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Any addiction may act as a powerful drain in a person’s life and relationships, whether that addiction arises from substance abuse or compulsive behaviors, such as an addiction to pornography. Porn addiction is especially damaging when the couple disagrees about the use of pornography and what place it might have inside a relationship, or if it should be a part of it at all. How does one know a problem exists? And, if a problem does exist, how does one work on letting go of the compulsion?

Porn addiction, and specifically Internet porn addiction, may be thought of as two different compulsions at once: a) a sex addiction, and b) a compulsive addiction that’s similar to gambling or gaming. Addiction may gain a foothold in a person’s life through exposure at a young age. As the compulsion grows, it’s possible to devote hours in a day to the habit, even engaging in reckless behavior, such as viewing the pornography on work computers, sacrificing sleep to spend hours through the night viewing porn, or becoming distant and secretive when attempting to hide the addiction from a spouse.

As addictions grow worse, it’s possible they may escalate as the material that was originally a stimulus no longer work, creating the need for more exotic and graphic material. Desensitization may follow, which in extreme cases may lead to acting out sexually. Before it gets to this point, the addicted person in the relationship may try different ways to curb the appetite or channel it into a more appropriate direction. The addicted partner may ask his or her spouse to take provocative or even pornographic pictures of his or herself to help reduce the online addiction by providing a substitute.

If a person has a true addiction — if the partner is not just calling the spouse’s desire to occasionally look at pornography an addiction — then taking photos of the partner as a substitute for pornography is unlikely to work. Pornography generally objectifies the person in the photo, having a dehumanizing effect. It may not make the addiction worse; however, it’s doubtful that it will help remove the addiction. These kinds of problems are too complicated for that kind of solution. The best place to determine an appropriate treatment is through counseling or therapy.

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