Reboot Nation Forum > Partners of Rebooters and Addicts

Looking for some insights

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Sliced:
Hi, first post here. I found out 2 days ago that the man I am engaged to is addicted to porn. Now everything has changed. I am here to ask for some support. I know a lot of text, my head is very full - questions bullet pointed at the end.

I am still learning about porn addiction. I worked in addiction (drugs and alcohol) services for 10 years and so I feel that my brain is very torn at the moment - I am too emotionally involved to be able to be logical and professional (and sometimes sensible) about this. But I also do have some quite comprehensive understanding of addiction, which at times I have been able to use to support him but is also causing me to feel quite guilty about some of my reactions towards my partner so far. I have shamed him about things that on a logical level I do understand he probably has been powerless over. I don’t feel good about that and I would like to do work to become a good support for him.

My partner is incredibly good at lying. I had no idea about - frankly, what feels like a complete double life - for our whole relationship.

A couple of months ago he went to open an app to show me and opened a google drive by accident. There were images of another woman who he advised he used to sex chat with and he had bought those images.

He told me he used to have a problem with porn (he had told me this previously but I hadn't given it much thought as he seemed to be able to engage in a healthy relationship) he gave me various very poor excuses which I fell for, he said he would do anything to keep me, he was beside himself. We set some boundaries for the relationship (No cam girls, sex chatting, buying images etc).

It shook my confidence, but I believed him. I even came home one evening and he had a picture of a girl on the screen, when I questioned whether he was buying photo’s he swore to me in the most sincere way with even tears in his eyes he was being honest and would never do anything to make me feel the way he had previously. I didn’t check what he was looking at because he was sincere and you know, bunny boiler fear. He was sex chatting.

To cut what could be a very long story short, what comes out this week is that my partner is addicted to porn.
- Watching porn to the extent he was experiencing ED.
- Talking to people online, seeking them constantly messaging them. Asking for pics, offering video chats.
- Buying images and videos from people. He has spent £500 in the last 6 months on this.
- Posting comments to peoples photos 'perfect' 'goddess' etc
- Posting adverts online seeking people in our local area to chat to and 'meet IRL'. He tells me he gets off on talking about meeting but doesn't go. At this point this seems too far fetched for me to believe.
- Sending sexual videos of himself to others on the internet.
- Talking about me, letting other people get off on the thought that he is hiding their chats from me, and telling them about the sex we have.
- Messaging an ex of his, he tells me he doesn't know why but cant say 100% that he wouldn't have asked her for pictures.

And I had absolutely no idea. It chills me how good at lying he is, and how easily he did it. I know he must deep down have a lot of shame but at the time I found out I kept questioning ‘how do you even sleep at night’, ‘how do you look me in the eye?’. In the end I did demand to see his phone. I saw things I wish I hadn’t. I said to him, tell me before I have to see it. He kept promising there was nothing more then I would find more, this happened 4 or 5 times when there actually was more. Again this destroyed a lot of trust because he tried to hide anything I didn’t have proof of. Even now I worry - he tells me there is nothing more, but there is also nothing more I can *prove* so I don’t know whether I believe him.

Still, we are working forward. I’m making no promises about whether I will or won’t stay in the relationship. I will work with him to help us both heal and see whether there is a relationship at the end. Might sound harsh, but I know addiction well and have been in a previous relationship where addiction ruled and I need to see whether he is actually motivated to change. If he is, I will be there with him. If he isn’t, I will have to put myself first and go.

He has done lots, found a counsellor and booked a session, joined and started a journal here, deleted accounts he was using, installed a blocker on his phone, has told some people around him who are close. I am actually really proud of him. I know it is easier right now because he is seeing my devastation so that will be driving it. I hope he keeps it up as the initial panic wears off.

