Guest Post: Porn Induced Partner Trauma

Partner Trauma

This week I have another interesting guest post to introduce.

While there is a large amount of research and treatment available for men addicted to pornography, there is definitely a lack of information for the partner of a porn addict.

Mari A. Lee, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and Certified Sex Addiction therapist who founded Growth Counseling Services, a private practice recovery center in California, specializes in sexual addiction and partners work. Mari has been working for many years in supporting both the addict and his/her partner in recovery, healing and understanding.

In this guest article, Mari sheds some light on what our partners experience when we lie, deceive and cover up about our porn addiction.

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Porn Induced Partner Trauma 

By Mari A. Lee, MA, LMFT, CSAT

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and a partner of a former porn addict, I know a little something about the topic of porn addiction and partner trauma. My partner’s past porn addiction so impacted our relationship that it motivated my research on Internet pornography addiction while in graduate school many years ago. This research eventually became the topic of my Master’s thesis, which then evolved into my recently published workbook, “Facing Heartbreak: Steps to Recovery for Partners of Sex addicts.”

Since those early academic days, my clinical specialization has continued to focus on helping men, women and couples who are dealing with the devastating impact of sex, love and pornography addiction.  As the founder of Growth Counseling Services, Inc., a recovery practice for sex, love and porn addicts, I am passionate about helping these hurting people recover and move into healthy relationships.

A few years ago I began to notice a serious lack of recovery information for the spouses and partners. While there was plenty of support for the addict, there just weren’t that many places for the spouse to turn to where their voice was heard, valued and understood. A place where they too could receive focused support and solid recovery tools in healing their unique pain.

When discussing their spouses in session and group, porn addicts in my practice often share, “I feel ashamed by my actions and lies. I know she is hurting, but I don’t know what to do to make her feel better since I am the person who hurt her.” I also hear their shame as well, “She yells at me, threatens to take the kids away, sobs her heart out, and even tells me she will expose me to my family if I don’t stop! In spite of my efforts, these kinds of actions just leave me feeling more triggered to use porn.” Addicts also report in session, “I know my addiction is not her fault, but I wish she would get her own help so she could move forward, but there isn’t a lot out there for support and she feels stuck and triggered, and it impacts both of us moving forward!”

As a partner of a recovered porn addict I knew this had to change.

Each month I receive at least a dozen calls or emails from spouses and partners of sex and porn addicts. While the details of each individual’s story are unique, the emotions they share are always the same: hurt, confusion, betrayal, rage, fear, shame. The impact of their partner’s Internet pornography addiction is profound. Some spouses report feelings of increased self-loathing, body dsymorphia, and have developed eating disorders as they compare themselves to the on-line “porn star.” Others share feelings of depression and anxiety that impact work performance, academic pursuits, child rearing, self worth, and general life satisfaction.

Still other spouses share that they have agreed to participate in watching porn in order to gain acceptance and attention from their addicted spouse. Partners talk about soothing their feelings of rejection with prescription drugs, alcohol or food, while others resort to plastic surgery. And in the most devastating scenarios, some spouses have attempted suicide.  No matter the trauma, all partners discuss how Internet porn addiction has impacted their libido and sexual confidence with their addicted partner.

As the stories poured in, it became apparent that there were a whole lot of hurting non-addicted people out there who were also being negatively impacted by Internet porn. Similar to the porn addict, male spouses and partners experience erectile dysfunction in trying to connect and create intimacy where there is only intensity. Female spouses also report ED – “emotional dysfunction” in relationship with their addicted partners, often feeling abandoned, betrayed and sexually shut down. Spouses share attempts at controlling the addict’s access to porn through anger, snooping, crying, guilt tactics, threatening, shaming and blaming the addict. This destructive behavior was once considered co-dependent, but those of us who work with partners of porn addicts now view these actions as symptoms of trauma.

When deception and staggered disclosure [i.e. the addict denying the partners reality, bullying the spouse in order to access porn, or admitting to only tiny bits of the truth when challenged with proof] was part of the relational dance, the spouse often discussed feeling as if they were slowly being driven crazy. In the clinical world we call this phenomenon, “Gas lighting.”

