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What Happened When My Partner Discovered I’d Secretly Been Watching Porn

“She was heartbroken to find that I had been doing something that betrayed her trust in me and made her feel inadequate. I was disgusted by what I had done and swore to never do it again.”

By September 3, 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 true story shows how painful it can be to have porn in a relationship. For the consumer, the pain of keeping porn a secret can be isolating, and for the partner, finding out about their secret habit can be devastating. Porn can tear apart relationships, but this story shows how mutual love and understanding can help to mend them if both partners are willing.

Pornography has long been a part of a vast majority of men’s lives, including mine.

I was first exposed to pornography at the fragile age of 9 by a father who was all but present in my life the way I needed him to be. I began to view porn more frequently after that point and grew more curious. By the age of 14 or 15, I was watching porn upwards of three times a week, and it had become a sort of routine. This frequency continued until I was 24 and met my wife.

Related: What’s The Average Age Of Someone’s First Exposure To Porn?

At that point, I realized I didn’t need that routine anymore, I had someone real in front of me who wanted me and loved me and I didn’t need someone on a screen to make me feel something.

About three months into our relationship, my wife left on vacation and I made a huge mistake, I watched porn and hid it from her. When she got back from vacation she was innocently using the computer and stumbled upon the sites I had visited.

She was crushed and heartbroken to find that I had been doing something that betrayed her trust in me and made her feel inadequate. I was heartbroken and disgusted by what I had done and swore to never do it again.

Related: My Wife And I Loved To Watch Porn Together—Until It Ruined Our Intimacy

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Fast forward two years into our relationship, and the same thing happened again, she had left on vacation and I had watched pornography again while she was away.

This time when she came home, there was no innocence in her looking through my history, it was to see if I had done it again. She found that I had, and that I had lied to her about it.

Now, not only had I done something that I swore I would never do again and betrayed her trust, but I had blatantly lied to her about it. She could not even think about being intimate with me because any time she did she was reminded of what I had done.

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

Thankfully, with the help of counseling and complete honesty in our relationship, now I have stopped watching porn and am ready to make that promise—one that I can uphold for the rest of our lives.

We have three small children together, and I will be the one to break the cycle. I will not shelter my children from the existence of porn, but instead educate them on the harm it can cause to a relationship, and to themselves.

I didn’t have that growing up and maybe it would have made a difference, but ultimately the decision was mine and I was weak. I am stronger now and truly realize the damage that porn has already done in mine and my family’s lives and that it is not something that I want or need in my life.

We all have to educate ourselves on the harmful effects of pornography and continue to speak up. Some people may say that my wife is weak because she didn’t leave me after I made the same mistake more than once, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It takes an amazingly strong person to love someone through their mistakes and be there when they need you, even when they have hurt you so badly.

My wife is a Fighter, and so am I.

P.

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Why This Matters

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

For couples, the moment of disclosure about a pornography habit can be incredibly challenging, and the following days, months, and sometimes years can feel overwhelming. But for couples who are in this fight side-by-side, the pain doesn’t have to overwhelm the hope.

This Fighter’s story is unique to him and their relationship, but their experience is an example of why shame and shaming have no place where there’s hope for healing—for both partners.

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

To learn more about why porn is hurtful in relationships, watch episode two, “The Heart,” of our three-part documentary series, Brain, Heart, World. You’ll hear Travis and Emily’s story (watch part of it below), dive into the science and personal stories that explain why porn drives a serious wedge in between partners in a relationship, and learn what you can do to fight for your love and heal from the hurt.

More research on porn’s harms

So what do experts have to say?

Allow us to introduce you to Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Co-founders of The Gottman Institute.

The Gottmans have conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. Dr. John Gottman was one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century by the Psychotherapy Networker. He is the author or co-author of over 200 published academic articles and more than 40 books. Dr. Julie Gottman is a highly respected clinical psychologist, she is sought internationally by media and organizations as an expert advisor on marriage, sexual harassment and rape, and domestic violence.

Related: How It Feels To Finally Be In A Relationship With Someone Who Doesn’t Watch Porn

Together, they are considered some of the most influential and brilliant world-renowned experts on relationships, and their resources are all about how to build and maintain successful marriages and partnerships.

So, you can see they’re both experts. But how do they feel about the effects of porn in relationships?

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In 2016, they released an open letter on pornography and relationships. In a nutshell, they have concluded that, “Pornography poses a serious threat to couple intimacy and relationship harmony.”

From the letter: “Research on the effects of pornography use, especially one person frequently viewing pornographic images online, shows that pornography can hurt a couple’s relationship. The effect may be true, in part, because pornography can be a “supernormal stimulus’…  In fact, use of pornography by one partner leads the couple to have far less sex and ultimately reduces relationship satisfaction.”

Related: Renowned Relationship Therapists Drs. Julie & John Gottman Release “Open Letter On Porn”

The long-term studies paint a very different picture than what you might be hearing from pro-porn advocates. The preponderance of evidence from a dozen or more in-depth, longer-term studies consistently show porn consumption lowering relationship satisfaction, emotional closeness, and sexual satisfaction.Wilson, G. (2013). Studies Linking Porn Use Or Porn/Sex Addiction To Sexual Dysfunctions, Lower Arousal, And Lower Sexual & Relationship Satisfaction; Retrieved From https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/studies-reported-relationships-between-porn-use-or-porn-addictionsex-addiction-and-sexualCOPY 

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

Above all, remember there is hope for the future. Healing for both those who struggle with porn and their partners is more than possible. Remember that both partners are more valuable than the lies and fake fantasies pornography portrays. Healthy relationships and real love are worth fighting for.

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.

Fortify

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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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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