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.

The following story shows how porn can influence attraction even within committed relationships, leaving hurt, betrayal and frustration in its wake.

FTND team,

I want to share my experience with porn for two reasons: first, to show that it has long-term effects on the partners of those addicted or struggling and second, to show hope.

My husband and I have been married three years and we have an 18-month-old son. We have a steady income and a good home. Everything appears normal from the outside looking in. However, we’re going through what I would deem as the hardest trial of our relationship, and it is a direct result of pornography use.

My husband, (we’ll call him Dave) grew up in an environment where no one checked his internet use or talked to him about pornography. It was a fairly angry home and the kids were left to take care of themselves for the majority of the day. Dave discovered porn through a friend when he was 10 and his friend had found it through his dad’s magazines. It sparked Dave’s curiosity—which is normal—but no one was there to warn him about the difference between healthy sexuality and the lies of pornography.

He got drawn into porn for the next 7 years, obviously graduating into more hardcore porn as time wore on. He had sexual relationships with girls in high school, but in his words, wasn’t really that interested in the girls themselves. He and his friends also mistreated girls during school, in sexually disrespectful ways. He had a lot of anger during that time, which I attribute a good portion of to the fact he was hooked to porn.

Living two separate lives

Fast forward several years to when I first met my husband. He was academically successful, financially smart, and very charismatic and motivated. I never would have guessed that he had been struggling with pornography. We eventually got married and things seemed so good for the first six months of our marriage. But it wasn’t long until I started sensing a difference in him. He was still very good to me, but he didn’t seem as “into” me.

We worked hard on our relationship and adjusting to living together and I went back to feeling mostly normal. The only thing that seemed weird to me was that he didn’t want to have sex with me at least 70% of the time it was brought up. I felt so rejected every time, but told myself maybe I was just too sexual or forceful about it.

Related: The Day I Stopped Buying My Boyfriend’s Endless Excuses About Porn And Confronted Him

Time went on, and we had lots of fun together. We found out we were pregnant after our first anniversary and I was so excited! Maybe this would change how he saw me—I would be the strong, beautiful woman who gave him a child. About two months after our son was born, I had a feeling I needed to look through my husband’s phone. Before we were married we had agreed to give each other all our passwords, so that there could be no secrecy about the things we viewed or did online. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting to see. But I definitely wasn’t prepared for what I found.

The article he had last read on his browser was, “I’m not attracted to my wife anymore.”

I felt sick. When he came home, I confronted him about it. He blew it off saying that he just sort of felt like that at first when our son was born, but now he felt normal again. I let it go, and tried to forget it, but there would be times that he seemed dead behind the eyes. Like he was just going through the motions in our marriage.

Will I ever win over porn?

I had been so confident in myself when we started dating four years earlier. I knew myself, I knew what I wanted in life, and I felt beautiful, intelligent, and talented. That has left over the past three years.

With each rejection and period of disconnect between us, with each article I find stating that my husband just didn’t think I am beautiful or sexy anymore, I feel I am not good enough. I started becoming obsessed with making myself as physically “perfect” as I possibly could. I spent hours trying to make my skin look glowing and airbrushed and started eating under 1,000 calories a day in an attempt to lose my ‘mom pooch’ from having our son.

I seriously considered trying to pay for a breast augmentation because all of the hot women have much larger breasts than I do. I tanned, did facials, kept my nails, eyebrows, body hair, and makeup perfect. But I never felt like it made any real difference. In fact, most of the time Dave didn’t even notice.

Finally getting help

This year, we have finally started going to a counselor to try and help him. This year he finally told me that he hasn’t felt attracted to me since about 6 months into our marriage, and that he still loves me, he just didn’t find me attractive. As we’ve been to counseling sessions, I’ve been able to understand more that this has absolutely nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the unrealistic expectations that pornography created for Dave so long ago.

Today, my husband hasn’t actively viewed porn for nine years, and yet it’s still a third party in our marriage. Porn has serious long-term effects and they can affect everyone who comes in contact with the addict. My husband developed a certain level of OCD where he feels like he has to be perfect in a spiritual way to make up for the time spent viewing porn. He doesn’t enjoy any down time because his mind still wanders to inappropriate thoughts out of habit so he stays constantly busy. He has missed milestones with our son because of that. Our marriage has been strained because of that. Pornography’s effects are serious.

Related: Why Being Anti-Porn and Anti-Shame Go Hand In Hand

That being said, there is hope. Dave is learning to heal from his addiction. He’s learning to fight against the urges and train his mind to not seek out the anesthesia of porn. He is becoming the husband and father that he wants to be, and our relationship is growing because we’re working together to get past his struggle. Pornography took a lot of time away from us, but that doesn’t have to be the end of our story. There is always help and there is always hope.

– S.

Why This Matters

This story is just one of thousands of personal accounts we get from significant others all across the world, hurt and depressed by their partner’s porn habit.  Science is proving that pornography harms the individual by harming the braindamaging relationships, and deeply affects attitudes about sex.

In fact, studies show that when people learn of their partner’s porn habit, they often internalize their shame and confusion, asking themselves why they aren’t “enough.” They may feel undesirable, unattractive, and worthless. [1] Many partners of porn consumers even start showing physical symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. [2] And, because of the shame they feel and their worry about being blamed for their partner’s problem, the majority of people who learn of a partner’s porn consumers isolate themselves at least somewhat from their normal sources of social support, just when they need that support the most. [3]

Thankfully, there is help.

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

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 Involved

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Citations

[1] 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: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078; Bergner, R.M., & Bridges, A. J. (2002). The Significance Of Heavy Pornography Involvement For Romantic Partners: Research And Clinical Implications. Journal Of Sex And Marital Therapy, 28, 193-206. Doi:10.1080/009262302760328235
[2] Steffens, B. A., & Rennie, R. L. (2006). The Traumatic Nature Of Disclosure For Wives Of Sexual Addicts. Sexual Addiction And Compulsivity, 13(2-3), 247-267. Doi:10.1080/10720160600870802; Wildmon-White, M., & Young, J. (2002). Family-Of-Origin Characteristics Among Women Married To Sexually Addicted Men. Sexual Addiction And Compulsivity, 9(4), 263-273. Doi:10.1080/10720760216042
[3] Manning, J. C. (2010) The Impact Of Pornography On Women: Social Science Findings And Clinical Observations. In Stoner, J. Stoner & Hughes, D. (Eds.), The Social Cost Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3-20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute.

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