Gas lighting of the spouse is an emotionally devastating consequence of porn addiction. One of the most important internal supports we have as human beings is our intuition. When partners of porn addicts are lied to over and over again, when their reality is blown up, and when they are made to believe that they are crazy, neurotic, or jealous, their intuitive ‘gut’ is not just impacted – it is shredded. Over time, spouses share they have no idea what is real, and what is a lie.  They begin believing that perhaps they are crazy and unreasonable after all. As one spouse shared, “I knew in my gut something was wrong. I knew he was deceiving me, yet even with evidence, he would tell me I was the one who was sick! It got so bad that after a couple of years, I began to doubt my sanity and wondered if I was mentally ill. I could have handled the truth, but I never got a chance to work with him as a couple. And that is heartbreaking.”

 

“I could have handled the truth, but I never got a chance to work with him as a couple. And that is heartbreaking.”

 

As a partner expert, I can assure you that spouses want to know the truth. They can handle just about anything, but they cannot handle the continual deception. As an expert working with sex addicts, truthfulness=vulnerability, and that is the place where addicts are the most fearful. The catch 22 is that many spouses are unable to take the first step toward healing their own negative behaviors [such as yelling, threatening, and shaming] because they have no solid place of truth and reality to stand on. The addict, in turn, is in shame and fear of being abandoned themselves, and is often terrified of opening up, especially if the non-addicted spouse has been verbally abusive, or emotionally withholding as a consequence of their trauma. Thus the painful ping-pong continues in the relationship, until it eventually burns out.

In my clinical work with sex and porn addicts, it became very clear, very quickly that the wounded spouses needed their own focus of recovery, their own tools of support, and their own safe place to heal. Only when the spouse’s pain had been addressed were they able to begin to change the toxic dance they had contributed to and participated in. Only then could they begin to understand that porn addiction is not about their worth or value, it is not even about sex; instead, porn addiction is about soothing pain.

Without therapy for the spouse, her/his critical focus continues to stay steadily on the addict. Partners share at the start of treatment that they only feel safe and happy if the addict is sober. Some partner’s are resentful about seeking his or her own therapy. It is not unusual to hear: “It’s his porn problem, fix him!” or “She’s the one who cheats, deal with her!” This is understandable when you begin to learn about the depth of the spouse’s trauma. Many spouses share, “I felt like I was the mean mommy with another kid to raise! I no longer want to be in a place where I feel compelled to parent my partner.” Once the spouse moves out of the “controlling mommy or daddy” role, both the addict and the partner can gain some perspective and start taking ownership of their own choices and subsequent consequences.

Research shows that when the spouse has their own support and recovery focus, not only do they give themselves the gift of healing a deep wound, the addict’s recovery is more likely to be successful as the couple no longer acts out their pain on one another. Our goal through our sex/porn addiction recovery work, our partners programs, weekend workshops, and men and women’s support groups, is to help the partner get some solid ground under his or her feet, move away from his or her negative choices and reactivity that further add to the destruction of the relationship, and, over time, to start feeling in control – not of the addict – but of him or herself, her/his sexuality, and her/his happiness in the world. This can be the first glimmer of hope for many recovering couples!

There is a saying in partner’s recovery work: “You did not cause it, you can not change it, and you cannot control it.” We teach the spouse while sex addiction is never their fault, it is important to focus on their own healing, while allowing their porn addicted mate to focus on their own recovery path. When each person makes the choice to end the destructive dance of addiction, blame, shame and hurt, and instead chooses to move toward healing and recovery – miracles can happen and relationships can heal. I see it every day, and experienced it in my own life as well.

 

MariMari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT is recognized for her ground breaking clinical work with spouses/partners, as well as her work with sex and porn addicts.  She is the founder of Growth Counseling Services with private practice therapy and recovery offices located in Pasadena and Glendora, California. Mari speaks and teaches nationally, and is the co-author of, “Facing Heartbreak: Steps to Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts” which is available on Amazon. Additionally, Mari hosts healing weekend workshops for women and couples healing from porn and sex addiction For further information, please visit:www.marileetherapy.com, or you may contact Mari directly at (818) 521-4370, or via email at marileetherapy@yahoo.com

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Brian here again.  I’d like to say a big thank you to Mari for her guest post on an admittedly difficult topic.

On the topic of healing from the damage porn can do to a relationship, I also recommend the book Love You, Hate the Porn by Mark Chamberlain, PhD, and Geoff Steurer, MS. Here’s what one reviewer had to say about the book:  “This has been the BEST help for me and my husband! Accounting for both sides of our marriage, his addiction and my feelings associated to finding out… Even our counselor is greatly impressed with this book!”

