Why did my porn use escalate?

Printer-friendly version

Porn addiction often escalatesUPDATE: "I gave up porn when it became too disturbing" (Chicago Tribune, 2018)

Through the last years of this addiction my taste for porn evolved. Started watching femdom porn where a girl beats, insults and fucks a guy with a strapon,  cuckold/cheating porn, which seemed to make me get much more interested in women that had a husband/boyfriend, even if she wasn't that good looking, the whole  cheating taboo made me crazy. Even a "softer" porn genre like MILFs ended up making me more attracted towards older women that had children, making me want to   fuck my classmates mom, teachers. Still does dammit.

Fuck man, I never thought porn could do that, I wasnt like that when I was younger, before porn, I just thought of normal sex, I felt attraction towards any good looking girl. I keep trying to look back and see how things went this road without me even noticing it. Now even after stopping it I still have a thing about women kicking me in the balls, slapping and fingering me. I'm sure my PIED will be cured... but will all those fetishes that I developed always remain my mind? permalink

Compulsive porn users often describe escalation in their porn use that takes the form of greater time viewing or seeking out new genres of porn. New genres that induce shock, surprise, violation of expectations or even anxiety can function to increase sexual arousal, and in porn users whose response to stimuli is growing blunted due to overuse, this phenomenon is extremely common. 

Kinsey Institute researchers were among the first to report this phenomenon. In 2007, they noted that high exposure to pornography videos apparently resulted in lower sexual responsivity and an increased need for more extreme, specialized or "kinky" material to become aroused, but did not investigate further. Also in 2007, Norman Doidge MD wrote about escalation in his book The Brain That Changes Itself:

The current porn epidemic gives a graphic demonstration that sexual tastes can be acquired. Pornography, delivered by high-speed Internet connections, satisfies every one of the prerequisites for neuroplastic change.... When pornographers boast that they are pushing the envelope by introducing new, harder themes, what they don't say is that they must, because their customers are building up a tolerance to the content.

Human sexuality is far more "condition-able" than experts realized. A 2016 study found that half of internet porn users had escalated to material they previously found "uninteresting or disgusting."(Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men). An excerpt:

Forty-nine percent mentioned at least sometimes searching for sexual content or being involved in OSAs [porn] that were not previously interesting to them or that they considered disgusting.

This Belgian study also found problematic Internet porn use was associated with reduced erectile function and reduced overall sexual satisfaction. Yet problematic porn users experienced greater cravings (OSA's = online sexual activity, which was porn for 99% of subjects). Interestingly, 20.3% of participants said that one motive for their porn use was "to maintain arousal with my partner."

Several more studies, using various methods and assessments have reported Escalation (and Habituation) in Porn Users. For example, this 2017 study developed and tested a problematic porn use questionnaire that was modeled after substance addiction questionnaires The Development of the Problematic Pornography Consumption Scale (PPCS). Unlike previous porn addiction tests, this 18-item questionnaire assessed tolerance (escalation of use) and withdrawal, finding both, ending the debate over withdrawal & escalation in frequent porn users. Two questions it used to asses escalation of porn use:

  • I gradually watched more “extreme” porn, because the porn I watched before was less satisfying
  • I felt that I needed more and more porn in order to satisfy my needs

In addition, this 2016 study casts doubt on that assumption that sexual tastes are stable with respect to today's (streaming) internet pornography (Sexually Explicit Media Use by Sexual Identity: A Comparative Analysis of Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men in the United States). Excerpt from this study:

The findings also indicated that many men viewed sexually explicit material (SEM) content inconsistent with their stated sexual identity. It was not uncommon for heterosexual-identified men to report viewing SEM containing male same-sex behavior (20.7%) and for gay-identified men to report viewing heterosexual behavior in SEM (55.0%).

This study, taken together with other studies on this page, debunks the meme that today's porn users eventually "discover their true sexuality" by surfing tube sites, and then stick to only one genre of porn for the rest of time.

Cambridge University researchers have verified that problematic porn users' brains habituate to images more quickly than controls and are more aroused by novel images. So if you've escalated to fetish porn that surprises you, you're not alone, and it likely is not an indication of "who you are" sexually - other than an ordinary bored, overstimulated porn user. This page has hundreds of examples (below) of guys who quit porn and saw their porn-induced fetishes evaporate.

