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Even After My Divorce, Here’s Why I Don’t See a Porn Struggle as a Dating Deal-Breaker

By August 16, 2018 February 20th, 2020 No Comments

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 via a Fighter’s actual, real-life experience. 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. This woman’s story will look different from many other former partners of porn consumers, and that’s okay. Consider what she’s saying, and understand that in the end, it is up to every individual to decide what is best for them. We completely respect that.

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.

We recently received a story from a Fighter full of hope, restoration, and encouragement. Her perspective shows how important it is to see someone as a whole person, and not just isolate their porn struggle. In the end, every person who struggles with porn is not defined by that, alone. And there is always hope.

Over two years ago my divorce was finalized, mostly owing to my ex-husband’s pornography problem.

He trusted me with his nearly decade-long struggle right away when we started dating. I knew that it would be a challenge for both of us, but I loved him, and I chose to fight beside him. We fought for a long time. And then one day, he just didn’t want to anymore.

The man that I loved gave up fighting for our relationship and fell back into a world of other women. I tried not to take it personally, but trying to live up to the expectations set by photo-shopped women doing unrealistic things destroyed my confidence in our relationship, and in myself, and soon led to an eating disorder. His lying and manipulating about his issues soon became emotional abuse.

He gave up, I got out

I got myself out of an abusive relationship. I am proud of that. But then I was left with so much damage to repair. With a lot of therapy and a good support system, I have been working through all of the pain and worthlessness ever since. I have managed to heal so much in the past year, and I have dedicated myself to fighting pornography so that hopefully people won’t have to suffer as much as we did.

With all of the painful memories, anxiety, depression, and PTSD associated with pornography, I began to seriously consider whether or not I would be able to date someone who had the same problem as my ex-husband.

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

To clarify, I never judged or blamed anyone for having an issue with pornography. I knew that it’s a super common issue and there should be no shaming happening on top of all the pain that it causes. But to be completely honest, I was wondering if I would be able to handle having those kinds of conversations and fighting alongside someone again without painful PTSD flashbacks or depressive episodes, potentially leading me back into my eating disorder.

New beginnings

A while after my divorce I began dating. I dated one boy seriously, but he didn’t have a problem with porn, so I never really had to face the issue until recently when things didn’t work out with him.

RelatedTrue Story: I Skipped Meals To Compete With My Husband’s Porn

A few weeks ago I met a wonderful guy. We hit it off right away and on one of our first dates I told him about my divorce. He listened patiently and responded kindly.

We sat on a bench under a blanket, and he told me he had something he really needed to tell me before we made any decisions about continuing to date.

As he spoke, I could tell it wasn’t easy. He looked terrified as he forced out each word. He told me that he had the same problem as my ex-husband. Tears spilled onto his cheeks as he told me that he was doing everything he could to fight it because he didn’t want it to be a part of his life anymore. I looked this sweet man, just waiting for the blow that he thought was coming. And my decision that I had wrestled with for so long was made unconsciously in a second: it was not a deal breaker.

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

Pornography was not part of this wonderful man’s identity. It was something hurting him and holding him back. I could tell that he was worn out from fighting for so long, but he was still square-shouldered and upright, ready to keep going—even if I told him that I couldn’t be part of it.

He opened up to me and was expecting to be shot down; because that was the response he was used to. And it broke my heart.

I was not about to let something that he didn’t even want in his life be the reason that I didn’t give him a chance. And you know, it may not work out. We may not be soul mates. We still have a lot to figure out. But after a painful divorce because of pornography, I found that having an issue with porn still wasn’t a deal breaker for me. Here’s why.

1. He is his own person.

He is not my ex-husband. We are not destined for the same ending just because of this one similarity. He has a different story—different quirks, dreams, personality traits, favorite ice cream flavors, etc. So, I need to look at the whole picture and see if he himself, as a whole, complex human being, fits in with me and my life.

RelatedThe Problem With Saying “I Would Never Date Someone With A Past Porn Struggle”

If I dismissed him right off the bat, I would miss out on this amazing, strong person. Just because he has a similar problem does not automatically make him a bad person who destined to hurt me the same way. He has the potential to be an amazing partner and person. He deserves his own personal chance.

2. He is a fighter.

I don’t want to understate the issues that pornography can cause in relationships. If not handled properly, pornography can destroy the best relationships and create painful rifts between partners. It is important to have open and honest communication.

RelatedWhy I Chose To Fight For My Cybersex-Addicted Partner’s Freedom

I needed to be with someone who would have the hard conversations with me, and this man talks to me. He lets me in. When he told me about his problem, I could feel his pain, how much he didn’t want porn in his life and how much he was willing to fight to have a loving, healthy relationship. He is a fighter, so I have chosen to fight with him.

3. People are not defined by pornography.

As damaging as pornography is, struggling with it does not define you. People are so much more complex than that. Frequently, people who watch porn do it to cope with painful things in their lives. In my experience, a lot of people feel trapped in this habit. They feel unworthy of anyone’s love; when in fact they are kind, loving, compassionate, loveable people. They are human beings with unique stories who deserve to be heard.

RelatedHow Shame Made My Struggle With Porn Worse, Not Better

Seeing how hard this man is trying to fight something that has negatively affected him for the majority of his life tells me a lot about him. It tells me that he doesn’t give up, no matter how hard things get. It tells me that he understands the importance of love and is willing to fight for it. And the fact that he is willing to tell me about all of this, especially when he knows how hurt I’ve been by this in the past, tells me that he is brave and will be honest with me even if it risks everything.

4. There’s no such thing as a perfect partner.

Porn kills love. That is not a statement that should make anyone feel shame, because shame also kills love—mainly self-love. Shame is destructive and tears down any progress a person can make towards recovery.

RelatedWhy Being Anti-Porn & Anti-Shame Go Hand In Hand

I have found that when someone you love is struggling with porn and keeps making the same mistakes over and over again, it can be so easy to slip into a mindset where you feel like they are the villain and you are the hero, trying to help them change. But in reality, I was just as flawed. I made just as many mistakes. This man that I am considering beginning a relationship with is taking as much of a chance on me as I would be taking a chance on him.

It’s your choice

In every relationship, you weigh the pros and cons and decide whether or not to take a chance on someone. I don’t pretend to have the answer to every budding relationship. Actually, I’ve found that every relationship is different and unique. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what you can and can’t handle. But my only advice is to look at the person as a whole, complex, flawed human being rather than just someone who struggles with porn.

J.

Why This Matters

This Fighter’s story shows how taking a whole person into consideration, whether they have a past struggle or not, can be key to finding out if they’re a compatible dating match or not. On the surface, a porn struggle may seem uniform, but the truth is, everyone’s experience is as different as their unique personality and their unique story.

Of course, 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. In the end, it is up to every individual to decide what is best for them, and we completely respect that. 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 perspective that might not be often heard.

We’re here to fight for love, and give it a real chance. After all, real people aren’t perfect, but they are all different. And unlike the repeated “storylines” of abuse that are shown all too often in mainstream porn, no two people and no two love stories are alike. Porn is monotonous, people aren’t. Choose people, and if you’re willing and ready, give love a chance to outlast and outlive porn.

We believe in love, not shame. Fight for it with us, whatever that may look like to your individual journey.

Get Involved

People are not defined or confined by their porn struggle alone. SHARE this article and speak out that shame is part of the porn problem.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at 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 compulsive behavior, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

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