Check out the book here:

Love you hate the porn

Also, I realize this article may spark some debate.  Questions and polite discussion are welcome 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. Thank you to Mari for your guest post. I completely identified with the emotions you described that partners/spouses of porn addicts experience. This is the first post I have seen in all my research on porn addiction (which has been pretty extensive) that made me feel hopeful for my own recovery. I’ve ordered your book in hopes of furthering the process.

    2. Hi Lorraine,

      I am glad to know that this information has helped with your journey of healing. I believe you will find solid support and tools in “Facing Heartbreak” as well. I wish you all the best as you continue to hold the hope.

      Kindly,
      Mari

    3. henrietta wong saavedra says:

      There is some one who recommended a certain conquer series.com and I tried it.It really did something although to me its not so immediate, it was also coupled with lots and lots of prayer. A relative have a serious addiction I could say not an ordinary one because it started when she was 3 to 4 years old. There was no internet yet before but in she resort in an equivalent, according to her in mind, in playing, until years fast she is doing that can satisfy her even if she is working she goes to the cr anytime there an attact. She says 10 to 12 times as day. I asked her what does she feels, and said as far as she can remember it started with a feeling something in her genitals and her thinking was its just normal until she reach an age where she tried to save money to buy computer with the prime reason of using it to watch porn. Until after my birthday of april 2012 I felt a feeling of guilt and disarray. body pain, my mind can no longer think of other good things or to love but even the picture in my mind displays play, not all. I dont like a certain kind of play, only the usual that i watch long ago. Seriously i cry, get depressed, and dissolutioned. Thanks to your site, i saw the suggestion of one of your member who said something about counter series.com and I told her to try it. until now she still continue browsing. With the 4 people Im handling 2 of them started browsing including her,a relative. Thank you for your comment space.

      • henrietta wong saavedra says:

        Thank you very much, surprising, that relative not so near is willing to share her experience so she said she could help others who may identify with her case.

    4. I have been with a porn addict for 2 years now and although he says he has stopped, I just can’t believe him :( I fear that our relationship is at its end because of the trauma I have endured, even after reading this I feel like I can never get over it or forgive him .. The lies and betrayal are always in the back of my mind ad I feel as though I am going crazy… I’ve tried counselling as I thought I was mentally I’ll but that hasn’t helped.. I love him but am starting to resent him lately… I know this is not healthy but I just can’t stop.. Help me please Mari.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Your post was spot on regarding the affects on the wife of a porn user. While my H is not an addict and has quit porn I am stuck in a permanent cycle of pain, depression, severe anxiety and triggers. Every semi attractive woman brings his actions to mind everything inside of me fears he is secretly aroused by or desiring these women. Every commercial, tv show, movie, public place is a reminder and a threat.
      I know I need to seek the help of a therapist because the anxiety is killing me from the inside out but I am so afraid of the reaction I might get. Assuming statistics are semi-accurate a male therapist is automatically out of the question because the odds are he is a porn user and would not be impartial and with a woman it would be luck of the draw. I do not feel strong enough to be humiliated by someone trying to tell me why I shouldn’t feel this way. I think what you do is amazing and although it will not help me because I am in another state, thank you for focusing on this painful issue and being there for women who need validation and support and someone who understands the devastation porn can cause.

      • I have the same triggers.. I live in a college town and the last stuff my husband looked at was “college” and “teen” stuff. I feel lost and hopeless.

      • Did you ever go to a therapist? I feel exactly the same! I get panic attacks now and then and cry whenever I see a woman being there for the male view. In the gym all I can think of and focus on is the women’s butts and then I cry again :p
        Meeting up with a doctor on wednesday so I can get a therapist. Also feel worried to get the “but porn use is normal, you shouldn’t worry” respons and thus totally ignoring my feelings, which my partner also often ignores, urgh!! In that case change therapist and say “you don’t know how painful this is for me. Just because something is widely used doesn’t make it right all the time and in all relationships!” Hope you are better now, and same goes for Bee above! That must be horrible to experience :(

      • Kayleigh says:

        I am the exact same way. I can barely rent movies without scanning parental guides for sec and nudity. It bothers me so much and I always feel the anxiety of that when iam out of my house. It’s hard to live this way :(

    6. Wow – this article just spoke VOLUMES to me. I recently discovered that my partner pursued naked women (on line) daily. It has been well over 30 days since my discovery and I am still reeling with confusion, anger, sadness – everything mentioned. I never anticipated this – and never knew all these emotions could be triggered by one little daily ….habit. Please read my story:
      http://www.uninvitednakedwomen.com

      • Thanks for sharing your story Carol.

