Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.
A Letter to The Best Friend I Lost
We were sitting in a friend’s living room, late at night. Everyone else had left, but we were still talking. The fireplace was crackling, and we were laughing. You always made me laugh. I’d known you from a distance for years, but I’d never thought of you “like that” before. We talked about books and movies and realized we were both old souls. I told myself it was no big deal. You told me I was beautiful.
We started to talk more frequently. You sent me memes to make me smile and started texting to make sure I’d made it home safely after we hung out. We laughed about stories from when we were little, and got excited sharing dreams for the future. We marveled at how many of our dreams were the same.
The first time you saw me wear a pretty dress, your mouth actually fell open. I’ll never forget it. I thought that kind of thing only happened in movies! I teased you, and you turned red. It was just a few weeks later that you held my hand in yours and said words that changed my life. “You are beautiful inside and out, and I’m a better man because I know you. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and I want to be with you. Will you be my girlfriend?”
It was the kind of thing people dream about.
At first, dating you was the easiest thing in the world. It was the best combination of fun and depth. We laughed and teased, and flirted constantly. We loved the small things. We climbed trees, cooked breakfast together, and took insanely long road trips, playing loud music and kissed at stoplights. Fairytale love. We also stayed up for hours, talking about the very real things people aren’t usually comfortable discussing—politics, religion, philosophy, literature, deep fears, and past struggles.
Do you remember the first time we talked about pornography? I do. I’ve replayed it in my mind a hundred thousand times. We’d both struggled with it in the past, and we were equally passionate about keeping it out of our lives. Once, when you were at a football game with friends, you texted me out of nowhere to say, “Hey. I love you.” You told me later a woman had been flirting with you and you’d texted to remind yourself that you would always choose me. I’ve never been so entirely certain of a man’s love.
The Little Changes
I don’t remember when it started. I just know, one day, I realized you weren’t flirting with me anymore, and we’d stopped going on dates. You were tired all the time, and you didn’t want to talk as often. You spent hours on the computer and, when I’d call you, I could hear you typing.
One day we ran into an ex-girlfriend of yours, and you pulled your hand away from mine. I knew something was wrong. That night, you told me you still struggled with pornography, and you put your head in your hands and cried. You never cried in front of people, but you did that night. I wasn’t angry; I understood how it was a struggle. I knew the real you and I knew you could beat it. Nothing in the world could convince me to stop believing in you, and I told you as much.
That was the beginning of a long cycle. You’d tell me I was beautiful and that you didn’t deserve me; then you’d pull so far away, nothing I did could reach you. I always knew what had happened but I never lost sight of who you really were. I could never have imagined you’d lose sight of me. You’d always told me you loved how confident I was. Suddenly, you only complimented me if I was wearing makeup. You’d told me I challenged you to love better; now said you weren’t sure I knew what love really was. You told me you loved my laugh; now you weren’t sure if our senses of humor were compatible. You’d been struck speechless at the sight of me; now you weren’t sure you were really attracted to me at all.
I watched you slip away until the impossible happened. You left.
The English language isn’t capable of describing that moment, or the months that followed. It was a nightmare too awful to be real, but I couldn’t wake up. I tried to understand, but nothing made sense, and nothing could make it better. I felt like I was insane—torn between missing you more than I could have imagined and equally hating myself for being so weak.
When did I become the kind of woman who pined over a man who could leave her so easily? How could you, the man who’d said, “always,” leave me at all? How could a heart keep beating when the physical pain was so constant and so real?
It’s been three years since pornography stole my best friend from me, and I can finally say I’m getting better. At some point, I realized I needed help, and I started talking to a counselor who told me I was experiencing betrayal trauma. She helped me understand, and I’m finally moving on. Now I understand that pornography can make good people do crazy things, like walk away from the kind of relationship others dream about.
I’m sharing our story because I want the world to know one simple fact: real love is hard, but it is worth fighting for. Real people are flawed. They will fail you and hurt you, but they will also know you more truly and love you more deeply than any pixelated image ever could. We only have so many chances at that kind of love so, if you have it, fight for it.
Fight to see the person in front of you for who they really are rather than chase the choreographed image pornography says you could have. It’s worth it.
Why This Matters
This heartbreaking story shines a light on experiences that many partners, or ex-partners, of those who struggle with porn go through. And while not every negative thing that happens in a relationship is always directly because of porn, it definitely doesn’t help healthy relationships in the long run.
Here’s what research shows about the harms of porn. Research shows that porn users report less love and trust in their relationships, are more prone to separation and divorce, and often see marriage as a “constraint.”  Overall, they are less committed to their partners,  less satisfied in their relationships,  and more cynical about love and relationships in general.  They also have poorer communication with their partners and are more likely to agree that, in their own relationships, “little arguments escalate into ugly fights with accusations, criticisms, name-calling, and bringing up past hurts.”  Does that sound healthy to you?
In every unique situation, with unique partnerships, there are many factors that go into a relationship and its ending. Even so, one thing is for sure: porn doesn’t help, it hurts. This is why we’re shining a light on the very real harms of porn, and spreading the word that it’s anything but healthy, personal entertainment.
The truth is, the effects don’t stop once the browser window closes. And in the end, watching just isn’t worth it.
If you believe that porn can seriously hurt relationships in the long run, SHARE this post. Get the word out that porn is anything but healthy or harmless entertainment.
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