Author Topic: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?  (Read 3209 times)

raven song

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asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« on: September 03, 2017, 11:09:38 AM »
I'm asking my husband to see a therapist who specializes in porn addiction.

My concern is that if he finally does see a therapist - that person will minimize this as not an addiction and he will feel okay continuing his behavior of trying to manage this on his own, lying to me when he relapses, and not sharing his process with me.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 06:10:19 PM by raven song »
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Emerald Blue

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2017, 04:09:23 PM »
Whether or not you can both agree that your partner is a porn addict, or isn't a porn addict, the fact is that his porn use is creating problems in your relationship. So, you undoubtedly have relationship difficulties that need to be addressed whether you call it "porn addiction" or not. If he's being told it's "not so bad" by his so called "coach", but you feel that it's having a negative impact on your relationship and you as an individual, then that's a problem that needs to be addressed, regardless of what you or anyone else calls it. It's a problem for you. It's a problem in your relationship. It's a problem that is affecting both of you, whether he admits it or not.

Porn addiction is progressive and it's progression can be slow. There are often issues in relationships where one partner "enabled" the other's porn use further down the line when the porn use became more problematic. It's not uncommon for partners of PAs to tolerate porn early on in an attempt to contain the porn use within acceptable limits. This approach never really works out.

In terms of addiction, it doesn't matter how often someone watches porn or for how long. The crucial factor is that its consumption has been enough to create specific changes in the brain, to the extent that the brain is reacting to pixels accompanied by manual stimulation to create a reward. It's not a genuine sexual response, it's the brain effectively looking for a sufficient stimulus to kick off a cycle of reaction. When someone who uses porn can't function sexually, or if they find sex even with orgasm a consistent disappointment in relation to their porn use, then you could say that's indicative of porn addiction. But whether people agree or disagree on whether this is "porn addiction" or whether porn addiction even exists, you still have a relationship problem and it still needs to be addressed.

His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

raven song

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2017, 11:33:14 AM »
Emerald Blue,
Thank you for your response - it helps me to clear about my feelings.  I love your screen name by the way.  :)

The definition of porn addiction doesn't matter.




« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 04:42:49 PM by raven song »
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Emerald Blue

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2017, 12:15:21 PM »
There's no getting away from the fact that unless he wants to quit, NOTHING can make him stop. Not you, not a therapist, nobody can. It has to come from him.

I was fortunate in that my partner wanted to quit by the time things came to a head. He'd tried and failed a few times. It was dragging him down. For him, getting it into the open at was what he needed. It was very different to before when I'd busted him over and over but he wouldn't stop. In the end I let him have his porn but eventually we never had sex. I let him have his 'secrecy' but he ended up lonely and isolated. He ended up with the opposite of what he wanted. A lonely secretive habit that made him depressed and miserable. It's a shame that I had to be dragged down to the same place — isolated, depressed and feeling very negative towards myself. But that's how far it had to go before quitting was a no brainer.
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

raven song

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2017, 02:29:41 PM »
Emerald Blue,
I'm so glad your partner found his own motivation to quit.  I agree with you, my partner has to want to quit - plain and simple. 

I'm sorry that his process of getting to the place of recovery has dragged you down.  I hope you have been able to fully recover and feel positive about yourself. 

Thank you so much for your advice, it is spot on and has helped me significantly this weekend. 

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Emerald Blue

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2017, 06:14:56 PM »
Thank you for your kind words, raven song.

With regard to my partner's porn use, he was always secretive about it. It's just that I discovered in the internet history very early on. After each discovery he made sure he would cover his tracks better but it was obvious to me he was using porn because he would watch it when he assumed I was asleep so he'd have the door shut on the computer room (but not at other times) and then I'd find that the internet history was completely erased. This was when we had a shared computer. The other giveaway was his obvious lack of interest in sex for weeks at a time, and I'd always have to initiate. At one point I grew so impatient with his secrecy that I tiptoed quitely, opened the door and caught him in the act. My big regret was saying that if I caught him again I would insist on professional help. The problem was there was never any evidence to find so I never enforced that condition. I thought I needed 'proof' but I could never find any. In hindsight, I shouldn't have needed evidence. I should have just insisted on getting help, that was my big mistake and my big regret.

