I can tell you’re addicted to porn without you ever telling me.

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I’ve been a porn addict for nearly two decades now: ever since Mike in middle school told me “all guys do it,” and I was hooked.

I have gone through the traditional stages of learning more about this addiction: I used to think it was just because I wanted sex and was single. It’ll go away once I get married and can have sex.

False.

The first time I realized this was in college after a conversation with an older, wiser guy. He pointed out that insecurities run rampant in guys with porn addictions. Very little of it has to do with sex and almost all of it has to do with confidence, self worth, and feeling worthy of love.

Well, no real woman will want me, so I’d better seek out the safe bet: digital women. They’ll never turn me down. They’ll do what I want to do.

No risk, all reward.

So then, what does this do to a person who has made a regular habit of looking at porn? It reinforces their thinking that they shouldn’t risk anything; that no real woman will want them, and therefore this is how they live and act.

The way to build confidence is to repeatedly put yourself in situations where you are out of your comfort zone (aka, taking risks). The more your brain realizes “Ok, I can survive in this situation which I was afraid of,” the more confident you become.

So if you have a man who has trained his brain to avoid risk and consistently choose porn over the risk of pursuing a real woman, you have a man severely lacking confidence. How do we make up for this lack of confidence we feel deeply within then?

This lack of confidence can also be called ‘shame,’ and the thing shame always leads to is hiding. This has been true since the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve first experienced shame and hid their naked bodies. Today, the shameful man hides behind more exquisite leaves: Nice cars, humor, intelligence, washboard abs or good looks. We fear that without these guises no one will be impressed by us; no one would ever want to love us.

So who looks at porn? The guy who is always trying to one-up you and can’t let the act down for a second. Or maybe the guy who looks too ashamed to even hold eye contact with you. Insecurity takes so many forms, but you know it when you see it.

After learning about my own addiction for years, I can typically identify it in others. It’s also not hard since the majority of men do look at porn today. The more cocky and self-assured a man is; the more he tries to impress me than get to know me, the more certain I become that he shares my struggle. Seeing through these flashy facades becomes easier the more I understand my own insecurities and ‘impressive’ tendencies.

I specifically remember meeting one guy in college and having this thought for the first time. He was tall, good looking, and well dressed. He shook hands by swinging his arm around and meeting your hand. He spoke in a deep voice and was nice enough. I just couldn’t help thinking, though, that this confident surface was covering something else. To be honest, I never found out if I was right about his porn addiction, but I was so sure. It almost felt like a little kid wearing his dad’s clothes. Or like a little boy operating a big robot that looks like a man. After all, that’s how I feel most days.

Fancy masks only make me beg the question, What are you hiding?

This isn’t to be judgmental — It can’t be, as I’m writing about myself just as much as any of these other guys.

My encouragement to them — to you — is simply to lay the masks aside. Stop impressing people. Discover that you can still be loved without the bulging biceps and the charismatic stories you tell people to impress them. Step outside of your comfort zone and take a risk in vulnerability. My guess is that you will find you can still be loved even without the fancy paraphernalia, and this will grow deep confidence within you.

And when someone is authentically confident, they don’t need the counterfeit intimacy, or confidence, porn provides.

Take a risk.

Be vulnerable.

Heal.

And people will no longer look at you and think He’s hiding something here…

e

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