There are also critical windows of development, during which associations wire up more "deeply" (and prove more stubborn to shift). Some windows are in childhood, when some associations become implicit memories (not conscious). For example, if a spanking  somehow triggered a physical erotic response, some groundwork is laid. Psychiatrist Norman Doidge discusses this example in his very excellent chapter on sexual plasticity, Full Chapter, from his book The Brain That Changes Itself. More recently, Doidge wrote:

"We are in the midst of a revolution in sexual and romantic tastes unlike any other in history, a social experiment being performed on children and teenagers... What clinicians don’t know much about, yet, is how we shall help teenagers, whose sexual tastes are being influenced by porn, because this level of porn exposure is quite new. Will these influences and tastes turn out to be superficial? Or will the new porn scenarios deeply embed themselves because the teen years are still a formative period?"

Other researchers also measured this escalation process when video porn became widely available. One writes:

What can be considered established is that frequent exposure of young adults (i.e., mostly students in their first year of college) to readily available erotica, explicit and graphic, but devoid of coercion, fosters a rapid overcoming of adverse reactions such as feelings of guilt, repulsion, and disgust, and an equally rapid development of unhindered enjoyment reactions. Prolonged exposure leads to habituation of excitatory reactions, however. Enjoyment diminishes as a result, and the consumption of novel materials (i.e., erotica depicting less common sexual behaviors) becomes necessary to sustain enjoyment reactions of acceptable intensity.

So why does this happen? It appears that streaming porn is what scientists call a "supernormal stimulus." That is, our brains didn't evolve with this much stimulation, and so they aren't adapted to it. They "defend" themselves by becoming less responsive to pleasure, which means internet porn, paradoxically, becomes less satisfying over time (in some users). Perpetual dissatisfaction then drives a search for more intense stimulation, as the user searches for more extreme thrills. Worse yet, anxiety also heightens sexual arousal, so doing risky things becomes a turn on, which can lead to a very self-destructive cycle in which some users are driven to act out their porn fetishes in real life in an attempt to scratch their itches. Read one guy's story.

And, yes, it's often possible to reverse such porn-induced fetishes. See Are my fetishes porn-induced? But it can take longer than you think it will. This article explains more: Why Do I Find Porn More Exciting Than A Partner?

Escalation results from either habituation or desensitization. Probably both. Habituation is a temporary decline or cessation of dopamine release in response to one specific stimulus. This is a normal process and can change moment to moment. Habituation drives porn users to seek novelty and thus new genres.

Desensitization refers to long-term structural and chemical brain changes that may take months to years to develop, and a long time to reverse. Among other changes, dopamine and opioids decline, as do certain dopamine receptors and opioid receptors. This leaves the individual less sensitive to pleasure, and often manifests as the need for greater and greater stimulation to achieve the same buzz (‘tolerance’). While addiction involves desensitization, the brain changes behind desensitization can occur without a person experiencing a full blown addiction (several new studies report desensitization/habituation in porn users: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.).

Desensitization and habituation urge porn users to seek out new genres, sometimes harder and stranger, or even disturbing. Just as a drug user needs more of a substance to get high (as his reward circuit grows number), today's Internet porn users may find they need more videos, or kinkier videos, or virtual reality porn, or live chat, or acting out, or illegal material to get the buzz their brain is desperately seeking.

It's not just sexual novelty that buzzes our reward system. Dopamine fires up for other emotions and stimuli too, all of which often feature prominently when using internet porn:

Desensitization, and tolerance, occur because today's Internet porn is so much more stimulating and abundant than anything human brains have confronted throughout evolution. Southpark did a great job capturing it in this episode. Below a just a few examples of tolerance reported by site members. In some cases, the phenomenon only becomes evident when the absence of extreme stimulation for a time corrects the problem. This guy really captures the phenomenon:

Man I'm so put out right now. I can't seem to stop myself. Once I was addicted to pornography and I managed to quit.. for almost 3 months. This has escalated over the years from aged 12 somewhat like this;

  • Underwear models
  • Nude models
  • Basic sex in porn
  • BJ
  • Anal
  • Gangbangs
  • Male domination of women
  • Femdom
  • Feet
  • Femdom with pain
  • Femdom with an emotional feel

Then I found fetish forums/facebooks. I used to think it was bad to watch porn for 4 hours. Since 6/7 months ago on at least 4 or 5 occasions I have been up ALL NIGHT, we're talking 12+ hours here. I've just finished a 5 hour session of misery. And once again my brain feels so abused by it. I feel jittery and socially awkward and anxious like you can't believe.

