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: We continually encourage couples to make decisions about their relationship that’s best for them. Sometimes, that choice is to go their separate ways, and sometimes, that choice is to stay and support each other through the struggles porn brings. It all depends on the couple, and we respect the decisions people make for themselves. There’s no “correct” answer, every relationship is different.
“I have caught my wife looking at porn past midnight in our garage and our bathroom… What should I do? What would you recommend?”
-Message from a male Fighter
In our world today, porn isn’t an issue that only guys are dealing with.
Related: How Many Women Watch Porn?
One ultra-popular porn site came out with stats that show more than 1 in 3 of the site’s viewers are women.
According to their data, women are spending much longer watching porn, staying on the site for an average of almost 11 and a half minutes, while men logged off after just 10 minutes. Also, they’re checking out more hardcore genres of porn.
Clearly, this issue affects everyone. It’s not just men watching and struggling, women are dealing with porn’s negative effects as well.
Porn’s effects on everyone
Not only does science show that pornography harms the individual by impacting the brain, harming relationships, and deeply affecting attitudes about sex, but several studies have found that partners of porn consumers suffer as well.
These partners often report feeling loss, betrayal, mistrust, devastation, and anger when they learn that the other half of their committed relationship has been using porn. Many show physical symptoms of anxiety and depression.Tylka, T. L., & Kroon Van Diest, A. M. (2015). You Looking at Her “Hot” Body May Not be “Cool” for Me: Integrating Male Partners’ Pornography Use into Objectification Theory for Women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39(1), 67–84. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684314521784Copy Bates, S. (2017). Revenge Porn and Mental Health: A Qualitative Analysis of the Mental Health Effects of Revenge Porn on Female Survivors. Feminist Criminology, 12(1), 22–42. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557085116654565Copy
The long-term studies on porn’s effects on relationships paint a very different picture than what you might be hearing from pro-porn advocates. The preponderance of evidence from a dozen or more in-depth, longer-term studies consistently show porn consumption lowering relationship satisfaction, emotional closeness, and sexual satisfaction.Wilson, G. (2013). Studies Linking Porn Use Or Porn/Sex Addiction To Sexual Dysfunctions, Lower Arousal, And Lower Sexual & Relationship SatisfactionCopy
Related: Do Women Get Addicted To Watching Porn?
Study after study has shown that contrary to popular belief, porn itself is bad news for long-term relationships. Not an unsupportive and porn-disapproving partner, but the porn itself. The majority of research reflects that porn negatively affects satisfaction within the relationship and ultimately can lead a person to withdraw from a loved one.
All these reasons, and more, are why we say that porn is anything but harmless personal entertainment. It truly affects not only the consumer, but their partner, too, for anyone of any gender.
From a man’s perspective
While the most common story is a girlfriend or wife who feels betrayed by her male partner’s porn habit, the struggle goes both ways.
We received a powerful personal account from one of our followers that illustrates how men can feel betrayed by their partner’s porn habit as well.
Take a look at this message from a Fighter:
[I was] hurt, upset, confused, and pissed-off, so I confronted her. She was very embarrassed and said that it is like a drug, as soon as she watched it she feels terrible and ‘yuck’ with herself. [She] promises that she will never watch it again.
“I recently found on my girlfriend’s laptop that she had been watching porn.
About six months ago, I had to deal with my 10-year-old sons watching it and [she] even provided me with good advice for them. I asked my girlfriend to give me her best friend’s opinion because they had discussed it and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being a prude [or overreacting].
Related: Is Secretly Watching Porn Cheating On Your Partner?
Her best friend said, ‘Why would you feel bad for watching it?’ My girlfriend has three young children and so does her best friend.
I guess I’m just asking for anyone’s opinion other than ‘why should you feel bad for watching it.’ Because I believe it does not matter how old you are, I think it’s not okay.
This is not a rant, I’m seeking your opinion so I would love to hear from you…thanks.”
Porn is an “everyone” issue
First off: we’re not here to tell anyone what to do with their relationship, control their sexual choices, or provide shame. But what we can do is give you a frank look a how porn can hurt relationships.
Every couple is different, has unique standards, and has its own set of boundaries. It’s not our job as an organization to dictate what people’s rules and boundaries are in a relationship, but we do exist to educate on the harmful effects of porn and the harms it can have in relationships, including when one partner in a relationship watches it after agreeing not to.
Related: Homepages Of 3 Most Popular Porn Sites Heavily Feature Sexual Violence, Study Finds
Again, we hope this story puts into perspective that porn is not just a guy/boyfriend/husband issue. It’s an everyone issue. From stories like this, we can clearly see how feelings of betrayal don’t only happen to women. Letters like this in our inbox may be rarer, but that doesn’t mean situations like this aren’t happening all over the world.
The second episode of Fight the New Drug’s three-part documentary series, “The Heart,” shines a light on porn’s effects on relationships. Check out the trailer, here:
We hope that by shining a light on it, more men will come forward and share their hurt from a partner who is consuming porn. You are not alone.
It’s easy to think that only women experience the depression, the sleepless nights, the traumatic flashbacks that come from discovering that your partner has been consuming porn behind their back. It’s easy to think that only women have their trust shattered by their partner’s porn habits. However, this simply is not the case.
Related: Is My Partner’s Porn Habit Harming Our Relationship, Or Am I Just Insecure?
Anyone of any gender can experience feelings of betrayal trauma, and anyone of any gender can struggle with porn issues.
Porn drives a wedge between partners, it damages the trust of a healthy relationship.
There is hope for healing
It’s important to know that regardless of what your reaction to a partner’s porn habit might be, research has also clearly demonstrated it is harmful to relationships. It’s okay to not be okay with your partner’s porn habit. It’s also best not to shame your partner, regardless of what your or their feelings about porn may be.
Related: Renowned Relationship Therapists Drs. Julie & John Gottman Release “Open Letter On Porn”
Even though porn is not a harmless pastime, especially when it’s hurting a romantic partner, studies show that shame is not an effective way to motivate someone to change.Brown, B. (2012). Understanding and combating shame. Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Avery.Copy 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.
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.
If this article inspired you to have a conversation with your partner or someone else about porn, check out our step-by-step interactive conversation guide, Let’s Talk About Porn, for tips.