As pornography continues to become a normalized part of our media and culture, more and more partners are starting to realize the harmful effects of porn. Out of the tens of thousands of emails and social media messages we receive throughout the year, the most common–and usually the most heartbreaking–are those of relationships that have been broken by porn.

Many partners report feeling betrayed, disgusted and devastated after finding out the depth of a significant other’s issues. This is often just as quickly followed up with “But everything else is great” or “I know they really love me.”

Related: How Watching Porn Hurts Your Partner

Often this is true; they probably are great, and they are struggling with a problem that is taking a toll on them, their partner, and the relationship. Like other addictions, an intense pornography problem does not just hurt the person struggling with it, it hurts everyone in their life. The likelihood that their partner has suffered betrayal and even trauma from this problem is almost guaranteed.

Not sure if your partner is struggling? Maybe you’ve had a suspicion for a while? The best way to find out is to talk about it openly and in a non-judgmental way. But there are also ways you can recognize the behavior of your partner. Here are six signs that pornography may be negatively affecting your relationship:

1. Your sex life is suffering.

Your sex life is diminished or gone away entirely. When you do have sex, the connection is not there, and they do not seem present. For men, this may show up as erectile dysfunction or struggles to perform like he used to. This often leaves partners wondering what they are doing wrong. They often start questioning themselves and whether they are attractive enough, skinny enough, adventurous enough and so on.

Related: Porn Absolutely Destroyed Our Sex Life

2. Their tastes have changed.

They have developed different attractions to things that they were not interested in before. These may be things that you are uncomfortable with or are not interested in. They may be more demanding, aggressive and rough in bed.

Related: How Porn Twisted My Sexuality

3. They are more emotionally withdrawn and socially detached.

In general, you feel that they are withdrawing. The spark you once had is no longer there and it feels like they are detached and distant. This is a painful issue for a partner to handle and can be even more painful because it’s hard to put your finger on and describe when someone is being detached. They may turn it on you when you try to describe this to them, saying you are being too needy or emotional.

Related: Why Porn Leaves You Feeling Lonelier Than Before

4. They are more critical of you.

This may be most noticed in terms of sex, but likely it is happening overall as well. People who are heavily into pornography tend to objectify their partners and are much more critical of their bodies and sexual perofrmance, but also their overall attitude and personality. This leaves you feeling bad about yourself and feeling that nothing you do or try is good enough. This is very damaging to a person’s psyche and self-esteem.

Related: I Stopped Watching Porn Because It Made It Difficult To Appreciate My Girlfriend

5. They are spending a lot of time online.

You find that your partner is spending way more time online, especially late at night or at odd times. They are not sitting next to you and doing this, but are isolating themselves and spending a lot of time alone. Maybe their time in the bathroom has increased as well. All this can feel like a betrayal in itself, as a partner may feel that the computer is being chosen over time with them.

6. They are more secretive.

You notice that your partner is very protective and secretive with their devices and is careful not to leave anything open or unguarded. You may be catching them in more lies and they may become very defensive when confronted, even about seemingly small things.

Related: Dallin’s Story – My Lifelong Addiction To Porn, Webcams, and Cyber Sex

So now what? You know that your partner has a problem and you’re starting to see the ways that it is negatively impacting you. So what do you do?

The only thing you can do is have an open and honest conversation. In light of the harmful effects of porn on healthy relationships, the normalization of porn throughout our society is a cause for concern. At the very least, it’s an ongoing conversation to be had. A study by Cambridge University scientists showed that brain scans of avid pornography viewers were not unlike those of drug addicts. Porn is a serious issue and should be treated as such, but even with someone you trust, it’s not an easy or comfortable conversation to have.

Here are some tips on how to broach the subject of porn with your partner, and open the door for possible future conversations.

– Don’t make your significant other feel like you’re judging them

This conversation won’t go well if your significant other feels blamed or shamed. Love is stronger than shame. Instead, keep the conversation open and honest. Don’t say “Do you have a problem with porn?” because this puts the partner on the defensive. Instead, ask, “When was the last time you watched porn?”

– Give your partner a chance to explain before jumping to conclusions.

Because of the proliferation of internet porn, many men and women today have been exposed to porn from an early age, and some have possibly been watching porn since grade school. The start of their porn habit is not always their fault, and don’t assume that your partner knows about all the harms of porn. And don’t assume that his or her porn habit hasn’t been a struggle before. It’s hard for people to protect themselves from the lure of porn, so hear them out, and be respectful of what they has to say. Actually listen. Keep your mind open to listening to their experiences or perspective.

– Be clear about your views on porn when it comes to your life and relationship.

If you strongly believe porn has no place in the relationship, you don’t have to be harsh or unloving in order to make your stance known. While it’s important to let your partner know that you understand the struggle to avoid porn, leave no room for confusion when you explain how you feel about porn and what that means for your relationship. Before you bring the issue up, be sure you take time to think through why you feel the way you do about porn and how you would feel if your significant other watched porn.

RelatedIs It A Good Idea To Date Someone Who Watches Porn?

This means educating yourself about the harms of porn beforehand, and then you can use the conversation as an opportunity to teach your significant other.

– Check in every now and then.

Porn thrives on secrecy, and the nature of porn is to leave people feeling ashamed and alone. Provide an open environment for communicating with our loved ones about it, so they don’t retreat and try to deal with a porn problem by themselves. One way to check in without coming across as accusatory or suspicious is to ask something like, “Is it ever hard for you to resist porn when we are apart?” or “What are some ways we could work together to protect our relationship from porn?” This gives your partner an opportunity to reach out to you for support if they are struggling with porn or to assure you that they are doing okay.

Having the porn conversation is a must in a society where sexually explicit material has become so accessible and mainstream. Be open and non-judgmental with your partner when talking about porn. Odds are they have a past with it to some degree, so don’t make it a big deal. Solid relationships are built on communication and the ability to talk about things that matter to both parties. Talk with your significant other about porn. You’ll be glad you did.

What YOU Can Do

Join the conversation by speaking out against the harms of pornography. SHARE this article to raise awareness on this important issue in society.

Support the movement, rep a tee. Click here to shop: