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Messages - Emerald Blue

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Porn Addiction / Re: Is Addiction actually a disease?
« on: May 07, 2019, 06:40:30 PM »
Whether or not you consider excessive or problematical porn use as an “addiction” or a compulsive behaviour, or a habit, it doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not your behaviour is creating difficulties in your life or in your relationships, and whether or not you are able to create long term and lasting changes.

The effects of pornography are being studied and it is becoming clearer that porn consumption, as it exists today, is having a detrimental effect on male sexual function. Porn use within a relationship, where one partner uses porn to the detriment of the couple’s sexual relationship, is an increasingly documented problem too. There are various ways in which porn can have a negative effect on a relationship from deception and secrecy to female partners feeling coerced into sexual activities they don’t feel comfortable with. This is probably a bit beyond questions of “addiction” but relationships can also be negatively impacted by porn use. I am a partner of a (recovered) porn addict and I witnessed a perfectly healthy sexual relationship becoming unhealthy and damaged by porn addiction and it’s an experience I have no intention of repeating.

Many behavioural problems respond well to self help, although the same ‘diagnosis’ may require professional help from mental health services. This can include addictions such as alcoholism and recreational drugs, behavioural addictions such as gambling, but also other conditions that have a behavioural component such as agoraphobia, panic attacks, depression where it affects daily functioning, anxiety where it affects daily functioning, OCD, and so on. The fact is that these conditions are not simple behaviours that someone can just choose or not choose to do, but are often a consequence of complex emotional, social, situational and behavioural components, and often require the individual to develop various strategies to manage their condition. Eating disorders are another complex bio-psychosocial group of disorders. For example, you can’t just tell an anorexic to eat and then expect an instant and permanent cure. Sometimes an individual needs to be hospitalised and often the family need to be involved in the recovery process. What I’m saying here is that sometimes people develop conditions with a behavioural component that become very difficult to control without some help. Sometimes professional help is necessary, sometimes peer support is helpful and sometimes people can manage their behaviours/conditions with self help strategies.

With porn addiction, some people can also have a complex set of issues that need to addressed, although some people don’t — they have developed a habit through excessive or long term use. Personally, I believe that there are changes that occur in the brain through repeated use and I have witnessed these effects and I’ve witnessed a recovery of normal sexual functioning. The studies referred to on Your Brain On Porn make sense to me.

Willpower is only helpful up to a point. That goes for anything. Later on you need to have strategies in place that can bring more meaning and personal satisfaction, achievement or whatever, than what porn did for your life.

I don’t know what this Hitchens guy is about but a quick google shows me that he has opinions but certainly no specialist knowledge or expertise on these issues we’re discussing here. I know it’s kind of fashionable in the UK to diss “experts” but if you were unwell would you rather see a doctor or would you ask some random person at the bus stop? If you don’t believe in experts? .... just saying. You can be a fan of whoever you like but you have to make your own judgements about what’s best for you. Only you can live your life. Nobody else can.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: Something positive
« on: April 03, 2019, 03:28:22 AM »
Indiepeaches, it’s great to see that life is better for you now. Long may your happiness continue.

Your situation with your ex must have been unbearable at times. It sounds just awful and I’m glad you’re out of it, and that you were able to protect yourself and your kids by getting out of such a toxic, damaging relationship. For sure, it’s going to take time to heal but that’s only to be expected.

Yes, it is possible to rebuild a loving relationship after porn addiction, and many of the partners that have joined this forum are doing so. Undoubtedly the history of porn addiction is also part of the relationship history too. The possibility of relapse is always there, and that applies to all addictions. The relationship has been forced into changing, but there are some positive changes that are very significant. It’s not just about my partner quitting porn, I’ve had to change too, but these changes have been necessary. Like being assertive and standing up for myself, like knowing where my boundaries are, like recognising that I have needs of my own, not necessarily relationship needs but life in general. My self-mage has changed beyond recognition too. One of the most significant changes has been the realisation that I must take responsibility for my role in the relationship. When my husband was in addition I was responding to and accepting his terms and conditions, which were set to pursue and protect his addiction. I was passive. Now I accept joint and equal responsibility. So I’ve had to step up too. It’s certainly possible to recreate a positive, loving relationship BUT it’s not possible to erase the past. It’s a significant part of our shared history.

I hope your new relationship works out. X

Ages 40 and up / Re: I thought I could do it myself
« on: January 09, 2019, 08:07:30 AM »
switched_off, first I want to say you’re doing really well and have a lot of insight into your previous behaviour. I can tell it’s been a huge deal for you, your porn habit seems to have been an enormous burden, emotionally and financially too. Well done for getting off the treadmill.

I’m the partner of a recovering/recovered porn addict so I understand the trajectory of porn addiction and it’s effects on a marriage/long term relationship. I also witnessed my husband’s disinterest in having a sexual relationship with me but in my situation I had discovered his porn use in the early days of the internet but there was nothing I could do about it. I lived with the painful reality that he wanted porn and not me. It wasn’t until his porn addiction was making him miserable and I had reached the point where I was very unhappy in a relationship with a man who didn’t want me any more (or so I believed) that he finally quit.

From what you have written, it seems that your wife doesn’t know about the porn and chat rooms, and that she didn’t quite understand why you suddenly wanted to reestablish your sexual relationship with her. Most partners here will tell you that it would be far better for your relationship if you told your wife. The deception is far worse and does far more damage than the behaviour. However, many men in this section will justify at length why they don’t want to ‘hurt’ or ‘burden’ their partner with the truth. Speaking personally, I would rather know than not know because I want to know who I’m married to and what I’m dealing with.

Bear the following in mind. Sometimes partners discover their husband’s porn use or sex chats unexpectedly. They aren’t necessarily looking for it but one day they make a discovery. And then what? Do you lie your way out of a difficult confrontation? Do you minimise it by saying it was a pop up, or it was “just the once”, or blame your teenage son? If so, you’ve just made a bad situation worse by lying. What if your wife asks you outright? “Do you look at porn?” Do you lie, minimise, or otherwise pretend away your reality? And say that after this she goes on to discover that you have been using porn for years? Do you cover it up with more lies and hope that’s the end of it? What I’m saying is that you can’t rely on indefinite ignorance on the part of your wife.

Your wife has already been impacted by your porn and sex chat habit. Most porn addicts are oblivious to the effects of their behaviour on anyone else, such is the power of compartmentalisation. As my husband’s porn behaviour became more entrenched and our sexual relationship fizzled out —  he was the one who was NEVER available —  my self esteem was gradually eroded to nothing. I tried to initiate and eventually I was always turned down. Eventually he had erectile dysfunction and I internalised that as being unable to turn him on. Eventually my libido switched off because I couldn’t bear to go through the disappointment and rejection of being turned down or witnessing his absence of his arousal. This really hurt. I felt a lot of shame, of being a wife whose husband didn’t even touch her. I became depressed, in a sort of covert way, because I accepted the sexless marriage that he was imposing. I was also in a lot of denial too. I pretended that I didn’t know about the porn because it would really hurt to admit I was a hideous reject. I developed an eating disorder and body dysmorphia and became skeletally thin. I didn’t actually feel entitled to take up space in the world. I hated my body. I saw my body as the root cause of my relationship issues. It was a vicious circle of negativity. After my husband quit porn I began to eat more and slowly regain some weight. In fact, I’d go so far as to say his quitting porn might have saved my life, because another aspect of advanced porn addiction is that emotional intimacy also falls by the wayside. When I was in that dark place I felt very alone, and quitting porn brought back the emotional closeness that was absent for so long. Without that, I would have just sunk deeper into depression. I had effectively lost my husband to porn for 15-20 years.

