Pornography Addiction: Preference vs. Compulsion

“I don’t have a problem with watching pornography, I just have a preference for it.”

Have you ever caught yourself thinking this?

Tons of guys who come to the group believe this at first. They have themselves convinced they could stop if they really wanted to, but they prefer doing it, so they don’t.

At the end of the day, though, would you be here if you could control it?

Many men stick with the belief that it’s a preference because admitting it’s a compulsion means they need to ask for help. Once you’ve crossed the line into compulsive behavior, it likely means you can’t handle it on your own anymore. But it’s difficult to accept this so you continue trying to convince yourself it’s just a preference.

Your false beliefs are holding you back from overcoming your pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behaviors. Understanding the difference between preference and compulsion is crucial if you truly want to stop for good. How do you know when you’ve gone too far?

The Line Between Preference and Compulsion

Everyone has preferences. Say you prefer espresso over drip coffee or salty snacks over sweet snacks. You prefer burgers over pizza or lifting weights over running. There are hundreds of different preferences dictating your actions throughout the day. But the important thing to note is no matter how strong a preference is, it never becomes a true necessity.

Say the espresso machine broke at your go-to coffee shop. You can’t get your usual morning espresso but you’d probably settle for a cup of drip coffee without much hesitation. Their broken machine doesn’t send you into a spiral because you prefer espresso. You’ll swap it out for another caffeinated drink and go about your day because it’s a preference.

Now say you enjoy having a few drinks throughout the week. You never drink to excess, only the occasional glass of wine with dinner or a couple of beers with your friends on the weekend. You prefer to have a drink or two when you’re out socializing but you never think too much about it.

One day you go visit your doctor for a checkup and he tells you that you have a fatty liver. He recommends cutting alcohol out for a while to see if that relieves the problem. If you simply have a preference for drinking you’ll cut it out without a second thought. It’s negatively affecting you so it’s easy for you to leave it alone.

If you have a compulsive drinking problem, though, you’ll struggle to stop. You might not even realize their drinking is a compulsion before receiving that news from your doctor. It’s not until you’re asked to stop that you realize you can’t go without that glass of wine at dinner or those beers with your buddies. Your drinking is a compulsion, not a preference.

Compulsion and Pornography

The same goes for pornography. If you only have a preference for watching porn and masturbating, you’ll stop when it starts negatively affecting your life. When your wife threatens you, when you’re feeling distracted throughout the day, when it starts seeping into other areas of your life, you can stop because these things are a bigger priority in your life.

When these things happen and you can’t stop, though, you’ve crossed the line into compulsion. Your wife feels betrayed, your productivity tanks, your business suffers, you lay by the wayside. The problems start piling up, but you can’t quit watching pornography no matter what you try to do. 

You start searching online for solutions to the problem, looking for communities and systems to help you quit. And that’s probably how you found your way to Porn Reboot. You might not have accepted that you’re past the point of preference but you’ve arrived here anyways. And I’m here to reassure you that even if it’s a compulsion, there’s a solution for your problem.

You might have found some 12-step recovery resources before you got here that have you thinking your problem is out of your control. I believe it’s a biological issue, though, and you don’t need to make it a bigger issue than it is. Overcoming your porn and masturbation problem is simple and straightforward as long as you have a system.

Porn Reboot lays out a science-backed path for reframing your perspective and rewiring your brain. You can’t force yourself into quitting porn; you need to work with your brain and replace your old behaviors with new ones. If you’re new to Porn Reboot, I have a ton of resources available to help you.

There are hundreds of videos on my YouTube channel, a podcast I upload multiple times per week, dozens of posts right here on this blog, and a whole group on Facebook filled with men who understand exactly what you’re going through. It’s difficult to ask for help but start with the resources above and then reach out to the group when you’re ready for some support as you leave your compulsive behaviors behind.

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