Top 10 Things To Know About Women and Porn Addiction

by | May 24, 2016 | Uncategorized | 16 comments

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Female porn addicts–it’s not an oxymoron. In fact, more and more women are becoming addicted to porn. It’s not just a man’s problem anymore.

I’ve written before about how porn affects the male brain, but today, for Top 10 Tuesday, I want to look at it from a different perspective.

So here are 10 truths about women and porn:


Women and Porn Addiction: 10 truths about how porn affects us and our marriages (or future marriages), and what to do about it!

1. Women Use Porn, Too

We often think that porn is just a “man’s problem”. But it’s not. In my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, about 70% of men reported having a problem with porn and deliberately seeking out porn. But so did 28% of women. I’ve read other studies that say that 30% of porn addicts are now female. We need to stop thinking of porn as a guy’s problem and realize that women are caught up in it, too.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘30% of porn addicts are now female. Let’s stop thinking of porn as a male problem.'” quote=”‘30% of porn addicts are now female. Let’s stop thinking of porn as a male problem.'”]

Recently a woman named Stephanie wrote to me about the things that she’s learned coming out of her 10-year porn addiction. I invited her to come and share them with you today.

Here’s Stephanie:

2. You’d Never Know It to Look at Me That I Was a Porn Addict

A 10-year pornography addiction wasn’t easy to hide, but I had managed to do it. My parents didn’t know. My sibling didn’t know. None of my other relatives or friends knew. Once I got married, I had even kept it a secret from my husband until finally making the decision to tell him about it.

I figured I’d take my secret to the grave. But here’s the twist: I was hoping the Lord would be able to use those 10 years I wasted for something good. That’s a little strange, right? How could He do that if I just wanted to bury the situation?

I’ve realized that in this bitter day and age where pornography has become prevalent, glorified, and even celebrated as empowering, I can’t afford to cling on to those 10 years. More precious than my pride is the call to protect others from enduring the same detrimental, mind-warping experience I went through. I need to let the Lord use my failures for His glory.

So here are some of the reasons pornography is just bad news:

3. Pornography is Addictive–for Women, Too

It’s true that there are plenty of people who enjoy watching pornography and never get addicted to it. In the same way, many people enjoy drinking alcohol on a regular basis and never suffer from addiction. But that doesn’t mean that no one ever gets addicted.

  • An addict uses their substance to comfort themselves and obtain an emotional and sometimes physical high.
  • An addict thinks about their substance all the time. They look forward to when they can use it again and will plan their day – and even their relationships – around it.
  • An addict either hides their addiction or expects people to accept their use of it, sometimes making excuses for it or blowing off the concerns of those who care about them.
  • An addict will take nearly any opportunity alone to use their substance. An addict will ruin a relationship because they don’t want to lose access to their substance.
  • An addict is convinced that their substance is one of the only things in life that will make them feel good. An addict believes that their substance accepts them.
  • An addict lets their substance use become such a deeply ingrained habit that they will use the substance just because it’s what they always do, even if they know it won’t make them feel better.
  • An addict might want to give up their substance abuse, or they may not think their substance abuse is a problem at all, or they may not even realize they have an addiction.

Addicts are emotionally tormented, both by their unmet emotional needs and by the guilt their addiction brings. Addicts often feel quite lonely. Some are suicidal. When it comes to their substance abuse, addicts are habitual liars, both to themselves and others.

That was me in the midst of my addiction, although, thank the Lord, I wasn’t suicidal (miserable, yes, but I never would have harmed myself). I was 13 when I started. Addictions can happen at almost any age.

4. Addictions Are Really Hard to Shake

It’s very, very difficult to shake an addiction.  Many addicts see no way out and think there’s no hope for them. What ultimately got me out of addiction was my growing disgust for pornography and my hatred of the devil for perverting the beauty of sex and making pornography okay. I call myself clean, but I can’t deny the rare desire I have to watch it.

Rare, faint, fleeting.

But it appears sometimes, and that scares the life out of me. This is why accountability is always important, no matter how many years you’ve been “clean”. The devil wants you to stay addicted, so don’t think he’ll stop just because you think you’re safe.

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5. Watching pornography Allows You to Ignore Your Needs Rather than Acknowledging and Dealing with Them

Everyone watches pornography for a reason. Sometimes it’s the basic physical need that you don’t feel like denying anymore. Or there’s an irresistible need for emotional connection that, in reality, can never actually be met by watching porn.

