• Phil McAuliffe

Does porn feed your loneliness?

Does your porn use feed your loneliness? Can porn be a tool for connection?

Let’s find out!


Hello!


Very few gay men seek out and then read articles about loneliness unless they’ve come to the realisation that they’re lonely. The stigma and shame we feel is real, and it takes a lot of courage to even engage with the subject.


I’m proud of you for opening this article. I recognise and admire your courage. Now that you’re here, let’s start getting you connected to yourself, those most important to you and to your community.


This article was written and published on Ngunnawal country. I wish to acknowledge and respect the Ngunnawal people’s continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of Canberra and the surrounding region. I would also like to acknowledge and welcome other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may read this post.

~ Phil


* * * * *

Porn – and your use of it – is a topic that so many of you awesome gay men who read this blog or listen to my podcast ‘Connection over Coffee’ tell me that you’re worried about.


You tell me that you’re worried that your use of porn makes you lonelier, but you struggle to shut down the browser on your laptop or shut off your phone. You find yourself preferring to jerk off to porn rather than spending time with your partner or partners.

I hear you. I’ve found it hard to shut down porn, too.


Porn and how it’s used by gay men and its impacts on our well-being is a topic that has been covered by a number of excellent resources on the internet. I don’t seek to re-write all the advice and provide support on everything about this topic. Rather, I simply wish to share some thoughts with you that serve and support you as a gay man experiencing loneliness: which is what I do here at The Loneliness Guy.


Ready? Let’s go…


1. It’s not 'bad'


It’s important that I state this clearly: consuming porn is not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing, either.


Consuming porn is a thing. I’m not OK with us casually throwing around subjective and judgmental language like ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’. Our porn use simply is. Our value judgements reflect our relationship to it.

Labelling anything – including porn use or production – with judgemental terms immediately makes us feel bad. It can make us feel ashamed, like when we were first using porn to explore our sexuality and we felt that it was wrong and we hoped that no one found out.


That’s not OK with me. So, we’ll simply leave it as consuming porn is a thing we do.


2. We watch it more than we want to


Have you reached a realisation that you’re watching porn more than you want to? You may have had this realisation during COVID lockdowns when you couldn’t meet up with anyone outside your house.


You may have realised that you’re unable to get aroused or hard without porn. You may realise that your porn consumption has led you to be lost in a world of men seeming to enjoy themselves and each other for hours on end.

It’s so very easy to find ourselves lost in the line of open tabs, watching just one more suggested video or one more compilation and then realise hours have passed.


You may realise that you’ve been avoiding making plans to see other humans face-to-face because you want to stay home in the company of your laptop or phone and your hand.


These realisations are difficult, because we can find ourselves in a habit and not know how to stop.


We can try all sorts of ways to break out of the habit; from making pacts with ourselves to use it less through to promising ourselves that we’ll never open Pornhub, OnlyFans or JustforFans again.

And while realising that we’re using porn more than we want to is difficult, it’s an invitation for us to review our relationship to porn and why we’re using it.


Why are you using porn?


If we find that we’re using porn more than we want to, we need to get curious and ask ourselves why.


Could it be that we’ve been consuming porn since we were teenagers and we’re still in the habit? Could it be something a bit deeper?


What in our lives are we seeking to avoid? What are we seeking to numb? To help with this, I have some great content which I’ve published previously: read this blog on how we numb here and listen to a great conversation with my friend Justin Oberste MA, AMFT on the podcast here.


Sometimes we can’t do this exploration ourselves, no matter how insightful the blog or podcast is. We need some help and different perspectives. A partner, a trusted friend, a counsellor, a coach or mentor is a good place to start.


However, from conversations with some of you in this awesome community, I feel that there’s one stand-out reason why you’re using porn. [continued…]

 

 



Porn as a connection substitute


I feel that many of us are using porn – whether we intend to or not – as a substitute for connection.


The happy hormones that course through our veins – and cocks – when we’re consuming porn feel good. They feel like the happy hormones we get when we feel seen and we feel heard in someone’s company. Happy hormones are happy hormones, right?


Well, yes. And no.


Porn is a way to hack, or short-circuit, the mental, emotional and physical journey we take in the company of other humans. Watching porn is very easy, safe – and at the start at least – reliable way to get a shot of these hormones, because getting them from human contact requires us to put ourselves out there. Getting the feel-good hormones requires us to be seen and heard. It requires us to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is scary. It’s especially scary when we’re experiencing loneliness and are in fight or flight mode. The last thing we want to be doing when we’re experiencing loneliness – especially chronic loneliness – is be vulnerable and risk judgement and rejection.


So we opt for the easy, and convenient, choice. We open our phones, find something that gets us going and get to it. We do this at the expense of connection with those most important to us.


