Your partner tells you they struggle with porn, and your world feels like it’s ending. But is it? Here’s a helpful guide for you to navigate the fallout of a porn struggle disclosure, and how you can take care of yourself in the process. In the end, it’s up to each couple to decide for themselves whether they’ll fight for each other, or go their separate ways.

A moment of shock. Or maybe, of confirmation of what was already expected. Your partner just told you about their secret porn habit—now what?

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.

Individuals and couples often don’t know where to turn or what to do, and the journey ahead can seem beyond their ability to take on. We’re here to reassure you that a looming feeling of hopelessness doesn’t have to be the case when you’re given the right tools to fight this battle, individually and together.

Related: Tips For Opening Up To A Loved One About A Struggle With Porn

My Partner Is Struggling With Porn. What Do I Do Now?

Porn is the worst, but it doesn’t have to stand in the way of your happiness and healing. Here are just a few helpful tips for supporting yourself while also supporting your partner as you both pursue recovery.

Let yourself react.

When your partner tells you they’ve been struggling with a porn habit, a variety of emotions can be triggered like an avalanche of disbelief: sadness, anger, betrayal. Allow yourself the time to feel and process these emotions. However, take caution to do so through healthy outlets.

Lashing out on your partner and using them as a punching bag ultimately won’t help either of you, so take a step back and process these emotions through avenues that are productive.

Finding out about a partner’s struggle can make you feel hopeless or out of control, but try to remember that you do have control. Not over the other person, but over how you react and what you do moving forward. That reassurance can be calming and empowering.

Related: The Science Behind Why A Partner’s Porn Habit Hurts, And What You Can Do About It

Recognize the significance of disclosure.

Many partners express that a porn habit feels like cheating, and the lies and secrecy sometimes involved are extremely painful to deal with. While this can absolutely be true, something positive to remember is that telling your partner you’ve been consuming porn isn’t easy, so by being honest with you, they could be showing that they really want to pursue change.

Recognize that being accountable is a significant step on the recovery journey, so while disclosure can feel like a huge setback, it can actually be a significant step forward.

Related: The Porn Talk: 7 Real Stories Of People Opening Up About Their Struggle

Ask yourself the tough questions.

While we can provide tips and tools for you to utilize, we can’t tell you exactly what to do in your specific situation. This is a time where you will need to decide what is ultimately best for you and your partner.

Are you in danger or experiencing abuse? Prioritize your safety and be aware of those types of scenarios. Also recognize that in a healthy relationship where both couples are safe and willing to try, fighting porn together, as a couple, can actually strengthen your relationship. Plenty of couples stay together and build an even stronger bond as a result, while for some, it’s best to part ways. We’re totally confident in your ability to come to that conclusion for yourself.

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

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

It’s crucial to remember that while you can support and show love to your partner as they work to overcome their personal struggle, you can’t do this for them.

Ultimately, the decision to take action and change is up to them. If it feels like you’re pushing and they’re not trying, that isn’t healthy or productive. Watch for and acknowledge their personal efforts.

Related: Watching Porn Isn’t Just A Personal Habit, It Affects Your Partner Too

Remember self-care.

Don’t disregard your own emotional, mental, and physical health or lose yourself to your partner’s struggle. Continue nurturing other relationships in your life. Pursue your own hobbies and goals.

Taking care of yourself rather than becoming consumed with your partner’s struggle will help you to better face what comes in the future and live a happy, fulfilling life. This goes for couples who are either pursuing recovery together, or parting their separate ways.

Related: It’s Okay Not To Be Okay: What Partners Of Porn Consumers Want You To Know

Try to separate the person from the struggle.

Remember that your partner isn’t ultimately defined by their porn habit. Look beyond the struggle and try to see the character of the person.

Guilt and shame are two very different things, and—this is important—shame is detrimental to the healing process. Avoid the tendency to talk negatively in a deconstructive way about your partner. Confide in people you trust who can help you, and avoid shame at all costs. It likely won’t make you feel any better in the long run, and it won’t help the person struggling, either.

