My partner may be a Porn Addict – What should I do? - Promises Healthcare
ENQUIRY

Written by: Andrew da Roza, Addictions Therapist, Sex Addiction Specialist

With the introduction of the fast speed Internet, a new addiction was born – Internet porn addiction. 

One client who has fallen down the “Rabbit Hole” of porn addiction reports: 

“I saw porn in Manga mags and comics when I was in my early teens and occasionally saw a porn mag. 

It wasn’t until the fast speed Internet came in and I could stream videos on my mobile phone and iPad, that I started to watch it regularly. After a year or so, I started to watch it every day at home, when I was alone. 

Later on, I started watching it in the bathroom of the office; then at my desk, and finally, in public places and on public transport – I am amazed I wasn’t caught by someone!”

Some clients come to therapy to kick the porn habit because they recognize that they have a problem. They have been “caught” multiple times by their partner – always promising to stop. 

Or they may have inadvertently left sites open on the family computer. Some even get called in by HR at work and asked to explain the hundreds of times they have logged into porn sites, which the IT department has uncovered.   

Others don’t see they have a problem – even when their experiencing porn-related erectile dysfunction, anejaculation, or loss of libido and intimacy with their partners and spouses. 

They may simply consider this distressing, though natural, change in their relationship – a product of familiarity and boredom.  

As it turns out – they may be quite wrong – because there is nothing “natural” about porn. It’s toxic and it can effectively hijack intimate relationships, which could otherwise have been healthy and fulfilling.

Clients with porn use compulsivity often say:

“I wouldn’t have come to therapy unless my partner had given me an ultimatum – “get help or we break up!”.

And it’s also common to hear: 

“At first I thought I would just see a therapist once or twice to appease her, and let her know I want us to stay together”. 

However, after discussing in therapy how long a client has been using porn, how frequently they were using it, where they were using it – and the type of porn they have digressed to watching – they often realize all the risks they are taking with their relationships, marriage, families, and their jobs or their studies.

One client reports:
“the therapists gave me a detailed questionnaire. I was staggered by the report that came out. Seeing my behaviour over the last few years, what motivated me to do it, and how it changed me and my relationships, I became really worried.”

“I hadn’t realized that because of porn, I was losing interest in sex with her, I wasn’t present for my family, and I was getting irritated, restless and discontent at home and at work.

I thought that my problem with my sex drive and erections was our relationship – not the porn.”

These revelations, and many more, may be tough for a person with porn compulsion but at least they may be motived to take recovery actions. 

But what about the partner or spouse? They may be feeling frustrated, angry, fearful and ashamed. They may be devastated. 

They may be confused when friends, relatives and the community at large believe that porn is the “new norm” and that “boys will be boys”. 

What can they do? 

While relationships are all as different and unique as the people in them, there may be some common actions that spouses and partners may wish to consider. 

These include:

  • Attend therapy with the person who has porn use compulsivity – and learn about Internet porn addiction. How it arises; what it looks like; is the behaviour compulsive – or is it a moral issue, a lack of discipline, selfishness – or have they just stopped loving or desiring me?
    In a couples’ session, you can also learn what the recovery actions are, what it takes to succeed in recovery, and how you will know that he is in recovery – and will he ever do it again?

 

  • Read about porn addiction and how porn changes the brain. There are many good websites with excellent information. Fight the “New Drug”, “NoFap”, and “Your Brain on Porn” are but a few sites with good articles and videos. Robert Weiss, Paula Hall and Stephanie Carnes also have helpful YouTube videos.   

 

  • Insist that your partner initiates a regularly weekly couples’ check-in session; in which he shares: what actions he taken in his recovery that week and what he has learned; what actions he hasn’t done and why; what he will do next week; and what help he needs from you – and you always have the right to say “no”, or “yes, but…”. 

 

  • Judge his recovery only by his actions – not by his promises, intentions, desires or apologies. What he says is important – but what he actually does, is definitive.    

 

  • Create physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries with him – and have consequences that you apply – without fail – whenever those boundaries are breached. 

   

  • Stay connected with others about how you are doing and don’t isolate – but be cautious who you tell about his porn compulsion; only choose a few trustworthy friends or relations. Do not talk to everyone, including your children, when you are angry, in a rage, frustrated – or to retaliate – you are very likely to regret it later.

    If you think an age-appropriate disclosure is beneficial for the children, work on a script together; and allow the person with the porn compulsion to deliver it. It is their responsibility to hold themselves accountable for their actions.

 

  • Take really good care of yourself. Treat yourself kindly and compassionately.  Eat three healthy meals a day; sleep seven to eight hours; exercise regularly; take up yoga, Tai Chi and meditation. There are a wealth of Apps and YouTube videos out there – Calm, HeadSpace and Insight Timer are popular meditation Apps. Spend time with friends and family; take up new interests and hobbies – seek to relax and allow joy into your life. 

 

  • Porn blocking software administration. If you are open to it, you may be asked to be the security administrator for the porn blocking software that will prevent porn from being seen on his devices and the family computer. Consider carefully whether this would cause you more distress – or whether you wish to support him by ensuring that the security blocking software is in place.  

 

  • Consider seeing your own therapist – sometimes porn and deceit can be felt as profoundly as a relationship betrayal. It takes time and help to get through the trauma.

    Some partners feel shame, and some question whether they are the cause of the porn compulsion. Some partners are confused and devastated by all the lies and deceit. They don’t know what is real anymore. Talking to a supportive therapist can help you through this.

 


Photo by Grzegorz Walczak on Unsplash