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3 Reasons Why Someone Recovering from Porn Can Have Fulfilling Relationships

Consider the possibility that someone overcoming a struggle with porn can dedicate themselves to fulfilling relationships because of this difficulty, not just in spite of it.

By August 17, 2021No Comments

Fight the New Drug is an awareness organization educating about the harms of pornography on individuals, relationships, and society. We share research, facts, and personal accounts to help promote understanding for various aspects of this multi-faceted issue. Our goal is to maintain an environment where all individuals can have healthy and productive conversations about this issue, while acknowledging that this issue can impact any person or relationship differently.

FTND note: The aim of this post is to challenge the shaming narrative that happens all too often in this fight against porn, and offer up an alternative narrative. It is not our intention to imply that anyone is obligated to date someone with a past porn issue, if they aren’t comfortable with dating them. Consider what this post is saying, and understand that in the end, it is up to every individual to decide what is best for them, whether that’s pursuing a relationship with someone who struggles, continuing with a relationship hurt by porn’s harms, or choosing to end it.

At Fight the New Drug, we talk a lot about the negativity and harms of pornography.

We talk a lot about how it can affect consumers’ brains, harm relationships, is connected to exploitation, etc. That information is important for society to understand, but let’s be honest, it can also get discouraging, especially for those who have an unwanted porn struggle. So let’s look at the other side of the equation.

While the effects of porn can be heavy, struggling with it doesn’t automatically make someone a “bad” person. And regardless of how long someone has struggled, recovery is more than possible. We get a lot of stories from people who are not only going through a struggle, but who have also recovered from it.

Related: “I Was 8 The First Time I Saw It”: Why It’s Important Not To Judge Someone’s Porn Struggle

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In case you’d like some dating inspiration…

Let’s face some of life’s harsh realities right off the bat:

-Netflix binging isn’t the same as doing homework.
-Taco Tuesday only comes once a week.
-You can only join so many D&D campaigns at one time.

While these sad facts are, unfortunately, true, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t also some pretty great realities in life, like discovering a wonderful relationship or falling in love. And while a lot of things in life are never “sure,” we do know one thing: the person you commit to should ideally be someone you want to have by your side during the good times and the tough times.

Related: The Problem With Saying “I’ll Never Date Someone Who Has Struggled With Porn”

Those who have struggled with porn can often feel that they are broken and beyond repair. They may feel like no one could ever love them due to their past.

But consider the possibility that someone who has overcome a struggle with porn can be a great partner because of this past struggle, not just in spite of it. And make note that we’re talking about people who recognize porn to be an unhealthy thing in their life and society, not necessarily someone who has not yet been educated about the harmful effects of porn.

Of course, deciding to date anyone is a personal decision, but in case you’d like some inspiration or hope, here are a few reasons why those who are recovering from porn can be as great a partner as anyone else.

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Pursuit of health and happiness

Let’s be real—we’ve all messed up. Mistakes are a part of life, and no one is immune to them. But for so many people, an unwanted porn habit is a continuation of an unplanned first exposure.

Too many people who struggle with porn stumbled upon it by accident as kids. Even the most innocent search could evolve into an accidental porn obsession.

Based on available data, the likely age of a child’s first exposure to porn is around tween years. The majority of kids are exposed to porn by age 13, with some exposed as young as seven, according to a 2020 survey.British Board of Film Classification. (2020). Young people, pornography & age-verification. BBFCCOPY 

But no matter how young, these incidents aren’t isolated cases, and it’s not like early porn exposure only happens to a small slice of people—in fact, in the United States, it happens to almost everybody before they leave their teens. A nationally representative estimate of U.S. youths (ages 14 to 18) exposed to pornography: 84.4% of males and 57% of females.

Related: Is It A Bad Idea To Date Someone Who Watches Porn?

In a world where watching porn is normalized and even encouraged, someone committing to living a porn-free life has committed to the fight. They’re someone who has put their freedom, health, and happiness as top priorities and changed their life to make them a reality, despite what is normalized around them.

Being a quality person who can someday be a quality partner isn’t about preserving some pristine version of ourselves, it’s about constantly working toward it.

If you want to be with someone who understands the value of self-improvement and is always seeking to better themselves, someone who has successfully overcome struggles or addictions as tough as pornography is at the top of the list.

Pursuit of accountability and honesty

People who struggle with compulsions of all kinds, including those struggling with porn, can stay in a habit of lying while those in recovery practice complete honesty and accountability.

Recovery is about breaking down walls and building connections. People need to be open and vulnerable so they can get to a place where their struggles don’t have power over them.

