Is watching porn causing your relationship problems?

By David Joel Miller.

What would your therapist say about watching pornography?

sex-on-a-cork-board

sex-on-a-cork-board.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this Internet age, pornography is much more available and widely viewed. Occasionally a client tells their counselor they think they have problems with viewing pornography. Much more often this issue comes up in couple’s sessions when one partner, commonly the woman, is angry, or hurt, or feeling insecure, as a direct result of her partner’s watching of pornography.

Some counselors and therapists received a little bit of information on the problems connected to pornography during their training. Most did not. Those counselors who work with couples are likely to hear about the conflicts couples are having regarding pornography use. What they say to their client’s is probably largely based on their own beliefs, what other clients have told them or their personal “field research.” So just how big a problem is pornography causing in relationships?

The two questions above are, of course, two very different questions. Recently I came across a professional journal article which looked at the training, attitudes, and competencies counselors have when it comes to helping couples work through the issues involving pornography.

Pornography is hard to define.

Even the courts have found it difficult to define pornography. Contemporary standards have changed. You will see things on prime-time television now which once would’ve been considered inappropriate and pornographic. Technically the term pornography is customarily used to refer to explicit sexual material that crosses some line or boundary and therefore becomes illegal.

When clients talk about pornography what they usually mean is “adult entertainment” consisting of pictures of naked people or suggestive poses. Often it includes depictions of people engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors. The intended purpose of this material is to cause arousal in the viewer.

In the year 2000, sexual material was the number 1 item viewed on the Internet and accounted for more than half of the money spent on the Internet. It’s possible that Internet shopping, social media, and the increased popularity of videos has altered those numbers, the way doubt it’s changed that much. It’s quite possible that people viewing pornography were early adopters of the Internet. Whatever the statistics say today, it’s common for individuals and couples in counseling to report using the Internet for a variety of sexual activities (Ayres & Haddock, 2009.)

Pornography is the primary relationship problem for some couples.

Researchers have identified 5 ways internet usage may be harming a couple’s relationships

The largest consumers of pornography are reported to be married heterosexual males. There use of porn significantly impacts their partner, resulting in reduced self-esteem, loss of respect and trust, and impairment of the connection between the partners (Bergner & Bridges, 2002; Schneider, 2000.)

While some couples are reported to view porn together, this rarely brings them to counseling. The type of viewing which causes the largest problems is when one person, usually the male, views it privately and in secret. The keeping of secrets part significantly damages the trust in the relationship.

Time spent in this secret activity is time away from the partner and family. Discovery of this secret leads to marital discord and frequently separation and divorce.

Online sexual activity can lead to affairs.

Two types of affairs can be facilitated because of online sexual activity.

Cyber affairs and cybersex results in the parties meeting their needs online and having less sex with their regular partner. Online sexual activity can cause the same damage to relationships as real-world affairs.

Sexual activity online can also be a way to facilitate real-world hookups resulting in either a string of casual sexual relationships or a longer lasting affair. One of the ways these hookups, which are being facilitated online, comes to the attention of the relationship partner is the contraction of a sexually transmitted disease.

Pornography can create individual problems also.

About 10 percent of pornography viewers spend 90 minutes a day or more searching for and viewing sexually explicit materials. Individual issues may include an increase in erectile dysfunction at a young age. Internet viewing porn has been described as “the great porn experiment.” 

In addition to altering patterns of arousal, heavy use of cybersex and pornography has been reported to lead to sexual addictions. The diagnosing of sexual addictions remains controversial. But the pattern of behavior closely matches the pattern of drug addiction. The person addicted to sex spends more time seeking it, engaging in it, and more effort trying to hide what they are doing.

As a sexual addiction develops, the addict shows tolerance, needs more and more sexual encounters and seeks activities that will increase the arousal. The addict lowers their standards and will engage in sex with people they would not have found attractive in the past.

The typical content of adult entertainment is likely to create unrealistic expectations for partners and distorted beliefs about the roles of women. The plots are often bizarre, fantastic, and feature atypical behavior rather than the way in which most couples typically express their sexuality.

Can pornography and cybersex addiction be treated?

Individuals with the pornography problem or sexual addiction can be treated, often with good results. Where these activities have damaged the couple’s relationship, couples counseling can help. Just like in-person sexual affairs, couples can recover from these experiences.

Treatment for sexual issues is very specialized, and you should seek someone experienced in working in these areas. In addition to the couple’s issues, each of the parties probably needs to see a counselor for individual therapy.

