Reboot Nation Forum > Partners of Rebooters and Addicts

What it feels like for a partner

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Gracie:
I have moved this topic from Porn Addiction.  I have removed the posts not helpful to new partners that are seeking answers to their pain.  I have left in the numerous names that have been used by one person that has posted hurtful statements detrimental to a partner's healing so they might recognize that person.  Some comments left may appear stilted as a result.  I am also locking this topic to preserve it.

There are new people here that try to figure out how it is for partners.  This is a post I wrote a few years ago.  Please read.

[i]I keep seeing men tell women it is not about us.  I sat and thought about that statement.  It seems it is meant to get us on some kind of road to recovery.  Such a simple statement. 

And yet here is the conundrum, porn is not about us, BUT  Once our husband gets into porn he talks to us less, he complements us less, he makes comments about our appearance, he goes to bed at a different time, he doesn't talk to the kids, we don't just have fun anymore, we don't have those spontaneous fun sex moments anymore, we see him ogling other women, he doesn't hug us often, kisses even less, is secretive, is furtive, is grumpy.  How can we not feel it is us?

He does not want to be around us anymore.  When we ask what is wrong, we are told NOTHING.  But we feel everything is wrong.  Then all of a sudden BAM.  I'm sorry honey its porn.  I have been MOing to all these young goregeous girls the whole time I have been ignoring you and our entire life.  But hey its not you.  Just forgive me it is an addiction.  Suck it up, quit crying and I will stop.   Oh yeah, that makes us feel good.

It does not.  It makes us feel like shit.  It takes a long time to get past that.  And in order to work through it, and wrap our brain around the lies, we have huge pain.  I wish I could describe the physical knife stabbing pain that was there in the beginning, the heart palpitations, the shallow breathing, the hypervigilence, the sense of loss, the feeling of no direction and the feeling of being so alone that we feel.

It can be worked through but only together and with each partner validating what is being said.  But I can tell you, I will never be the same.  There is a scarred wound from the hurt that came into our marriage.  And it can only heal from the inside out.  Porn significantly harms the marriage attachment.


Mike2:
Thank you for sharing your experience Gracie, I'm sorry you had to go through that. I'll keep this mind as I remove porn from my life and start dating. 

Nikola Numez:
well its not about you. you are still sexy, kind and everything else. that is not implying that everything is fine, like "dont feel bad because its not about you". it does not have to be about you for you to feel bad about it. problem still remains and needs to be dealt with but getting the extra luggage off our shoulder can make it easier to quit. you will probably still feel bad even though its not about you, because you care about your partner, but you will be of more help and less another stress to deal with (yeah it really sucks to know that your partner thinks its something wrong with her).

taking PIED and desensitization to life personally is just showing personal insecurities about yourself aka weakness not strength and is causing more trouble and more reasons to PMO, as stupid as that sounds.

on the other hand, its impossible for partner to grasp the idea of being addicted to something they are not addicted to. you can read journals, success stories or brain studies but you will never come close to experiencing it so you may feel inclined to think that it may be about you... i know that it does not help though, being supportive and not playing victim game is more helpful.

porn addiction is really serious business, divorce (despite complications with kids etc.) is something to consider if you are not happy. people take different paths for all kinds of reasons and porn addiction is more than legit reason to abandon someone who does not want to quit or is lying/not trying their best. you need to weigh in all the positives and negatives, that action may shook him and if not just proceed with it. stop looking for partners approval if its not there.

Emerald Blue:
The majority of partners who have signed up to this community are highly motivated, caring, loving and loyal people who want the best for their relationship, their partner and themselves. Most of us have read the research and learned about porn addiction to the best of our abilities. Our experience is very different and separate from that of the recovering addict hence the need for a separate partner's section. Although we are there because we want our partners and relationships to have the best chance of recovery, our own experience is something that is unique to partners, and almost all partners will pass through the same feelings and issues.

The initial reaction to a partner hooked on porn is one of "why are you choosing this over me? Am I not good enough for you?" Until we understand porn addiction, we are going to find it difficult to get past that especially when compulsive porn use overtakes the sexual part of the relationship, and in some cases replaces it altogether. At that stage, when the addict is chasing porn and the partner has no sexual activity in her life, "he doesn't want me any more" seems like an irrefutable fact, especially if their sex life dwindled and ended in erectile dysfunction. If he can pursue porn but not get it up for his partner, she's going to come to the conclusion that the reason for his ED lies with her and his loss of sexual attraction towards her.

It takes a LOT of understanding to realise that the problem stems from the process of porn addiction and how it affects the brain, and ultimately sexual performance. However, when the addiction has gone on for some time and neither partner are aware that porn addiction exists, the feelings that the female partner has about herself will be reinforced in the same way that the addict is reinforcing the brain pathways every time he uses porn. It's the same for us when we noticed our partner's indifference, or felt their refusals or witnessed their erectile dysfunction. We're actually on a downward spiral of feeling the pain of rejection over and over.

The irony is that many addicts find their partners very desirable, but somehow I sense that those feelings are numbed somewhat not only by the porn but the distancing and the deception of concealing their behaviour.

Ultimately we get that "it's not personal" but there are some caveats. Some men do openly admit their dissatisfaction with their partner's desirability. Some openly admit they aren't happy with their partner's sexual performance. I'm not saying that's true for most addicts but it is true for some. When I have read those posts I suspect that these are the ones who will not talk openly about sex and sexuality with their spouses and probably never have done. Yet these are the very people who need to the most, and probably need to communicate about many other issues too.

Most female partners of porn addicts are not prudes nor do we suffer from all manner of sexual hang ups, and I would say in most cases we have a far healthier relationship with sex and sexuality than our addict spouses. Unfortunately for many of us, our partner's porn addiction has denied us the expression of our own sexuality. That's why it's important for addicts to tell their spouses about their dependency on porn and porn-like imagery because it's not healthy for the relationship.

There are many different aspects to how porn addiction affects partners and partners have a right to their own recovery and to their own self-determination. Keeping us out of the loop denies us these opportunities to improve our own lives and, we hope, to build a better and stronger relationship.

Gracie:
Do I get what NN says?  Yes.  At this time, on the day I wrote this 3 years ago, my logic mind says yes, my heart mind says no.  For all the reasons stated.   Porn had replaced our sex life during his addicted time.  15 years.

  So say you are a woman and you get to be 45 or so and your sex life that was very robust, dwindles down to maybe 3 times a month and he says nothing is wrong and you find out 15 years after the disengagement begins that 18 year olds (the age of his grandaughter), hold all of his sexual interest, you would think it was your aging body that birthed 3 children was a big part of the problem.  You have put on a little weight over the years but nowhere near the 100 pounds he has put on and your face is wrinkle free. And there he is replacing your love life.  The kisses stop, the conversation stops, the sharing stops.  You find out he does this everyday.

Then, if you are older, you wonder will we make it through this horrible mess before we die?  We have.  But that was scary for me, that we would not get where we could make love again before one of us died. 

So for you guys that keep having trouble, think of your future wives.  For you who are married, think of your wives.

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