit was having no effect on my relationships in real life. I was confident I could keep internet sex and real sex separate.

After all, I was aware that most women don't like porn and that they are not the sort of overly-made-up sexual athletes I was watching on the net. But now I've realised that I've been deluding myself. Internet porn is undoubtedly beginning to damage my real-life relationships big time….In fact, I can confidently say that it's why I'm not in a relationship today.

"My last girlfriend dumped me when she found out how keen on pornography I actually was-especially when I made the mistake of asking her to watch one or two with me. But it's causing other problems too. Although I've had sex with dozens of women, I've had only four 'serious' relationships since I was 18-and they've all ended absurdly because I've cheated on them. I'm convinced this is because using internet porn is a form of cheating-after all, I'm lusting after the body of a stranger, rather than my girlfriend-and that once you've grown accustomed to this online infidelity, real-life cheating becomes much, much easier.

"Sadly, I now realise that the buzz I get from using internet porn is diminishing my ability to emotionally invest in a woman. It's not that I don't want to fall in love, but I'm beginning to feel like I don't need to. If the sex life I'm having online is better than the sex life I might be having in the real world, then I'm not sure what the incentive is. I don't want to sound too cynical, but men have always seen relationships as a means to regular sex, while women have always used regular sex to consolidate an emotional relationship….

" The more Ephraim admitted to his 'problem' with brutal honesty, the more apparent is the toxic effect of pornography on relationships today.

One wonders why young marriages don't last, why infidelity is no longer viewed with outrage and why romance has lost a bit of its magic. Why was Ephraim being this honest? He explained: "I think it's about time we were all aware of the dangers of too much porn. I may be a slightly heavier consumer of porn than some of my peers, but I'm not atypical, and I think it's important that women, parents and society generally are aware of that. The well-behaved teenager, your 17-year-old daughter has just brought home for the first time what she has seen online that you barely knew were physically possible…. So too will the good-looking hunk from accounts who's just flashed you a smile across the office canteen; or will the handsome divorce' that you've just met through a friend bent on match-making.

"Internet porn is worryingly widespread and has become an element of the modem world. I don't expect women to understand or approve of that, but it's important that they know it. Men are changing, and while I don't know what the answer may be, I do know what the problem is…."

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