Porn Use Increases Infidelity, Divorce

Pornography is thought to be the most sought-after content on the web. Is the use of pornography a harmless, titillating tool for individuals and couples, or does it have deleterious effects on a relationship? More than a matter of opinion, the issue has been studied at length—with very conclusive results. Researcher Patrick Fagan, PhD, a psychologist and former Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary, calls pornography a “quiet family killer” and says it is time for citizens to buck the laissez-faire approach to porn. His key findings:

  • Pornography use was correlated with an increase in infidelity of more than 300%. (Other factors may have also contributed to the infidelity, but it was a factor.)
  • 56% of divorces involved one party having an obsessive interest in porn.
  • Married men who are involved in pornography feel less sexually satisfied with their spouse and less attached to her. Wives notice and are upset by the difference. Many wives begin to feel unattractive or sexually inadequate.
  • More than half of those engaged in cybersex lost interest in sexual intercourse; one-third of their partners also lost interest.
  • Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate.
  • Users become desensitized and tend to seek more extreme types of pornography (including viewing aggressive behaviors and rape).
  • Child-sex offenders are more likely to distribute or regularly view pornography.
  • Pornography use alters sexual attitudes and behavior.
  • Adolescents exposed to high levels of pornography use had lower levels of sexual self-esteem. Porn use was highly correlated with increased sex with non-romantic friends.
  • Men are six times more likely to view pornography as females, and spend more time viewing it. However, among women who engaged in cybersex, 80% went on to have real-life sexual affairs, compared to 33% of men.
  • When brains are scanned using a PET scanner while viewing pornography, the brain reactions are similar to a cocaine addict’s brain while viewing images of others using cocaine.
  • The presence of sexually oriented businesses in communities leads to increases in crime and decreases in property rates.
  • Dr. Fagan concludes, “Pornography corrodes the conscience, promotes distrust between husbands and wives and debases untold thousands of young women. It is not harmless escapism but relational and emotional poison.”

Read the full report in The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community by Patrick F. Fagan, PhD. It was co-published by the Family Research Council in Washington D.C. and the Marriage and Religion Institute (MARRI).

You may be surprised to read the detailed findings in this research report. I found it fascinating to know such documentation exists. To supplement the research, I wanted to hear from a married person who has used pornography to find out if it was as harmful as Dr. Fagan suggests. So, Monday I will post a candid Q&A from Stu Gray at The Marry Blogger. The interview offers some very personal insight as the effects pornography had on his marriage. You’ll want to check back to hear his story.

What do you think about these research findings? Agree/disagree?

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20 responses to “Porn Use Increases Infidelity, Divorce

  1. Lori,

    There are certainly many points here but the one the struck me the most (in a disagreeable way) was the comment that first comment that porn increases infidelity by 300%. I went and read through the article and the reference given is a 2004 study. That is based on a questionnaire. It’s not prospective nor is it controlled. I am not saying that it’s impossible but my thought is that the pornography use amongst adulterers is possibly a marker of a different problem (such as unhappiness in the marriage or a personality issue) which then leads to infidelity. To say that there’s a causative relationship seems to be stretching what the article actually says. I could be wrong but that’s just what I see.

    I completely agree however, with the self-esteem issues and attitudes towards sex. Thank you for posting.

    • Thanks for digging into that statistic. It seemed high to me as well, but you are right, I’m sure more than one issue contributes to a failed marriage. It may not be causative link.

  2. Lori,

    Excellent article. In all my years of marriage counseling I have found pornography to be a major player in many marriage problems.

  3. Considering who funded the “research” you really have to take it all with a grain of salt. Plus after getting through the first few pages every suggestion was that men were the primary viewers and wives the non-viewers. Women are increasingly the users of porn and it’s heading towards a 50/50 split.

    • Thanks for your input. My understanding is that men view it more often, but women use porn differently, often getting more emotionally involved in cybersex. Feel free to link to other research that gives a fuller picture of the issues. And, yes, the source of the research should be considered.