But just as complicated as the roots of our needs is the ability to seek out those needs and determine what the driving force is behind your desire to watch porn. Instead of blowing off your issues, you have to seek out your underlying needs. Indulging in a sexual fantasy will only make you feel good temporarily. If you’re watching porn, you’d better ask yourself why, and be honest, because “I’m just having fun” is never an excuse for indulging in something damaging.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘If you’re watching porn, you’d better ask yourself why. What’s the root reason?'” quote=”‘If you’re watching porn, you’d better ask yourself why. What’s the root reason?'”]

While there’s not always a singular problem, usually the biggest issue is the one that is most propulsive. My motivation was my belief that marriage and sex would complete me as a person and fill my emotional void. Of course, I let my desire for the relationship and for sex take over my life, and I used pornography as a shortcut to getting the fulfillment I thought those things would bring. I realize now that marriage was not created by God to fill our emotional needs and that only He can fill our voids and complete us emotionally. But when I was younger, I didn’t seek God to fill my cravings – only pornography.

6. Pornographic Images Hang On for a Very Long Time, Addiction or no.

While it’s true that the longer you’re in the harder it is to get out, no matter how long you watch pornography the images stay in your brain. Studies have even shown that men in particular are better at remembering painful times or arousing times. If you have a pornography addiction, sometimes those two experiences are combined. I’ve been “clean” for five years, and I still have images popping into my head (this is where it becomes very important to practice 2 Corinthians 10:5). I still have a hard time connecting emotionally. And I still have to resist checking out. When you’ve created that habit, your mind and body are trained to respond only to the habit. And once you’ve seen something, you can’t unsee it, especially if your body responded to it.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Don’t flirt with porn–the images stay in your brain, and they’re so hard to get out!'” quote=”‘Don’t flirt with porn–the images stay in your brain, and they’re so hard to get out!'”]

7. Pornography Makes Normal Relationships Difficult or Impossible

Pornography is our mind-warping way of trying to find emotional and physical fulfillment in a past incident between strangers we see on a screen. People become like objects. Relationships become a cesspit of using, abuse, self-gratification, temporariness, and substitutions. Monogamy seems less than fulfilling. While a healthy love relationship should be others-focused and self-sacrificial, pornography creates a relational mindset that is completely me-centric.

8. Porn Makes Us Dissociate to Get Aroused

Once you’re married, porn addicts find that you can’t interact properly with your spouse during sex. You need a situation – a fantasy or story – to play out in your head to get you aroused (this is called dissociating during sex). You need to check out, and you get frustrated if you’re interrupted. You may be having sex with a person physically, but in your mind you’re with someone else – or several other people. Not only does this make it difficult to connect with your spouse during sex, but it’s completely unfair to your spouse, who may believe you’re enjoying them and only them.

Whether or not you believe pornography is cheating, viewing pornography shows that you’d rather get your sexual pleasure from somewhere or someone else but your spouse. But you should never depend on another person to get you aroused. That is solely your spouse’s job. God created sex to be between a man and his wife. Watching pornography, even together, is inviting other people to bed with you.

9. Porn Puts up Walls of Dishonesty

Pornography damaged my marriage in ways even beyond making sex difficult. Hiding my addiction got me stuck in a habit of hiding my problems and lying to cover them. In the beginnings of our marriage, I had a difficult time being honest with my husband all the time. Sometimes I didn’t want to spend time with him because I would rather spend it watching pornography. And I wondered – unfairly – why my husband wasn’t meeting my emotional needs.

I thought marrying him would make my addiction go away and make me feel complete. But my expectations were warped by my inability to see past myself and my own needs and realize that marriage – and life – is about putting others first.

Sex is not about self-gratification or a brief high. Sex is making love. Even people in a good relationship and with no porn involved have a difficult time making the emotional connection and the self-sacrifice that is required of true love making. Pornography makes that impossible.

10. Pornography is Wrong.

Christians in particular, I’m talking to you. It cannot be justified. The Bible tells us to “flee sexual immorality”, “that you should abstain from sexual immorality”, and that we should “turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things”. God makes it clear that sex is between a man and his wife, that we should keep our marriage bed pure, and that we shouldn’t lust after anyone else. In addition, the Bible also addresses idolization, which is what addiction is in general, and pornography is the idolization of sex in particular.

God also tells us not to choose the ways of violence, and pornography is riddled with and celebrates violent acts. And pornography is, quite plainly, a perversion from satan, the destroyer, of the beautiful gift of sex that God gave to us.