If your partner has a problem with pornography or cybersex, it is important not to blame yourself. It’s common for women to believe there is something wrong with them and ask what it is that the other woman had that made them more attractive. The truth is it’s rarely the woman’s fault. What was attractive, whether it was online pornography, cybersex or an in-person affair, was largely the result of one person’s individual problems, their need to constantly seek something different. Individual counseling for the partners of sexual addicts is extremely important.

Pornography and sexual addictions are only one way in which trust can be damaged.

Look here for more on the topic of trust.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Advertisements

Trust.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Trust

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

― Ernest Hemingway

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

“It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.”

― Confucius

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Trust

Should you be more trusting?

By David Joel Miller.

How do you decide who and when to trust?

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People often described themselves as having “trust issues.” The question they should be asking is, are they trusting too much or too little? Trusting is a complicated issue. How much you trust is affected by your personality and your past experiences. The level of trust you have will and should change with the circumstance.

Trust has been studied largely in 2 situations. Individuals are largely concerned about the trustworthiness of their partners in romantic relationships. Occasionally, this extends to their ability to trust friends or people with whom they conduct financial transactions.

Companies have studied trust in the workplace. It can take a long time to develop group cohesion and teamwork. People today move from job to job, work with consultants, and contractors, and may work in small, temporary work groups. Productivity increases when new workers develop trust in each other.

Here are some factors affecting trust you need to consider.

Trust is challenged when you meet new people.

Trust generally develops slowly over time. The longer you know someone, the more you know about them, the more you will feel inclined to trust them. Some people are extroverts, very outgoing and easily able to strike up a conversation with strangers. If you’re an introvert, you may find you are wary when meeting new people.

Trust in these situations should be limited. Those who learn to use small talk do better in these situations.

Trust varies with the role this person will have in your life.

You will have one type of trust when you meet a new employee at work. The company selected this person, and it’s reasonable to trust they can do the job they were hired for. You will have a different type of trust with the new doctor or mechanic. This trust is based on their education, license or certification, and the setting in which you meet them.

Your trust should be different in both kind and quantity on a first date. You probably should trust the cashier at the grocery store to ring up your purchases and give you the correct change. You wouldn’t trust that same person to spend the weekend unchaperoned, with your spouse.

You should have levels of trust.

Trust is not an all or nothing characteristic. You’ll have people you trust at school or work, but you should not trust them with the keys to your house or your bank card and pin number. People who said they have “trust issues” often over-trust when they first meet a new person. Because of this excess trust, they are more likely to be hurt when that person fails to live up to their expectations.

Are you more trusting of strangers?

The longer you know someone, the more you learn about their faults. Far too many people jump into a romantic, sexual relationship, on a first or second date. They are trusting this other person because they want them to meet their needs. What they haven’t done is spend the time to get to know them and find out how trustworthy they are.

Your general level of trust is a part of your personality.

The characteristics we call personality are a mixture of your genetic material and your life experiences. How much you trust generally can also be affected by the way you think and the choices you make. Most people have some general underlying beliefs about who to trust, how much to trust, and when they should be trusting.

When many people first meet a new person they use their default level of trust. They are either high in trust or high in distrusting. The longer you know someone, the more information you have about that person, the more likely you are relying on information rather than a general level of trust.

Trust is influenced by the experiences you had before you met them.

Your early life experiences set your baseline level of trust. In mental health, we look at ways young children relate to others based on their experiences with their primary caregiver. Problems in these relationships are diagnosed as attachment disorders, which can be either reactive or disinhibited. Attachment disorders used to only be diagnosed in children, but recently was moved to the group of diagnoses referred to as “trauma- and stressor-related disorders.” With time, treatment, or both, many people alter these patterns of relationship. For some people, however, their adult “trust issues” can be traced back to having caregivers in early life who were untrustworthy.

Life experiences, having been involved in relationships with others who violated your trust, can make it more difficult to trust in the future. If your partner had an affair, it could be hard to trust them again. If you separate from them and begin a new relationship, you’re likely to find you will have difficulties trusting that new partner.

Trust involves things you can’t check on.

Trust is what they will do when you are not watching. If you are standing there watching what they are doing, there’s very little trust involved. One of the best ways to increase your level of trust is to observe what people are doing. Unfortunately, there are too many things in life for you to check up on all of them. That’s where you need to use your trust skills.

Relationships that involve a lack of trust can become very dysfunctional. If you find the need to follow your partner around, check their cell phone, and read their email, this lack of trust can destroy your relationship. Healthy couples can talk about their concerns.

Constant checking your partner can be a sign of excessive or even pathological jealousy. Some people develop delusional jealousy believing their partner is cheating on them even when there’s no evidence. If you have trust issues, you need to ask yourself if this is about them or is it about your fears and insecurities?