You see, I *knew* he was using porn throughout but he made sure I couldn't discover anything. Eventually we had our own computers and I never touched his. I knew there would be no point. I knew he had his browser set to delete all history and cookies on quit and that's what he always did on the occasions when I would open the dreaded closed door at those times. So I was effectively powerless. And of course, we never had sex. That became our 'normal' of course it affected me, but I'll come to that later.

Some time previously I could detect a shift. He'd had a lot of work stress and he was worried about losing his job during a takeover, and when he didn't, he didn't like this and he didn't like that, yet at the same time he became very work-obsessed, almost like a workaholic. He would complain about work all the time, which I expected would pass when he was more settled in his job, but instead it just intensified. I couldn't stand it. Who wants to listen to two hours of moaning and complaining every evening? I felt he was being unfair to just use me as the one to dump his crap onto and give me nothing in return. No "thank you for listening" or anything like that. Then, I don't know why, I felt a shift. I wondered at one point whether he was actually infatuated with a new coworker but now I'm not so sure, but something was off. It may also have been his addiction progressing as he said the last year was particularly difficult although he's never specified what that meant. In truth, I don't know. I suspected infidelity at one point but I could say who/when/where. All I knew is that at about six months before d day there was a definite feeling of something not being right. I still don't know what or why I felt that way.

It was the continuation of that feeling of unease, that sense of increasing emotional distance, that continued grumbling on in the background like a gnawing toothache. His porn use was still 'business as usual'. This was how it was right up until d day.

D day wasn't a 'discovery' day as it is usually defined. My d day was more like 'disintegration day'. I couldn't take it any more. I was so distressed by the emotional distance between us and I felt as if I was waiting for my fate, that I would be dragged down further only to be told by my husband that it was over, he wasn't happy anymore, maybe he met someone, or maybe not yet, but I just saw misery ahead and I wasn't looking forward to that outcome. But I felt I had no choice. He'd effectively ostracised me from that part of his life.

Another factor was whether I was prepared to accept the possibilities of infidelities if they were kept secret, that I would have to tolerate that situation in the same way that I'd lived with the porn. I didn't agree to it. I didn't want it. But he wasn't considering my feelings or the impact it was having on our relationship. Bearing in mind we'd had a sexless marriage for years, because he wanted porn instead. But I suddenly realised, Fuck no! I'm NOT going to turn a blind eye to whatever else he might do in the same way I've tolerated the porn. No fucking way. I couldn't bear having to live like that. But the thing was, I was so fucking weak by that time, physically and emotionally. 15+ years of porn addiction. A husband that treated me like a leper when it came to physical intimacy, and the worse of it all was that I blamed myself!!! Yeah, that's right. Classic partner of a PA, but I had it so fucking bad I'm shocked when I look back. I was in a depressive breakdown. I couldn't take it any more. I couldn't take the porn. I couldn't take the emotional isolation. I felt as if I was waiting for the fate he was going to decide. Classic learned helplessness.

That's what it took for him to quit. I don't think that porn was filling the void for him any more. That is probably part of the reason why I sensed things were off, why there was greater distance between us. I don't know whether things were escalating. I don't know if he acted out in other ways. He says not. On the balance of probability, I'm prepared to take accept what he says at face value but with some reservations. For example, I don't rule out visits to strip bars or some kind of sexual entertainment. Disclosure wasn't forthcoming. Almost everything I learned after d day came from my own investigations of all his computers and phones, etc.