This kills relationships.


Think about this: how many porn videos do you watch which have the men involved having deep, meaningful conversations over many hours before getting naked and having wild, loud and outrageous sex? None, right? It’s ‘Hey, how you doin’?’ or some other short, cheesy dialogue and then into the good stuff.


After opting for the easy and convenient, we soon realise that we’re stuck in a loop. We need ever more porn to get ever-diminishing hits of the good stuff.


Have you ever noticed after a wank using porn that your balls are emptier but you don’t feel emotionally sated?


Pay attention to how you feel after you cum after consuming porn. There are clues in this.


Simply pay attention to your words, thoughts and actions in that moment; don’t judge.


What is the gay man experiencing loneliness to do?


Remember that porn simply is. Calling it ‘bad’ may not be helpful. Indeed, it may continue feelings of shame.


Not here at The Loneliness Guy. We’re here to learn from our words, thoughts and behaviours that may feed our loneliness and review them to see how we can move towards the authentic connection we need and deserve as the beautiful gay men – the beautiful humans – we are.


However, we need to realise how our porn use could be feeding our loneliness and making it harder for us to connect with our selves, those most important to us and to our communities.


Become porn literate


I’m not going to say ‘don’t use porn’ and shake my finger at you judgmentally. Nope. Remember, I also use porn. Telling you overtly or subtly that it’s bad and to not use it would make me a hypocrite.


However, we need to become porn literate. The term ‘porn literate’ is one I learned recently when listening to this episode of the fantastic podcast ‘Gay Men Going Deeper’ from the Gay Men’s Brotherhood.


The concept of porn literacy is explained by Dr. Joe Kort – psychotherapist and clinical sexologist – and podcast co-host Matt Landseidel (who appeared on this episode of my podcast) as ‘understanding what you’re looking at and why you’re looking at it’. We get to see ‘what porn is all about’ and be ‘intentional with its use’.


Indeed, we can learn much about our sexual needs and desires from how we watch porn. Our porn use could be a gateway to better sexual connection with ourselves, with those most important to us and to our communities if we choose to use it mindfully.


Things to think about

Here are a few questions for you to think about:


- Are you using porn or is it using you?

- Are you planning your connection around your porn watching?

- Is your use of porn replacing ‘real’ connection? By ‘real’, I mean with another human where connection requires vulnerability.


Finally, consider watching porn when you’re not horny and wanting to shoot a load. What do you feel?


Thank you for reading, and I hope that you’ve been supported and challenged by the content. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog and how your use of porn feeds your loneliness and your ability to connect with your self, those most important to you and to your community.


* * * * *

This is a big, sensitive topic. You may need some help. That could be me through my mentoring services. That could be a therapist or a counsellor – including a crisis counsellor. That could be a coach. That could be your partner, a friend or someone in your orbit who you know is trying to put themselves into the world just like you are. It could be a combination of all.


Be sure to check out my resources page if you need help – including crisis help.


You can also join the growing community of other gay men in the exclusive Premium Connection Lounge on Facebook. It's a space for gay men prioritising their connection according to the three pillars of connection. I help the group to set weekly connection intentions, share my own and then help to keep them accountable in a supportive way.


Want to chat more about how porn may be feeding your loneliness? Join me and Michael DiIorio for a coffee and a chat in the upcoming episode of my podcast for gay men ‘Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy’ from Thursday 5 May 2022.


Where to now?


Connection is the antidote to loneliness. Join the mailing list (free) or join the premium connection lounge on Facebook (free) and let’s stay connected as we work to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men.

The exclusive group on Facebook is a place where we have regular video chats and help and support each other as we put our real, authentic selves into the world to get the connection we need. We’d love for you to join us!



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Thank you for reading this post. I hope that you’ve found it helpful.

I’m now asking for YOUR help.


Sharing my work really helps it reach more gay men and helps us all to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men globally.


You may not feel lonely and have just the right amount of authentic connection in your life but sharing this article could really help a friend or relative who may be quietly struggling with the thoughts and feelings of loneliness and disconnection.

Indeed, I'm looking to build an evidence base to test the hypothesis that people who share content that de-stigmatises loneliness and promotes authentic connection for gay men globally make better lovers.


Please share this post by email, a message in a chat app or by sharing my post on social media (hit a social media icon below to share) and let me know if the hypothesis is true.


~ Thank you ~


Important notice: All views expressed above are my own/the authors and are intended to support, challenge and inspire gay men to consider the issue of loneliness and increase awareness of the need for authentic connection with themselves, with others and their communities as an antidote to chronic loneliness. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional. Please consult theResources page if you feel that you need the services of a licensed helping professional where you are in the world.



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