No amount of monitoring can prevent someone from violating your trust. You either must trust people or end the relationship. If a lack of trust and jealousy characterizes all your relationships, consider getting some professional help.

What are the risks of trusting this person in this situation?

It’s easy to trust when the risks are low. When you are faced with “trust issues” consider what are the risks? Some situations are relatively low risk. You go to make a purchase and hand them some money. You are trusting that they will give you your merchandise and your change. Giving them 20 dollars at the grocery store is low risk. Paying cash to someone you just met in an alley for something valuable is a high-risk situation.

What has been your experience with trust? Have you been too trusting? Or does your excessive lack of trust damage your relationships?

Look here more on the topic of trust.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Why Controlling Anger does not work

By David Joel Miller.

Some anger management programs make things worse.

Angry Penguin

Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some common prescriptions for anger management do not work and can make things worse. There are things that work quickly and efficiently to eliminate anger but we try to wait till you have used up all your insurance and savings before we teach you these techniques.

Counting to ten is a prescription for disaster.

I do not know about you, but for me trying to count to ten when I am angry is a really bad idea. By the time I get to ten I will have thought of ten new ways to dispose of your body. Counting to ten just gives me the time to leave my anger on the heat long enough to let it explode.

The trick here is not to learn to control your anger. The key is to learn techniques to not anger yourself in the first place. No anger – nothing to control. You think this sounds crazy, don’t you?

Albert Ellis one of the founders of REBT and CBT therapies wrote about this in a book titled “Anger: Living with it and living without it.”  It is in plenty of other books by Ellis and others. This formulation is so simple that once you get it, you almost instantly stop getting angry unless you chose to do so.

This model sometimes referred to as the A-B-C-D-E method has even made its way into an official government publication. This anger workbook is available free from the SAMHSA website. A free self-help book that also works? What a deal.

Here is my brief example of a way I use this model.

One night while teaching a class at the local college, a student in the very front row suddenly slams her books shut, grabs her stuff and goes running for the door. No phone call, no explanation, she just runs from my class. We had a break coming up, couldn’t she wait till then?

This is clearly very rude. I feel disrespected. She has really made me angry. I vow that next week before I start class I am going to have a talk with this impolite person.

What she did, running out of my class, has disrespected me and made me angry.

A = activating event.

Which is what she did. She did it and she made me angry.

C = is the consequence, my anger.

So A caused C. Her action made me angry. With me so far? In class when I explain this, the students usually argue with me as we go along, trying to make me angrier. I am hoping you will hang in to the end.

The following week this same student is waiting at the door for me to unlock the classroom. Before I can read her the riot act she begins apologizing. She explains that she is so sorry that she ran from the room last week. She ate some food she bought from a street vendor on the way to class last week and she had a sudden attack of diarrhea.

Am I still angry at her? Probably not. See in between the “A” the Activating event, in this case, her running from the classroom and the “C” my anger, there is this other thing a “B.”

B = Belief as in “my belief about why people do things.”

If I believe that the reason people do things is to be mean and disrespectful to me then I will be angry. If I think that they did it because of some problem they have, then I do not take it personally.

Note that it does not matter whether it is true or not. I do not need to know if she is telling the truth to either become angry or feel sorry for her. If she really just was bored and chose to leave the class and make a scene but later decided to apologize and make up a story, I will still not get angry if “I believe” that she was not being rude.

Also if I chose to not believe her, even if she did have an attack of food poisoning, I will be mad at her despite the apology and the excuse.

The key to my anger is not in her actions or her apology. It is in what I chose to believe.

So anytime I feel myself getting angry I can –

D = dispute that belief.

If I can think of other reasons that people do things, then I can come up with alternative feelings. The result of this revelation is that I can disconnect those buttons and thereafter no one can ever “make me angry” by what they do.

The result of all this D (Disputing) is that I can choose to believe what I want and create an:

E = Effective new belief.

Now there may still be times that people do things that I find unacceptable and I will allow myself to get angry even if they did those things out of an acceptable reason. Or I can choose to never anger myself about what people do because if I anger myself I am likely to be the one who reacts out of anger and gets in trouble.

Now some of you are resisting this idea. You would like to hang onto your belief that other people make you angry because they don’t do things they “should do.” Or they refuse to do things they “must” do. Ellis had a lot to say about the dangers of “shoulding on yourself” and “Musterbation.”  I will let you read him for that.

Consider that there are evil people in the world and they do evil things. There are “stupid people” and they, of course, do “stupid” things. I do not need to like those things. I may even resist or oppose those things, but I do not need to anger myself when stupid people do stupid things. That is, after all, what they are supposed to be doing right?