        • It is a huge relief to discover that all my feelings and insecurities are normal. The pain, is at times, unbearable. My partner didn’t deny his porn use, was angry with me for ‘snooping’ , I am pretty much invisible to him, he had ed yet has informed me he does not intend to stop. I am so torn , I want to leave, I want to stay in hopes he realizes what porn is costing him and stops. Right now , he is just an empty shell of a person, interactions that require emotion are forced, like he is just ‘going thru the motions’ but is actually emotionally absent.

      • Wow. You are so strong to take charge like you did. My question for you tho, is how are you managing the doubt, that he’ll stay clean, stay true?

    7. This article changed my life. I ordered your book immediately. It was a massive help to feel vindicated in my emotions, to recognise that I am not alone or insane, and to be given the gift of hope. I was so resentful of the idea that I needed help, but now I’m ready to benefit from it… My partner is in recovery and I believe this article helped him too, as he was guilty of thinking of me as dramatic or self-indulgent when I repeated how I felt to him (hoping it would hit home the more I said it). Thank you. I’m ready to heal.

    8. Wow, I’ve been in pain for so long and having severe anxiety makes it all so much more intense to the point where I just want to seriously take my life. Seeing a picture or porn or something in that direction is enough to make me hysterically cry and think that I am worthless, that I will never meassure up. I am not able to accept my partner’s mistakes or his tendancies to want to have sex with specific women. It’s like fighting mortality, you simply can’t. I find myself trapped in this circle of denial that this can all go away but in reality I will just be hurt and disappointed for the rest of my life. This is a mess, I don’t know how to fix it and there’s is so many factors that plays its part. Finding this article and this woman may be a door opening for me to heal. Gonna investigate this more and hope this will lead me to a solution. Thank you!

    9. I’ve been in pain for so long and having severe anxiety makes it all so much more intense to the point where I just want to seriously take my life. Seeing a picture or porn or something in that direction is enough to make me hysterically cry and think that I am worthless, that I will never meassure up. I am not able to accept my partner’s mistakes or his tendancies to want to have sex with specific women. It’s like fighting mortality, you simply can’t. I find myself trapped in this circle of denial that this can all go away but in reality I will just be hurt and disappointed for the rest of my life. This is a mess, I don’t know how to fix it and there’s is so many factors that plays its part. Finding this article and this woman may be a door opening for me to heal. Gonna investigate this more and hope this will lead me to a solution. Thank you!

    10. LMk1110 says:

      My boyfriend is a recovering addict, currently in reboot – he’s passed his 100 days mile stone and I am so unbelievably proud of him. We’ve been together for 18 months and for about half of that time we’ve been battling this out. It took a lot of strength for him to decide he wanted his life back, it has been physically and emotionally draining, there’s been copious amount of tears ( mainly mine) and fights back and forth. There’s also been a lot of disappointment, as this hasn’t been his first and only attempt. Although this time I genuinely believe he’s focused and wants to continue down this path. He sees a counsellor, we have got rid of certain triggers ( Instagram being one) we’ve put blocks on devices and we read articles and he posts on no fap. A lot of these things he’s researched and come to me to walk through how it’s going to work – he’s focused!

      However, now he’s more present, sex is better than ever ( particularly how he sees it – no longer needing extra stimulation, realising loving sex is also amazing) he’s trying so hard, it’s now I am angry? I can’t shake it, he says the smallest thing and I blow up. I feel angry, betrayed and hurt, I also feel let down and self conscious and ordinarily I am confident. So now he’s on such a good path to recovery it’s like I am in self destruct mode, now I’m the one that needs the help. I don’t want to loose him but I need to build myself back up again, I love him more than ever and he’s rebooting for both of us so now I need to step up and address all the heartbreak and inadequacy I feel from porn. Not him, his addiction.

      Other than the book, which I’ll be searching to buy online tonight. If anyone’s got any tips to help with our road to recoveries then please share.

