I Found Out My Husband (Boyfriend) Is Addicted To Porn: What To Do Next

Husband Addicted to porn

(This post was written by Sarah, who writes on women’s issues surrounding porn addiction and relationships.)

Addiction is never easy to deal with – let alone one as misunderstood as a porn addiction. Despite the evidence that porn can become an addiction for some people, the majority of people out there still don’t recognize that it can lead to big problems. Until recently, many people pushed the issue of porn addiction under the umbrella of religious puritanism, hoping to bolster the argument that porn is only a problem if there is a moral issue behind it.

We now know that it boils down to much more than values and beliefs. And yet there is still no real focus on the partners who suffer from the havoc that a porn addiction can cause in a relationship. Porn addictions can indeed ruin relationships, wrongly shape lives and kill intimacy and affection toward each other.

According to Geoff Steurer, a licensed marriage and family therapist, the shock of discovering a partner’s porn addiction can even lead to a type of post-traumatic stress.

So what does this all mean for those in a relationship with someone who has a porn addiction?

Aside from the intense emotions that inevitably arise from the knowledge that a partner is addicted to porn, there will be feelings of rejection, betrayal, isolation and abandonment. Time spent on loving and nurturing the relationship and aspects of each other are now spent on blaming, fixing, preventing and hurt-proofing the relationship.

It means is that both parties have to become stronger and work diligently on this issue from their own sides.

 

Is his addiction my fault?

This is often the first question to pop up when discussing a partner or husband’s porn addiction.

You may wonder if he turned to porn because you’re not attractive enough, sexually active enough, that you don’t please your partner in the very specific way he would want to be pleased, or if it’s because he’s bored, the list goes on.

In fact, there are a large number of things that lead to a porn addiction, and NONE of them are your fault.

Some people are born with (or develop) a dopamine reward system in the brain that is predisposed to addiction. For others, a lack of coping strategies to deal with depression, boredom, and sadness can lead them down the path to addictive behavior.

The best way to look at it is that even when there are stressors that could cause your partner to turn to porn, it’s ultimately his choice as to what he does to manage his feelings. Of course, once a habit is formed, the addiction is deepened and it becomes a hole that’s difficult to get out of. (If you want to find out more about the technical side of your partner’s porn addiction, please take a look at the resources on the site.)

Even if the blame is carelessly laid at your feet by your partner, consider that this may be an instinctive (albeit terrible) thing for your partner to do – to release himself of the blame and responsibility by pushing the accountability off on to you.

But know this for sure: It is NOT your fault.

He is responsible for his own actions, not you.

That said, you will have to share in the unwanted consequences.

What you can and should do from your side

Before you concentrate on the negative side of things, consider that now that it’s all out in the open, you can actually begin to tackle the problem head on. There is no doubt that many underlying issues will also start to peel out of the woodwork as you go deeper in this journey together. There are a few things you can do from your side to help you recover from the blow of betrayal and pain you’ll be feeling.

First:

Remember that his porn addiction does not necessarily mean that he does not love you.

In general, women view events, emotions and decisions as interconnected, while a man can often completely compartmentalize these kinds of things, meaning that the one is not at all connected to the other. Because of this, he may not understand why you are so hurt by his actions.

Understand your own reactions

Discovered boyfriend addicted to porn

Women often take the news of their partners porn addiction very hard. In fact, Barbara Steffens, co-author of Your Sexually addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal outlines her research for the book in this article and it’s mind-blowing. Many women are actually physically traumatized by the news, sending them into a spiral of confusion. As previously mentioned, some of these women show similar symptoms to PSTD sufferers, so it’s a very real pain. Managing the emotions that arise are paramount as a mismanagement could lead to obsessive and controlling behaviors that don’t always serve a positive purpose, however understandable the behavior is.

Once you’re aware of your reactions, you can target your healing course to better serve you and — if you choose to stay — your partner.

Should I leave him?

It may seem completely hopeless and that the only way out of all of this is to simply leave it behind and walk away. The question is, will walking away truly offer the closure you need, or will taking an active approach to your healing offer you better results?

Here’s a list of things to work through when considering leaving your partner

  • Have I been in danger because of the addiction? (emotional or physical abuse stemming from the porn addiction)
  • Am I willing to work on my own healing?
  • Will walking away help, or cause more problems for me? For him?
  • Am I willing to help my partner and support him in his recovery?
  • Am I truly ready to be without my partner, or am I just looking for a way to be without the pain and pornography?

 

If you decide to stay…

If, after digging deep and answering those hard questions, you decide to stay with him, here are some things you should think about:

Take time for yourself

Healing can be a difficult process, especially when you have to help your partner heal too. Women tend to look to their partners for support and happiness, but it’s important that you seek that strength from within first. Spend some time concentrating on your wellbeing and strengthen yourself with a positive support system.