Objectification. Take it from me, it’s a horrible experience for a young woman to be ogled by men old enough to be her father. I’ve been there. It’s a daily occurrence for most young women. You aren’t the first man to ogle that pretty girl today, and you won’t be the last, and it’s not particularly pleasant for her either. I’m sure you don’t want to be that creepy guy. Or just another creepy guy out of many, more accurately. My husband does this and I hate it. He swears blind he doesn’t and gets angry if I’ve noticed him doing it. What he hasn’t witnessed (that I have) is seeing a woman being annoyed by his unwanted attention. I’ve tried to educate him by explaining my own experiences of being followed, watched, groped on the street, catcalled, you name it. I don’t think he quite gets it. But anyway, I find it hugely disrespectful if he does it when I’m with him. It’s a big problem for partners. We see it. We’re not stupid. It’s actually our life experience we are recognising. It’s just that it’s distressing when it comes from the man we’re married to. I admire your discipline of looking away.

Good luck with rebuilding your relationship with your wife. There’s no right or wrong, but remember that every action you take can affect your relationship for better or worse.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: Please help
« on: January 09, 2019, 06:11:56 AM »
Devastated22, welcome to the Partners Section of RN even though none of us ever wanted to be in this situation. I hope you were able to celebrate your birthday despite all of this.

Just to offer you some reassurance, the ‘shemale’ porn doesn’t necessarily mean that your husband is gay or bisexual. As porn addiction progresses, the  ‘normal’ stuff begins to lose its potency. Porn addicts are driven to seek out ‘novelty’. I suspect that in your husband’s case the shemale porn represents ‘the shock of the new’, which is why there are so many categories of extreme porn. Many recovering porn addicts will say that they found themselves viewing stuff that they didn’t actually like and wasn’t representative of their authentic sexuality. When a porn addict quits successfully, and hopefully reestablishes a healthy sexual relationship, these porn-induced preferences seem to evaporate.

You make a very interesting point about manipulation and I would say it’s probably true for all addicts to have manipulated their partners to some extent in order to protect their porn addiction. I was shocked at how easy it was for my husband to lie to me. After d day he answered just about every question with a lie which only created more damage and delayed recovery. When my husband was actively in his addiction it wasn’t so much a case of bare-faced lying but omissions and plausible disguising of his activities as something more ‘innocent’. In some respects he actually ‘trained’ me to leave him be so he could have free reign with his porn habit. It’s really upsetting to realise that your husband actually played you and abused your trust, and it’s one of the most difficult aspects of forgiveness. I could forgive the behaviour quite easily but it took a lot longer to forgive the deception.

You are right to be concerned about the possibility of relapse but it isn’t inevitable. My husband quit over three years ago and to my knowledge hasn’t relapsed. However, I do believe there have been some slips, like clicking on ‘sexy’ clickbait or whatever. He still has issues with being completely honest with me, he has deliberately omitted to tell me about things he really ought to have done, and he still hasn’t admitted to some of what I discovered early on. What he has been very good at is exploring the issues in his past which made him vulnerable to porn addiction. It’s been a difficult journey for both of us.

Hi Jrmint, and welcome to the Partners forum. It’s never a good feeling to find yourself here in the first place but please be assured that you’re amongst a friendly community of partners who understand exactly what you’ve been through.

The early stages of recovery are the worst. In fact, the first year or thereabouts will probably feel unbearable at times, interspersed with periods of hope, optimism, passion and romance. You can feel full of light and love one day and utterly despairing the next as you process through the emotional storm of coming to terms with your partner’s porn addiction.

Your story has a lot in common with my own. I was aware my partner looked at porn, but I also knew that he wouldn’t stop regardless of how I felt about it. His porn addiction coincided with being connected to the internet at home. Prior to that I’d found a magazine on one occasion only, and at that time I thought that it was just a one-off and no big deal. It turned out he was buying porn semi-frequently, magazines and videos, and also visiting strip bars. When the internet happened, that was it. He was straight on to the porn sites immediately and from that first week to about 15 years later he was using porn regularly, and eventually he was choosing porn over having a sexual relationship with me. I discovered the evidence several times but nothing changed. Eventually I admitted that I was powerless to do anything about it.

He always made sure to leave no traces. He would pretend he didn’t look at porn. When I asked him about once he said he didn’t go to those sites any more. But he was never interested in sex. So, my “evidence” was a best guess. I tried to initiate but I’d be turned down, or he’d have DE and then ED. For me it was soul destroying to initiate sex, especially after months of no sex at all, and for him to lose his erection and be unable to finish. Classic porn addiction symptoms, but I didn’t know any better at that time.

I went through all that you describe, even the unintentional weight loss. By “d day” I was depressed, I had no self esteem and I was suffering with body dysmorphia. I had a lot to deal with in my life and one day I realised there was nobody there for me. My husband was not only physically and sexually distant, but emotionally distant too, and had been for a few years. I told him I couldn’t take it any more. His porn habit was making me feel worthless, quite literally “worth less” than the pixels on his laptop screen. It turned out that his porn habit had reached the point of being a problem for him. He had wanted to stop but couldn’t. So this was his opportunity to quit, and he did.

The after effects were horrendous though. I wanted to know exactly what had been going on for all those years, and of course he lied. His porn habit was a lot more extensive than I had realised. Throughout all that time he believed it was all “harmless fun” but if it was so harmless, why hide it, why lie about it, why the secrecy? He genuinely believed it would not impact on our relationship. He also believed it was me who wasn’t interested in sex, but in truth he was the one who was never interested, his lack of interest coinciding with when he first had access to online porn.

Like you, I feel that my sexuality and sexual expression was denied throughout the years my husband was addicted to internet pornography. I had to get used to his lack of interest, I had to get used to being turned down and then there was the bad sex ending in loss of erection and being unable to finish. How could I not feel rejected? How could I not feel undesirable? I no longer felt sexual at all. I now know that this was a subconscious protection mechanism. I knew what was going on behind the closed door. I knew it was porn. I also knew that even if I could prove it he still wouldn’t stop. So I tried not to think about it, but my unhappiness manifested in other ways. I don’t think he ever realised the loneliness I felt, right at my very core. When life got tough for me, as it does at times, I realised I was completely alone.

The body image/weight loss issue was another factor. I’ve always been very slight in build, so I didn’t need to lose that much weight to be underweight, but I became emaciated. People were shocked when they saw me. I didn’t feel entitled to take up space, not in my home, not in my relationship, not in the world. I was literally shrinking myself because I felt so insignificant. I hid my body from my husband. I wouldn’t dress or undress in front of him any more because he still wouldn’t notice me if I was standing stark naked in front of him. So hiding my weight loss from him was easy. He couldn’t see what was happening at all.