I have some questions:

- He has installed an app that blocks porn on his phone (his idea) and wanted me to have some sort of power over it so basically he can’t uninstall it. I don’t love the thought, feels too controlling on my end and I feel that if he is going to do it he just will, an app won’t stop him. But I want to take his lead and listen to what he needs?
- On the same lines he wants me to check his bank statements at the end of the month. Again, I understand he wants to be held accountable but it just feels so controlling to me. I don’t want him to come to resent me, or feel that I am parenting him. Could anyone offer insight?
- I do now feel worried about him having free time. I hate that I’m worried about that, and I want to check his phone and I hate that I feel that way. Any advice on beginning to build trust would be very appreciated.
- Initially I had questions about whether things like sex chatting with other people counts as porn addiction but through the research I have been doing I am beginning to understand that this is common for people?
- I am a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes uncontrollably crying, sometimes angry (and horrible), sometimes numb, sometimes a bit manic...I am going through and trying to read as much as I can on here. But any advice about getting through the processing-it part of this would be great
- Lastly - I want to be there for him. I want him to take responsibility but I also want to support the fact that this is an addiction. Any advice from people in recovery who could give insight as to what does or doesn’t help from a partner would be very helpful.

If you made it through all of that THANK YOU

mousemat1:
Hi Sliced.

What can I say. We're addicts, we're very good at hiding this reality from people. My partner had no idea I'm a porn addict. I don't want her to know. I just want to eliminate this addiction and have a fulfilling relationship with her. I love her more than I can express, but as you know if you've worked with addicts, the addiction doesn't follow rational though processes. It's something deeper and more primal. I feel terrible for my partner, and I feel terrible for all partners of porn addicts.

To answer some of your questions.

"He has installed an app that blocks porn on his phone (his idea) and wanted me to have some sort of power over it so basically he can’t uninstall it."

This is an excellent idea. We enter our reboots with all the best intentions, really we do. I WANT to be free of this addiction. Don't count on his will power to beat this addiction. He needs something to help him stay away from porn. A blocker to which you have the password is a good solution.

"On the same lines he wants me to check his bank statements at the end of the month."

I'm a porn addict. I would find ways of paying for porn which wouldn't show up on the statement I show you. Perhaps another account? Remember, we're very good at hiding these things. Checking his statements might help.

"Initially I had questions about whether things like sex chatting with other people counts as porn addiction."

I can't really offer constructive advice on this. Sex chatting is something I've never wanted to do because that for me really is crossing the line, in my opinion. The same goes for paying someone for images of themselves. There are others who say that simply masturbating to porn while in a relationship is crossing the line. I'm an addict, so I'm probably not the right person to assess this. You are the partner of a porn addict and I would never presume to tell you what you should or should not consider as being unfaithful. I don't want to comment any more on this point. You have your own boundaries and you should use those.

Feel free to ask any questions you like. I can't imagine how devastating it must be to discover your partner is a porn addict. However, I commend you for deciding to stand by him and help him to beat this addiction, at least for the time being.

I hope this helps a little.

MacTx:
Partner of porn addict who is in the early stages of research . 
I don’t think you should be his accountability partner.  That puts you in a weird parental role and that is not the role or the relationship you signed up for.  He should probably pick someone else. 
It’s all porn to me at this point.  I don’t care what type of interaction or what app it’s on.  If it’s virtual and it’s being hidden , it’s porn/sex addiction.
Honestly, this shit is traumatizing for a partner.  Of course you are shaken and nothing makes sense and who is this person and why am I not good enough etc etc etc.
I recommend you start with a counselor too. One specializing in sex would be great.  Also start looking at betrayal trauma.  It’s a real thing and helped me see that I wasn’t being over the top about all my emotions. 

Sliced:
Thank you both for taking the time to read and for your replies.

Mousemat1: Thank you this was really helpful. I appreciate your compassion. I struggled a lot initially, and still a bit now, with my feelings of contradiction of him loving me and having sexual interactions with other people. I understand logically that addiction has nothing to do with love, and it is the proximity of sex and love that make this feel difficult however it is somewhat comforting to hear other people say that they do love alongside PA.

I read something that said something along the lines of if your partner was an alcoholic you wouldn’t question if it was about you, it is the same with porn. But it is difficult to overcome that.

I am still struggling with the acceptance that my partner is ‘an addict’. I hate that term. He isn’t just a label. I don’t want to group him into a sector of people, he is a person, the love of my life. But of course he is. He is addicted.

At the moment we are referring to ‘him’ and ‘his addict’, I started this initially when I was trying to get information from him when this came out and I thought he was lying. I was saying to him ‘I want to hear from you, ****** (no name obviously for confidentiality), not your addict brain’. In some ways I think this has been helpful, Although I am conscious of not excusing him of responsibility by doing this.

