Complexity Of Vulnerability

Share or Not to Share About Your Pornography Addiction?


7/24/20239 min read

a close up of a control panel in a plane
a close up of a control panel in a plane

One of the most significant lessons I've learned in recent turmoil of family dramas is the complexity of vulnerability, particularly when it comes to sharing personal struggles such as addiction.

In a conversation, someone expressed their concern about their partner's addiction to their smartphone and online gaming. Thinking I could help by making addiction feel less personal and more common, I shared my own struggles with video gaming and pornography addiction.

However, my attempt backfired as the person I shared with was female. They gave me a look of WTH and TMI, and the conversation quickly shifted away.

In previous articles, I have written about the power of opening up to connect with others on a deeper level and also how it broke the attempt to connect immediately.

This time, I want to shed light on how vulnerability can sometimes evoke judgment and complexities.

The Double Standard:

When it comes to discussing addiction, there seems to be a double standard in society.

Overcoming alcohol or gambling addiction? Oh, you're a shining example of willpower and resilience!

While it's widely acknowledged that many men watch porn, but dare mention a pornography addiction, and suddenly you're the subject of more raised eyebrows than a puppy trying to understand quantum physics.

This double standard can be disheartening, but it's crucial to recognize these biases in order to navigate vulnerability more effectively.

So why is pornography addiction not taken seriously and at worst you are laughed upon for trying to quit it?

  1. Lack of Awareness: Compared to substance addictions like alcohol or drugs, pornography addiction is a relatively newer concept. As a result, there might be a lack of awareness and understanding surrounding its impact on individuals' lives and mental health. While there are websites like Your Brain On Porn and NoFap which spoke extensively on the effects of pornography on our wellbeing, it is generally not supported by the mainstream media and medical field.

  2. Social Stigma: Society has historically viewed sexuality and discussions about pornography as taboo topics. This stigma can lead to judgment and discomfort when addressing the issue of pornography addiction openly. A man talking openly about pornography especially when he is having problems with it is automatically labelled as lecher.

  3. Misconceptions: Some people may view pornography addiction as a minor or self-inflicted problem, assuming that individuals should be able to control their consumption of adult content. This misconception overlooks the psychological complexities and challenges associated with addiction. Most frequent users of pornography naively think that they could go off pornography without much effort nor do they think that they are even addicted to it even though they are watching it regularly.

  4. Media Portrayals: Media representations of pornography often focus on sensationalized or titillating aspects rather than the potential harms or addiction-related consequences. This can lead to a lack of understanding about the real struggles individuals face when dealing with pornography addiction. Remember that the pornography industry generates 100 billion dollars globally and 10-15 billions in the United States alone. There are incentives for them to downplay the harmful effect of pornography, just as how tobacco and fast food companies have always been trying to mess with our head.

  5. Difficulty in Identifying the Addiction: Unlike substance addictions, where physical dependence is often more apparent, pornography addiction can be challenging to identify, especially since it primarily involves psychological and behavioral patterns.

  6. Privacy and Shame: Individuals struggling with pornography addiction might feel ashamed and reluctant to seek help due to the personal and private nature of their behavior. Think about it. Speaking about it, especially when you are in the early stages of quitting porn, people are more likely to judge you as someone who has weak willpower that can’t even stop watching pornography. They are more likely to think you are a danger towards females and children around them. Therefore, it is better to hide from public scrutiny even if you had done nothing wrong and are trying hard to get rid of an unhealthy coping mechanism that only affects you. This secrecy can hinder open discussions and support for those who need help.

  7. Cultural and Religious Factors: Cultural or religious beliefs can influence how addiction, particularly pornography addiction, is perceived and treated. In some cultures, discussing sexual matters openly may be discouraged, making it difficult to address the issue of pornography addiction effectively. Like my asian Chinese parents had never discussed with me on the topic of sex and pornography. It is just something hidden under the carpet. When I was exposed to pornography at 5 years old due to curiosity of what my dad was watching in the kitchen alone. All I had gotten was spanking for not listening to instructions, not why I shouldn’t be seeing it.

  8. Research Gaps: The scientific community is still exploring and understanding the complexities of pornography addiction. There are always conflicting messages in every kind of research even with the more established topics such as sleep hygiene, what to eat etc. Compared to other forms of addiction, there might be fewer comprehensive studies and treatment options available, which can further perpetuate the perception that it's not as serious.

Understanding these barriers has helped me in being more understanding of the awkward position I found myself in and also more empathic and less reactive to others if they do not seem to understand the problem.

Gender Perspectives:

woman taking picture using white Fujifilm Instax Mini
woman taking picture using white Fujifilm Instax Mini

Sharing a pornography addiction with men and women can yield vastly different reactions.

Men, being well-acquainted with the allure of adult entertainment themselves (unless they are asexual), might offer a nod of solidarity.

While they might not understand why you want to quit it, they understood the pervasiveness of it. It's like forming an exclusive club where secret handshakes are replaced with knowing glances.

However, women, due to societal and cultural factors, may react much differently.

They might recoil, seeing it through a lens of sleaziness or perverted behavior, which can diminish credibility and distance them emotionally. Cue the "yucks" and the instinctual urge to grab the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer and take a wide detour.

Let's explore some more reasons behind these contrasting responses.

Societal and Cultural Norms:

Societal and cultural norms play a significant role in shaping our attitudes and perceptions towards various topics, including pornography. Historically, sexuality has been a sensitive and taboo subject in many cultures.

This has led to a hesitance in discussing sexual matters openly, which includes topics related to pornography.

In some societies, there exists a double standard regarding sexual behavior, where men's consumption of adult content is often more tolerated or even normalized, while women's engagement with such content may be met with harsh judgment.

This disparity stems from traditional gender roles and expectations surrounding sexuality, which can perpetuate stereotypes and biases.