I had grown up with a very healthy body image and so I was always confident about being in good shape as a young woman. I had the body type that was fashionable and desirable for my generation of women, the tall, slim, narrow waist, long legs, genetic type. This body type typically has small breasts, but that never bothered me. My husband’s porn preference was for very large breasted women, as if it was a fetish. When we were still having sex, he wouldn’t touch my breasts. Or if he did it would be just once and for 1-2 seconds. So, despite all those years of feeling good about myself, realising my husband wasn’t turned on by my breasts was quite upsetting. Then I remembered the men who had admired my body, who wanted to paint me, and so on, and I realised that the man I married didn’t see me in the same way. I don’t know what effect porn had on him, but I can confidently say that porn presents women’s bodies as commodities, as things to pick and choose from, as if there was some ideal that can be assembled out of different parts.

In my own personal recovery, I realise that my body isn’t bolted together from a collection of parts. I’m not a product to be picked and chosen. I’m a living, human being. I deserve respect. My body deserves respect, including respect from myself. My sexuality doesn’t depend on my husband or anyone else for permission to exist either.

There is much more say about objectification in recovery because I believe that a healthy recovery needs to get beyond sexual objectification in the relationship. I think it’s evident in your relationship, Jrmint, from what you say, and it was a factor in the earlier stages of my own relationship recovery. I think it’s inevitable if you have a partner who has been using porn for many years. But it is NOT about becoming a substitute sexual object, or a substitute for porn or ‘competing’ with porn because that only keeps us in the no-win mindset of self-objectification. We need to respect our bodies for giving us life and giving life to others, but as women we are practically brainwashed into believing we are never going to be good enough as we are when we’re actually fucking amazing to begin with.

There’s also a lot more say about deception and betrayal trauma. Please be in no doubt, your upset at your husband’s deception is perfectly understandable. When we first committed to our relationships, we had no clue about porn addiction especially if we go back to a time before the internet. Even being accepting, even if somewhat reluctantly, I doubt we were doing so from a position of knowledge or genuine agreement. In my relationship, my husband chose to use porn and hide it, and he was very careful about being found out. So how on earth can we agree to what we were never supposed to know about in the first place.

Hope this helps. Xo

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: Boundaries?
« on: October 29, 2018, 07:09:56 AM »
From experience, porn addiction is progressive and the damage it does to the relationship and the partner is progressive. For a porn addict, there isn’t a “safe” viewing/using limit. 3-4 times a week is reinforcing his physiological reactions to pixels on a screen. The connections in his brain will get stronger through repetition. Eventually he won’t be able to physically function in a real life sexual relationship. Emotionally he will only care about his own sexual gratification in the relationship. As long as he’s jerking off to porn he isn’t going to be that bothered about your sexual needs and your need for emotional intimacy.

One year in isn’t that long, not in terms of a lifetime. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is not a respectful situation. It keeps you in the one down position, especially if you don’t want porn in your relationship. He is effectively disregarding your feelings. Is this a good beginning to a relationship? Are you happy to submerge your own feelings just so he can rub his dick in front of a screen 4 times a week? Will you be happy without a sexual relationship? Because eventually, that’s what you’ll end up with. As I said, porn addiction is progressive.

As for porn being an addiction, yes I do believe it. It creates changes in the brain. The brain needs a particular kind of stimulation. The porn addict feels driven to act out. I get that absolutely. I also know it’s possible to quit. But as the previous reply states, he has to WANT to quit. And that seems to be what you’re up against right now.

I speak from experience. I tolerated regular, long-term porn use.  I felt there was nothing I could do about it. My husband was determined to do it regardless of what I felt. I regret not acting sooner.  My husband quit when he realised it wasn’t making him happy and that it was hurting me. The emotional disconnection, the loss of trust and the destruction of my self esteem has all been difficult to repair. If I had acted sooner, the damage would have been less. So don’t throw your life away by letting this toxic poison into your most intimate relationship. Assert yourself and stand up for what you want. If you aren’t respected, walk away.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: Are we permanently broken??!!
« on: October 29, 2018, 06:29:05 AM »
Whatdoido, you’re talking a lot about his porn and masturbation, and your sexual relationship, but is this relationship working in other ways? From what I can tell, your guy hasn’t developed a healthy sexuality. If he wants sex he wants it now, regardless of mutuality. That isn’t going to work in any relationship, not with you, not with anybody. Healthy sexuality, in most relationships, is about connection, not about one person gratifying themselves at the expense of the other. You say this started out as a FWB relationship. If your relationship was based around sex, and the sex has gone a bit “off”, has it run its course or is there anything more in this relationship that’s worth staying together for?

Quitting porn is no guarantee of a healthy sexual relationship, especially if one partner (or both) hasn’t developed his (or her) own sexuality in a healthy way. For young guys who’ve grown up with porn, their idea of female sexuality is to be permanently available and compliant. There is also the old fashioned and outmoded idea that sex is something a woman “gives” to a man, even a duty, and sadly this idea is becoming more prevalent through the normalisation of porn culture. Whether or not this is relevant in your situation, I cannot say, but it’s important to question where the idea of instant availability and one-sided instant gratification has come from. If you feel that it’s relevant.

I would say for most female partners of male porn addicts, they often have to redefine their own sexuality because it almost always takes a hit. It’s part of a partners healing process. Recovery from porn addiction isn’t only about quitting porn. It’s a lot more than that. It’s about recovering the relationship, developing emotional as well as physical intimacy, it’s about developing a healthy sexual relationship and also recovering your own sexuality in a healthy way, and many other issues that might be relevant in your relationship — because every relationship is different, just as people are.

A relationship can’t survive on sex and not much else. Sex is a good indicator of the health of the relationship and probably an even better indicator of how healthy your communication is. But even when sex is good, it’s only a (relatively) small part of a good relationship — I’m talking more of a longer term relationship. Short term relationships are OK but if it’s based on sex with no investment in a future together, it will either end when the newness of the sexual relationship ends, or if life moves on, like you get a job abroad for example. I think you need to think beyond sex and ask yourselves what is the relationship you want to have. Take away the sex and what do you have? Add in the sex (as it actually is) and is the relationship better or worse? Can you continue with things as they are? Only you know if this situation is good for you.

Women / Re: Do Wives Enjoy Their Husband’s Visual Attention?
« on: October 09, 2018, 08:30:24 PM »
Looks like I’ve missed a very interesting discussion here.

Women, weight, body image and porn addiction all seem to intersect. Speaking as a genetically very tall/very slim woman I can categorically say that my weight had nothing to do with my partner’s porn addiction. But at the time I believed his porn use, and his lack of sexual interest in me which developed as his porn addiction progressed, was because I was physically and sexually unattractive to him. Over time, I didn’t gain weight, I lost weight when unintentionally and became underweight. It was a symptom of my unhappiness which became depression.

WFO, I have no idea whether your wife knows about the porn addiction or not, but I suspect your wife FEELS your lack of interest and attraction to her. Her weight MAY be a symptom of her unhappiness. She may be turning to food for comfort. She may sense that you are not attracted to her because she is large and feels there is no hope. For all you know she may have TRIED to lose weight but still experienced your lack of interest. And she may have given up trying, because what’s the point? Classic learned helplessness.

On the other hand — maybe a bit counterintuitive — but, she may feel safer in a larger body. She may feel that her fat protects her from the pain she senses she might have to go through if she was to risk getting with you in the way she’d like to. She might want a happy, healthy relationship with you but senses it’s going to mean a lot of pain, and she might find out for sure that maybe you don’t want her, or maybe she might be afraid of the marriage being over. So perhaps it’s safer to protect herself from too much pain. Fat can be a metaphor, it may be her insulation from pain.