I hope this answers your questions. The only thing I would say to any partner of a PA is to draw your boundaries with clear lines. I had none. Fuck! I was even considering what else I could tolerate/pretend wasn't happening for the sake of his sexual entitlement whilst sacrificing my own sexuality to the point of obliteration. That's not normal! That's not healthy. It's a recipe for misery. That's how weak my boundaries became but that's how the shadow of porn addiction progresses for partners. So know where you are drawing your boundaries and make sure you don't allow anyone to cross them.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 07:22:17 PM by Emerald Blue »
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: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2017, 06:55:00 PM »
Just to add about recovering my sense of self worth and self esteem. I've made great progress in that respect. I can accept myself as a good-looking woman. I know have a good figure, and as much as I hate all this emphasis on looks and youth, I'm often told I look much younger than my age. I look after myself, I've always eaten healthful foods, look after my skin and so on. I know how to dress and i know what suits me. I'm not perfect. I never was. But I know I'm OK. That was the easy part!

Feeling OK about physical appearance is one thing, but recovering my sexuality is something I have only recently discovered is an essential part of my personal recovery. It's more than just restoring the physical sexual relationship with my partner. We hear a lot about the addict's sexual recovery from porn addiction (yeah, all that dick stuff, lol) and rewiring to a "real woman" yada yada. But what about the real woman? What about the partners of recovering porn addicts. You know what? We need to recover too! But not in terms of sexual technicalities. It's actually recovering a fundamental part of our personal identity, it's how we express and experience our sexuality, it's about pleasure and desire. It's about sensuality, about touch, about feeling at one with our senses, in a way that is for ourselves alone. Not something a partner has to give us permission to experience. Because one thing I do know is that I cannot and will not allow my partner to decide whether or not my sexuality can exist. Does that make sense? For years I closed down. My desire had nowhere to go because my partner was not there for me. Years of rejection in favour of porn slowly bled my sexuality until it was gone, and I thought forever. Reconnection rekindled my sexual desires, which was great BUT sexual recovery is never straightforward, it's an erratic process. I had to get comfortable with feeling vulnerable again, and trust didn't come easily at times. We had some pretty big emotional setbacks too, and that had a profound effect on our sexual healing. That's when I realised that my personal sexual recovery was a separate entity from the shared sexual relationship. And it started with the sensual. No matter what happens in my relationship, I know I can protect my own sexuality and sensuality. It belongs to me. Not to him. Not to the relationship. Just me.

So I hope this sheds some light on my personal recovery. It all comes from the annihilation of my sexual identity, my self worth and self belief. I've come a long way. It's been hard work and it's not over yet. I've done such a lot of work on understanding my partner, understanding porn addiction, I've put my relationship and my partner ahead of my own recovery needs, but now it's time to work on the sexual/sensual aspect of my personal recovery. For now, anyway.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 06:58:39 PM by Emerald Blue »
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

raven song

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2017, 08:46:33 PM »
Emerald Blue,

Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your journey, both in terms of how you sensed your partner and his lack of involvement in your relationship and also in terms of your own personal self esteem.

I am cheering for you because you have accomplished so much in your recovery!  You sound like a very smart woman who is in touch with her intuition and who is reclaiming her own sexuality!  You are owning it girl!  Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helps immensely.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 04:43:23 PM by raven song »
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Emerald Blue

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2017, 12:20:25 PM »
I agree that at some point in our recovery we have to take control of our triggers. It's as if we have to redefine our relationship with the outside world, how we see others, our relationship to our image-saturated environment, our visual cultures, and somehow work out our place in the world. We either take our place and own it, or we allow others to define us by being passive and reacting to how we are treated. I definitely believe that I had become too passive and allowed others to define me. Certainly I allowed my partner to define my sexual self which was to basically suffocate that part of my identity.

I take what you mean and the images of what a "sexy woman" should be, and that's exactly the problem. It's like other people say "this is a sexy woman, these are the physical characteristics, these are the poses, these are the sexy clothes" and so on. But it's all an invention anyway. High heel shoes come out of a factory, fishnet hose are made on a machine, hair dye comes out of a chemical lab. I mean, just how artificial and even costly is it to buy into the notion of the "sexy woman". Besides it looks a lot better in a professionally edited photograph made for an ad campaign than it can ever look in reality.