  4. Lori – Porn is a big problem in marriages across the board. I’m coming into contact with more and more folks who are saying that they have a problem with internet porn. I myself had an addiction to porn for 19 years. 9 of those years I was married. Alisa and I podcasted about the issues we faced with my addiction. Take a listen to it and let us know what you think. http://www.oneextraordinarymarriage.com/2010/02/25/007-pornography-a-secret-that-can-destroy-your-marriage/

  5. Statistical sample of 1, I realize, but I find that my porn use was mostly non-existent when my wife was keeping me sexually occupied. (e.g. at least 3x per non-period week).

    A sad but socially unacknowledged fact is that women cheat on their husbands when they consistently deny them sex. (This is actually supported in 1 Corinthians 7 for those of you who look to Biblical definitions of cheating). Married men not getting enough sex certainly feel cheated, but don’t feel comfortable talking about it. Women control that conversation in the media.

    Porn is a cheap substitute, and it takes the edge off, and has less calories than beer. I love my wife, and I’d take my wife any day over porn, but when she is interested (or grudgingly concedes) only 6 times per year if I’m lucky, I need a break.

    I’m actually one of those “religious” people that held off on sex until I was married because I believed that “God will bless you sexually for your abstinence” message. I guess I was mistaken…

    By the way, I believe that divorce correlates with the infidelity. Over the last 15 years, internet porn has grown immensely. If the thesis of Dr Fagan is true (e.g. where he says that infidelity correlates with porn), then we should have seen the divorce rate skyrocket over the last 10 years. It hasn’t happened.

  6. Oh sure, here we go again. Men= evil, porn= evil, no porn=good, women=good. Sounds like the people conducting this so-called “research” have an agenda. Next point?

  7. Great Article. Please continue to spread the word about Pornography Addiction. The following article was published in our local news outlet about a couple and their fight to overcome addiction.

    http://www.rhyllcroshaw.com/recovery-from-porn-addiction-is-possible/

    You can learn more about the couple by visiting

    http://salifeline.org/steven-and-rhyll-croshaw-speak-about-pornography-addiction/

  8. Pingback: Pornography. What's wrong with it? - Page 8 - Religious Education Forum

  9. Porn ruins relationships

    This is fascinating and makes ABSOLUTE SENSE. I mean come-on put one and one together and the results seem completely logical. Men watch porn and pleasure themselves leaving their gf’s/wives on the back burner. They see what they view in the clips and videos and start to compare their sexual encounters. They pick them apart, their partner’s bodies not as nice as what they see on porn, not enough enthusiasm or whatever the issue is. Then to top it off the constant viewing of porn decensetises them from being able to fully enjoy sex with their partners because the normal everyday sex isn’t as exciting looking as the xx who get PAID to have sex and make it look amazing and are willing to do ANYTHING/EVERYTHING.

    After a while the regular porn starts to become bland and boring. This of course progresses to the point that they decide to click that AD on their Porn site or “I’m 23 and live in blank and need to get laid” and they create profiles and look for more provocative/slutty people they can fulfill their new found fantasies with. The women on the other hand, start to feel betrayed when they find out that their men are fantasizing about other women and they feel repulsed by their men and unattractive. It’s no surprise to me that the divorce rates are as high as they are, they seem to me to be linked with the percentage of men who watch porn. I won’t be surprised to see it reach over 70% if these trends continue.

    I wonder if the increasing number of men with ED has anything to do with the popularity of porn, men can’t get turned on by their spouses because of all the young women they watch on websites so they need drugs that boost their ability to get hard with normal everyday intimacy.

    Society as we know it is heading down the shitter (to put it bluntly). People are sleeping around, doing whatever they want and girls are transforming themselves into skanks to entice men because that’s what men who watch porn like. You can try to defend it all you want but it all adds up. And women are no good either, for actually going along with this. Allowing themselves to be taped as well as defending men and saying it’s part of their nature. I remember back when I was in high school and the idea of someone looking at porn was shunned upon. They said ewww gross what a pervert or what a sicko I can’t believe he looked at that crap. Nowadays people are making it okay. They’re saying “oh it’s fine that’s what men do”, blah blah blah. That’s what they do because were making it okay and were defending their actions.

