Worried About
Someone Else’s Porn Habits?
Hey there… He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together!
It’s rough seeing someone struggling with porn, so it’s awesome you’re keen to help out. Whether it’s a mate, a family member or a partner – someone else’s porn habits can be confusing, worrying and difficult to understand.

So, if you’re wanting to learn more about how to help someone who’s in that headspace, you’re a legend and you’re in the right place 👍!

TIPS & TOOLSseeing-porn-glasses

Here’s some tips and tools to help you get going…

  • School up

    Start by checking out this, to help understand possible signs of when someone might be struggling.

    If you think the person you know is struggling, check out the next tips…

    Up next: Dealing with feeling...
  • Dealing with your feelings

    It can be helpful to start by understanding your own feelings. You might feel upset or betrayed if a partner has been keeping something secret from you.

    If that’s you check out HERE. If you’re a friend or whānau member – you might be surprised or confused.

    Whatever you feel is okay – and once you’ve dealt with your feelings, you’ll be in a better spot to help someone out.

    Up next: Plan...
  • Plan

    Before you bring things up, decide who’s best to have the convo – it could be you, a friend, sibling, or a trusted adult.

    Make a plan about when, where and how you will bring it up.

    Up next: Stay level-headed...
  • Stay level-headed

    If a convo is super emotional, it usually blows up – so the calmer you are, the better. If you’ve just found out, wait until the next day to talk. If it’s a relationship, then GO HERE.

    Porn can be a complex issue and the person you care about might be feeling embarrassed, ashamed or anxious. Addressing porn can bring up these emotions, so go in prepared. You’ve got this.

    Up next: Frame it well...
  • Frame it well

    When you have the convo, use ‘I’ sentences rather than ‘you’ and use open questions. For e.g. “I’m worried that you might be struggling, how are you feeling?”

    Make sure they know you’re not judging, you’re safe to talk to, and you’re there to help.

    Up next: Practical tips...
  • Practical tips

    If someone’s struggling, they might feel in a rut and need some practical help to get out.

    Suss out some solutions HERE or some practical things you can suggest for them:

    Read more
    Up next: Don’t go it alone...
  • Don’t go it alone

    It can be hard trying to support someone.

    Remember it’s not your job to ‘fix anyone’, and if you’re standing by them, you need support too.

    Try a trusted adult – they don’t need all the details, but they might help.

    Check out our talk/text services for options. And good on you for helping out.

    Up next: School up...

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Porn can be complex and the person you care about might be feeling ashamed or anxious. Make sure they know you’re not judging, you’re safe to talk to, and you’re there to help.


Understanding the signs

Working out what’s ‘healthy’ and what’s a problem with porn is tricky. If you’re worried about someone, before making a call or diving in to help, suss out some signs that show they might be struggling. For example, they could…

  • get agitated or stressed without porn
  • need porn during sex to get aroused
  • want to try out stuff in porn without partners being into it
  • need more and more porn to be satisfied
  • try to watch less porn, but not be able to
  • need more violent and extreme porn to get turned on
Understanding why someone starts watching porn

Young people don’t always watch porn to get ‘turned on’ – in fact a big NZ study showed the main reasons are curiosity, accidental, entertainment, sexual pleasure or boredom. Curiosity was number one! 🧐

Young people thought watching porn had pros and cons – and porn’s one of the main places they go to ‘learn about sex’(17). Especially for non-heterosexual young people who don’t always get decent sex ed at school, same-sex porn can feel like a helpful go-to.

Porn can also help some young people deal with negative feelings like stress or anxiety. People with health issues or disabilities can find it harder to hook up with people in real life, so porn feels like a good option.

“Young people struggling with porn have described feelings of shame, loneliness, guilt and being out of control. They’ve said they need someone safe to talk to who won’t judge.”