Each time I abuse porn it gets a tiny shade more extreme. I spent a great deal of my last session fantasizing about homosexual activity in a forced femdom context. Now returned to normal after orgasm, I feel absolutely disgusted. This is not something i would ever find attractive in the real world, in my right mind! I'm struggling so hard to break the cycle, this is the only place I could write this down.

If porn use has morphed your sexual tastes, see:

Here's the "Tolerance" PDF document from which we took these.

I'm 14 days without PMO, and as a result, I'm finding it easier to become aroused more often. Porn really destroyed my ability to become aroused by anything other than the most artificial looking women with the most sexually edgy behavior. As I'm now becoming aroused by more women in more normal situations, something is happening that I had not expected: I'm feeling more attractive. I guess if I could only become aroused by the craziest visual images, then my assumption was that women could only find the most sexy, artificial males attractive.

As I'm becoming more attracted to normal situations, I'm starting to believe that it's just as likely that they be attracted to me even though I don't look like Fabio. In other words, when I wasn't attracted, I assumed that they weren't. Now that I am, it's easier to believe that they are, too.

Within the last year the amount of porn induced erections/orgasm has gone through the roof, averaging 2x a day, every day, sometimes up to 4 or 5x. After that I noticed I couldn't hold my erection while making love with my wife...awful.

With the magazines porn was a few times a week and I could basically regulate it. Cos it wasn't really that 'special'. But when I entered the murky world of internet porn, my brain had found something it just wanted more and more of.... I was out of control in less than 6 months. Years of mags, no problems. A few months of online porn...hooked.

I masturbated and looked at porn as much as I could all through high school. The next big jump in the addiction came with the Internet. About 1993, I got Internet access with a 2400 bps modem. It did not take long to figure out how to watch all the porn I could want. Started with just pictures. Took a long time to get pics at 2400 bps but I would stay up late a lot. Hours and hours downloading pics. Could not get enough. All kinds of pics. The more you see the more you want to see. The more graphic, the more bizarre. More. More. More. That is all the brain wants once you get that deep.

Then I got a 56k modem. What glory! I got pics so fast now it was wonderful. 56k could not have come at a better time. Wonders of wonders, sites started offering free clips. 3 to 10 seconds long. Oh how wonderful they were. I had 1000s of pics and 100s of clips before Windows 98 came out. This was an everyday thing, as much as I could get.Well, things synched again; windows 98 and new protocols on 56k made the connection download twice as fast. The clips got longer. My mind thought, "This is even better!" Clips were 10 to 30 seconds long. Got more and more of these.

This whole time I ramped up to more and more extreme and stronger porn.

I kept this up for a few years just doing the clips and pics. You could never see it all. There was always something new and more extreme. I always wanted new stuff, and more of it. The Internet made the supply endless. Then came fast access, free full clips, ultra high resolution images, and more extreme stuff: bondage, bestiality, men with men or viewing just men, then torture whatever it took to get me off. I will say I never did child porn. Though had I not began the process of quitting this addiction, I am sure it would have been a possibility. That thought scares me still.

What I thought of porn though at the time was, "If it is adults, it is not a problem. They decided to do this." So I saw no problem viewing whatever. This escalation kept going. I discovered something new, which was amazing after 15+ years of Internet porn usage. Erotic hypnosis porn. OH WOW! Women under a hypnotist's control doing whatever they are told. The first night, I was up all night - really all night - masturbating to orgasm for hours and hours. I could not get enough of this stuff for months. Then the biggy. I could get sessions form Hypnodommes. I could be controlled like those women in the videos. This was amazing. I got lost in the hypno videos, stories and actual hypnotization of myself. Finally hit me that I had gone too far. I actually started paying for videos and hypnosis. I had never done this before, that is, pay for stuff. That finally got me to seek recovery. (I was also suffering from worsening erectile dysfunction…in my thirties.)

