Whenever I’ve mentioned to an acquaintance that I am completely against pornography, it tends to trigger a flood of defensive arguments. One of the most common of these is that fact that watching porn doesn’t hurt anyone.

Wrong – and I can’t stress enough just how wrong.  But luckily I just read a really good article by Verily Magazine which shows us exactly how pornography impacts us all: the men who watch it, the women in relationships with the men who watch it, and the relationships of the couples overall.

Let’s start with what the article had to say about men.

It definitely brought up the question of “why?” Men of every status, whether in committed relationships or completely single, all seem to be keen their porn time. Why? It comes down to the fact that men just aren’t fulfilled in their sexual relationships anymore – because their porn intake provides them with a greater hit than they can find in real life, probably due to its unrealistic and dangerously exciting shock value.

How else does pornography impact a man? Well, it’s an addiction.  The term is used a lot so I googled it for better clarity: one definition said that addiction is the “state of being enslaved to a habit or practice…to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” Scary much? Let’s break it down: porn becomes an obsession, something that they can’t live without, a compulsion. It changes their lives, and not for the better.

The Verily article also made another great point: when the imitation of a thing becomes more desirable than the thing itself, you know something is not quite right. How unnatural it is for a man to be dependent on computer images for sexual gratification! Porn is exciting rather than satisfying – meaning men are never happy, yet always on the search for the next excitement. And this is what will eventually lead them away from healthy relationships and into strip clubs and brothels.

What about the women? Are they impacted too? Of course – women are foremost affected in the way that they are treated by men – as objects to be sized up, judged, criticized and used on their physical attributes alone. No wonder women’s body insecurities seem to be worse than ever, if this is happening on top of all the unrealistic notions we get from the media! It’s not just looks though – women feel they need to behave in a more aggressive, self-disrespecting way to keep their men, when this is in fact what unfortunately moves them further into the “object” category.

As for how porn affects relationships – that’s pretty clear. An addiction to porn means the risk of losing love. Relationships need both emotional and physical aspects, and if the physical dominates, it is impossible for the couple to genuinely love each other. This is especially true when that physical aspect is not a manifestation of affection, but rather a way of seeking the next thrill.

A quote from the Verily article sums it up well: ‘in reality, porn can make it harder to appreciate real sex. As Pamela Paul documented in her 2006 book Pornified, dozens of men whom she interviewed anonymously revealed, “I used to view porn online, but I began to find it more difficult to stay aroused when having sex with a real woman. . . . Real sex has now lost some of its magic. And that’s sad.”’

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.