Many addiction therapists suggest that ensuring that your healing is not dependent on your partner’s actions will help you to heal from the blow faster. It also safeguards you from big blows should your partner relapse.

Don’t play the blame game

We so often deflect our own pain onto others and one way of doing this is to assume the role of victim. In this case, you both need to find a way out of the dark cave he’s walked you into. Be there for each other and support him as best you can through his recovery process. Constantly laying blame at your partner’s feet won’t be helpful

Leave your resentment behind

Building a wall between you and your partner will only drive you further away from each other. Your own healing process may struggle to really make progress because resentment leaves room for little else. Keep a clear head and try to stay away from the negative thoughts that will inevitably pop up as you go through your day, or stumble on something that may remind you of your ordeal.

Recognize that it may not all end when the porn stops

It takes years to build trust and a couple of seconds to break it. Even if your partner leaves porn behind, never looking back, you may find yourself still hurt and unable to trust your partner. The healing process continues on long after porn has left your lives. In fact, both you and your partner will have to tackle this thing actively, and together, in order to achieve the best results.

Couple therapy

Getting help (counselling)

Counselling can certainly help you find your way through the sudden darkness you may be feeling. It’s suggested to look for a trauma counsellor, or actively search out the sexual addiction therapists who understand the symptoms you’re experiencing.

What is always more important is your own reaction to counselling. Are you willing and ready to work through the raw emotions that you may be feeling?

Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes in recovery. Once, when I was at my lowest, I took a yoga class and as we were twisting and turning I could feel my body saying: “nope, don’t go there, just don’t twist that far – it’s going to hurt”. The teacher said something very profound to me that has carried me through many dark phases of my life.

“The things that we resist the most, are the things that have the possibility of teaching us the most. Stop resisting.”

My heart goes out to you for all the pain you are experiencing, and I know it’s never easy to stand by someone whom you feel has betrayed you. If you have questions regarding porn addiction, how it works, what to expect from your partner, or if the symptoms you’re seeing are related to porn viewing, then feel free to comment, or send me an email. We have a growing community of members in who are dedicated to turning their difficult experiences into positive ones.

In the meantime, take a look at these resources to help you understand and get through this problem

Resources for partners:

Porn Induced Partner Trauma

An article by Mari A. Lee, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and Certified Sex Addiction therapist.

Partner Of A Porn Addict? Some Advice

How To Overcome A Porn Addiction: Advice From 10 Influential Sex Health Writers

The effect of pornography on the spouse of an addict

This article gives valuable insight to the partner’s reaction to porn addiction. It may help you to understand your own feelings, your role in everything and what you can do to positively impact your own healing.

7 Questions wives of porn addicts often ask

Get some clarity on those questions that are running through your mind.

Recovery guide from covenant eyes 

Posarc.com partner’s support

The site is aimed at the partners of porn and sex addicts and is a great resource of information. It also provides a support forum.

Questions? Share your experience? Please leave a comment below.

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    About Brian

    Brian overcame a long-standing addiction to Internet porn and fully recovered from serious porn-induced erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety. For more about Brian, see my story.

    Comments

    1. I am choosing to stand by my man, now what’s next?
      How can I inspire him to work on this issue? Not for me or our marriage as his addiction was there before i even came into his life.
      How can i inspire him to look into the underlying reason behind his addiction?
      How can I stand by him without trying to fix him, as it is not my role but his? What can I do so I do not push him away from working on it?

      • Robin Shewmaker says:

        Hi Anne. Speaking to your “what’s next?” question: I’ve been going through this for years now. So I want to say, my heart goes out to you. What’s next in my experience is a whole lot more heartache before or even if it gets better. Please know that you cannot “inspire him to work on this issue,” nor could I push him away from working on it, in my experience. Neither were in my power. Your partner will have to want to do something about it and for my partner that will take him experiencing enough negative consequences and misery. There was nothing I could do; believe me, I tried it all. After developing a serious case of PTSD, I finally had to help myself and that, unfortunately, involved me having to leave our home. According to my therapist, his particular addiction to porn developed decades ago and is very similar to OCD. At one point, he even said to me that he HAD to engage in obsessive porn watching or he would blow his brains out. Such is the hold it had on him at that point. It is extremely complicated and stems from trauma in childhood and is a coping mechanism for stress, etc. He can beat it. There are tools, counseling, behavior modification, 12 step programs. You name it. But until he overcomes his fears and faces the work involved, there is nothing I can do. I love him unconditionally, but my life, sanity, self-esteem, needs, etc., are important, too. So I guess my first impulse is to urge you to RUN, but that is a personal fear, so I will at least urgently advise you to make sure you take care of yourself. Please. Because the ramifications of this addiction for the partner of the addicted are at least, if not more, as brutal, soul crushing, and horrific as for the addicted. Remaining involved is not for the faint of heart. Hope I haven’t bummed you out too badly. Warmest regards and enormous love, Robin

        p.s. My email is [email protected] com should you wish to talk.

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