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7 Ways Porn Blocks Healthy Couple Relations, 2 of 2


paintings of bodies photoA key block to healthy sexual relations, as discussed in Part 1, is that porn depicts sexual relations devoid of emotional intimacy as “the” norm.

Whereas intimacy is an emotional sense of safety and love, a felt state of mind and body that occurs when the love and safety chemical oxytocin is released into the blood stream, and that forms an essential foundation for healthy sexual relations, pornography makes sex about body parts and treats people as objects at the disposal of other object-persons.

Here are more ways porn blocks healthy sexual relations in a couple relationship:

2. Reinforces the idea that, for men, sex equates to self-worth

Porn promotes the notion that, when it comes to a love relationship, nothing is more important than sex, and that’s all a man needs to feel like a man, thus, to feel loved. This comes with at least two underlying expectations, that a man’s sense of self-worth depends on his female partner to: (1) never say “No” to sex when he wants it, and (2) never ask him to do things “unmanly” things, more specifically, “the love stuff” that he’s learned to associate with what women and children “need” to feel loved. An ideal woman “should want” only what already pleases him, such as sex, and thus never bothers him with petty requests, which pose a “threat” to his feeling manly.

In other words, men are overall socialized to belief sex is the only expression of love that is “masculine” and that they can play along to appease or trick women into having sex, but overall warned avoid to avoid “love stuff’ as “emotional craziness” associated with women, a contamination to their masculinity. 

There are high costs for men (and women) when they buy into this idea to include. It sets up a double standard; and in a partnership, when one partner feels shortchanged, both lose — and any “wins” are mere illusions.

This double standard says that, because sex is what a man “needs” to feel “loved like a man, and a man depends on his partner to feel like a man, a “good” woman must put aside her feelings and needs for “closeness,” and the like, to focus on what he needs physically, mentally, and emotionally, and he depends on to feel like a man. The problem with this double standard is that a human relationship is an emotional connection between human beings, period.

3. Sets up rigid expectations for women and men that are dehumanizing. 

Men grow up feeling entitled to sex, and expect their partner to be available and attentive to their “needs” for sex. It’s not just sex, remember, it’s a belief that his self-worth as a man that is at stake. Thus, a female partner should never complain or ask her partner for “emotion stuff” to ensure he doesn’t feel “uncomfortable” as a man, it’s totally okay and expected for her to do things out of her comfort zone if that is his pleasure.

The expectations for men to suppress, disown, even hate or regard with disdain, their hardwired inner emotion-drives for creating a meaningful relationship with self and another human being are both unrealistic and inhumane. The emotion-drives are needs not wants for human beings to matter in life. Men and women alike are hardwired to yearn for meaningful relationships, and that includes tenderness, human touch, nonsexual affection and the “love stuff,” etc. As real as physical needs for oxygen or water, these yearnings are also the most powerful motivating forces for most all human behaviors.

These are key ways a relationship is formed. And they enrich health and happiness by releasing hormones that nourish cells. A double standard of this magnitude cannot but cause problems for couples, setting up both men and women to fail in creating a secure, long-lasting relationship and sex life.

4. It sets up both partners to obsess on “fixing the other,” albeit in different ways.

The compulsion for men and women to fix one another is a real problem. Men and women have been conditioned, albeit in different ways, to treat one another as weak and not capable. In a world where certain groups are conditioned to believe a might makes right view of life, superiority on the basis of dominance, etc., are norms that spread like cancer, causing human beings to scramble for ways “to matter” on the basis of looking to identify and “fix” other’s weaknesses, faults. Thus, men and women as partners — and parents — too often seek to matter, and feel “needed,” by treating the other as weak and incapable. 

Truth be told, to a greater or lesser extent, both men and women have been culturally trained to look down on the opposite sex.

For example, as a group, men are conditioned to think of women’s “emotionality” as a weakness, proof of inferiority, even “craziness.” From boyhood, male partners (as well as fathers, brothers, etc.) all learn to view the female sex, in general, as prone to “emotionality,” that men have to guard against (stay away from) any influence (to avoid being called sissies, etc.). Men feel “needed” in their relationships by fulfilling their job of “fixing” women, as they do children, to act like adults.

In turn, women as a group are overall conditioned to think of men’s need to “win” or “feel superior,” to dismiss rather than listen or care about other’s feelings, etc. From girlhood, most female partners (as well as mothers, sisters, etc.) learn to treat men as “insecure,” that they depend on women need to “protect” men’s egos, to let men one-up so they can feel important, “in control,” etc. (and thus to avoid being called “selfish” or “controlling,” etc.

5. Conditions men to think of sex as a weapon of power.

It’s not uncommon for most men to interpret a female partner’s attempts to emotionally connect as a competiton for “who’s in control.” Similarly, men tend to view women’s complaints, wants or requests as attempts to “control” if not selfish, demanding. That’s likely because, from boyhood, unlike women, men learn to regard relationships as hierarchical, for example, that there’s a topdog and underdog, and that the underdog is “always” vying to take away the topdog’s status. When this happens, a man’s brain is on guard, and their body’s survival system in ready position, hyper-vigilant and alert for any signs that his female partner is competing for who’s “in control.”