Prior to d day, I was appreciative of physical beauty, both male and female. It was an aesthetic appreciation and not sexual in the least. I went to art college. I studied fashion design and photography. I've done life drawing. I have an appreciation of the human form. After d day, it was as if suddenly I was seeing the world through porn googles and it was so fucking distressing. Looking at porn, I don't see beauty, I see the violation of a woman's body. I see human beings turned into performing circus animals. Some of it looks more like a nightmare drag act than anything sensual or even sexual. Once you've heard the stories of the people who have exited the porn industry, I don't know how anyone can consume it with a clear conscience. Teenage boys might not know any better, but mature, educated middle-class men? They have no fucking excuse at all, if you ask me. "It's an addiction! It's an addiction!" is the best they can offer.

I'm actually reaching the point in my relationship recovery where the addiction excuse has been played out too often, at the expense of actually listening and acknowledging just how destructive this behaviour was to me on a very deep personal level. Because I have been used as an excuse for his acting out. I was asleep and he had a hard-on! I lost interest! (Well, guess why that that was, Sherlock.) I only approached him when he was too tired! (So why not you suggest WHEN?) I never gave up until the stage where I was being refused too often or ED would happen. I mean, how the F does that make any woman feel about herself and her sexuality? And he said *I* lost interest??! I was honest enough to say it, but that was maybe 13-14 years into his addiction when our sex life had ceased to exist for some time. He wasn't honest about HIS lack of interest but it was rather obvious. Throughout all of those years he was using porn I was hearing the message loud and clear "I'm not interested in you. I'm not interested in you enough to stop this. I'm not listening to you. I'm doing this whether you like it or not. I don't respect you enough to be honest with you. I can just lie my way out, and what can you do about it anyway?" It's not enough to say "It was an addiction! It was an addiction!" Because he wasn't fucking listening to me! And that's why I'm still angry, because even now I don't think he gets it.

I know I'm going into a new phase of recovery right now. I think I'm going into my feelings a bit deeper and I'm getting in touch with the core emotions that I had to freeze in order to survive his porn addiction. And the overwhelming feeling is that he DID NOT LISTEN. I don't accept that an addict suddenly turns deaf as soon as they get a porn habit. Not if they know well enough to do all that hiding and lying and covering their tracks. But we'll see.... I might be surprised and it might take time. But I'm getting to the point where I need to see that empathy being reciprocated. I need to have the empathy I have shown him being returned. I'm sick of his defensiveness. All he does is hide behind "addiction" without actually understanding how his addiction created problems that still need to be put right. He's still not listening, so in that respect not much has changed.

A partner's recovery is much more complicated than I could ever have predicted. I'm determined to grow from this. If there is one good thing that has come out of all of this mess, it's that impetus to grow and to change and to make life better. Either he's with me, or he's not. I'm not saying that I intend to end the relationship. I really don't want that outcome, but I know that I can never go back to being the way I was when he was using porn.
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: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2017, 06:25:55 PM »
Thanks for sharing your perspective, ravens song. I'm really having to think about how it must feel to have that experience of shame as you described it, from your experience of drinking. Well done for getting through it and growing from it. I haven't been through the experience of addiction so perhaps I'm lacking sufficient compassion.

My husband is beginning to see my hurt at being ignored and not being heard throughout his porn addiction. He's not a bad person but he's had such a difficult upbringing he finds it difficult to fully connect with people. His parents both died young, both had addictions to alcohol and prescription drugs. One had severe psychiatric illness. The only relatives his family had contact with had a bust up over his mother's alcoholism, and they believed she was being mistreated by his father. Not only that, he was molested by an older male relative and couldn't tell anyone. That's no environment to raise kids. He had all the risk factors for addiction, of every and any kind. It's only after quitting porn that he is actually processing a lot of those old feelings that have been frozen for decades. I've always known his family history but it's not until now he is actually experiencing the feelings as opposed to 'knowing' the facts.