Pornography tries to offer us sex in a lesser state than God intended. God is the ultimate giver, but pornography only ever takes away. We can never justify pornography. Not a little. Not for a short time. Not as a test. Not with our spouse. Not now. Not ever. Pornography is always wrong.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘God is the ultimate giver, but pornography only ever takes away. #puresex'” quote=”‘God is the ultimate giver, but pornography only ever takes away. #puresex'”]

Pornography needs to be talked about. Countless people need help escaping this poison. The topic isn’t hush-hush anymore. Let’s stand together against this and tell Satan we’ve had enough, because sex belongs to God.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your story, and for being so open and blunt about the warning you’re giving to women!

And my friends, if  you’re struggling with porn, Covenant Eyes can really help. They offer internet accountability and filtering, but they also have a bunch of resources and webinars just for women dealing with porn addictions. Find out more right here

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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16 Comments

  1. Nick Peters

    One of the great mistakes of our age is that we think men are just great big walking hormones and women have no libidos. It seems unthinkable to so many Christians that a woman could actually desire sex. That’s why it’s foolish to think that pornography cannot be a woman’s addiction alone. It certainly can be.

    Reply
  2. Allie Peters

    My husband Nick Peters comments on here. This is my first comment for this site. I struggle a lot with addictions. My first addiction was pornography at 10 years old. I got a lot of junk mail of it and it intrigued me. As my hormones grew I started looking at it a lot more because I didn’t have many friends and most guys didn’t want to date me in middle school. So I felt I got that need through pornography. When I became a Christian at 14, I realized I didn’t want to look at porn anymore. So I told my parents and told them how I was able to get through their security on my computer. So I moved my computer from my bedroom to a room that was more open and for a year I only went on for school. It helped a lot. Unfortunately, like I said, I tend to move from one addiction to another. While I can now avoid pornography (XXX Church helped a lot too. It’s still hard when it pops up, but I can at least manage to close out of it after a few seconds of being paralyzed by it), I still struggle with two other addictions: Eating and cutting. I’ve gone 15 weeks without cutting and that’s a major improvement. I’m working on dieting for my eating addiction too through Overeaters Anonymous and WeightWatchers.

    I haven’t just been on the side of viewing pornography though. Before I met my husband, I had a boyfriend shortly after graduating high school. He was the first guy to ever make me feel loved, though it turned out he never did love me. I found out he was looking at pornography and it really hurt me. So I thought (even though I was a Christian), “If he’s going to look at naked girls, it better be of his girlfriend.” So I sent him pornographic images of myself to him. I was very uncomfortable doing it and he could tell. Even then he still broke up with me. I’m always afraid (even though this was several years ago) that he could post those images of me online somewhere and it could ruin my husband and my dad’s ministries. Even now I feel like sex is something dirty instead of something God gave us. I’ve been on both sides of pornography and it’s horrible. It’s not worth it trust me. I often wish I could go back and change it because it pretty much ruined my life. If you’re involved in it, GET OUT OF IT!!!!

    Reply
  3. Elsie Anne

    Thank you, thank you, Stephanie for courageously telling your story! I wept as I read, realizing how possible it is that some of my closest friends may be caught up in porn, feeling alone and helpless. I pray that God may give us all courage to be vulnerable with one another, not judging each other’s wounds, but seeking the Healer together. May God continue to bless your journey of healing and use you mightily to challenge and encourage others.

    Reply
  4. DragonLady

    My porn addiction only spanned about a 5 year period if I were to count only watching porn. Reading “smut” novels preceded that by close to 20 years, and “lite” and Christian romance novels preceded the “smut” novels from my early teens. I was locked in compulsive self-gratification for nearly 20 years. I tell people if you can be addicted to it, I have been. When I had to get really honest, my proclivity for addiction began with my first dental work when I was 8. All it took was that first time on laughing gas to be hooked. Then came cigarettes at 13, alcohol at 16, drugs and sex at 22, porn at 35. I don’t know when food became an issue. It probably always was, but at least since my late teens. When I finally entered a program for my alcoholism at 44, I had to unpack all the junk underneath all of my overlapping addictions while realizing I had the emotional maturity of a 4 year old. But I digress. I keep filters on all of our computers because of me. When I finally got tired enough of the guilt to do something, I needed those filters. And it was so so hard to finally tell someone about it. Once the secret was out, the compulsion lost some of its power. Yet, it is still an occasional temptation, and I hate having to talk about it to another person – out-loud, face-to-face. But when I don’t, and try to handle it on my own, it creeps back in and before I know it, I’ll be right back where I was. And I don’t want to be in that dark place again.