The biggest part of this addiction process is the ramp up to more and more. When I say "more," I mean more of everything. More of it. More extreme. Just More. More. You have to have more. Nothing else will help except more. That is the problem. I guess maybe the root of the addiction. You can not stop here or there. Certainly, you try. I did many times. I decided not to go to those sites anymore. "After all, I have enough videos saved that I do not need to go back." That would last a day or two. The other question I kept asking is, "Why am I watching this? Why am I turned on by this bizarre scene?" Then would come the thoughts" "Who cares? Where can I find more? It turns me on so much, I do not care. Just where can I find more." It is always more, more, more, never ending.

I think a lot of my attraction to other women began at an early age due to the magazines I spent hours and hours looking at and reading. I experimented once with another girl when I was a teenager and liked it, but didn't crave it. Then many years later, many pictures and movies later, my interest in women grew stronger and stronger until it was about the same for both men and women. Then after much more porn and real life experience with women my attraction to them surpassed my attraction to most men significantly. However, after a few years of being monogamous with my husband again and almost porn-free, I'm finding my attraction to women slowing down while still having the same attraction for my husband as I've always had.

The past 8 or so months, I have become extremely aware of my lack of control over masturbation and porn use. I have watched porn for at least 14 years. I am 33 soon. I have degraded into more extreme stuff, a lot of transsexual porn lately. I am not at all attracted to shemales other than the porn, and once I am done, I am actually disgusted by the thought of it. If it is not shemale porn, it is other whacked out straight porn that only degrades women into complete objects.

It was a relief reading some of the articles on here that explain it does not really matter what porn’s content is, it is just the stimulation of it, and the need for more extreme and odd things. I am attracted to women, but have felt no real sex drive towards them for years.

I've noticed that for a while now my tastes in porn have been changing rapidly. At first it was just normal porn, but then I started to become desensitized to normal or mundane porn. I can't really focus to hard on anything at all, and I've also noticed a serious decrease in my libido. This year I was diagnosed with moderate to severe depression and have been put on the following medications. Prozac,Celexa,Paxi, and I am currently on Welbutrin which is generic for Bupropion. I've been battling this depression since I was 12. I currently fap at least 5 to 6 times daily.

I am a 27 year old gay male and I have a strong belief that I have not developed very healthy sexual behaviour in my lifetime since coming out (around age 20). I feel like the ease of internet use to meet men or masturbate to porn has impacted my understanding of sex so much that I feel lost when given the opportunity to have a rewarding and enriching sexual relationship. Recently, the longest relationship I'd ever had ended. I was in love with him, but I was unable during the entire relationship to really feel that sex lust that I feel in other sexual encounters.

If I think about it, I rarely feel that sex lust with reoccurring partners. I usually only am extremely excited about sex when it is with someone new and I barely know them, or their bodies. Furthermore, I have a lot of trouble with cumming with my partners. I have only cum with another person 6 times, though I've had sex plenty. When I am alone, cumming is not a problem. I watch porn a lot to achieve this.

I discovered Internet porn at 16 or so. At first anything got me off, but over time my tastes starting getting more specific to the point of forming fetishes. I assumed that this was somehow a natural effect of getting older, not linking it to the porn. Without my noticing, it obviously seeped over into my views of flesh and blood women and what turned me on. I couldn’t have believed it until this recent experiment. In the second week without porn/masturbation I began to notice women’s faces and voices more. A LOT MORE. Less then 2 months later, it no longer takes my past fetishes to get me excited. (Wow!) A certain glance, a giggle is all I need.

I really hate what gets me off. I have a thing for very big women... I'm not talking healthy/normal chubby women... I'm talking 300lbs plus. I always liked a bit chubby women with curves, but now, I only like the really big ones it seems and it's disturbing to me. I think the years of looking at pics of chubby/big butt girls just kinda slowly escalated into liking full on obese women with massive asses.