So I try not to be too harsh. I really have tried my best to understand his background more, to understand porn addiction, to understand why he was vulnerable, and that's in addition to trying to work out the recovery of our relationship in the here and now. I don't want him to carry the destructive burden of shame. And I don't want to be taking the moral high ground either. I'm not comfortable with that dynamic. But I think we're getting through it.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2017, 06:28:27 PM by Emerald Blue »
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: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2017, 06:57:46 PM »
Quote
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply you weren't being compassionate enough - not at all!
Hey raven song, it's OK! I totally understand your meaning and I know you were not criticising me in any way.  :)

I guess what I really meant was that I have been less able to put myself into that situation and understand the shame that an addict experiences. Until now I realise that I only understood it in an intellectual, theoretical way but do I have any real idea of how that must FEEL? I don't think I did, and I guess I've always know that, but when you explained your experience I was able to gain a different perspective. You see, I've been trying  to understand it through *him* in relation to me, and your description of your own experience enabled me to see it from a distance and from a different angle. Of course, I do have personal experience of feeling shame but these were not addiction based experiences. Or perhaps I have become skilled at submerging my own shame from
early experiences.

This is all very much a journey of discovery and self discovery, and two years on I feel as if the real learning and the real growth is just beginning. It's only over the past few weeks that I've been feeling as if I'm in a new phase of learning and understanding. It was only a few months ago that it suddenly occurred to me that recovering my sexuality is something I must explore as part of my personal recovery. I think we can become too entangled with the aftermath of the porn addiction in our couple relationships, and although we know that our partners are more than their addiction, our own sexuality can't be defined and confined within the constraints of our partners' issues with porn either. We are also more than our partners' porn addiction. Much more! And the same applies to our couple relationships.

The partner's experience is so far undocumented in the recovery literature. The true depth and extent of our experience and how we find our path to recovery is very much under represented, and I suspect it's more to do with internet porn addiction being a recent phenomenon. When we were growing up guys weren't addicted to porn because it wasn't available on the huge scale that it is today, and for free. It's like we have had to learn an entirely new language. I knew what porn was from a young age, but back then it was magazines. My view of porn was out of date, like Penthouse magazine and movies like Emmanuelle. And if that was all porn ever was, and you had to go to a store to buy it and maybe a movie theatre once in a while, then most of us could live with it because there wasn't enough time, money and opportunity for it to have such an impact on a couple relationship. How times have changed! Educating myself about the modern day porn industry has been unpleasant but necessary along the path to recovery.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2017, 07:00:35 PM by Emerald Blue »
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: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 07:42:59 PM »
In some respects we are fortunate to have experienced our sexuality without the constant presence of online porn. We were free to explore and discover sex and sexuality for ourselves. Hell, we had to meet someone, choose from boys at school or in our neighbourhoods just to learn how to kiss and that was some time before we progressed to the next step. It was fun! I'm glad to have come of age after the pill but before AIDS became known. Mine was probably the last generation to experience that freedom. I have known one person to die from AIDS and others who are have been living with HIV with the help of their medication regime. That's quite a sobering thought. I have always believed in that everyone should be well informed about safe sex and have free access to contraception and STI testing. I've never liked pornography. I've always seen it as a distorted view of sex and of female sexuality in particular, but the worrying thing is that these days people (mostly men) are conflating porn consumption with "sex" when it's not sex at all. I pity the people who have grown up with it. I really do. The biggest joke is the guys who think it's all about their instincts and their gene survival, but just how does someone fertilise a Kleenex? Perhaps it will wipe out the stupid gene, lol.
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

raven song

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Re: asking for feedback - is he REALLY a porn addict?
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2017, 01:18:28 PM »
This was before I found him using porn.   I admire you, Emerald Blue, for not liking porn and seeing it as a distorted version of sexuality. I wish I had done that in the past.  oh well, I'm doing that now.  It's really a much healthier view of porn. 
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 04:45:31 PM by raven song »
The barn's burnt down
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