      • Can I ask what prompted your boyfriend to realize porn was a problem? What made him motivated to want to stop?

    11. I’d like to add some insight I’ve gained in somewhat successfully dealing with my own relationship anxiety, due to my husbands secrecy and shame about his habits of porn viewing I now believe to be a cause of his attempting to pursue other relationships- the discovery of which has triggered a massive and exhausting marriage overhaul.

      The important thing for me was to articulate what I want and avoid the powerful urge to judge and shame. I now take time out for myself when I feel flooded with rage and have developed some positive and appreciative mindfulness practices to assist.

      For example, I decided a while ago that I wanted to love my body unconditionally, but at the same time I sort of never did and instead unconsciously rejected an aspiration to be “sexy” it seemed like too much of unreasonable expectation for myself, having always battled with negative body image, perhaps influenced somewhat by porn imagery myself and having a crippling chronic illness most of my adult life.

      Going through relationship trauma has actually helped me recognise that I do have a strong aspiration to claim my attractiveness and sexuality and I do aspire to express myself sexually in a way that doesn’t trigger insecurities and is an expression of deep intimacy and committment with a loved partner. I haven’t had this in my marriage.

      I feel compassion for my husband, because I believe he wants the same thing. His secrecy is in part a reaction to my strong position against the objectification of women, but also a result of his habit being out of step with his values and the resulting shame. He has been dealing with loneliness and depression too, which I’ve contributed to, as tired of being ignored and having no influence, I’ve taken a lot of time to pursue happiness and meaning outside of the relationship (not sexually, but still). I took the time to look at some of the content he’s been viewing while he was away this weekend, (first time in 10 years I’ve looked at porn and woah, it is extra!) I was left with some of the emotions described in the article. Once I’d calmed down, I saw very well why it might become an addictive habit. The websites are set out to provide the maximum number of alternatives and kinks in one screen, certainly designed to lead one further and further down the rabbit hole. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the desire to enjoy erotic images or womens bodies, this is a natural desire as old as time, but the brutal and degrading content, the repeated plot notion that women you meet at the bus stop will within 30seconds be amenable to the full range of sex acts, the ease of availability & the potential for addiction is definitely problematic and conflicts with my values and desires.

      I am also sure, from listening to my husband, that porn has influenced his views of women as sexual objects in a way that has triggered disgust and anger in me and cause me to withdraw. Even though he’s pretty vigilant with deleting his search history, I’m relieved to now be sure of whats been up with him and why he’s been so distant and dismissive of my needs, no gaslighting or defensiveness will convince me otherwise.

      I’m taking control of staying positive and appreciative towards him now. Like all of us, he is a unique multi-dimensional, lovable human being and I desire to be kind ultimately. I’m going to suggest to our therapist, who has identified his unwillingness to accept my influence as a contributing factor to our relationship troubles, that he accept my influence on media content for a while as a condition of repair, I hope to make a game out of it, find more empowering but still sexy erotic content to view together, possibly paper based rather than internet based and encourage him to pursue his neglected desires. When I met him he had community leadership aspirations he’s since neglected. He reads fiction and enjoys graphic novels, so I’ll make a reading list of female empowering and entertaining titles for him. I’ll start this only after we’ve further built some dialogue skills around difficult issues, we’re now having weekly emotion focused discussions together which so far have been somewhat painful but incredibly rewarding- always a knife edge between pleasure and pain in love. I want to avoid being flooded with emotion and blaming, but still confront the issue.

      I’ve frequent thoughts of leaving but am undecided on leaving him, I’m very determined to have a happier, healthier and more transparent relationship & am yet to be convinced this is possible for us, but I’ve been through enough hardship & have enough going on in life, to be confident that I will have connectedness, calm, happy and joyful moments whatever my circumstances, he on the other hand is more isolated, (horrific childhood and famly issues) he’s in a dark place and I’d like to take some time to see if he can come back to himself. I value the opportunity to learn and grow through this situation, even if I need to move on to get what I want and deserve.

      To the others reading this, you are valuable, unique, important and lovable. You can and will process any pain and suffering that comes your way. May you be health, may you be calm and well and may yourdays be filled with love and kindness.