Gender Socialization:

Gender socialization starts at an early age and influences how individuals perceive and interact with the world. Boys and girls are often raised with different expectations and are exposed to different cultural messages about sexuality.

Boys may grow up in an environment that inadvertently normalizes the consumption of adult content. They might receive subtle or overt messages that it's expected or typical for them to be interested in and engage with pornography.

This early exposure and normalization can lead to a more understanding reaction when discussing pornography addiction among men.

On the other hand, girls may receive messages that reinforce the idea that sexuality should be private or restrained. As such, a man sharing problems with pornography may make women think what the hell is he telling me for. How am I supposed to respond to it?

Also society often associates pornography with objectification and exploitation of women. Therefore it can lead to more negative reactions when discussing it with women.

Emotional and Psychological Factors:

Women and men may have different emotional responses when confronted with topics related to pornography addiction.

While some men might be more inclined to offer empathy and solidarity, women's reactions might vary depending on their personal experiences, beliefs, and emotional triggers.

Women who have experienced objectification or sexual harassment may be particularly sensitive to discussions about pornography and may have stronger negative reactions to it.

Also, while women may appear accepting of men watching pornography, they may have accepted it because they think they have no choice in the matter since “every” man watches porn.

Accepting doesn’t mean they have no qualms about it.

Additionally, cultural teachings about modesty and propriety may influence how women perceive and respond to the subject.

Lack of Education and Awareness:

A lack of comprehensive education and awareness about pornography addiction can also contribute to the contrasting reactions.

If individuals are not informed about the psychological complexities of addiction and its potential impact, they may rely on stereotypes and assumptions when responding to the issue.

One prevalent misconception is that pornography addiction is not as serious as substance addiction and can be easily overcome. This belief can lead to the dismissal of the struggles faced by individuals dealing with pornography addiction, attributing their challenges solely to willpower or mental issues.

Educational systems and societal discourse often focus more on the dangers of substance abuse than on other forms of addiction, including pornography. This limited exposure can lead to misconceptions and misunderstanding when the topic is brought up.

Therefore, it's important to acknowledge and understand these contrasting reactions and why they happen to communicate more effectively.

Connecting with Vulnerability: Understanding Boundaries in Sharing

gray concrete pavement with yellow and white line
gray concrete pavement with yellow and white line

When it comes to connecting with others through vulnerability, it's essential to be mindful of the boundaries and comfort levels of those we interact with.

While sharing our vulnerability can foster empathy and connection, it's crucial not to rush into disclosing everything without considering the other person's readiness.

Respect Individual Comfort Levels:

Each person has a unique comfort level when it comes to sharing vulnerabilities. It's essential to recognize that what feels comfortable for one person may not be the same for another.

Assuming that opening up about our own struggles will automatically create empathy and connection is a misconception that can lead to misunderstandings and discomfort in relationships.

To foster meaningful connections, we must pay attention to the cues and signals from the other person. This means actively observing their verbal and non-verbal communication to gauge their readiness for deeper conversations.

If someone seems hesitant or guarded, it's essential to honor their boundaries and avoid pressuring them to share before they are ready.

Avoid Rushing the Process:

In our eagerness to build connections and reciprocate when others open up to us, we might feel tempted to rush into sharing our vulnerabilities.

However, building a meaningful connection takes time and trust. Instead of hastily revealing our inner struggles, it's important to focus on actively listening and validating the feelings of the other person.

By providing a safe and supportive environment for them to express themselves, we can nurture trust and create space for deeper conversations over time.

Rushing into vulnerability without considering the other person's readiness can lead to a lack of mutual understanding and hinder the growth of the relationship.

Be Mindful of Intentions:

When it comes to sharing vulnerability, it's crucial to examine our motivations behind doing so. Sharing should not be driven by a desire for acceptance or to fix the other person's problems. Authentic connections are built on genuine empathy, mutual understanding, and support.

Before sharing our struggles, we should ensure that our intention is to connect with the other person in a meaningful way, sharing our experiences as a way to relate and empathize with them.

By being sincere in our desire to connect and understanding the importance of genuine vulnerability, we can create a foundation for lasting and meaningful relationships.

Lead by Example:

Building meaningful connections through vulnerability is a reciprocal process. Rather than rushing to share every detail of our struggles, we can lead by example by being receptive and empathetic when others open up to us.

By demonstrating genuine understanding and support when others share their vulnerabilities, we encourage them to feel more comfortable doing so.

This leads to a more balanced and authentic exchange of vulnerability, where both parties feel seen, heard, and valued in the relationship.

Be Selective in Sharing:

While vulnerability is essential for deepening connections, not everyone needs to know every detail of our vulnerabilities. It's crucial to be selective in sharing personal experiences, choosing to open up with those we trust and feel a genuine connection with.

Sharing indiscriminately with everyone we encounter may lead to emotional overload and a lack of emotional depth in our relationships.

By being discerning in our vulnerability, we maintain healthy boundaries and cultivate a deeper level of intimacy with those who truly matter to us.


Sharing our struggles can be powerful, but it's essential to consider the context and the audience. Not everyone may be ready to hear certain personal stories, and that's okay. Being vulnerable doesn't guarantee a positive outcome every time.

While vulnerability can be a beautiful way to connect, it can also evoke varied reactions from others. We must be mindful of the context and the individuals we share our experiences with, ensuring that it fosters understanding and empathy rather than discomfort or judgment.

Vulnerability is a complex and multifaceted aspect of human connection. While it may not always lead to immediate deep connections, navigating vulnerability with courage, empathy, and self-awareness can foster genuine relationships that enrich our lives.

By being true to ourselves and setting boundaries, we create an authentic path towards meaningful connections with others.

Let improve together.

With love,