Related: 5 Ways You Can Support Your Partner As They Kick Their Porn Habit

On the flip side, remember that while your partner’s porn consumption directly affects you, it’s often not actually about you. This is a habit they probably developed when they were young, before they knew you or were with you romantically. Your partner consuming porn is not a reflection on you—it doesn’t mean you’re not enough or that you need to change the way you look or act. Their porn habit is not your fault.

Understand that betrayal trauma is real.

Many partners of porn consumers experience betrayal trauma, and there is science to explain what you’re going through. You’re not alone, and there are communities out there to support you.

Tap into a support system and take steps to heal. Be patient with yourself throughout the healing process.

Related: This Online Community Offers Support To Anyone With A Porn-Obsessed Partner

Get empowered with science, facts, and personal accounts.

Learn about the science and facts behind the harmful effects of porn and check out our blog for personal stories from people facing similar things. This information can help you better understand what your partner is facing, why consuming porn can be addictive, and what the recovery journey may look like.

This knowledge shouldn’t be used as ammo against your partner to shame them about how consuming porn is unhealthy, but can be used as a positive recovery tool that motivates both you and your partner. Knowing the facts can also prevent you from rationalizing a porn habit in the future, and remember that relationships are healthier when they’re porn-free.

Related: Authentic Vs. Easy: Is Real Love More Satisfying Than Porn?

Work on your intimate relationship.

Set clear expectations and boundaries for moving forward. Be honest and firm about what you’re okay with and what you’re not, and what progress you want to see from your partner. Remember that the opposite of addiction is connection, and fostering intimacy with each other is crucial. However, understand that restoring this part of your relationship takes time, and you don’t have to dive back in right away. Avoid feelings of pressure or fear to do things you’re not comfortable with or feel like you have to compete with the porn they’ve been consuming.

Related: 3 Reasons Why NOT Watching Porn Is Sex-Positive

Recognize healing takes time, and be patient with setbacks.

Setbacks don’t mean failures. Maintain a positive outlook and remember that healing and recovery are possible.

Try to expect the best and doubt the worst, and know that no matter what your partner chooses to do or not do, you’ll be okay. Maintain clear expectations with your partner, but as long as you’re seeing progress and steps moving forward, know that setbacks aren’t the end of the road.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Someone Recovering From Porn Can Make A Great Partner

Seek resources and professional help.

Our friends at Fortify offer a platform that can help your partner understand their specific struggle and set up a plan to strengthen areas of weakness, vulnerability, and triggers. Seek professional help if necessary, both individually and together.

Remember that it’s okay if what you’re facing is beyond your scope of dealing with on your own. That doesn’t make you weak, that makes you human. Utilize resources like support groups or licensed therapists in your local area.

Related: How Our Struggles With Porn Turned Into Strength To Fight For Love

Continue an ongoing conversation.

Talking about porn in your relationship isn’t just a “one and done” thing. Check in with your partner periodically, but don’t be a hovercraft. Be supportive, not overbearing, and work together to create an environment of openness and trust in your relationship.

Confide in your partner when you’re having a difficult time, and help them feel that they can confide in you, too. Ask what they need to have a successful journey, and make sure to communicate what you need, too.

Hope Moving Forward

Above all, remember there is hope for the future. Healing for both those who struggle with porn and their partners is more than possible. Try using some of the suggestions above and find other resources that work for you, too. As you continue in an honest dialogue about your current situation, we’re confident you’ll be able to come up with a solution together that works best for you individually, and as a couple.

Remember that both you and your partner are more valuable than the lies and fake fantasies pornography portrays. Healthy relationships and real love are worth fighting for—you can do this.

Check out episode 2 of our three-part documentary, “The Heart,” to learn more about porn and relationships. You’ll meet Preston:

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