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How My Boyfriend’s Porn Habit Personally Impacts Me

“Despite my hurt, I know he’s not watching porn because he believes I’m not enough. He watches because porn can be addicting. He knows it is hurtful, and I don’t even think he wants to, honestly.”

By October 26, 2021No Comments

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.

This post was originally sent in by a Fighter and republished with permission from the author.

My boyfriend consumes other women on a screen.

Yes, I know about them. I don’t know who they are exactly, or how many there are, but I know they’re beautiful, sexy, and more physically alluring than I’ll ever be.

To be honest, I knew about them before we started dating, and I knew he still looked at them after we started going out, even if less frequently.

Related: How Porn Can Hurt a Consumer’s Partner

I know, not because he’s told me all about them, but because I can feel that I am reluctantly sharing my boyfriend, the love of my life. I know because they’re so accessible that even I’ve seen them by accident.

I’m not talking about other girls that he actually visits in person to cheat on me with, I’m talking about my boyfriend’s porn habit.

BHW - The Heart

Feeling like I’m less-than

He may say it’s not often or that he’s not proud of it, but the fact remains that those women on the screen are in his life, on his mind, and figuratively in our bed when we are together. It is with these “other women” that I’m forced to compete with.

But I refuse to compete. I refuse to bend over backwards, hold back all the feelings, serve unendingly, and plead for all of his love. And the funny thing is, I know he would never ask me to! He’s a good man. I know he loves me. But sometimes that makes it even worse because it leaves me here wondering: How is it that I am falling so drastically short?

I know I’m not perfect, but how am I that unsatisfying? We have a life together. He tells me I make him happy, he tells me I’m the best thing to happen to him. He tells me that he loves me and I know it’s true. But I can’t help but feel that I’m not enough.

Is it the physical beauty of those women on the screen?

Is it the perfect skin, long legs, flowing hair, or flat stomach?

When I think of the comparison, I pull away just a bit when he holds me. Does he see the blemishes of my skin in this light?

Can he see the crease in my stomach when I lie this way?

Is he looking at my hips and wishing they were more like hers? Or hers? Or hers?

He tells me I’m beautiful and that he accepts me just the way I am. But in the back of my mind I think, no one can deny that the women on his screen are prettier.

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Taking the “real” out of “relationship”

Maybe it’s not about how they look as much as what they do. And if that’s the case, I must be very dull indeed.

We enjoy sex often, and I look forward to it as much as he seems to. But how captivating must these other women be to supplement the caress of his committed lover? How good are they at what they do, that mere pixels would overtake everything else I do for our relationship?

The loyalty, the one who doesn’t hesitate to cook him a warm meal and clean the kitchen just because. The one who helps him grocery shop, has been with him in the victories to celebrate, and in the lows to comfort.

Related: Want To Quit Watching Porn But Can’t Seem To Stop? This Can Help

We know each other so well, I can predict which jokes he will find the funniest, what he will order at a restaurant, and sometimes what he will say next. We share so much together, I find it hard to believe that he finds me so incomplete.

Or maybe the attraction is more what they don’t do. After all, their skill set is pretty specific.

They don’t ask him to take out the trash.

They don’t ask to change the channel, or need an opinion while shopping for a new dress.

They don’t pose any contradiction whatsoever, and are not inconvenient in the least.

In fact, they hold no demand whatsoever. Maybe, just maybe, me being an independent human is annoying sometimes. Yet he’s never seemed to mind.

The thing is, I know that I am enough. I know that I am complete and don’t need to change who I am. I know that I’m a solid person, a good girlfriend, and don’t need to conform to anyone’s idea of what’s beautiful or attractive.

I know these things…and yet I still wonder.

How can I tell him how I feel?

I still don’t know how to talk to him about it.

Because as much as it hurts me to know about the other women, I don’t want to shame him. Because shame leads to isolation, and isolation leads to secrecy. Secrecy will lead to more shame. And more shame leads to more escape. Hence, the cycle perpetuates, and we drift apart.

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But as much as I want him to stop, I don’t want him to stop for my sake. I want him to stop for himself. I want him to stop for the sake of these other women.

You heard me correctly, I want him to leave them because they’re being hurt. Not necessarily by him directly, but because many of these glamorous porn stars have likely been abused and coerced.

No, not all of them, but like anyone, he won’t be able to tell who is consenting and who isn’t. Drugs and alcohol likely mask their pain. Depression and anxiety are undoubtedly their constant companions.

Related: How Avoiding Shame Can Help With Healing From Betrayal Trauma

No, I don’t hate these other women, I pity them. They are bound to a lifestyle that can’t be fulfilling. Many are trafficked—literally sold for sex against their will—and others enter the industry not knowing what they’re getting themselves into.