    Reply
  5. karla

    Thank you for this. This is vulnerable and open. It is a tough subject and alot of people do not like to talk about it. It is very damaging to families. Not just the addict themselves. Because of how self absorbed they become it affects how they treat others in their everyday life even when it has nothing to do with sex. It could be their value as a person at all.

    I put a link on the last post but this is probably the best one for it since it is so porn focused.

    http://www.culturereframed.org/

    They are really trying to get things changed before our 11 and 12 year old children get ahold of this smut. Before they are hooked into this warped way of looking at themselves and others. It is very eye opening. It broke my husband’s heart when he watched the video on the homepage. He realized that he was trying to turn me into his personal porn star while still keeping them on the side without my knowledge.

    We did watch porn for a short period early in our marriage. Married 29 years. I have never gotten it out of my mind. I have had problems ever since. His lusting contributed to my problems. Now my problems were different as in my visualizations were him wanting someone other than me which has been the case. It was all pain related in my case. Pain of not being enough. I basically dissociated to the point that I wasn’t there at all.

    Since finding out that he was viewing porn for 6 years without my knowledge and on and off during our marriage our sex life is almost non-existent now. It is so hard to get past those not enough feelings. I refuse to dissociate nor does he want me to. So basically our whole sexlife has been hijacked. Where once it was enriching and fun. Now it is stressful and anxiety ridden. Porn is the worst thing for anyone and any marriage. Watching other people “pretend” to enjoy what they are doing when you could be enjoying your loving partner in life makes no sense whatsoever.

    Reply
  6. Eliza

    This post really blessed me. Reading through #3 and all the symptoms of addiction, that was a major break through for me. My addiction is not porn, although porn has definitely hurt me and my marriage in the past. But thank you so much Sheila for not shying away from these hard issues, and giving such great, ‘common’ sense, biblical advice!

    Reply
  7. Someone

    Hahaha. Clever, how you invent an illness to sell a cure for it. Jesus will have the right whip to beat you out of the temple…

    Reply
  8. Alicia

    Thanks for writing this. Porn has never been an addiction of mine, but had things gone differently in my life, it could have been. The world in general too often views it as only a male problem. This view certainly pervades the Christian community, where women seem ashamed of even their healthy sex drive, let alone an addiction. Thanks for writing about this, and other hard issues.

    Reply
  9. MHMC

    My father showed me porn when i was child. He had it around as i grew older. I know this drive my obsession with it after i got married. I was not getting my needs met by my husband, and in a desperate mive to fill an empty feeling i tirned to porn to get that “loving feeling”. I was never addicted to it for lobg periods of time, and throughout the years ive quit for months and even years at a time, but it is hard to kick when youre in an unloving relationship. Now my marriage is over, and im struggling to not use it to fill the void. Ive been leaning on God to meet my emotional needs, but the temptation is always there in this technological world. Ive done well to resist. But it is still hard.

    Reply
  10. September

    I really enjoy your blog, Sheila!

    I realise the topic is old. But may be you could share your thoughts. I have read a lot of confessions from men and women. My concern is, why wives feel so betrayed by their husbands porn use if they do not watch it whereas husbands do not feel this way. Sure they are concerned about it but not to this extend, so why?

    I’m trying to figure it out and I think men are more visual, women are more concered about their appearence and that’s why this addiction triggers very deep insecurities in them. Is that the case?

    Also men are usually get more turned on by a sight of a naked woman then by women oggling at them.
    It’s opposite for women who are more aroused by men looking at them.

    So a man would feel more betrayed by his woman dancing a striptease in front of other men than by looking at naked men.
    And vice verse for a woman who may not feel so betrayed by her men being naked or half naked in front of other women. But she will feel more betrayed if he is oggling at other women naked.

    Sorry, English is not my native, but I hope I have explained.

    Reply
  11. Elba Roark

    I have caught my wife watching threesome sex videos out in the living room one day while our children were not down for naps. She went to show me something on her phone and hit the Task Manager button and it was right there in an incognito browser window. I confronted her about it and she said that she was embarrassed. I asked her if she was wanting a threesome because I know that this was not the first time that she was caught watching threesome porn. She told me no that I was the only one she was wanting. This also happened to be around the time she was trying to plan a “sleepover” at her girlfriends house almost two hours away.