In my own personal recovery, I’ve had to do a lot of work on body image and body dysmorphia. Most of the books and podcasts about body image focus on weight and diet culture. Much of it doesn’t “speak to me” in specifics because I’ve never had weight issues, other than becoming underweight towards the latter years of my husband’s porn addiction. (I felt so insignificant I made myself smaller, that’s my metaphor.) But these women, the writers, the activists, the podcasters, they offered me a lifeline, because big or small, we are not, should not, be valued only because of our looks, or size, or shape.

For any woman reading this, and to Mrs WFO especially, respect your body and don’t allow anyone to disrespect it. You are so much more than your appearance. Your body is an instrument, not an ornament.

So, from the body activists, especially those who promote the idea of Health At Every Size, they would say — and I agree — that if your partner doesn’t respect you because they think your body isn’t good enough for them, that you’re too big, too skinny, too fat, too short, too tall, too flat chested, too saggy, too curvy, too muscular, too bony, too hairy, too this or too that … they’d say… don’t change your body, change your man (as in, get a new one). And you know what? There’s something in that. But I’d also use caution and question whether the problem in the relationship really is about “fat” or “weight” and probe a bit deeper.

Going back to the original question, my husband likes my body and I enjoy that he is turned on by my physicality. I also know that it’s me, the person, that he loves, and that’s far more important. Compliments are nice but they aren’t everything. I like it when my husband likes my art, my cooking, or that he shares his enthusiasm in my work or whatever. But turning it around, my husband isn’t as skinny as he was in his youth. He has lines on his face and he’s greying a bit. But I don’t want him to be anyone other than who he is today. I don’t compare him with some young athlete and feel short-changed because he’s not 20 years younger. I’m still very attracted to my husband. He’s handsome, smart and sexy, just as he always has been.

Maybe WFO has left the building, but I see this “weight” thing come up so often and I’ve explored the issue from other perspectives than my own. Recovering addicts, please be kinder to your (potential) partners. Nobody is perfect. I was blessed with what was (for my generation) the tall thin ideal. It wasn’t an “achievement” or anything I worked for. It was the genetic lottery. And it is a guarantee of NOTHING. Yes, I really do mean NOTHING. It didn’t inoculate my husband from porn addiction nor did it protect me from feeling shit about myself. So be kinder everyone. Remember that your body is not an ornament.  It’s your very physical presence on this earth.

You are absolutely correct about the sexualisation of kids, especially as kids have easy access to social media where they see so much sexualised content, and not only that but the whole body image/diet culture thing that is so toxic. I’m sure you know all about the lollipops that are supposed to promote weight loss, and Victoria’s Secret using girls as young as 5 years old on runway shows in China. I’m just grateful that I didn’t have to deal with all this with my girl 20 years ago, certainly not to the same extent.

I suggest you get hold of a copy of So Sexy, So Soon by Jean Kilbourne. She is also the author/speaker of Killing Us Softly which questions media representations of women, and even though her original lecture was in 1979, she says representations of women (and girls) are arguably worse now. Another book to look at is The Lolita Effect by M Gigi Durham, which examines the influences of pop culture on girls (and boys). I think as a parent, these books might give you some kind of a perspective on the very problem you are facing today. Sadly, there’s just not enough discussion about these concerns, particularly the focus on physical appearance as being the most important thing about a girl or a woman, instead of focusing on achievement, skill, talent, ability etc.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: no sex, no touching....nothing
« on: October 05, 2018, 07:07:36 PM »
Brokensoul, I’m glad you’re moving on from this guy. He didn’t show any intention of quitting nor did he see any need to. It was either a case of accepting it or moving o, which you have done.

I’d honestly give up dating guys or actively trying to meet a new partner for at lease six months or maybe a year. The last thing you need right now is to pinball from one relationship with a porn addict to another. You’re far better off developing your own interests or doing something you’ve always wanted to but didn’t have the time. Learning a language, taking a dance class, taking up sculpture or photography, anything you want. You really need some time to heal and recover emotionally.

I don’t know what I’d do about meeting someone now. I certainly wouldn’t want a relationship with a porn user. I think I’d rather stay single than go through all that porn crap again. I’d definitely want someone I could share my interests with. Relationship recovery after porn addiction is hard work and my own personal recovery is even harder because there’s no set path to follow. We really are the first generation to be ‘partners of porn addicts’ and I’m having to improvise my own recovery process. If my relationship ended tomorrow I’d still need to work on my recovery. 

Take your time, heal from your experience. The right man will appear when you’re ready.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: Pornography is a mirror
« on: August 30, 2018, 10:15:03 AM »
Looks like I’ve missed the party. And the gatecrasher, lol.

There’s no way I would want to be in a relationship with a man who wanted to choke me or inflict physical pain in any situation. Not during sex. Not at any time.

I would definitely agree with Kimba that being in a relationship with a porn addict changes many aspects of the relationship. Definitely the sexual relationship but also in many other ways that are fundamentally unhealthy. My partner had the intelligence not to regard porn as some kind of ultimate sex experience. We had a pretty wonderful sex life in the years before porn, and masturbating in front of a screen couldn’t match that experience. It was a very bitter lesson for him to learn. I still can’t believe he would thrown it all away for such a poor substitute but that’s how addictive it can become.

I would also say that years of porn addiction had distorted my husband’s sexuality but to his credit he has questioned and challenged himself and has come to the conclusion that he doesn’t want his sexuality to be dictated and defined by the porn industry. That’s not to say that the brain mapping is easy to reverse, because neurons that fire together, wire together, as the saying goes. porn conditioned him to respond to. As you say, Kimba, the damage rears it’s ugly head from time to time. He’s still vulnerable to certain cues and sometimes he doesn’t realise it, but over time he can distance himself from those same cues and think they’re a bit ridiculous and cliched.

Recovering the sexual relationship isn’t easy for a number of reasons. On RN the focus is on restoring erectile function but that isn’t looking at the relationship as a whole. There’s very little discussion and exploration of the female partner’s sexuality, nor female sexuality in general. In porn, the version of female sexuality that exists is effectively an extension of male sexuality and is about performing for and pleasing men. The mistake many women make in the aftermath of discovery is to impersonate the porn script, which inevitably fails. I had to ‘invent’ my own sexual healing process, and reinvent and redefine it along the way. Fortunately I knew what a healthy sexuality looked like and felt like for me, and it had absolutely zero to do with porn. I’m all in favour of people enjoying their own healthy sexuality, and having great sex, exciting sex, that can be deeply sensual, intimate, fun, experimental, whatever. This was how it was for me/us before porn and (eventually) after porn. But during my husband’s porn addiction, I would say that the sex I had with my husband was not particularly enjoyable at all. I gave up. No sex is better than bad sex. Porn turns men into lousy lovers.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: How to bring it up?
« on: August 11, 2018, 07:51:18 PM »
Nesssey, I’m glad your and your husband were able to talk about your husband’s porn use, and so far so good. I agree that you don’t need to know the details of what he watched. It’s not that relevant in the long term. It’s more important that he quits and that you can both rebuild your sexual relationship from this point onwards.

