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How My Boyfriend’s Porn Obsession Made My Eating Disorder Worse

By February 25, 2021No Comments

Disclaimer: While this article talks about heterosexual relationships, the same principles can be applied to relationships involving any gender.

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 this true story from a girl who felt firsthand how much a porn-addicted partner can hurt a relationshipespecially when their significant other has struggles of their own. Some stories, like this one, show how sometimes the best decision for the partner of a porn addict is for them to get out of the relationship and seek recovery for themselves.


Dear FTND,

I fully support your saying “Porn Kills Love” with an undying passion. Literally.

This past month I made the hardest decision I have ever made this far into my life. And that was to break up with my boyfriend who is obsessed with porn. Because of his selfish actions, his struggles were feeding mine. Or more like starving them.

My own personal battle, my toxic boyfriend

I am 17 years old and I have struggled with anorexia since the second grade.

When I first started high school, that was when life finally started coming together. My eating habits started to become healthy! I was proud of myself and my improvements and was finally starting to view myself as beautiful. Sophomore year rolled around, and I started dating this guy. He made me happier than anything in the world, but little did I know he would also be the trigger of my disorder again.

Related: Male Porn Habits Could Fuel Female Partners’ Eating Disorders, New Study Says

It was three months into the relationship that he confessed to me of his porn habit. Because it was impossible not to take off my rose-colored glasses, I decided to stay with him. As our relationship furthered, I began to feel awful about myself. I began to wonder why he still consumed pornography if I was in his life? Was I not good enough? Would I ever be good enough? Is he pretending to like what he sees in me? Am I skinny enough?

This was where my suffering began. Somehow I got the sick, twisted idea in my head that as long as my boyfriend was hooked to porn, I would have to get skinnier; more beautiful. Even more messed up? He knew about my disorder, and he knew he was the biggest trigger to my unhealthy habits. He knew this, and yet he had no intention of changing. If I would have stayed in that relationship, I would’ve slowly slipped away. Pound by pound.

He would often ask things like, “What’s wrong?” and “Why are you never happy?” Or make comments that were sensitive to the matter such as, “I think you ate more of those fries than I did,” or, “Don’t sit down so fast you might break the couch.”

For a year I woke up every morning, believing I was worthless, and would never be enough. I hated myself more and more every day, largely because of my toxic boyfriend.

Store - General

Realizing what I’m worth

My parents sat me down one day. They expressed their concern for me, and asked me, “Can you honestly say in the year that you have dated Trent*, that you have improved physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally?” I had no words. Because I didn’t want to believe it.

I had been denying it for months. I knew he wasn’t good for me, I knew his addiction was slowly helping to worsen my disorder, likely killing me. After a rush of thoughts, overwhelming emotion, and utter disappointment, I was able to stutter out the word, “No.”

Related: Study Shows Men’s Porn Habits Increase Their Partner’s Objectification & Body Shame

At that moment, something beautiful happened to me. I recognized my worth. I finally decided that I didn’t deserve to feel this way anymore. I thought about my future kids, and the type of home they may be raised in. I thought about my parents, and the heartbrokenness in their eyes. I thought about my future husband, who may have never found me. My siblings, who ached while they watched me slip away. I thought about my friends, whom I had been so distant with, when all they ever wanted was for me to be happy and healthy again.

And most importantly, I thought about myself. The healthy life I could live.

Cutting ties and living life

I broke up with him that same day. I told him it wasn’t normal to feel this way in a relationship. It wasn’t acceptable to feel like an object or his sex toy. It wasn’t okay to feel the need to compete with some strangers on a computer screen. And it wasn’t okay to feel like I was being cheated on daily.

Related: “No Harm In Looking, Right?” A Study Of Porn’s Impact On Self-Esteem

Porn. Kills. Love. It affects those around you. It destroys all things beautiful. I am proudly now on my recovery road from anorexia. And I wouldn’t have had to feel this way so deeply if it weren’t for pornography. It destroyed a relationship I valued more than anything, and it could’ve been beautiful.

One word of advice; don’t enter a relationship expecting or demanding change. Especially if it is pornography. It can slowly destroy you, like it did to me.

Porn kills love.

– L. 

Fortify

Why this matters

Sometimes, a struggle with porn can bring a couple closer together when they decide to mutually fight for their love, together. And sometimes, the relationship won’t outlast the porn struggle, or porn enhances already-existing issues in a relationship, like in this story.

Either way, couples need to decide what’s best for themselves—to move on together, or apart. There’s no “right” way to do it, if each partner is making the healthiest possible choice for each other and themself.

That being said, research shows how porn doesn’t make relationships any healthier or easier in the long run.

Porn may seem like a personal habit, but the reality is, porn can deeply affect someone’s partner. This is especially true when considering the body image and self-esteem of a porn consumer’s partner. And while people who consume porn are not “bad” people, porn can introduce and worsen negative issues in a relationship, causing harm to both partners.

Here’s an example of what we mean.

In 2019, researchers set out to find out, in cisgender heterosexual relationships, whether a male partner’s porn habit would influence his female partner’s body image. They surveyed over 400 women, and included in the questions researchers asked were evaluations of whether the women “felt pressure from their partner to lose weight” and “noticed a strong message from their partner to have a thin body.” Participants also estimated how many hours per week they perceived that their current partner views pornography and estimated how often previous partners have viewed pornography. Participants also indicated whether they would be bothered by their partner’s pornography use.

Related: Is My Partner’s Porn Habit Harming Our Relationship, Or Am I Just Insecure?

Here’s what researchers found:

“Perceived current partner pornography use was also uniquely associated with women’s overall dieting and specific symptoms of body fat preoccupation, extreme eating‐related guilt, and vomiting after eating. Perceived previous partner pornography use was uniquely connected to all eating disorder symptoms investigated. Perhaps negative associations between perceived partner pornography use and certain eating disorder symptoms (e.g., binge eating) are formed early in women’s relationship histories, rendering perceived pornography use in current relationships not as significant.”

In other words, a guy’s porn habit was found to directly influence his partner’s insecurity, body-image perception, and chances for developing an eating disorder. In some relationships, eating disorders preexisted the relationship, but porn would still possibly influence an unhealthy body image for some women.

And another study done in 2014 also echoes these findings. In that study’s conclusion, researchers wrote, “A direct link from previous partners’ pornography use to eating disorder symptomatology was evidenced in our model,” which means that researchers found a link between someone’s porn usage and an eating disorder mentality in their partner.

As porn becomes more normalized, we want to be a source of information pointing out that porn is not harmless. This isn’t a moral argument. This comes down to you and your personal relationships, and the opportunity to make an informed decision about what will make them indefinitely thrive.

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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