Why "Just Stop Looking At Porn" Doesn't Work

To someone who doesn't watch porn, or deal with an intense dependency, it seems like a simple fix: just stop looking at it. They see it as a choice, as a selfish indulgence, and that the viewer should just have more self control.

Unfortunately, for many, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Few people are able to quit watching porn easily, but more often, the average addict can’t give up porn cold turkey, even if they wanted to. It’s a slow and uncomfortable process. For those of us who hate porn, the least helpful thing we could do is to expect them to walk away without some struggle.

What makes quitting so hard? Besides the very nature of addiction, there are a lot of different attitudes and mind traps that people fall into that continue the addiction and rationalize their porn use. An addicted porn user convinces themselves that they can’t stop, or they aren't actually addicted, or that they deserve the high that porn gives.

Let’s look at it from an addict’s perspective. Here are just a few mind traps that can set back the process of breaking free from porn:

I'm Different, I Can’t Get Addicted

Everybody knows a person like this. This is the person who says, “I can handle it.” They’re the tough guy (or girl) who thinks that everyone else gets addicted because they are weak, or that addiction is a myth altogether. When a porn user has this attitude, they don’t accept the fact that no matter who they are, pornography is bad for them. This person doesn’t believe in porn’s ability to hook the most casual of users. Newsflash: porn use can never be casual, and it’s bad for everyone. Believing they’re smarter than porn only makes it easier to fall into the addiction trap. These users need to learn and believe the facts about porn and recognize that anyone can get addicted, and addiction is serious.

Cure Me, Fix Me

In some cases, it’s not easy for addicts to take responsibility for their own recovery. They don’t want to put in the hard work of developing self control or they don’t want to put in the work to stop. The “cure me” attitude allows someone who struggles to blame any slip-ups on incompetent therapists, "stupid" programs, or unsupportive friends—basically anyone or anything other than themselves. With this attitude, they never conquer their addiction because, truly, nobody can “make” them better. In the end, choosing to recover is up to the addict. They have to want to get better, and that can be hard. No one can convince them they need help if they don't believe it, and they don't own their own recovery. This porn user needs to realize their struggle as their own before they can make steps to getting better.

I Deserve It, I Earned It

Everyone can relate to wanting a pick-me-up when they’re feeling low. Some addicts use this excuse to log on and binge-watch porn. They get a feel-good high that ends up throwing them into the addiction cycle. This may seem pretty harmless, but using pornography as a reward is only a set-up for more pain in the future because it only increases the addiction. Maybe they blame their struggle on low self-esteem and they desire the thrill that porn can provide, but it’s really the addiction taking over. This rationalization needs to be recognized for what it is: an addiction.

Stopping Addiction Doesn’t Stop the Desire

Most people who manage to loosen the grip porn has on their lives never really forget the high it gave them.. Once you see an image or video, it can't be erased from a brain as easily as it can be erased from a browser history. The ability to recall these images makes it harder to recover and pretty easy to relapse. As supportive friends and family to people who struggle with porn addiction, we can encourage them to remain strong and remind them that they are loved and they are worth real love. We can act as accountability buddies, or help them realize that their struggle is real.

Porn addiction is ugly. It tears apart relationships, and it damages a user’s brain, too. Porn isn’t good for anyone. We can take a stand against porn addiction by offering a helping hand of encouragement to seek help. Be a friend to an addict by recommending they sign up for a recovery program like Fortify.

Porn addiction is really difficult to simply get out of. Let’s fight for love and fight against addiction by offering help and positive words for them to stop instead of ignoring the hard reality of addiction.