    12. prakash says:

      Helpful
      Thanks
      Save everybody
      For your effort and sharing you all are become blessed and credited in the future.
      The people all are do not know about the poison of pornography .
      That’s why this much destruction happen to mainly USA and littley world

    13. This was extremely helpful to read. I just found out about my partners addiction about a week or so ago and I am consumed with anxiety and pain. I understand addiction because I’ve suffered from anorexia for years, and his addiction ends up feeding my own. I bought your book and can’t wait to read it. I just feel like this past year has been a lie, and I don’t know how I can trust him…I want to, I just don’t know how… I’ve written a blog for a while, but have been writing about his addiction since I’ve found out…

    14. After many months of my partner of 3yrs withdrawing emotionally and physically from me, I discovered he had been using porn nightly to sleep. He said he was glad I found out and that it’s all out in the open.
      He tells me he started 12mnths ago because I couldn’t have sex due to a ‘ladies’ medical condition and he didn’t want to put any pressure on me, so it was total ‘hands off’ of me – virtually no holding or touching. He also said that because we couldn’t have full sex in all that time, the memories of us having sex became
      less and less stimulating.
      He now says he feels guilty when I want to talk aband that I shouldn’t feel I need to compete with the girls in the porn because he was just looking at girl/girl
      (imagining me in that scenario) and only interested in the lingerie (a like of his I know).
      The cookies on his browser (not history, he’s cleared that) show he’s visited dating sites and more unimaginable porn sites.
      I feel uncomfortable watching TV with him, being out with him – always watching his eyes-, I’ve put on weight due to medication and feel so very very ugly.
      We have started seeing a counsellor to focus on communication, but I’m wondering whether that’s the right angle or whether a dedicated sex therapist is more appropriate.
      Thank you all who have posted here, I don’t feel alone in this.

      • Kayleigh says:

        I understand what you are going through. I get anxiety from watching movies, going out to events and festivals, the mall, seeing commercials and billboards, and especially the Internet. I feet l crazy some days. Others I feel fine then blow up on my boyfriend for something small. I always notice where he is looking when we go out and I always feel the need to rush home when I’m away or running an errand. I’m honestly mentally and emotionally exhausted and I’m not sure how to regain my trust for him.

        • Kayleigh, thank you for taking the time to contribute, whilst it’s heartbreaking to hear you are feeling the same, I don’t feel alone or crazy.

          We are now seeing a counsellor who specialises in porn addiction. We are 3 sessions in and I’m still struggling to want to be with him. He tells me he is seeing “light at the end of the tunnel”, I’m not fully sure what that means – I think he’s referring to his learning how important it is to share his emotions, that is, being emotionally available to me.
          Whilst I should probably be grateful at his agreement to attend counselling, it was me who initiated it :(
          I know he feels deep shame and guilt and does not like talking about the subject, he gets extremely defensive and we end up in a nasty exchange. It’s not in my nature to argue, so I feel this is slowly turning me into someone I’m not and don’t like.
          I’m not ready to ‘walk’ just yet, but I’m starting to seriously consider for the first time … do I deserve better and how much longer can I live like this.
          I guess that ‘time’ is the only certain thing at present.
          I hope you have come to a place of peace since your last post and a realisation that you are so worth a man who is ‘healthy’ and treats you like the amazing woman you are.

    15. I have been through everything mentioned here. It is not possible to trust again. I love this man with all my heart and I don’t know what to do.

    16. I’ve been through all of this too he lied, spent hundreds of dollars on sites, then it ended up being a live web cam site in which he interacted instead of only watching. And I can honestly say that it truely was traumatizing. I now have no confidence in myself because I can’t help but think why am I not good enough? Not to mention I honestly sadly don’t see how I can ever really trust him again. I used to work and do my own thing but now since this I am afraid to even leave the house if he’s alone from fear he will do it again. My whole life has changed over this. He swears he will never hurt me like that again and that it’s been a year since. Still even a year later I find myself not believing him no matter how much with everything in me I want too. It’s a vicious cycle and I have no idea how to get past it. I feel cheated, betrayed, unwanted, the list goes on and I want nothing more than to be able to get past this and move on to have a normal relationship. He no longer has his own phone and stays off of mine unless I can see what he’s doing. But in my mind it shouldn’t be like that. I should be able to know he’s not doing anything to hurt me but unfortunately that’s just not the case..😟

    17. I just found out yesterday that the man I’ve been dating for 6 years has a porn addiction. And I didn’t do myself any favors by going through every single bit of google activity from now to 2013. I am so hurt and devastated. All my confidence just went poof. I have never felt so lonely, ugly, rejected and an utter failure as a woman. I don’t even know where to begin to heal, I feel like a shell of myself. I don’t know if I can be with him either anymore. I love him so much but now every single memory has been tainted. Just wanted to vent somewhere, I can’t even begin to really tell anyone in real life.