And last, I pity my boyfriend. Because at the end of the day, despite my hurt, I know he’s not searching them out because he believes I’m not enough. He seeks them because porn can be so addicting. He knows it is hurtful, and I don’t even think he wants to, honestly. The first time he told me that he sometimes watches porn, I couldn’t help but cry a little, even though I suspected. I could tell it tore him apart.

What do I do now?

So where does that leave me? Because I’m stuck in the middle while porn never formed a real relationship with my man but has still formed a very real bond with him.

I’m here, watching my addicted boyfriend and his sad lovers go round and round in this seemingly endless cycle. What can I do?

Related: I Think My Partner Is Looking At Porn After Promising Not To—What Do I Do?

I hope to spread the word that porn can be an addiction; that it is harmful to individuals and to society, and that there is a way out.

Not everyone watches porn, and there are communities that support people trying to stop.

I hope to spread the word to the people in the porn industry that there is a way out, and that they can be loved—truly loved—for who they are versus what they look like, do, and don’t do.

– M.

Fortify

Porn can harm consumers and partners

Whether a couple decides to stay together or not through a struggle with porn, the facts remain the same: porn harms not only the consumer, but the partner and the overall relationship, too.

The good news is, if you want to stay and fight, there are plenty of ways to support your partner as they battle a porn struggle—and we want to emphasize that does not include shaming them or judging them, though that doesn’t excuse the ways they’ve hurt you.

Related: How To Tell If Your Partner Is Struggling With Porn And What To Do If They Are

If you’re in a partnership with someone who struggles with porn or openly consumes it while you’ve asked them not to, their recovery journey is their own. This is not something you can do for them. They have to face it for themself.

Studies consistently show that porn consumers tend to struggle in their relationships. From poorer relationship quality to an increased likelihood of cheating, research suggests that porn plays a major role in fueling unhealthy relationship dynamics.

For example, dozens of studies have repeatedly shown that porn consumers tend to have lower relationship satisfaction and lower relationship quality.Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., Kraus, A., & Klann, E. (2017). Pornography consumption and satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research, 43(3), 315-343. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/hcre.12108COPY Perry S. L. (2020). Pornography and Relationship Quality: Establishing the Dominant Pattern by Examining Pornography Use and 31 Measures of Relationship Quality in 30 National Surveys. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(4), 1199–1213. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01616-7COPY Perry, S. (2017). Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence From Longitudinal Data. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 549-559. Doi: 10.1007/S10508-016-0770-YCOPY  According to research, porn consumers tend to experience more negative communication with their partners, feel less dedicated to their relationships, have a more difficult time making adjustments in their relationships, are less sexually satisfied, and commit more infidelity.Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing sexually-explicit materials alone or together: associations with relationship quality. Archives of sexual behavior, 40(2), 441–448. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-009-9585-4COPY  Research also shows that porn consumers tend to become less committed to their partners,Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078COPY Lambert, N. M., Negash, S., Stillman, T. F., Olmstead, S. B., & Fincham, F. D. (2012). A love that doesn't last: Pornography consumption and weakened commitment to one's romantic partner. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 31(4), 410-438. doi:10.1521/jscp.2012.31.4.410COPY  less satisfied in their relationships,Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., Kraus, A., & Klann, E. (2017). Pornography consumption and satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research, 43(3), 315-343. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/hcre.12108COPY  and more accepting of cheating.Rasmussen, K. (2016). A Historical and Empirical Review of Pornography and Romantic Relationships: Implications for Family Researchers. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 8(2), 173-191. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12141COPY 

Related: My Girlfriend Watches Porn Behind My Back. What Do I Do?

Meanwhile, partners of porn consumers also report negative effects, such as lower self-esteem, worse relationship quality, and less sexual satisfaction.Stewart, D. N., & Szymanski, D. M. (2012). Young adult women’s reports of their male romantic partner’s pornography use as a correlate of their self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 67(5-6), 257-271. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0164-0COPY  Research also suggests that porn consumption can undermine trust in a relationship and fuel couple conflict.Carroll, J. S., Busby, D. M., Willoughby, B. J., & Brown, C. C. (2017). The porn gap: Differences in men's and women's pornography patterns in couple relationships.16(2), 146-163. doi:10.1080/15332691.2016.1238796COPY 

Obviously, relationship problems like these are not new and are not solely caused by porn. Yet, research shows that porn can play a substantial role in fueling these issues—and that’s not something that should be ignored.Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4COPY Perry S. L. (2020). Pornography and Relationship Quality: Establishing the Dominant Pattern by Examining Pornography Use and 31 Measures of Relationship Quality in 30 National Surveys. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(4), 1199–1213. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01616-7COPY Rasmussen, K. (2016). A historical and empirical review of pornography and romantic relationships: Implications for family researchers. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 8(2), 173-191. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12141COPY 

Watch: How Porn Impacted Our Marriage || Andrew & Eva’s Story

It’s important to remember that the best way for someone to recover from porn is to choose to get help for themself, and we’ve got just the thing that can help. For partners, too.

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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Addo Recovery

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.

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