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FOXSexpert: 7 Ways to Tell If You Are Addicted to Porn

Author’s note: This is not an article on whether or not erotica is morally wrong. It is not an article on whether porn use is an addiction (I'll get to those great debates at another time).

I pounced on it the moment it arrived. For months, I had been awaiting the publication of “The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography,” eager to hear its take on what has become a national dilemma.

Like it or not, porn has become a problem in this country. Forty million Americans visit an Internet porn site at least once a month – and it’s hitting many where it hurts.

Not so coincidentally, therapists are reporting an increased number of clients presenting porn-related problems. For example, 50 percent of divorce cases in 2002 involved porn, according to “The Porn Trap” authors Wendy and Larry Maltz.

So how does a person know that they’ve fallen into “the porn trap”?

When does a fun escape for an individual or couple become a nightmare?

Your father’s Playboy is just that – so yesterday. Porn is coming at us from all angles, and we’re no longer talking suggestive pin-up girls.

Between unsolicited emails, deceptive Internet links, pop-up windows, chat rooms, videos, games and the more than 400 million internet pages of porn for your viewing pleasure, erotica is hard to escape, whether it’s soft- or hard-core.

Even if you thought you’d never be caught in the web of porn, the wrong click at the opportune time could have you hooked. Spicing up sex is just one of many reasons people explore all sorts of erotica.

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Maltz and Maltz outline the following reasons you may decide to innocently get in on the action – ones that may ultimately be a disaster waiting to happen:

— Your relationship, although committed, is sexless.

— Your understanding of sex is that porn equals pleasure.

— It’s easily accessible.

— You view porn as a stress reliever.

— You are having trouble being intimate with another human being.

It may seem harmless at first. Everything may seem under control. You’re just in it for kicks, right? But, as too many people can tell you, porn use is a slippery slope if you don’t keep yourself in check.

Here are some major red flags that you may have a problem with pornography:

1. You’ve become anti-social.

You are spending more time with pornography than you are with the outside world. If you are single (and even if you are putting yourself out there) your preoccupation with porn may be hindering your ability to establish long-term, monogamous relationships. If you are involved with someone, you may find yourself bowing out of couple and familial obligations to steal moments with your laptop or DVD player. Bottom line: You only have eyes for porn stars and no one else.

2. You’re lying to your partner.

Your once honest relationship is now plagued by secrecy and dishonesty as you try to hide your porn habit. About 70 percent of people keep their porn use a secret. And many will go to all sorts of extremes in making sure that they are not found out. Even when busted, many will do or say anything to hide the truth.

3. Your partner is no longer attractive.

Unbeknownst to your partner, s/he has competition – and it’s your favorite porn star. Obsessed with fantasy characters, you find it hard to get turned on to the real thing, including yourself. That’s right; you’re not even letting yourself off the hook. Casting yourself against fiction, you’re sizing yourself up as unattractive. Either way, you are likely avoiding or completely uninterested in sex with your lover.

4. Your sex life with your partner is suffering.

Both your sexual desire and functioning, including arousal, have taken a nose dive. You and your lover are feeling robbed of romance, passion and emotional closeness. This is because you are not truly present with your partner. Emotionally distant, you are too busy having sex with porn. Ultimately, you are dissatisfied with your actual sex life, and this is affecting your relationship.

5. Your concept of “real intimacy” has become warped.

When you re-emerge from the fantasy world, you’re finding that your expectations about sex, sexual partners and intimacy have become unrealistic. You’re only interested in those who look and act like porn stars (which severely limit your dating pool if single). Sadly, you start to think there must be something “wrong” with your lover for not putting out like a porn star. Furthermore, you’re objectifying others, wondering what he or she would look like unclothed or how they would act during sex.

6. The habit is causing you distress.

Torn between desire and shame, your use of porn is causing you physiological and emotional distress. You may feel like a “sex pervert,” or suffer from isolation, shame, anger, unrest, depression and irritability. You may be distressed over the fact that using porn conflicts with your value system. Overall, your porn kink is starting to cause family, work, legal and/or spiritual problems.

7. You are engaging in risky behaviors.

You might be OK with ideas that usually make you think twice, for instance, having unprotected sex, but now you are engaging in behavior that is out of control. Soliciting a prostitute, looking at child pornography or anything involving animals or violence warrants a need for help.

If your porn habit is causing you to neglect important life matters, you should seek professional help, especially if it is causing you and your partner distress. A sex counselor or therapist may be able to help.

It also wouldn’t hurt to read “The Porn Trap,” which I thought was well-written and thoughtful.

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Up to 1 in Ten Women Suffer From Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). A recent American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting suggested that only one-third of those with HSDD seek advice or help. However, the condition can have a serious impact on one's quality of life, causing psychological distress and impacting intimate relationships negatively.

Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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