It's funny because women who used to turn me on so much before don't really do it for me anymore. I also find myself more and more getting into the dynamic where you "watch," not participate. Clearly not good for healthy sex, when you have to imagine your partner fucking someone else other than you to get a boner. I can deal with liking obese women, but I don't like this "voyeur" stance one bit. It seems like an eternity since just looking at normal porn stars in the typical porn scene was enough for me.

I don't hate porn. I don't blame porn for what happened to me. It was on me at the end of the day. I don't think porn should be banned. I do however acknowledge that it is in my own personal best interest not to watch porn. It's not for me. Most recovered alcoholics can't touch a drink, not one, not a sip. I'm the same with porn. For me, it's a no go. I know as soon as I cross the fence, it's a slippery slope back to addiction. If others want to watch porn, fine. It’s just not for me. The problem is, once you've abused something, moderation maybe isn't an option for you anymore.

Same thing can show up with sex:

For me I would have said I was the least addiction prone person I know. I've never smoked or used drugs, and for the bulk of my life never used alcohol or caffeine. Turns out I guess PMO was my weak spot. In hindsight, boy was I addicted. And never saw it. Until a year ago, without porn, my masturbation habit settled into a moderately stable twice weekly affair.Once the P got added to the MO, this upped the ante in a dramatic way to more like twice a day. And it was accelerating.

I think of those rats hooked up to the reward circuitry machine, pushing the lever till they drop, and I shudder, because that feels like where it was headed.I also need to confess that my arousal pattern had advanced to at first including then requiring anal stimulation, and I'm talking my ass, not hers.

First it was silicone toys then multiple fingers, then my whole hand, then her fist. Who knows where that would have gone? I could no longer orgasm without such help. As mind blowing as those orgasms may have been, the pattern of escalation seems to have escaped my awareness completely.

Thankfully now that's all fallen away, and the area around my anus has lost all attraction. It seems a real tragedy that all these young guys can PMO themselves into a place where they just run out of orgasm and erectile function. I shudder when I think about it, but realise it's where I was headed. It was taking me a lot to orgasm, and it was especially hard to orgasm during sex. In hindsight incidences of arousal failure during sex were starting to crop up as well. I never noticed these signs for what they evidently were.



After 8 years watching porn, i like many got into more and more extreme types of porn. I discovered JOI videos and erotic hypnosis. These clips and audios still get my dick hard within seconds just thinking about it. Hoping that brief flashbacks don't undo too much of the reboot/rewiring process but its tough!!!

Its so upsetting to realise that I had been convincing myself my erections were fine, testing watching these videos, knowing now I was unwittingly worsening the problem of my ED. Like many people I was always going out and meeting women, often being lucky enough to score. A lot of these times I scored in my early 20s I couldnt get it up for the girls I brought home, and I ignored this by making the excuse I had too much to drink. It is only after getting into a relationship with lovely French girl lately that I have resolved to fix myself and discovered this website. It all finally clicked for me. It destroyed me not being able to stay hard for my new relationship after staying over with her, and made me feel less as a man. While making out I had a decently hard erection only for it to vanish once things started heating up. Having a wet noodle while a very willing french girl lays beside you is one of the worst feelings I will ever experience. It seems that blossoming relationship is now dead in the water too!

I am 7 days in now not fapping or watching porn or listening to the erotic hypnosis files i used to frequent. Does anyone have experience regarding erotic hypnosis and whether it counts as an even more extreme version of porn that may be accounting for my ED? I have only really gotten into these more extreme porn fetishes since the 2016 summer and am hoping that stopping now after 4 months of the extreme stuff will help my recovery. I feel like I can avoid the JOI clips and all the other femdom clips and pornstars that I got off to but the erotic hypnosis was like nothing I ever tried before. I highly suspect they are just as bad as extreme porn but am hopeful that due to them being an audio it might not be so bad!

Leaving the Pornopean Union

And people have recovered from all kinds of porn fetishes. Check out this page: Are my fetishes porn-induced?

Have you watched the Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction video? Good luck.