Author Topic: How to make a change?  (Read 909 times)

aquarius25

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How to make a change?
« on: September 25, 2017, 09:31:09 AM »
So I have been on here for a bit. Something that has always bothered me as a partner is the lack of integrity and honesty that a lot of PA's approach their recovery with. I feel like shame is a huge factor and there is something I guess I do and don't understand about that. I hear so many PA's say they are uncomfortable talking about their porn usage and addiction. Even some say that when they attend 12 step programs and that are supposed to be safe places they are still scared to talk about it. If porn use is so widely accepted as a  cultural norm why can't people talk about it? I think for a huge portion of addicts on this site, opening up and talking with a group would be pivotal in their recovery. Also, it would be one step in changing the conversation as a culture. More people need to talk about it, and the more that do the more it becomes ok to talk about it. On a recovery note the more you keep it a secret the more you are still stuck in shame. That is a huge driving factor in the addiction. It is like you are trying to lose weight, drinking a Slimfast and eating plate after plate of pasta! That will never be successful because it's just a band-aid on a war wound. It breaks my heart when I read people not wanting to come clean and opening up to someone about their addiction, especially when they have a family and they are stuck so deep in this shame. I am not just sad for their partners but I am sad for them because they really won't be able to fully heal and recover with all the shame.

I know this is probably a bit of a rant. I know the partner's section is probably not the best place to post this but I feel like in the main forum they aren't interested in hearing it. All they want to do is fix their limp dick. It is so frustrating to read. Especially when I think about the future for my kids. We have to change the conversation. We just have to if we want the next generation or the one after to have some hope of a better life than this. For me personally, I will not give into shame. I will start talking more openly about this because it's not ok.

Emerald Blue

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Re: How to make a change?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 11:52:11 AM »
What an excellent idea for discussion, Aquarius. You often raise some very interesting ideas that are well worth exploring.

I think one of the obstacles to discussing porn addiction seems to be what could be described as "masculinity", which also conflicts with the contradictory messages of sex as it is portrayed in pop culture versus the inability to openly discuss sex and issues relating to sex.

If you look at images of masculinity in popular culture, it's still the "tough guy" which probably makes it more difficult to talk openly about erectile dysfunction or depression, or relationship difficulties. In the present day culture, we're told "all men watch porn". So who's going to admit they've got a problem with it? Or even that they don't watch porn at all all? It would be "what's the matter? Are you gay or something?" It would be admitting you don't like sex or "hot" women, even though there's no sex happening and there's no women there either. I think there are obstacles to guys being open about their porn issues with other men.

We also still have the remnants of the old taboos about sex. I think there was a time maybe 10-20 years before the widespread availability of internet porn when younger adults had grown up with healthier and more open minded attitudes to sex and sexuality, and I would include myself in this cohort. Pornography was available as printed magazines and VHS tapes that had to be bought. Nobody used porn every day, or could consume enough to get addicted or develop psychological and physical problems from overconsumption. I feel that internet pornography undid a lot of the progress we had worked for as a society and pushed a lot of outdated and offensive attitudes about sex. For example, calling women "dirty" and "filthy", or "whore" and "slut". For a start, sex isn't "dirty" and women aren't "sluts" because they are sexually active. The expectation for women now is that they are sexual performers rather than sexual partners. Women's bodies, particularly their genitals, used to be seen as unclean and offensive. Through books such as Our Bodies, Ouselves women and girls became better educated about their anatomy, their reproductive cycle, contraception and, very significantly, exploring their sexuality and experiencing sexual pleasure.  In the era of internet pornography, the "ideal" female anatomy resembles that of a plastic doll.

I see all of this as retrogressive and damaging, not just for women but for men, and future generations of men.

I don't live in the US but I was quite shocked to discover how there is even opposition to sex education in schools, yet if kids can go online and watch women being slapped and called "bitch" and being anally penetrated, then WTF??! Surely people need to get real. I live in a country where contraception is free, testing for sexually transmitted infections is free, as is any treatment required, emergency and "morning after" contraception is free, advice about sexual health, free condoms for gay men, etc. We've come a long way as a society to work against unhealthy attitudes and taboos about sex and sexuality, yet I fear that the porn "norms" are undermining not just healthier attitudes to sex and sexuality, but the elimination of human relationships in the context of sex.

