Blog

Tips for Opening Up to a Loved One About Your Struggle with Porn

By May 15, 2019 May 22nd, 2019 No Comments
talking-couple-disclosure-porn-first-time-sad-talk-woman-man-sillhouette-porn-kills-love
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez. This Post Was Written By Diana Baldwin, LCSW, A Licensed Therapist With Elevated Recovery.

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.

How do you tell your partner/friend/family about your porn struggle? Should you tell them? How do you know what to say?

We’re going to go over all of that so you feel more comfortable sharing your struggle, and can do it in a way that is good for you, and the person you’re sharing with. These steps are for you if you know you have an issue with pornography and you are wondering how and if you should share this with a loved one, including your partner.

Before you open up, here are 6 important steps to consider.

Make sure you are in a good place.

Make sure you are in a fairly good place mentally and emotionally to share. This doesn’t mean you have to have anything sorted out or solved, it just means you are in a place where you can talk about your fight without it causing more pain and shame. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and you have your basic needs covered. If you are exhausted, overworked, hungry, or sick this probably isn’t the best time to have this conversation.

Consider doing a little self-care before disclosing so you feel more grounded and calm.

Brain Heart World

Consider going through the disclosure process with a really safe person or a therapist first.

“Disclosure” is the term we use to describe the process of telling the secrets you have been keeping. This is often a really difficult process and commonly happens in stages as people have difficulty being totally open.

Related: 5 Tips For When It’s Time To Talk About Porn With A Partner

If this is your first time talking about your struggles openly, it may be better to start with someone who you know is safe and can keep things confidential. You may have a friend who can be this person for you, or you can talk to a therapist. Getting all of your struggle out there in an unfiltered way first can help you decide what to share and evaluate if you are ready for that. This isn’t something you want to dump on your partner without having prepared and processed through it first. 

Identify what pieces are really important to share.

Once it is all out there, you can decide which pieces are really important to share.

In my practice, I see this go two ways that aren’t particularly helpful. People often disclose too much or too little here and finding the right balance is tricky. Remember that your partner is hearing this for the first time and too much information or detail may be really shocking or overwhelming. Too little, on the other hand, can leave them with more questions and concerns than answers. Thinking about telling them “headlines,” not necessarily details. You don’t want to lie or avoid, but too many details can sometimes cause more harm than good.

Related: How Couples Who Choose To Fight Porn Together Can Become Stronger

Partners often want to know how long things have been going on, how often you are engaging in this, when it started and if you have plans to get help. Consider having those pieces prepared and ready to discuss. Doing this will also show them that you are ready and willing to talk.

Conversation Blueprint

Know what level of support you are looking for.

Understand that your partner may not be ready to give you any support at all right now, and that’s their choice. They may also want to jump in and be involved or monitoring everything. Before you go into the conversation, consider what level of support you would want from them, in an ideal world. It is up to them if they agree and can/will meet you there. Would you be open to going to therapy with them? Would you be open to telling them when you relapse?

Remember they are not your therapist or accountability partner, but they do need accountability and openness. Some people go in and agree with everything the other person wants to try and make them happy, and then discover that they don’t want to or can’t give their partner that level of openness. It is better for the relationship to establish those expectations initially, instead of changing later. Your partner may not like the level you are ready for right now, but letting them know that upfront instead of changing on them later, will be better for you both in the long run.

Related: 5 Ways You Can Support Your Partner As They Kick Their Porn Habit

It is also possible that your partner doesn’t see the issue with your porn habit as much as you do. They may minimize or justify your habit. This will make it even more important that you know where you stand on this and what you need. They are entitled to their opinion and may have differing views than you, just make sure you are clear on why this is a problem for you and how you want to change it.

Make sure you both have the time and energy to talk.

Make sure you both have the time and energy to give this conversation the attention it needs. This goes for any serious conversation. Don’t start the discussion when either of you are tired or busy. Don’t start it when either of you have somewhere to be soon after. And don’t start it when either of you are having a bad day. Considering all of these factors, and setting things up in the best way you can, will help give this conversation the space it needs to be had in the most productive way possible.

This doesn’t guarantee it will be easy or go smoothly, but you are removing the possible negative external factors as much as you can.

Fortify

Allow them time and space to digest and accept whatever reaction they give you.

Again, remember your partner is hearing this for the first time while you have been digesting it and preparing for it for a while. Allow them to react and feel whatever comes up for them, even if this is difficult for you. If you have been hiding a lot from them, it’s not uncommon for partners to feel betrayed, shocked, and devastated. Try to be as understanding and validating as you can. Try not to push them where you want them to go. Let them process it as they need to, maybe that means some space from you, maybe that means revisiting this conversation after the initial shock has gone away. Whatever it is that they need, try and respect it.

Related: It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: What Partners Of Porn Viewers Wish You Knew

Following these steps will make sure you are really prepared for this conversation. It will also help ensure that it gets both you and your partner closer to what you need from each other and are on the same page. This is not an easy process and there will probably be many conversations about this to come.

Take a breath, prepare as best as you can and then work through things as they arise. You got this, and good luck!

About the Author

Diana Baldwin is a licensed clinical therapist specializing in relationships and sexually compulsive issues. She has worked in treatment centers and clinics all over the world and is passionate about helping people live a happier and more fulfilled life. You can find her work at www.elevatedrecovery.org and check out her youtube channel.

Send this to a friend

Like all websites, we use cookies. By continuing on this site, you agree to our use of cookies. More

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close