      • I am at a loss for words. I have read these posts and feel similar feelings. I can’t stop crying and have a pit in my stomach when thinking of what my husband of 25 years did to our marriage. Porn has destroyed trust and there is no foundation anymore. I don’t know what to do or who to turn to. I feel like a fool and am just so devastated.

    18. bECKY wHITE says:

      I dealt many years as a partner of an addict, and went through his many relapses. I was once a broken insecure person, but now consider myself strong and confident. The main thing that helped me, was throwing back the veil of secrecy that the addict uses to his/her advantage. Yes, its embarrassing to the addict, but as the partner, I had done nothing wrong and needed to speak of it. It at once freed me up to actually dealing with it, and it no longer protected his secret. Too much of the online help was wrapped in Christian garbly-gook, which didn’t help me at all.

    19. I completely relate. I found out a few months ago that my husband is a porn addict and my world hasn’t been the same since. Prior to the discovery I considered myself an independent, successful, smart and attractive woman. Now, however, I question all of that and am ashamed of who I have become.

      I immediately found a therapist who specializes in addictions (including porn) but as a recovering male addict himself, I often wonder how much he truly, sincerely “gets it”. My husband is doing the bare minimum to keep me from leaving, but I think given the opportunity he will lie, hide and betray me again–regardless of the cost. I never thought of myself as the type of woman who would tolerate such a thing, but with small children (and terrible experiences from being a child of divorced parents myself), here I am. I attend weekly group meetings, counseling, and have exhausted the literature (including your book, Mari, which is very helpful), but I still cannot get over the betrayal. Just like those who commented previously, I am constantly triggered by TV, an attractive female, my husband being alone or even a room in my house I know he has looked at porn/masturbated in.

      Everything in me wants to sell our home, split our finances, and move on with my life–either alone or with someone who values me and a relationship with God. Ironically, I feel like God and my children are the only thing keeping me from separation.

      A huge issue for me is wanting to separate our finances now (I don’t trust him in general, why would I with my money?) to protect myself and our children both now and in the future should he not follow through with recovery, but my therapist strongly discourages it (he believes it’s against God’s will and would be counterproductive) and my husband is adamantly opposed. We both make good money but I am the breadwinner and do not have any debt, he does. Should I go against my therapist’s advice? Is it really necessary to wait 1 year to make these sorts of changes? Accounts/$ could always be shared again if he does recover and regain my trust, but if he doesn’t, it’s too late. Right?

    20. I am the addict. I’ve read this post and comments at my h/w request. Maybe the wrong word. H/S said I should read it. To see how others are suffering from trauma because of their spouses choices. So I read it this same night. I despartly want to find a way through this, knowing full well there may be no way to. I have systematically stripped my partner of trust, safety, confidence, self esteem, desire, just freaking feeling good!, and the list goes on.

      I’ve been very ignorant to how my choices affect the people I love. Rather, I chose to deny what was happening. Thank you all for sharing. Your insight is much needed by those seeking to get back to the truth.

    21. My husband continues to watch porn, I discovered after looking at his device. 18 months ago I discovered it initially, I was horrified and kicked him out, we talked he ‘came clean’ about some things he’d been up to and why – including visiting a prostitute but nit being able yo go through with it. I felt he was being so honest and I knew that our sexual relationship had not been great, so I accepted it and tried to move on. Things were good til one day (5 months later) I randomly picked up his device again and saw emails and messages between him and another woman. Totally lost my rag but again after talking we decided to keep trying, he went to counselling and we were meant to go together when he was ready, but up never happened. I just pushed all the pain down as we gave a beautiful family, but I have never forgiven him or got past it. Fast forward the next year, we have been getting on well but never discuss these issues. I have checked his device 2x during this period – the first all history was removed, the most recent 5 days ago, full history of porn etc sites. He’s nutted out, first saying its stuff he looked at with the guys then saying I shouldn’t look and I’m a prude and there’s nothing wrong with it – all guys do it. He doesn’t seem to care or understand the pain it causes me, and all put together it’s just too much now. I do not trust anything he says, we can’t communicate without yelling and the only solution I can see is to end our relationship and rebuild my life and my confidence somehow. Just needed to get this off my chest.

