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.

Recently, we received a disheartening story, sent to us by a thirty-something woman. Her story is one of rejection and loneliness in her marriage, and it embodies the all-too-familiar feeling of being in second place to porn.

We wish we could tell you that this a rare story from the inbox messages we receive. Unfortunately, it’s not.

FTND,

Well, I am pushing 40, and I know that I don’t look the way I used to. Age and babies and gravity will do that to a woman. And maybe I could convince myself that’s the reason my husband doesn’t seem to want to touch me, the reason he hasn’t made more than half-hearted attempts at what could only be described as “pity sex” with me lately. Except “lately” encompasses just about all of the 16 years we’ve been together and the 13 years we’ve been married.

“Lately” includes our honeymoon when I felt nothing short of lonely and confused. When I lay there on the fifth night since we had arrived in paradise, staring at the ceiling of our four-star resort in Turks and Caicos, wondering why he hadn’t so much as put his arm around me.

Except… I knew why. I had allowed myself to foolishly believe that things would be different when we were married—despite all of the warnings and jokes from already betrothed friends that your sex life disappears the moment you say “I do.” I still held out hope, hope that he would change, that I would be enough for him, that this union we were embarking on together would make him want to, that he would be able to change.

Related: Trauma & Betrayal: The Science Behind Why A Partner’s Porn Habit Is Hurtful

For years already, I had felt lonely in our relationship—though he certainly never was. There were other women, thousands of them. All perfectly made-up, with their tight [bodies] and perky breasts, doing everything any man could ever fantasize about any time he felt the urge. And he felt the urge often. Daily. He would sit himself down in the spare bedroom of our Chicago apartment for hours on a Saturday, leaving me on the outside, both literally and figuratively, as he got lost down the rabbit hole of online porn.

It was as if he saw right through me

He fantasized, was mesmerized, and was ultimately completely desensitized…to me. Here I was—his girlfriend, then fiancée, then wife—a woman who did still have the tight [body] and perky breasts of her 20s in all her pre-nursing, pre-gravity splendor. And it was as if he saw right through me.

Just like in the musical Chicago, there I was, in Chicago, seemingly the female version of the song “Mr. Cellophane.” ‘Cause he would look right through me, walk right by me, and never knew I was there…

He never tried to touch me anymore. Not a kiss, or a snuggle on the couch, or a hand grasp while walking around Lake Michigan. And we had that once. Those days at the beginning when he couldn’t get enough of me, but they evaporated when I wasn’t paying attention. And I told myself it was just the normal ebb and flow of a long-term relationship, until there was only the ebbing. I had watched the boomerang of lust and affection and desire hurtle out into the world, and it never came back.

The little things start to fall away

We fought about it, and I cried to him, and I begged him to stop. I told him how lonely it made me feel, how inadequate, how unattractive, how empty. He denied that his now daily porn habit was a problem or that it had anything to do with our anemic sex life or his complete lack of affection toward me.

And he is otherwise a good man, a wonderful father, a hard worker, my best friend. It always seemed crazy to even consider divorcing someone over what should be such a small aspect of a marriage—the very thing we have all always been told not to bank on lasting all that long anyway.

Related: 3 Ways Porn Damaged Our Relationship and Killed Our Sex Life 

Over the years, I have tried setting reasonable goals. I have made tiny requests of him: kiss me good-bye before you leave for the day, put your arm around me when we are out to dinner or at a wedding or work event, hold my hand sometimes when we are out with the kids so they see what affection between their parents looks like, so that maybe one day they can experience healthy relationships themselves.

“I want you to want to”

He has said that he will try, but he can never seem to do it. In reality, it is more than him doing the act, more than him holding my hand or kissing me, it’s the fact that he needs to try at all, that he needs to be reminded to do these things.

In the movie, “The Break-Up,” Jennifer Anniston’s character tells Vince Vaughn’s character that it is not enough that he helps her do the dishes. She tells him, “I want you to want to do the dishes.” It sounds ridiculous in the course of their argument in the film, as it was intended to, but I get it. I really do. I don’t want to have to remind my husband to want me, to feel affection for me, to see me.

I thought that was a given. I thought that’s what I was getting. I didn’t sign up for a lifetime of loneliness while sitting inches away from someone else. I don’t want just another friend, or partner, or someone to co-parent with me. I want the whole package—the intimacy, the affection, the love.

Related: How To Approach The Subject Of Porn With Your Partner

I hear my friends who complain that they are either too tired to have sex with their husbands, or that they just “give in” when they feel like it’s been awhile. I have friends whose husbands can’t keep their hands off of them; I see the way they are gazed at adoringly—a hand casually slung over the chair they are sitting in, an arm wrapped around a waist, a quick peck on an exposed shoulder. If they aren’t having sex, it’s because they don’t feel like it, they are exhausted, the kids are always underfoot, but they make time at some point.

Too tired for sex but not for porn

I’m not having sex because my husband uses those same excuses, and yet finds one to two hours per day, at least four times a week, to have sex with himself, while staring at a screen filled with seemingly perfect women I can’t begin to compete with. When he looks at them, he sees what he wants, what turns him on, what gets him off. When he sees me, he sees cellophane and feels about as passionate as one can possibly expect to be about Saran Wrap.

For me? I see a future filled with the same loneliness and rejection I’ve felt for the better part of the last 16 years. At this point, I no longer believe that I am anything worth looking at anyway.

P.

Porn drives a wedge in relationships

Unfortunately, this woman’s story is as common as it is heartbreaking. This is why we fight for real relationships, and real love.

We get thousands of emails and messages from spouses all across the world who describe this exact same experience. Porn kills love is not just some catchy slogan for our movement, it is a reality. Research shows that those who view pornography have a much higher tendency to objectify those around them and to be more critical of their partner’s body, looks, and sexual performance. Porn is at best heartbreaking and at worst downright destructive to relationships.

Related: How Quitting Porn Brought Love Back Into My Relationship

No one deserves to feel like they aren’t worth loving. Whether you and your partner decide to fight for the relationship, or go your separate ways, there are resources to help both you and your partner.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with an obsession or addiction to pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at Fortify, a recovery-focused platform that will allow you take a step toward freedom. Anyone 17 years and younger can apply for a free scholarship to the site, and it's an inexpensive fee for anyone 18 and older. There is hope—sign up today to get the help you need and join with an encouraging community.

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, we’ve got a non-exhaustive list of several resources for those experiencing betrayal trauma. Because this isn’t a complete resource list, feel free to look for more betrayal trauma resources that are catered to your specific needs and/or location. Note that while both men and women can experience betrayal trauma, some of the resources are gender-specific. Please also note that while some of the resources below are religiously affiliated, Fight the New Drug is not.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Recover

Bloom

Addo Recovery

Get Involved

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