Reading your post, I would suggest that it’s not only your husband’s porn use that’s the issue here. Although porn use can create quite serious problems in a relationship, it can actually be a symptom of other issues reflecting your relationship so it’s equally important to look at what other issues are relevant. Kids undoubtedly charge the relationship. Even finding the time and privacy required for sex can be a challenge for if you have a 5 year old and a 2 year old. Having the physical energy after a long day of looking after your kids and everything else you’ve got to do can also mean sex becomes less of a priority. There may be physical changes that you need to feel comfortable with; communication with your husband might not be as good as it could be, after all you both had difficulties addressing your sexual needs, his and yours, if sex never happened.

On a positive note, this time is perfect for re-creating a better sexual relationship than what you were experiencing before. Before my husband’s porn addiction we had what I believed was a healthy and exciting sexual relationship, but since he quit porn we have been a lot more imaginative and experimental. I’m not saying it’s always easy because emotional issues can arise during the sexual recovery process (for me, maybe not for you but it’s possible). There is a book by Alexandra Katehakis for couples affected by sexual addiction called Erotic Intelligence (or something like that) which I recommend for later on in your relationship’s recovery, but certainly not in the first six months. I don’t agree with everything she writes about but overall her ideas are good. Bear in mind that sex addicts have far more complex issues than porn addicts who don’t go beyond just using porn. My ‘rule’ is that whatever the activity either partner wants, it has to be about bringing togetherness to the relationship, and not something that divides and separates the couple, or creates conflict etc.

It seems like you’re already at the beginning of your recovery journey. I hope you can both make good progress in rebuilding your relationship.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: Read the new sticky above
« on: August 11, 2018, 07:05:13 PM »
Thanks very much. The link didn’t work for me, but I’m glad the information is out there. We speak from our own experience which is backed up by the various articles and studies that have been done. Realistically speaking, it’s going to take years before the effects of the excessive and compulsive use of porn are known and understood.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: Pornography is a mirror
« on: August 07, 2018, 05:13:40 AM »
I agree that it’s worrying that there appears to be so much sexualised violence in pornography. If you look at popular entertainment like mainstream movies and TV shoes, there’s s lot of glamourised violence too, lots of men shooting guns at each other etc. It’s so normal it’s invisible. In pornography there are things like choking and gagging that have become more commonplace in real world sexual relationships, especially the generation who have grown up with the internet. They’ve been exposed to sexual violence in porn and because they didn’t have any guidance they saw it as “normal”. Meanwhile the girls have become more concerned about what they look like during sex and are disconnected from their own capacity to experience physical sexual pleasure.

I know from the experience of my own relationship that long term exposure to internet pornography changes the way men see women. Yes, it is the objectification and viewing and evaluating women’s looks and body parts as if they were screenshots on a porn site. It’s not just when they’re looking at a screen, it’s wherever they go. We know that also from reading the accounts of recovering porn addicts. That going to the park is triggering, that yoga pants are triggering, fishnets are triggering, or whatever, which can prompt some men into relapsing. I’m not talking about seeing a passerby and thinking “oh that’s a pretty girl” or “she had a nice figure” but actually scanning the environment for a porn-worthy female body for some kind of sexual stimulation. This is what I’ve read in accounts of recovering porn addicts and even the guys who podcast on this subject. The experts say they have to retrain themselves. If they look it’s the 2 or 3 second rule and reminding themselves that this is a human being who deserves respect and privacy. It IS possible for recovering addicts to train their brain not to objectify in this way.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: STD check
« on: August 07, 2018, 03:58:08 AM »
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being tested for STIs. I know that facilities for testing will vary from country to country, but where I am STI testing is free and confidential. There are specialist sexual health clinics that you can go to without any referral from your own doctor. In fact, that’s where they’d advise you to go anyway. There’s no need to tell anyone you are being tested. Only if the tests turn out to be positive would you be advised to contact your sexual partners so that they can be treated and prevent them infecting other people. I understand that STI testing is not necessary free or confidential in other countries but if you want to be tested and the services are accessible and affordable then I say go ahead and do it for your peace of mind.

You aren’t a “bad wife” for looking into STI testing for yourself. This is your body and all you are doing is looking after yourself. You’ve been honest with your husband about this, but if you want to be tested then go ahead. Just as we didn’t like having to face up to the reality of our husbands’ porn addiction, they have to accept their partners’ needs for safety and self care in order to heal. If this includes testing for STIs then so be it.

Gracie made an important distinction between the porn addict’s recovery process and the partner’s healing process. These are two very different and separate processes. Ultimately both partners are each responsible for their own recoveries. The recovery of the relationship depends on both partners and not just the addict quitting his acting out.

I was tested for STIs during a routine gyn exam. The tests were offered in line with the current health service policy and it was entirely voluntary.  I told my husband and he wasn’t particularly concerned. The tests were negative so perhaps he wasn’t taking it as me taking action against him or accusing him.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: 2 years later
« on: July 31, 2018, 07:53:56 PM »
Applejack, a big well done to you on getting your new job. Most importantly, you’re rebuilding your life and taking care of yourself and that’s soooo hard to do. I know because I’m still working on my own healing by and I’m nearly three years past d day.

It can be hard trying to re establish a healthy relationship after porn addiction. I worked out early on that a recovering porn addict cannot become someone who was never a porn addict, but of course you don’t know about all these grey areas and micro-transgressions until they manifest. Like the ogling thing. I agree with Kimba, it is completely disrespectful when he’s in your presence and I have been met with angery denials about it in the past. I’m trying to work out a coping strategy that works better for me. I accept that life with a porn addict is not the same as life with someone who was never addicted. In the end we have to find ways that work for us and keep us safe emotionally, and I think some degree of separation is essential, in the sense of becoming a whole person in your own right.

You’re doing so well, Applejack!

I don't want to be with him anymore.  I should probably block him and move on with my life. Im sad that he will end up doing all of this to another woman. 

I don’t think this situation is doing you any good, is it? You know him better than you did 9 months ago. Don’t expect him to change. He won’t. Whatever feelings you have for him, they are only about an illusion. He’s not who you thought he was. Ultimately it’s your decision to make but why choose him if he treats you so badly?

As for other women, you can’t save them. You have no control over him or his future conquests. People have to learn the hard way. As you have done. You don’t have to stick around with a guy who mistreats you. You have the choice.

Yes, Gracie. In a relationship affected by porn addiction both partners are affected in very different ways. In order for a relationship to heal, both partners have to go through their own recovery process as individuals AND work on the relationship together.

For the male partner, there’s a lot more to recovery than quitting porn. The real recovery begins after quitting. Oftentimes the male partner has neglected other areas of his life. He may also have used porn as an escape or distraction in lieu of developing more adult coping mechanisms. Very often he will have neglected the couple relationship as his sexual energies were diverted towards his porn habit whilst the need for secrecy has distanced him emotionally. These problems won’t be addressed, nor can they ever be, if the porn addict continues to hide it.

Female partners have a completely different healing process. Porn is all about sexual objectification, after all. It’s all about the body, even though it’s very much a superficial abstraction of the female body — there’s not actually another person in the room, it’s all about the construction of an imaginary body in the mind of the porn user. I don’t see pornography use in the same way as a physical infidelity BUT I do see it as a betrayal of the relationship, especially when you consider the energy that goes into the secrecy, searching, hiding, making sure nothing will be discovered, the time that is diverted away from the relationship and so on. All for what? To masturbate? Porn addicts often fail to realise the damage they can do to the partner and the relationship.