We are definitely baby steps. We initially talked about one day ‘if we get back to normal’. But I don’t want that. Our old normal was him lying, it was a false reality. I want an open and honest relationship.
I am coming to realise that honesty is a real novelty for him, and is scary. His phone is now around more, it was unlocked on the kitchen side last night and he asked if he had set a timer, I swiped down his notifications to check if it was on and he spoke about how ‘that’ part of his brain instinctively panicked and wanted to intercept me looking. Earlier today I asked a question about what he does when in an active addiction state, he lied. I highlighted that to him. I need to remember this is new for him. It must be scary.

I am constantly trying to walk a thin line between wanting him to take responsibility and feel these consequences and not wanting to shame him. That is very very hard I find.

Your situation sounds difficult also, I’m wishing you strength in your journey.

MacTx: Thank you also, I found this helpful.

I completely hear you about the weird parental role thing. Partner is going to ask a friend to do the app permissions thing instead. There are so many other ways I could easily see this becoming a thing though. I’m trying to stay conscious of this.

Thank you for the advice about the betrayal trauma. I have never looked into this before so I will. I am actually already in counselling, however I am going to speak to my current counsellor about the fact I will now need to change my goals in therapy to address this as it feels most pressing and I will assess whether she is going to be the appropriate practitioner to support in this or if someone more specialised would be better.

I am now at a point where I am having some worries around sex and this process of healing. These questions you might be able to shed some light into or any others who read this. I haven’t been feeling able to engage in sex with my partner (nor has he asked) but I worry that if this continues for a prolonged amount of time will this impede his process, leaving him with only masterbating which could be a trigger.
Alternatively, will having sex too early cause issues. I’m sure there are no rules but again insight of anyone who is willing would be very welcome.

Additionally I am really struggling being able to speak to others around me about this. I haven’t told anyone in my life yet. I think this might be about me trying not to accept it.

mousemat1:
Hi Sliced.

Firstly, every rebooter reacts differently. In fact, my own reboots (this is my 6th attempt at overcoming this addiction) have each been slightly different. So, what I'm about to describe my not apply to your partner, but at least if it does you can be a little better prepared.

You mentioned that your partner was showing some signs of PIED (porn induced erectile dysfunction). Every time I've started a new reboot I've gone into a flatline. I had absolutely no desire for sex and even if I had, my penis was completely dead. It's a very weird experience. My penis just feels like it doesn't exist. I can't feel it when I touch it. I'm currently in a flatline and it feels like I've had my penis removed. Two things to take away from this. If your partner experiences this, tell him not to panic. If your partner experiences this he might be tempted to look at porn to see if he can get an erection. This was a mistake I made during my second reboot. He just has to wait until the flatline finishes. Unfortunately, I had one flatline (my 3rd reboot if I remember correctly) which lasted over 100 days! My first flatline lasted about 25 days and then I had some great sex with my partner. I have no idea why the flatlines can vary so much. So, to answer your question about whether you and your partner should engage in sex; it might be best to chill for a period because if he experiences the lack of libido, lifeless penis, or both, then it's going to really stress him (which might trigger him to use porn), and perhaps more importantly, his inability to have sex with you might knock your confidence in yourself. At some point, your going to start becoming intimate again. I wouldn't hold onto any definitive rules as to when this happens. I guess just let things develop naturally, is my advice. Sorry I can't be more specific than this. We are all 'lab rats' in this process.

The second part of your question. He doesn't appear to be suffering with severe PIED. Unfortunately, my porn addiction caused this condition in me. Again, I can't speak for every rebooter, but I can give you some insight into some of the things I experienced. The first time I rebooted and had sex, it just triggered my urges to watch porn, which is why I had to reboot again, and again, and again... Recovery often isn't linear. I thought I had healed and then went back into a flatline. Having sex soon after rebooting (but I'm not convinced he's rebooting, he's just trying to kick his addiction) can throw some guys back into a flatline. This has happened to me. So, just be prepared for every eventuality. Hopefully, he won't experience any of the above.

You're clearly very smart, so the following probably doesn't need to be said. Very few addicts quit completely on their first attempt. My porn free runs have all been quite long. My longest was run was 275 days porn free, and then I fell off the wagon. I really hope your partner is a quick fix, but I would prepare yourself for a long rollercoaster ride.

mouse

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