    22. This was a great article and very helpful. The book Love you, Hate The Porn has helped our relationship ten fold! Through my struggles of recovering from the trauma caused by my partners porn addiction, I made a forum for partners of porn addicts because I found minimal support available. http://partnersofpas.boards.net

    23. So glad to find this article. I’m about to give up on my bf after almost 3 years of relationship. At the same time he knows his problem and seeks for help, he keeps doing it. It’s been 5 months we are living together and we only had sex 4 times, because I initiated it. I’m 25yo, attractive and intelligent (not bragging here). I feel so sad and disappointed. My body shakes in a way that I have never felt before and I don’t know what to do. I’m still with him because I obviously love him, but it hurts me so much to imagine that he’s not healing and that we are in the begging of our
      Love history and it’s already like this… I’m sorry but I don’t want to get years on the road and still feel like this… but at the same time it’s so hard to leave him!
      (Some of you might think it’s easy to just find another bf or whatever but Im here to help him too! It’s what I want the most!)
      Please, someone who has been in this situation help me to get stronger! I seriously need some help.

    24. I can’t believe I’m still circling around this issue 15 years after discovering the problem with my husband. I remember the trauma of discovery–it was truly traumatic. But that was about 15 years ago. He responded appropriately–got into counseling, which ended up being an indepth therapeutic relationship that lasted about 8 years.

      During that time, I would ask him, “Are you discussing with your therapist that we don’t have a sexual relationship?” I even talked about calling his therapist to make sure he had the information, but I never did. We have a busy life. We both have careers. We raised my 2 stepchildren and our son, who is now 16 years old. I was in a traumatic car accident about 10 years ago, and my husband was such a support and hero through my recovery. We are busy adults.

      But our sex life dwindled, he seemed increasingly oblivious to any sexual engagement, and I became invisible sexually–not just to him, but rather I lost touch with my own sexuality over time. When we met 20 years ago, I was very sexually expressed, was considered very attractive. We had a great sexual connection in the early years of our marriage.

      When I realized about 3 years ago how far this had drifted, for me personally, but also in our marriage, I set out to leave. But he responded again, and we went to marital counseling. We did successfully address some issues in marriage counseling, and briefly our lack of sexual connection, but within a few months, away it went again. The topic of porn addiction didn’t even come up then, although as it turns out, this was the back story that he was hiding from me, and really, from himself as well, in a way.

      So the situation is now. Over the past year, I “accidentally” discovered my husband using porn again on a couple of occasions. About 6 months ago, I walked in on him, and was honestly devastated when he began lying to me about what he was doing. I moved out of the house. I am angry, confrontational, and I have engaged in endless bouts of research, reading, my own therapy, but I can’t seem to get anywhere.

      Now, of course, my husband says he “gets it.” He started therapy with a porn addiction specialist. He read a book I bought “Your Brain on Porn.” He doesn’t want me to leave him. He says he is committed to making amends for the harm he has caused me. He says he has abstained for months now.

      I miss our companionship, and I get sucked in again. Over Christmas, I stayed at the house so that we could have something resembling a family Christmas holiday. We are such a threesome with my son, and our separation is seriously complicating my son’s last year and a half before he leaves for college.

      I guess I spent about a month or more back at the house, but ended up re-living the sadness, frustration, sense of betrayal of going to bed, night after night, with a husband who is sexually uninterested in me. So now I’m back at my apartment, sitting alone, feeling lost, missing the parts of my married life that I depended on for companionship and support. And hating my husband for imposing this never-ending struggle on me, his lying and manipulation, which makes it impossible for me to hear a single word he says now (which are all exactly what you would want your husband to say in this situation, of course) without bitterness and anger.

      We have not had any intimate contact for about 2 years, and there is essentially no sense that my husband can or wants to have sex inside of our marriage, other than his claim that he is re-booting and now is struggling with dealing with his own sense of shame about how he has hurt me. Now that is just another reason that we don’t connect sexually. His guilt. Whatever.

      Isn’t it time I end this? Even though the cost of that decision is my own comfort in our companionship, the camaraderie of our family connection, my son’s pain at the ending of his parents’ marriage?

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