With regard to body image, as women we are enculturated to see our bodies as our social (and sexual) calling card, so it’s hardly surprising that we feel that we have failed in some way when our husbands develop a porn habit, that they choose to masturbate to porn rather than make love with their spouse. Porn use will affect the sexual relationship whether the partner knows or not. When she doesn’t know she’ll still feel something is amiss. Some women, when they find out, say that everything suddenly fell into place, that their gut was alerting them to something, or they had nagging doubts about things not feeling quite right.

As part of my own recovery, I’ve had to reclaim and take ownership of my body and my sexuality. I don’t rely on my husband to compliment me or confirm these things to feel OK about myself. I bring my physicality, my sexuality, my sensuality to the relationship but I own these aspects of myself always. These parts of me don’t rely on approval or permission to exist. It took some time and effort and a lot of reading to get to where I am now. It might not be part of everybody’s recovery process but it’s been a big part of mine.

In the light of what has been said here, and speaking from my own experience, being in a relationship with someone with a problematical porn habit WILL bring you down.

Whether or not his porn use has influenced how he sees you is impossible to say. I fully understand that repeated porn use can create new pathways in the brain and alter the brain and body chemistry in response to certain stimuli, and how that it becomes a habit and then a compulsion; and that the individual becomes compelled to seek out what brings him the reward (orgasm). In that respect it’s not “personal”. But does this actually influence how men see women in real life? Does viewing porn created or change sexual tastes and expectations in real life? Going by what some men say in other sections of this forum, it can. Does that mean it’s the same for all men? Not necessarily. If a man’s sexuality was allowed to develop through relationships rather than through porn consumption he’s probably going to be a lot more grounded in real life experience.

When a porn habit takes root in a relationship, the partner is affected. The first casualty is the sexual relationship. The effects maybe subtle at first but I certainly noticed that my partner was less interested in having sex and was less physically responsive. To say that porn consumption has no impact whatsoever on the sexual relationship is simply not true. I noticed as soon as we were connected to the internet. Meanwhile my husband was under the delusion that it wouldn’t make any difference. It actually changed everything. Forever. If I could go back and do things differently I would.

This was how the porn addiction progressed, from my perspective. The frequency we had sex diminished and over time and dwindled to zero. Eventually I noticed that he paid me less attention, compliments were rare to non existent, He was less interested in me. He stopped telling me about his day, or sharing things like he used to. (And he was never interested in sex.)

I always had to initiate sex, and if I was “lucky” I might be given pity sex, that became DE, then PIED, then no sex at all. I was turned down more often than not, so I ended up feeling like shit. Meanwhile, he just carried on masturbating to porn without a thought about how was impacting on the relationship, never mind how diminished I was feeling. He wasn’t concerned about my sexual needs and desires AT ALL.

The damage progressed in parallel with his porn addiction. I was living with a massive rejection of every aspect of my womanhood. My body was rejected, my sexuality was rejected, my needs were discounted and ignored and the emotional connection between us was disrupted. I didn’t receive any kind of loving touch.

One of my biggest regrets was not standing up to this porn shit earlier. But I didn’t. Instead I ended up depressed, I developed a poor body image that spiralled into body dysmorphia and disordered eating, my libido switched off, I lost confidence in myself. I was in battle with my body, which I blamed for everything that was going wrong. It was only when I couldn’t take the isolation any more that my husband actually registered that his porn habit had damaged me. It had to go all the way to clinical depression for him to realise.

To me, this was way to high a price to pay so that he could shut himself in with a PC and masturbate in secret. Free porn? I paid the price in loneliness and forfeited my physical and emotional health. And that’s way too high a price for anyone.

If I could do things differently I’d just say “Stop! No More! Get this porn shit the F out of my house.” I’d make an appointment with a specialist psychosexual therapist to get to the root of his problem. I’d have looked after myself better than I did. But I did none of these things.

I knew from the get go my husband was using porn. I’m not stupid. How some men believe that just because they hide it their partner will never find out is astounding. I don’t go along with the addict controlling what his partner is allowed to know (or not) because I value honesty and truthfulness. I don’t value deception. It’s corrosive. I certainly don’t see myself as an “angel” in need of “protection”. I also have a choice on whether I want to spend the rest of my life with a man whose porn addiction has deprived me of having a fulfilling relationship based on honesty and trust, and even a mutually enjoyable sexual relationship. Saying that he chose me as his life partner isn’t quite the catch-all excuse that we should all feel reassured by. The fact is, my husband chose porn when he could have chosen me, whilst at the same time enjoying all the other advantages of the partnership. Obviously I continue to choose my husband despite all we’ve been through, but that’s my point. I have chosen. But if I was to go through any of what I’ve been through in the past, it’s less likely I would choose to remain in a situation that is damaging to me. In that respect, we both have a choice.

Welcome H, although none of us actually want to be here at all.  :(

I’m sorry to read of your relationship difficulties. Whether or not your husband has a porn addiction problem, if it’s creating problems in your relationship and your sexual relationship in particular, it’s still a problem that needs to be addressed. I don’t want to be pessimistic but if your husband doesn’t see it as a problem he will carry on regardless. He may well have a porn addiction if he has used it regularly for masturbation over a period of several years in that he has (unintentionally) trained his brain’s reward centres to respond to the stimuli and the anticipation and so on. I suggest you go to and watch the videos on how porn addiction happens in the brain. It explains porn addiction far better than I ever could. All it takes is regular and repeated use to effectively create the pathways in the brain. It’s not necessarily about how often or how much time is spent viewing per week. It’s about the neuroplasticity of the brain. Is your husband addicted to porn? I guess he could be but as it’s all been a big secret you don’t actually know yet. In any case, does it matter? It’s still creating problems.

The secrecy surrounding porn addiction can make it very difficult for you to find out the true extent of his porn use over the long term. I hate to say it, but he’s not likely to be honest about it and you may have to accept you aren’t going to have a full and accurate picture. Porn adds lie about and minimise the true extent of their habit. If you feel you are not getting your questions answered, you would be justified in doing your own detective work. Yes, I know that some people say don’t snoop or spy, but you have the right to know what’s been going on in your marriage so that you can make your own decisions about the life you want to live.

I agree, his dad wasn’t the best role model and as for those remarks about “chasing those unattainable perfect girls”, I mean WTF? He was a virgin until he was 24?

I agree, I think you need to probe deeper. Porn addiction can mask all kinds of problem in a relationship as well as create new ones. Often there are more deep seated problems that go back further, to the time when porn use was first used as an escape/coping mechanism. Often, porn addicts haven’t really developed mature coping skills and use it in adulthood to self medicate or escape.

Don’t forget about yourself in all of this. You have needs. You have feelings. You still need to honour your feelings and take your own needs seriously. It’s up to you to decide what you want your marriage to look like, and consider what you can live with and won’t tolerate.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: letting go
« on: July 13, 2018, 09:09:27 AM »
Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this discussion, Stiffy. I’m afraid we may be drifting off Aquarius25’s original question about what we, as partners, find the biggest struggle in the healing process. There are three distinct healing/recovery processes in a relationship affected by porn addiction — that of the addict, the partner and the relationship. It’s not a unilateral issue where it’s all about the addict

Most if not all partners here have done their own reading and research into porn addiction and have a reasonably good understanding of how it happens and how it perpetuates. However, understanding the mechanisms of porn addiction doesn’t really address the partner’s issues. I’m not saying that this understanding is not valuable. It is. But our issues can sometimes be very different and won’t be addressed by reading lots of articles on Even though it’s an excellent resource, there’s not much there that addresses the needs of the partner.