I have been quite confused at times by the "shame" of porn addiction. My husband is only just beginning to open up about his porn addiction experience but I've been quite stunned by his inability to talk about sexual matters. I've been the one to initiate the conversations and he is so inhibited in any kind of discussion. He still sees sex as something that isn't spoken about. He's actually very, very inhibited. I often wonder whether the porn industry thrives on people having unhealthy attitudes and taboos about sex and sexuality, but it also reinforces unhealthy attitudes too.
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

Emerald Blue

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Re: How to make a change?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2017, 10:06:27 AM »
Raven song, you've said some really interesting things here that are hitting the nail on the head.

The relationship between sexuality and shame make it almost impossible to experience a healthy sexual relationship in the current social climate. I feel that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the early pioneers of the women's movement in the late 60s and into the 70s because that was the first time that female sexual pleasure was brought into the open and discussed in an adult manner. Obviously this was the first time in history that women's sexual pleasure could exist without the threat of unwanted pregnancies. That women could have sex for pleasure was a revolutionary idea. The ideas that I was exposed to as a consequence was that it was OK to explore your body, to experience orgasm, and protect your sexual and reproductive health. Not to mention that it was my business whether or not to have sex with someone, and that I need not suffer verbal abuse and negative judgment because I was sexually active without being in a long term relationship.

My husband once told me that he was chastised for touching himself as a small child, that it was something he must not do, so it's possible that even early on he associated the physical pleasure experienced in that way with an activity that should be done secretly and without being discovered. He definitely carries a certain stigma in his mind about masturbation and from what he has told me it became a compulsive behaviour from puberty. At about a year or so after d day, the masturbation practice started up again and it started to interfere with our lovemaking. I knew he was doing it because I woke up early a couple of times and saw it, though he thought I was asleep. After that, I became pretty astute at recognising his mood and behaviours after he had been masturbating and he wouldn't be interested in sex. But he would never admit to it, not even under pain of death. I asked him outright and he denied it. The fact was that it was interfering with our lovemaking, he would have no libido or if we tried he wouldn't get aroused. I'd been there before with his porn habit, but I didn't anticipate he'd return to the other part of the behaviour, the masturbation part and yes, there was a distinct pattern/routine developing too. But why the F wouldn't he just admit to it? I realised that I I have a huge issue with him and his inability to talk about anything sexual. If he can't even admit to masturbating, and it's been going on for months, a year almost....  I don't think this is a good sign.

As an example of the warped thinking I had during his years of porn addiction, it  was also in part fuelled by his 'excuses', that the reason he was using porn was because I was not available at the time he was acting out. Or I was unavailable for some other reason. Eventually he developed PIED but guess what? I always wanted sex at the wrong time, so he was "too tired". Did he ever suggest a 'right' time? Never. Then he said I lost interest. Yes, that's true. But only because I'd been turned down too often and then there was the ED. Nothing sends out a clearer "not interested" signal than that. So it wasn't ME who lost interest first, I couldn't take his rejection and his sexual indifference any more. I gave up.

But you see, it was ALWAYS my fault because I wasn't 'available'. Until after d day when I blew that excuse out of the water. I kept showing up and making myself available. And whenever we hit a wall in the recovery process, as inevitably happens, I was still showing up. I was still present. I was still trying. Still available. But he started retreating into masturbation and was not prepared to admit it. If he could admit it, I could say, "OK, but is this healthy masturbation? Is it an essential part of your sexual expression? Just be honest with me, otherwise it is having a negative impact on our lovemaking." Alternatively it could be unhealthy masturbation, fuelled by porn fantasies or fantasising similarly with unavailable others, and that could be a warning about reverting back to old and unhelpful behaviour patterns. But without being open about it, there is a risk of unhealthy behaviours re-emerging.

About six months ago I realised that recovering my sexuality could only happen as part of my personal healing. I could not recover sexually if I was confining myself within my relationship. I have conflicting feelings about this. My sexual energies have been directed at self acceptance and self love, and that's a good thing, but I can't integrate this healing with my relationship because of my partner's inability to share and be honest. If my sexual recovery was contained within my relationship, as it had been for over a year after d day, I would forever be stuck in a passive, reactive mode, and that wasn't helping me. I know I can't communicate with him about this because of the way he is. He hasn't shown much empathy towards me throughout recovery, which is fairly typical for recovering PAs as they often didn't develop that ability earlier in life. In fact he often doesn't listen to me, that was another shock I had to come to terms with after d day. I really have tried, though.

I don't know what the best way to overcome these issues are. I suspect with my partner, there's a lot more going on besides the social stigma and taboos about sex and masturbation. Communication is vital. You'd think it would be easier these days but it's not.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 10:15:07 AM by Emerald Blue »
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it