Manaaki tētahi ki tētahi : Sometimes we can be afraid of what people might think or say about us if we bring up a tricky Kaupapa. That doesn’t make it unimportant – it makes it more important. Think of it this way – you are providing manaaki (looking out) for them!

Understanding why someone might be struggling with porn

Porn can make us feel good ‘in the moment’ – but can get tricky when it’s overused and ends up creating habits and patterns that are hard to break. In a NZ study, it was pretty common for young porn viewers in NZ to want to cut back on how much they watched, at least sometimes(18).

Some young people with high porn usage can also find themselves in patterns where they need lots more porn or more extreme porn to get aroused, or need porn during sex to get things going.

If you want to learn more about how and why young New Zealanders watch porn, checkout The Classification Office survey with 2,000 young people: NZ Youth and Porn

Is ‘porn addiction’ a thing?

The term ‘addiction’ is used casually by young people to describe when they are struggling with porn.

This can mean different things to different people, such as….

  • they want to stop watching porn, but find it hard not to
  • they feel ashamed they watch porn
  • they’ve seen something disturbing in porn and can’t stop thinking about it
  • porn is impacting their day e.g. not doing homework or not hanging with friends to watch porn
  • they think about porn a lot and get anxious about when they can next watch it
  • others are telling them they need to stop

Labelling someone, or yourself as ‘addicted to porn’ can be harmful or not helpful – so we don’t use the term on this site. But if someone uses this term for themselves, it’s important to hear why they’re feeling like this – and direct them to help HERE

Manaaki tētahi ki tētahi : Sometimes we can be afraid of what people might think or say about us if we bring up a tricky Kaupapa. That doesn’t make it unimportant – it makes it more important. Think of it this way – you are providing manaaki (looking out) for them!

Understanding how to help

If someone’s really struggling with their porn use, they might need more than just a listening ear.

There are some great tools that can help someone wanting to change up their porn habits. Check them out NEED HELP or WANT TO STOP WATCHING PORN, BUT CAN’T. Your friend or partner might also need to get some help from the pros.

To school up on professional support services, apps and filters that can help, click HERE

“I’ve noticed I mainly tend to look at porn when I’m quite or very stressed and/or strained as I kind of lose control over my body and mind to some extent. The stress just gets to me and I feel porn is the only real way to feel better, even though it really isn’t. It’s quite hard to explain.”
MALE, 16, OFLC research


Worried about someone else’s
porn habits?
Worried about someone else’s porn habits?

Know how to cut down porn?

Tips from some young people who’ve struggled with porn, on what helped them cut down.

Keep It Real Online - Pornography

This campaign is for parents – but notice how the mum takes a mental note to chill out before talking to her son.

The Naked Truth

A TVNZ video on porn with Jehan Cassinder, who interviews porn actors, school students and a NZ musician who’s struggling with his own porn habits.
It’s hard to know how to respond to friends or partners struggling with porn but these clips give some cool ideas, including a real story of someone whose struggled and came out better on the other side.



24/7 free service designed just for youth. You can call or text to talk about big or small stuff.

Anonymous online chat 7-10pm.
Freephone: 0800 376 633
Text: 234

Safe to Talk

If you’ve been affected by sexual harm or are worried about your own behaviour, Safe to Talk provide great 24/7 confidential non-judgmental support and advice with trained counsellors.

Anonymous online chat 24/7.
Freephone: 0800 044 334
Text: 4334
Website/online chat: www.safetotalk.nz
Email: [email protected]


If you’re feeling anxious, down or overwhelmed, 1737 offers a free confidential call or text line with trained counsellors 24/7.

Text: 1737

What’s up?

Whatsup helps young people with heaps of issues like dating, sex, porn, bullying or anxiety. Confidential online chat: 3 -10pm. Freephone counsellors 12-11pm weekdays and 3-11pm on weekends.

Freephone: 0800WHATSUP

“Having tools for people is important. Empowering young people is more important.” Tane, 18, TLP Youth survey 2020