Forgiveness is a process. It happens in stages. It can’t be forced. Forgiveness isn’t a duty or an obligation. Forgiveness is only possible once the partner has metabolised all the feelings and emotions that have come from this experience. Forgiving partners definitely helps the healing process but it won’t necessarily address the ways in which we have been affected as individuals, as women.

As partners of porn addicts (in recovery), our healing may encompass reconnecting to our sexuality, fostering a positive relationship to our own body image, learning to assert ourselves, practicing good self care, having therapy and developing other aspects ourselves beyond our relationship. This isn’t an extensive list nor does everything apply to everyone. Understanding how porn addiction affects the addict’s brain won’t make the partner’s issues vanish, nor will forgiveness necessarily help much either.

With regard to “support”, it means different things to different people. My partner can live very happily without porn. He doesn’t want it nor miss it. He’s not struggling with it at all. He was 100% committed to quitting porn, and it was his decision. Not mine. He needs support in other areas of his life sometimes, and that’s OK. In fact , that’s entirely normal even in relationships where there is no porn addiction.

Getting back to the original question, my biggest struggle in the recovery process was building trust again. Trust feels risky and it can only happen over time because actions speak louder than words. My own individual issues have been around body image and sexuality as these were impacted very badly by my husband’s porn addiction, prior to which I had a very positive relationship with these aspects of myself. These are issues that are very personal to me and had our relationship not survived, I’d still need to heal from them. As for our relationship as a couple, the biggest issue has been communication. We’ve actually had to learn how to communicate better after years of my husband having to maintain a distance and keep secrets, during which I instinctively knew what to avoid. I knew he was using porn and in some respects I was unintentionally colluding in a situation that wasn’t healthy but only because I’d busted him several times and nothing ever changed.

There’s been a lot to contend with throughout our recovery and healing processes. It’s been far more complex than I could ever have imagined, but worth it.

Porn Addiction / Re: Wife looking for perspective
« on: July 09, 2018, 05:40:21 PM »
Sarah1, I went through a similar experience in that my husband replaced our sexual relationship with porn completely. He says he was always attracted to me, which makes no sense, but throughout his porn addiction I believed that I had no sexual attraction which slowly eroded my sense of self worth, and I ended up with depression, disordered eating and a poor body image. One thing I know now is that I’m never going to put up with that again. The price I paid just so he could masturbate in front of a screen was too high.

Partners have their own recovery process and it almost always involves repairing our self esteem and sexual confidence. It’s something we need to learn to nurture within ourselves. To some extent we have to let go of external validation. Unfortunately that’s the way the culture sets us up, that our value as a woman comes from satisfying the male gaze against a backdrop of messages (from ads etc) that tell us we’re never going to be good enough as we are.

When our partners dump us for porn, its tough when your identity has been defined by you physical characteristics, and especially you’ve made at least some of your living at some point because of your looks. In this context, all women are going to age out of their youthful “hotness” but that is only one very narrow definition of attractiveness. We are worth more than our looks. We need our partners to accept the whole of our being, not just the good-looking exterior.

There are many ways that I have re-learned how to love and honour my body again. The first and most fundamental realisation was to acknowledge that my body isn’t something detached from me, like an object that exists somewhere below my neck. Objectification is the ultimate mind-body disconnect. I realised that my body was what makes me exist in this world, and to reject my body is to reject my physical existence — and I’m just not going to do that to myself. We owe it to ourselves to eat well, do some exercise, dress well, adorn ourselves as we please. We only have one body and we only have one life on this earth.

My sexuality was damaged by my husband’s lack of interest in me after he became hooked on porn. Prior to that we had enjoyed fantastic sex, and I still don’t understand why he’d neglect our sexual relationship in preference to masturbating to images on a screen. Unfortunately porn hijacked then distorted his sexuality. He says he was always attracted to me but his total lack of interest tells me something else.

Reconnecting with my sexuality has been a very important part of my recovery. I do not impersonate porn or act out any of those those cliches. Too often female sexuality is defined very much in relation to pleasing men, and it’s often a pornified version of what sex “should” be. Thankfully my husband doesn’t want all that porny crap in our relationship, which is just as well because I’ve never bought into that stuff. For me, sexuality is a sensual experience that involves the whole body, it’s about touch and physical warmth, breath and the heightened sensation that an only occur when two people are present. On the other hand, I accept that we all have our own sexual wants and needs and preferences, so what on individual or couple find irresistible can be a complete turn off to others. It’s worth paying attention to this part of your recovery. We hear a lot about hard reboots, and PIED etc, but we never read much about the partner’s sexual healing process. I had to make it up as I went along. Never forget that your sexuality belongs to you and you alone, not to your partner, not to your relationship, not to some random guy on the street. It belongs to you, and only you get to decide if and when you want to share it.

Good luck on your journey to recovery.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: letting go
« on: July 04, 2018, 11:38:13 AM »
I’m so sorry to read about what you’ve been going through recently and of course you’re going to wonder if your husband really did quit or was he just working hard at creating the illusion of sincerity? There never are any concrete answers and it’s difficult to trust when out trust has already been violated. I’m sure all the partners reading this know that feeling.

I’m almost 3 years into recovery and I can say that even now it’s such hard fucking word to rebuild just about every aspect of the relationship that was damaged by the porn addiction. Even if the acting out has stopped, there are still artefacts of the ingrained behaviours that propped up the addiction that remain.

Trust is an issue in our relationship too. It’s not that I don’t trust him not to act out, I feel certain that he’s quit and intends to stay that way. That’s not my immediate concern. What IS the issue is that in his day-to-day life, he still omits to tell me things and he isn’t always straight with me. Obviously I find out about some of his omissions, and even if relatively minor, it still undermines my trust. It’s taken A LOT to rebuild trust and it’s a fragile process. For him, saying nothing about anything and keeping an emotional distance was a way of life during his addiction and he can’t seem to ‘unlearn’ it. He doesn’t seem to be able to grasp how this undermines trust. My attitude is that if he isn’t willing to be open about the small stuff then how can I trust him about the bigger issues?

There does come a time when you have to draw a line and say “I need to start caring about ME”. If I’m honest, I still have to remind myself of this over and over, even in small ways, because the effects of 15-20 years of my husband’s porn addiction go very deep. Relationship patterns get stuck too, and if you aren’t mindful about changing the ways you communicate and behave in the relationship, it’s so easy to fall back into old ways. I don’t mean relapsing and using porn, but falling back into the old ways that allowed it to happen in the first place and evolved to maintain it. Not communicating properly, maintaining an emotional distance, and so on. I keep trying but there comes a point where you need to take a step back and acknowledge that you’re trying to do the work of two people, and it can’t be done alone. Meanwhile, who’s taking care of you? No one! That’s why you need to think of your own needs. Even if your husband did become the textbook perfect recovering addict, it would still be very draining for you as an individual, as a partner. You still have your own recovery needs as a partner regardless of how well your husband is doing.

