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How I Talked to My Partner About His Secret Porn Habit After 9 Years

“Last month, I finally had the calm and confidence in my heart to talk to him.”

By November 17, 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.

We received a story that shows what a real struggle pornography can turn into. The following story shows how porn can isolate partners and drive a wedge in their otherwise intimate relationship.

FTND note: The aim of this post is to challenge the shaming narrative that happens often in this fight against porn, and offer an alternative narrative via exploring actual, real-life experiences. It is not our intention to imply that anyone is obligated to date/marry someone with a porn struggle, if they do not want to. This person has a story that looks different from many other former partners of porn consumers, and that’s okay. Consider what is being said, and understand that in the end, it is up to every individual to decide what is best for them—even if that means ending the relationship, or staying with a significant other who is working through a porn issue.

Hey FTND,

I want to thank you for your movement.

Nine years ago, I found out that the man I love was watching porn/looking at pictures of women online. I never told him I knew, but I felt like I died inside. We had only been married for 6 months, at that point.

I had saved myself for him, and I felt so betrayed. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, beautiful enough. I felt ashamed I didn’t have more experience—which was something I had always been proud of in the past—and that if I was better in bed, etc., he would have only eyes for me.

Related: Asking My Wife To Watch Porn With Me Actually Ruined Our Marriage

This spiraled out of control. I began obsessing over how I looked. I started looking online and researching how to give better experiences in bed. My husband never knew, but I cried after every time we were physical together because I so desperately wanted to feel LOVE while having sex, not desperation and the pressure I gave myself to perform well and act like his dream “porn star.”

Fortify

Three years ago, I just gave up. I fell into a deep depression, keeping the secret that I knew what he was doing in private. I gained a lot of weight, stopped taking care of myself—why try? I would NEVER be good enough—and cried every time he was away on business or left home alone.

Last year, I started reading some of the articles on your blog. I so desperately wanted my husband to be healed, and I didn’t want secrets to be in our relationship anymore.

I was tired of fighting, but never saying the root of all the problems. I was tired of him saying, “I already said you were beautiful, why don’t you just believe me.” I was tired of knowing the man he really was, and still seeing these images in my mind after I saw them on the screen. I was tired of everything, just so done.

RelatedTrue Story: I Became His Porn Star To Try And Save Our Relationship

Finally, after reading your articles, following your Facebook page, and educating myself, I took a big leap.

Six months ago, I started caring about myself again. I still struggle every day with my self-esteem, and I still struggle thinking if I will ever be enough, but I know in my head that his problem is not about me. I know in my head that this is HIS problem, not mine. I am working on transferring that to my heart.

Conversation Blueprint

Last month, I finally had the calm and confidence in my heart to talk to him. I told him that I knew about the “computer activities” he was doing—that I had always known. I told him I still loved him, but this was a problem that we needed to fight. I told him I would fight with and for him, but he had to fight for himself. He was much more receptive and honest than I imagined!

I can tell we have much more to talk about, but I am so encouraged. He asked me to put porn blockers on the electronics, as he had tried before, but knowing the passwords, he would always bypass them whenever he wanted.

Related: 5 Tips For When It’s Time To Talk About Porn With A Partner

Now, I feel like we are on a path to healing. I am anticipating some setbacks, but finally, nine years later, I feel hope.

THANK YOU for educating us. THANK YOU for helping me see and take the next step toward healing!

K.

BHW - General

More common than you’d think

K’s story is just one of many personal accounts we get from significant others across the world who are hurt by their partner’s porn consumption. Science and research show that pornography harms the individual by harming sexual expectations and damaging relationships.

The makeup, surgery, Photoshop, acting, and editing that go into porn give us an unrealistic view of the human body and sexuality. In fact, research suggests that consuming porn can result in poorer body image—both for the consumers and for their partners.Tylka, T. L. (2015). No harm in looking, right? Men’s pornography consumption, body image, and well-being. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16(1), 97–107. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035774COPY  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 

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.

Related: Studies Of Over 11,000 Relationships Show 5 Things The Happiest Couples Have In Common

As world-renowned relationship experts Drs. John and Julie Gottman wrote about porn, “Intimacy for couples is a source of connection and communication between two people. But when one person becomes accustomed to masturbating to porn, they are actually turning away from intimate interaction. [Additionally], when watching pornography the user is in total control of the sexual experience, in contrast to normal sex in which people are sharing control with the partner… In summary, we are led to unconditionally conclude that for many reasons, pornography poses a serious threat to couple intimacy and relationship harmony.”Gottman, J., & Gottman, J. (April 5, 2016). An open letter on porn. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/an-open-letter-on-porn/COPY 

One study showed that those who never viewed pornography reported higher relationship quality—on every measure—than those who viewed pornography alone.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  Staying away from porn is a great way to invest in your relationships.

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

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.

The research is clear—porn is not a harmless pastime, especially when it’s hurting a romantic partner. But the research is also clear 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.

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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