Once you grasp this principle you do not ever need to allow anyone to make you feel any way other than the one way you chose. You may, however, need to cut some stupid or inconsiderate people out of your life because you choose not to put up with their behavior towards you.

If your ex continues to make you angry then you are choosing to continue to be in a dysfunctional relationship with them.

Consider this idea and maybe check out the SAMHSA anger management book or one of Albert Ellis’s books. If this idea makes sense to you let me know. If this post made you angry because you continue to believe that other people control your emotions and you chose to comment and tell me so, I may choose to delete your comment so I do not anger or upset myself over hostile comments.

Hope you have a happy and anger free day.

Give this process a try and see if you don’t find that you can anger yourself or not anger yourself depending on what you chose to do.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Help Wanted – A GOD —

By David Joel Miller.

Do you wish you believed but can’t? Want to find a higher power?

sandscape

Search for a Higher Power.

There is no doubt that having a religious or spiritual belief can be a great comfort in times of trouble. I have no quarrel with those of you who have some sort of understanding of a higher power, but I know there are lots of you out there who want to believe and just can’t.

There may be a good reason why you find it so hard to believe. There may also be a solution.

You may be one who describes yourself as a recovering Baptist, a recovering Catholic or some other religious label. You grew up in a religion, but it doesn’t fit. You learned the creeds and rituals but the higher power was not someone you would want for a friend, let alone worship. Try as hard as you could you just can’t believe in that religion’s God.

You may have grown up in a home where religion was not practiced. Where the altar was a Television set and the higher power you worshiped was things. You would like more, some deep spiritual connection but you can’t find one.

You may look at the world’s religions and wonder why they all say they worship a higher power and they all hate each other so much. You try to adopt the religion of your family, your ancestors or your country. My people always believed this way so I am supposed to. But it just does not work for you. You ask yourself if you had been born on in a different country on another continent would you worship a different God?

You know there has to be a solution, and there is, but you can’t find that higher power that is of any use in your life. You want to believe but you just can’t.

You may consider yourself an agnostic, an atheist or a seeker who studies one faith after another. You may have adopted an unusual religion or rejected them all.

There is a solution and perhaps an example will help.

Say you grew up in a family that worshiped the Flamethrower God. This God hates everyone. He is always out to catch someone doing wrong and then fry them. He hates you and you fear him. He may even ask you to go into his service in some other country to rape, pillage and burn.

This God, so his followers say, hates everyone and thinks we are all evil and deserve to be punished. This is an easy God to twist to fit your ends. Parents use him to scare little kids at night into behaving. Politicians can use him to justify wars and war atrocities.

If you grew up indoctrinated in this belief, this “you are no good, no one is any good” culture, it is hard to see how this higher power could be of any use to you. The less this God knows of your whereabouts the better. Since you will never be any good you might as well do your worst.

In psychological terms, we call this a non-affirming home. There are plenty of religious leaders who use this system to keep control over their followers by telling them if you do not do everything I, as Gods special representative, tells you, God will get you.

Sometimes we call these Cults and Fanatics but they can just as easily be a part of a large dominant religion.

So what do you do?

Here is a suggestion, not an original one, but one I have heard more than once.

If you could find that ideal Higher Power, that God you so desperately need, what characteristics will that God have? Try to avoid any particular mental image, any characteristics that you have been told that someone else’s God has. Inside you how do you feel this Higher Power would be?

Write out a want ad for this Higher Power.

Wanted – One God must love me unconditionally, must be available 24-7 and in times of need. Does not need to solve my problems for me but must be willing to go with me through whatever I am going through. Must be willing to help me become the best person I can be and not judge me harshly if I can’t do everything perfectly the first time.

Now begin acting as if this Higher Power exists and now knows you are looking for your Higher Power. It also helps, as various Higher Powers are suggested to you, if you check back on your want ad and make sure that the powers that respond to this ad are really Higher Powers that will make you a better person, not some imposter that will take you off into doing things that you know are wrong just for someone else’s benefit.

Like any good loving relationship, this new Higher Power relationship will require some development.  Consider including some sort of two-way communication with this power. Personally, I like the expression “prayer and meditation.” You pick the expression that works for you.

The usual caveat here. Some of you have very strong beliefs in this area. You will want to quote a particular religious book, tell me I MUST call my higher power by a particular name wear a certain piece of clothing and contribute money to a cause. You are entitled to your opinion but I am resistant to being told that my higher power told me wrong. If you need to prove I or anyone else is wrong then I am convinced you are insecure in your faith and need the rest of us to be wrong to make you right. I am old enough to be willing to be wrong some of the time.

What I would like to hear from some of my readers, if you care to share, is what has your higher power done for you? Has that relationship made you a better person? How would I know that better person when I see them in front of me?

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.