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8 Ways You Can Support Someone While They Quit Porn

Here are a few tips that can help you support a loved one—friend, family, or significant other—while they choose to stop watching porn.

By November 16, 2022No Comments

Decades of studies from respected institutions have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption on individuals, relationships, and society. No Porn November is all about giving visibility to these facts and empowering individuals to choose to be porn-free. Learn more by clicking here.

It affects your brainhurts your partnerwarps your ideas about sex, and has so many more impacts.

To put it simply, porn is unhealthy.

It’s harmful to you and to those around you. But just because porn is toxic, it doesn’t mean that those who use it are “bad” or inherently “toxic” people.

A couple’s story does not necessarily have to be defined by or end because of porn—we believe there is hope, especially for partners who equally and mutually want to fight for the relationship.

Related: How These Women Supported Their Partners Through Compulsive Porn Habits

Sometimes, it is those who compulsive porn consumers are closest to who must have the biggest and deepest hope for the future.

Even so, it is up to every individual to decide what is best for them—if that means staying with a significant other who is working through a porn issue, or not.

If you are struggling with porn, or are the partner of someone who is, we encourage you to find support and lean in—whether that be your friends, family, and significant other.

Here are a few tips that can help you support a loved one while they choose to stop watching porn.

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1. Be patient with their progress

Progress is rarely linear and quitting porn cold turkey is the exception rather than the rule. Remember that setbacks aren’t failures, they’re usually just part of the process.

Focus on progress rather than perfection. Recovery takes time, and that’s okay. ❤️

2. Avoid shame

Porn is a sensitive issue, and your loved one may already feel a lot of shame about their porn habit. Regardless, research confirms that shame can actually fuel unhealthy porn habits rather than motivate real 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 

Instead of using shame, remind them that they’re loved and worthwhile, even if it takes time for them to quit.

Related: Healthy Ways to Support a Partner As They Quit Watching Porn

3. Spend time with them

When giving up an unhealthy habit, it’s best to replace it with healthy ones, so one of the best ways you can help is to actively engage with your loved one in healthy outlets.

Pick up a new hobby together, be exercise buddies, or check out a new coffee spot—just spend time together!

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4. Recognize what’s best for you

While helping your loved one, don’t ignore your own needs and boundaries. Take the time you need to evaluate what is best for your own emotional health, both presently and in the long run.

Related: I Think My Partner is Looking At Porn After Promising Not To—What Do I Do?

5. Recognize that change isn’t always automatic

This goes for you and your loved one—the process may be frustrating for you and them, and it’s okay if you don’t respond perfectly every time.

Change takes time and practice, so be patient with them and yourself, and keep trying.

6. Educate yourself

Learning about pornography’s negative effects can help motivate you and your loved one in the recovery process.

Related: Why Quitting Porn Can Help Someone Be a Less Angry Partner

You can educate yourself by reading our Get the Facts articles, which summarize the data on porn’s impacts, including why it can be difficult to quit.

BHW - The Heart

7. Don’t police them

Be a safe space for your loved one to share openly and honestly, but try not to police their every move. It’s not your job to keep them on track.

Check in with them on how they’re doing, but don’t force them to share details that won’t be helpful to either of you.

8. Utilize resources

There are so many resources to help you and your loved one along the way—recovery platforms, support groups, conversation blueprints, resources for parents, etc.

You’re not alone in this!

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

Motivate change, heal relationships

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 

Get The Facts

So if your loved one is trying to give up porn, be kind to yourself and be patient with their progress. Like anything, it takes time for the brain to recover, but daily efforts make a big difference in the long run.

Related: I Think My Partner is Looking At Porn After Promising Not To—What Do I Do?

On the surface, porn may seem harmless, or may even seem like a good way to learn more about sex. Maybe a committed relationship seems far away in the future, or you feel confident that a little porn won’t harm your relationships. But the research is clear—porn can have devastating impacts on relationships, both sexually and emotionally.

There is no substitute for real connection, and porn isn’t worth risking that.

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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.

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Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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.

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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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