In contrast, women think of their relationships as partnerships, two persons working together, mutually wanting to make one another happy and satisfied. When they make requests, even simple one’s, such as asking for flowers on Valentine’s Day, or spending time together, etc., men’s brains often go on the alert. They’ve been warned that women are going to take a mile if you give them an inch.

In an insightful examination of the social chains imposed on the male heart, Wrestling with Love: How Men Struggle with Intimacy, psychologist Dr. Samuel Osherson explores how men in our culture fight from boyhood with the ambivalence of having to meet the standards that define masculinity in terms of hostility against emotions of tenderness and vulnerability—notably ones we have labeled as exclusively female—that are critical to the formation of healthy intimate relations.

In a stinging critique of mainstream pornography, Dr. Robert Jensen adds the following:

“Men typically consume pornography specifically to avoid love and affection. That means pornography has a problem. When all emotion is drained from sex it becomes repetitive and uninteresting, even to men who are watching primarily to facilitate masturbation. Because the novelty of seeing sex on the screen eventually wears off, pornography needs an edge. Pornography has to draw on some emotion, hence the cruelty.”

Pornographic images intensify men’s intimacy fears, instead normalize relationships based on sex and body parts. Remember, “real” men are not to have fears, not to feel pain, not to feel hurt. That’s a real problem, a wounding one. Men are human beings, and certain core fears of inadequacy, rejection, abandonment, etc., are universal. They are human fears, and have nothing to do with gender.

6. Socializes men to view women as sex objects, rather than human beings

When it comes to sex, porn socializes men to view women as objects for pleasure. Women are viewed as extensions of men, their only and main need to make him feel like a man, to keep propping him up, to keep him happy, to find what brings him pleasure, and not complain about “too much sex” or “hurt feelings.”

Real men should make women happy by being good in bed. They are also “supposed to” avoid the emotional stuff. It’s common for men to view women’s requests, demands for emotional connection, shared communication as signs of weakness, defect, proof of inferiority of the female sex.

They take no personally, and may think it has to do either with their performance, or that their wives lied and deceived them at the start of their relationship — a time when they responsive sexually.

Men come prepared to fulfill their role of “fixing” this defect in their partners, and when their attempts fail, they feel discouraged, inadequate, and like most human beings, they blame the other for not feeling happy or fulfilled.

As a result of seeing their partners as “not” normal and needing to be fixed, men may be dismissive and look down on their partners with scorn, perhaps seeing them as defective, inferior, weak etc.

Indeed, expressing hurt feelings is perceived as “not normal,” “weakness” or “inferiority.” Strong persons do not complain about emotions and communication. A male partner may respond by being dismissive or shaming. Their intentions are “good”; after all, they do the same with themselves or other men to suppress vulnerability.

Meanwhile, the more the emotional connection is absent for female partners, the more impact it has on their sex life, and her libido. Since women have different expectations for closeness and shared intimate communications, and so on, it’s not unusual for women to start feeling used, and withdraw from sex and even nonsexual affection! That’s because they notice that, since any affection from their husband leads to his wanting sex, at some point, they immediately put an end to husband’s attempt to touch.

This is a red flag that the relationship is in danger.

It means her brain has formed neural pathways that link sex with something she “dreads” or feels is a “burden.” At some point, she will likely experience loss of desire for her partner — or her libido. This is not theory; rather science. Forcing a human to do something they dread, such as making child eat broccoli, risks they may learn to hate and reject it the rest of their lives.

7. Teaches men to think of women as “weak men” that they need to “fix” and toughen.

Men not only resist, they also think it’s their job to “fix” their partner’s “sensitivity” with logic — and, more often not, they use an array of tactics known as gas lighting, which are designed to keep women feeling confused, crazy, second guessing themselves, etc.

To a male partner, when she expresses “wants,” it turns the relationship into a competition of sorts of who’s in control. This follows from the belief, that: it’s “her” job is to make sure his wants and needs are the focus of her attention; thus his job to keep turning her “thoughts” away from her wants and feelings back to his.

To most guys, it’s fair game to do whatever is necessary to win, if only to block an “opponent’s” attempts to “win” or control them. When these attempts fail (and they always do because they fail to create a healthy relationship), men tend to blame any feelings of inadequacy, rejection, etc., on their partner.

The main problem with this approach, is that it leaves both men and women hurting, unfulfilled, feeling inadequate, powerless and ineffective, when they see that the relationship with the person they love is in danger. It’s a set up to fail; both men and women work at odds with one another. Not because there’s anything wrong with them; rather because the cultural beliefs they’ve inherited regarding what it means to be a “real” man and a “good” women are a set up for both to fail. Men have to succeed by making sure women fail in their attempts for closeness; and women have to succeed by making sure their relationship is close and secure. , and puts the responsibility for the success of their relationship solely on the female partner. They each feel powerless to create a relationship that gives them the sense of love and security they both aspire, as all healthy human beings do.

 

7 Ways Porn Blocks Healthy Couple Relations, 2 of 2


Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit www.drstaik.com, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik


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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2019). 7 Ways Porn Blocks Healthy Couple Relations, 2 of 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2015/02/pornography-guaranteed-to-block-healthy-sexual-relations-2-of-2/

 

Last updated: 15 Dec 2019
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