One guy gave this example in his recovery:

“Once I started my recovery, being honest became so important, almost sacred. Now it’s just second nature, I have to be careful I don’t just blurt out everything about myself on a first date.”

With honesty and communication being two of the most vital parts of a relationship, those who have struggled in the past have often put into practice holding themselves accountable and being totally open with those closest to them.

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Pursuit of a better future

Here’s a question: what would you do if you knew someone gave up everything in order to better themselves?

What if you knew that some had put themselves through immense difficulty to be able to love well and be able to be the healthiest they can be for a committed relationship?

What would you think after learning that someone fought against our current porn-obsessed culture for the sole purpose of being their best self?

Well, if you’re dating or interested in someone who is in recovery, that’s likely what’s happened.

Related: What’s The Average Age Of A Child’s First Exposure To Porn?

Everyone involved with recovery platforms like our affiliates at Fortify, and everyone fighting porn in general, is fighting for the ability to love, and love for real.

Maybe they have someone in their life already, but it is often their future partners and family they are battling for, as well as themselves. Someone with a past porn obsession, compulsion, or addiction is someone that has valued the freedom to love so much that they changed their life to be able to have it. They have championed over their inner struggles, despite the world around them telling them it’s okay.

Isn’t that something worth valuing, in the context of who they are as a three-dimensional person with a unique story?

The bottom line is porn consumers are not horrible, “perverted” people. They are real humans with struggles. Some may hate their porn struggle but feel unable to get out, or be afraid to ask for help. Some may have no idea that porn fuels trafficking. After all, many were once kids who were confused by porn and did not know how to handle it. Many were taught lies about their own sexuality through abuse. Many are lonely and need a friend to hear them.

You never know what someone has been through and why they act the way they do until you have heard their story.

This is why, as a movement, we are anti-shame and pro-love.

BHW - General

There is hope

It’s important to know that regardless of what someone’s reaction to a potential partner’s porn habit might be, research has clearly demonstrated it is harmful to relationshipsIt’s okay to not be okay with a partner’s porn habit. It’s also best not to shame anyone for their struggle with porn, regardless of what your feelings about porn may be.

If you need a real-life example of a Fighter who has overcome a struggle with porn and seeks real love in real life, meet Emma.

Emma is a 19-year-old who was just 11 when she was first exposed to pornography. By the time she was 12, she says she consumed it multiple times a day on the iPod Touch her parents gave her. Her uncontrollable porn habit was also accompanied by feelings of shame and worthlessness that came from being a young girl who was told people who consume porn aren’t worth dating. Hear Emma’s story of how she overcame not only her pornography struggle but also the struggle to love herself.

If you have been struggling to quit an unwanted porn habit, please know that you’re not alone. It can feel lonely and frustrating, but there is hope. While research shows that consuming porn can fuel the cycle of loneliness, research also shows that it is possible to overcome a porn habit and its negative effects.Young K. S. (2013). Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients. Journal of behavioral addictions, 2(4), 209–215. https://doi.org/10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3COPY Nathanson, A. (2021). Psychotherapy with young people addicted to internet pornography. Psychoanal.Study Child, 74(1), 160-173. doi:10.1080/00797308.2020.1859286COPY 

Related: 10 Things To Avoid Saying To Someone Struggling With Porn, And What You Can Say Instead

According to one study of individuals trying to quit porn, researchers found that shame actually predicted increased pornography consumption while guilt predicted sustainable change.Gilliland, R., South, M., Carpenter, B. N., & Hardy, S. A. (2011). The roles of shame and guilt in hypersexual behavior. 18(1), 12-29. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.551182COPY  So if you’re trying to give up porn, be kind to yourself and be patient with your progress. Like anything, it takes time for the brain to recover, but daily efforts make a big difference in the long run.

Fortify

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.
Get Help – For Partners

If your partner is struggling with porn, you are not alone—know that there is hope, and there is help. As you navigate this difficult situation, there are supportive communities and resources available to you. Below is a non-exhaustive list of several resources for those experiencing hurt because of their partner’s porn consumption. Note that this isn’t a complete resource list.

Disclaimer: For those who may find themselves involved in this sensitive situation, their responses can differ. This is why resources need to fit the specific needs of whoever is seeking them. Some of these resources are gender-specific, others are religiously-affiliated, others use a variety of approaches. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative awareness and education organization hoping to provide access to resources that are helpful to those who need support. Including this list of recommendations does not constitute an endorsement by Fight the New Drug.

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