It’s only after maybe 18-24 months after d day that I could see the true extent of the damage that all those years of porn addiction did to me. Looking back, there was depression, disordered eating, low self esteem, no libido whatsoever. I was in a bad place but it had become my “normal”. I was very lonely in my marriage. This is why I wish men wouldn’t hide their porn use or lie about it. I paid too high a price just so he could wank to a computer screen. I know that I’m worth more than that. It was all preventable. I question so much about myself now? It’s not only ‘Can I trust my husband?’ It’s also ‘Can I trust my own judgement?’ So we need healthy emotional boundaries that protect us as individuals, so we can develop our own identity and know where our limits lie. We can’t do all of the heavy lifting all of the time, indefinitely.

The dealbreaker for me wouldn’t be a relapse, it would be being lied to about relapsing. If I were to ask questions and he swore blind that everything is fine when he knows damn well he’s misleading me, if I were to check his history (not that it’s foolproof, but…) and I found suspect data, and if he swore blind that no, never, he wouldn’t when it’s a lie, these are the dealbreakers. I have asked him to tell me if he relapses. That’s the deal. Just to add, checking is justified if you strongly suspect you’re being lied to, especially if you’ve asked on 4 or 5 occasions. Sometimes there’s no proof, and sometimes there’s no lie. Sometimes it’s impossible to know one way or another.

I really hope the counselling goes well, for both of you. The effects of porn addiction are very difficult problem to overcome, even when the acting out has stopped. I had no idea it would be this difficult, and my partner, to my knowledge, has not relapsed. One thing I know is that I never want to be treated like shit again. It’s such difficult situation to get beyond. That’s why I wish you all the best with your counselling. X

foreverbroken, welcome to the forum again. Im sorry to read your bf’s porn and relationship history is continuing to affect you and your shared relationship.

You say your bf is/was not a porn addict but nevertheless his previous porn use is impacting on how you feel about yourself. I suspect the real problem here is one of self esteem and self image which can affect anyone, male or female, single or in a relationship, regardless of whether porn is a presence in their lives now or in the past. You talk in detail about your bf’s relationship and sexual history, but say nothing of your own history. Perhaps there are events in your past feeding into these feelings you have about yourself, whether it’s previous bfs, early trauma or whatever. I’m not saying there definitely is, but these issues rarely just appear out of nowhere.

As for looking at teen porn or whatever category of porn your bf used to watch and going on Reddit to read posts by men who have a thing for young girls — why? You are only upsetting yourself and it’s probably impacting on your self image in a very unhealthy way. Don’t go there! Why repeat a behaviour that undermines how you feel about yourself and your partner? It’s not doing you any good.

At this stage, if your partner has quit porn and if you are happy in other areas of your relationship, then I suggest you concentrate on activities that give your life meaning. Whatever your interests are, or were before you had these difficulties, I suggest you pursue your own personal interests and projects. If you like painting, or hiking, or gardening, or making things, or whatever else is/was your thing, then perhaps think about doing these things instead of hanging out on those Reddit boards that don’t serve your interests in any way whatsoever.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for partners of recovering porn addicts, but typically the porn addiction has escalated during the relationship and has had a negative impact on the couple. This appears not to have been your history, but if your bf’s previous porn use is causing problems for you, and you are engaging in activities that make you feel worse about yourself, it’s still something you need to address for the sake of your own emotional health. How do YOU want to live your life? Looking at teen porn and using bleaching creams? Probably not. So think about all the good things that will give your life meaning and you WILL start to feel better about yourself , about life, about your relationship.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Re: A mans way to say sorry
« on: June 12, 2018, 09:37:16 AM »
Speaking from experience, my own and the partners on this forum, and from reading Paula Hall’s book on the partner’s perspective, honest disclosure is almost always necessary for the recovery of the relationship.

Just as all individuals are different, all relationships are unique to the personalities involved and within any relationship there are a number of ways a relationship can turn out depending on the choices, behaviour and communication of both partners. In other words, you can make or break the relationship according to your actions.

Consider this. Disclosure isn’t the only way for a partner to discover a porn habit. Many partners discover porn use unintentionally. Many partners make repeated discoveries, sometimes after being told their spouse no longer does it; sometimes on a hunch because they sense something isn’t quite right, so they look for it. Discoveries aren’t always the spouse searching through phones and computers; sometimes they walk in on their husband masturbating; sometimes it’s their kid walking in and becoming upset or unsettled by the experience. Sometimes people are caught viewing porn at work. And so on. The point I’m making is that you cannot possibly expect to control what your spouse knows or doesn’t know, and you cannot realistically sustain this relationship based on the assumption she is never going to know you have a porn addiction.

Most partners will tell you it’s the lying and deception that does the most damage. Repeated discoveries interspersed with lying, denial and minimisation — the trickle truth scenario — is the most damaging to partners and to the relationship but it’s also the most common pattern of discovery. An honest, full disclosure is the least damaging. Sometimes it might be necessary to do a therapeutic disclosure with a counsellor who specialises in porn/sex addiction. This is precisely because the partner may need support to deal with the trauma and upset. Disclosure isn’t easy for either partner.

With regard to WHAT to disclose, it’s probably better to avoid the details, that is the specific categories of porn, but it’s probably important to say that you have a porn habit that is interfering with your life and/or your relationship. It’s probably important to explain how long it’s been going on for and that it’s reached the point where it’s having negative consequences. A broad outline is OK, but it’s probably best to avoid descriptions and details about the porn material itself.

Disclosing your porn behaviours is a risk. For a partner, discovery/disclosure will almost always create conflict in the initial aftermath. Most partners will find honest disclosure, regardless of the details, far easy to deal with than the discovery – denial - trickle truth route. Disclosure isn’t easy for the partner to listen to, but addicts have to accept this, and so do partners I suppose. Honest disclosure is much less likely to end up in separation than years of lying, deception and gaslighting.

With regard to porn addiction, I would say that almost all partners on this forum are aware of the various theories about porn addiction and have a fairly good understanding of how porn addiction begins and perpetuates. Most partners will be motivated to learn about porn addiction and will be willing to help repair the relationship in the light of this knowledge. Repairing the relationship takes two. If one partner has a “secret” porn habit and believes that an equally “secret” 90 day reboot is somehow going to restore the relationship, particularly the sexual relationship, then think again. Partners are not passive recipients nor are they without sexual feelings of their own.

Partners also have their own separate recovery process which is entirely different to that of the recovering porn addict. The damage is already done. We might not know why certain parts of the relationship don’t feel right. We don’t understand why our spouse isn’t interested in sex any more. We sense an emotional distancing too. We pick up on all sorts of little things that don’t quite add up but we can’t put our finger on what it is exactly. Being in a relationship with a porn addict who is not (yet) in recovery is a very lonely place. Living like this eventually takes its toll on our emotional health and wellbeing. The longer it goes on, the deeper the damage and the longer it will take to put that damage right. That’s why I feel that it’s important for addicts to be honest. Speaking personally, my partner’s 15-20 year porn addiction resulted in depression, disordered eating, late onset anorexia and body dysmorphia, not to mention it’s damaging effects on my sexuality and sexual identity. As far as I’m concerned, it’s too high a price to pay just so he could masturbate to pixels on a screen. He told me that the only way he could quit was by admitting after many years that he had a problem with it.

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