  10. I to was affected by porn. My husband and I have been married 18 years. I known the last 14 years that something was wrong. Despite my attempts to arouse him or please him. I thought he was haveing a affair. I didnt like him watching porn with out me I caught him 2 years into the marraige first time i was pregnant with my 2nd son. He wouldnt touch me I was so angry. Over the years I knew he had no desire to be with me. I would look find disconected numbers on his phone records ect. Found him on dating sights myspace facebook. I finally left met a man I fell inlove with. However we were still married. Through the years I would talk to men about it and I finally started looking myself. When we seperated and I was with this man my husbands addiction took a new level..Adult sex sites paying 500 dollars. I got pregnant by my bf. My husband was livid and only wanted me back after he seen he didnt want to be committed to those women. However he told me he was innocent and had not done nothing i left the bf came home. he secretly continued his life. one day after the baby was born his behavior became crazy i started looking. BOY WAS I SHOCKED AND SO HURT TO FIND I HAD BEEN LIED TO AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! We are still together and I am trying to work through it. I wont go through this again with no one . How devistating to find your husband is discusted by you. No wonder I cheated on his ass.

  11. Pingback: Porn over wife - Page 3

  12. Hi, thanks four the article. I am a female, who was introduced to porn at a young age 14 I believe. I use to watch it and get off myself, even when I had boyfriends I could not get the same pleasure while having sex with them. Granted this was not an everyday addiction of watching porn, more like two or three times a week. However, I still would “please myself” once or more a day because the images from porn were seared into my head.
    I progressively got into watching more “shocking” porn or taboo to myself and my faith. This is because of the well documented fact that you need more shocking images to have arousal and achieve climax. I began to question my sexuality and whether I was bisexual or even homosexual. Luckily, by the grace of God I began to slowly give up and heal from the trauma of porn, largely due to the fact that I became pregnant and had my first daughter at 18 years of age.
    Now I am 22 years old and have two more children with my fiance, we have been together since I was 16. However, he still has a huge addiction to porn, and has even cheated on me numerous times with other women. After all this he can name the number one reason for him cheating as being excitment of someone new. I do believe that porn has had an influence in his sexual infidelity. He has made numerous comments on how I need to change my body, breast implants, amongst other surgeries to please him. I attribute this to his excessive porn habit. Also to his character, in no way am I stating that his cheating soley lies upon porn use but I believe there is huge correlation between the two.
    I can also relate to addicts of porn because I was one for four years and still have had a couple of relapses myself and urges. Ladies, can be addicted to porn themselves as well. But something we must do is not conform to the idea that porn is natural and a man’s right or a women’s right to view. It may be in our natural instinct but we have been given an ability that no other species has, an ability to know right from wrong and an ability to rise above our animal instinct. Porn is a killer of relationships, it teaches young men and women to only be aroused by images, by the idea of a certain sexual acts taking place, to only view others as objects to merely satisfy yourself, to look no further than someone’s outside beauty, and lastly it teaches us that our self worth is only based on our appearance and sexual expertise. Porn devestates ,marriages and human beings.

    • You have learned a lot from your experiences at a very young age, and I appreciate you sharing these difficult lessons. Wishing the best for you and your family.

  13. Thanks for a great article. As a filmmaker, I made a teaching series for men to help them in this area of struggle. It’s called the Conquer Series. Watch the film trailer here: http://vimeo.com/84189628 Or learn more at http://www.conquerseries.com

    • Great job, Jeremy. I hope men will take a look at this series. It’s certainly a growing issue. Best wishes with this project. I hope many people are helped by your efforts.

  14. Pingback: The Quiet Family Killer |

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