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  • The Timothy Center

Hidden in Shame: Heterosexual Men’s Experiences of Self-Perceived Problematic Pornography Use

By: Luke Sniewski & Pani Farvid


This study analyzed how men with problematic pornography habits discuss the effects of their pornography use. Analysis showed that their pornography use is associated with guilt and shame, increased objectification, sexual dysfunction, unhealthy expectations for sex, and poorer self-esteem and mental health outcomes.

The rapid rise in the availability of pornography has given the world instant access to a vast and diverse supply of pornographic material. Although it is possible for both genders to experience a problematic relationship with pornography, the large majority of online pornography consumers who identify as addicted to pornography are heterosexual men. This article aims to examine the experiences of adult heterosexual men with problematic pornography use.

The primary reason men kept their viewing hidden from the world was because of the accompanying experiences of guilt and shame that would inevitably follow most—if not all—viewing sessions or attempts at opening up about their use. Pornography began eroding their sense of autonomy when men experienced a loss of control over their use, which underpinned the core aspect of their problematic use.

Over time, the men perceived that pornography had resulted in having unrealistic expectations when it came to sex and sexuality, the way they viewed women, and led to diminished sexual function.

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