    Our sex life really went down the drain too. We have sex maybe once a week, once every couple weeks, if that. I am the one that initiates sex, or tries to initiate it, only to be rejected and told she is tired. I have caught her several times, getting herself off, when i have taken the day off early and come home to surprise her. She was definitely surprised when i walked in and caught her doing it!!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry! That’s terrible. And your wife really needs to be confronted about it. Just like it’s wrong for a guy to be a porn addict, so it’s wrong for a woman, too, and it will really affect her sex drive and her view of intimacy. Covenant Eyes has some good ebooks for women, along with a filtering program and accountability software that you can install on your devices. I’d really recommend taking a look and talking to your wife about it! Again, I’m so sorry.

      Reply
      • Bethany

        I started watching porn when I was in 7th grade because I saw a pop up and clicked and from their I couldn’t stop. I feel guilty because I am Christian and know what I am doing is a big sin. I try to stop myself and sometimes I go a whole week without it but whenever I am alone I watch it and no one in my family knows. My family are very religious and if they knew what I did they would disown me. I feel very guilty and wish I could stop. I consider myself a good person as I don’t do drugs and disrespect people and everyone sees me as innocent. If they knew what I did they would be shocked and be disgusted. I pray to God to help me with this addiction but after a week it comes back. I can’t control myself. I have never been a relationship other than friends and family because I want to focus on my education. I want to become an optometrist and have big dreams. I don’t want this to be part of my identity.

        Reply
        • Sarah

          I know how you feel. I started porn in sixth grade. It was an accident, I was just watching a movie and there it was. From then on I would go on YouTube and look for the clip. Then… it got really out of hand. I still do it and I can’t control myself either. I’ve gotten caught two or three times by my family but I don’t think they remember. For me it’s like I have two people in my head controlling me. Everyone loves one and knows almost everything thing about her. No one knows about the other and if people remember or found out about her they wouldn’t believe it cuz of how different she is from the other one, they’d never think of me as the same person. I’m going to 9th grade now and I still do it, I want to stop, I know it’s not right but I can’t,

          Reply
  12. Mary

    I think I was about 10 or 12 when I started mastibating. I grew up in a loving Christian family. An idea came to me and I thought I would see what it was like. I had no idea what I was doing at the time. As I got into my teenage years the mastibating because more regular and the guilt overtook me. I was so ashamed I couldn’t tell my mum. I wanted to stop but the shame was too much. The closer I got to Jesus the desire would go away but my flesh wanted more.
    My struggle with porn began about 8 years ago (late 20’s). I had bought myself an iPad with ibooks and thought I’d have a look at the free books. In the free books section I saw an erotic romance novels. I read it out of curiosity and got hooked. I knew better and it scared me that I had allowed these images into my heart. My innocence was gone in a moment. I knew the ramifications of this in my spirit. The guilt overtook Me like never before. I finally told my mum because I had to break free. We prayed together and it felt good to have it brought to light.
    However 9 months later I found myself looking for more books and the craving became more intense because my flesh didn’t want to let go. I have been running to myself over Jesus and ignoring the Holy Spirit. I have resisted the urge to watch porn but I feel the books are just as damaging. I am technically a virgin although I don’t feel I can call myself that for in my heart I have been with many fantasies of men. It has only been the past year that I have seen it for what it is… an addition. I don’t want to bring this addition into my marriage. I hate that I let it steal from a fulfilling relationship with Jesus.
    This addiction has stolen my confidence. It has replaced Jesus and brought a shame and guilt to my life that has caused so much pain. I have been caught in this addiction for over 20 years. It’s time to break free from the chains of sin and live full in Gods love and victory. I’m grateful that I can talk to my mum about it now and be accountable to someone. I know through intimacy with Jesus I can be set free and totally purified from this addition. This article showed me that I am not alone and there is grace and mercy for all of us.

    Reply
  13. A Dukes

    Years ago I would have never considered watching porn, it was always dirty to me and made me sick to my stomach. However, since I’ve been single I have started watching it, afterwards I’d always feel disgusting and vow to never watch it again. I wasn’t having sex and it had come to the point I couldn’t get myself ‘off’ without watching it. So, now I’m in a relationship and I find that I can’t get ‘off’ with him either, I don’t get aroused and don’t get any enjoyment from it. After reading this, I realize I have a real problem and I need to get help, I’ve been single for so long and now that I have a great guy, I can’t even enjoy sex and I know he’s also frustrated.

    Reply

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