Why Your Partner's Porn Addiction Isn't About You

If your partner, spouse, or otherwise loved one is addicted to porn, you know how hard it can be to deal with. Not only are you watching your loved one struggle with something they seemingly have no control over, it can make us feel inadequate, embarrassed, angry, or a whole host of other negative feelings. 

Here’s the thing, this industry didn’t become a 10-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. for no reason and it’s certainly not because you or anyone else is inadequate. It became this way because it was designed to draw people in, just like drugs, cable TV, or processed food. You don’t feel ashamed that someone would rather eat a sugar laden processed desert over your lightly sweetened home-made treats, would you? 

No, because that person got accustomed to the taste, the sugar and the chemical reaction in their brain that they get when they eat that desert. Your spouse or partner is the same way, they got addicted to the chemical reaction in their brain that they get from viewing pornography. 

Without over-simplifying the entire phenomena, that’s what it really boils down to. Your partner’s addiction to pornography and sex isn’t about you, it’s about them. Maybe they were prone to addiction before they began viewing pornography compulsively and it spiraled. Maybe it was a way to relax after a long, grueling day of being unable to cope healthily with life’s stressors. As with any other addiction, they start differently for everyone. 

The common denominator is that addiction comes from within. Sure, there’s outside factors that influence whether or not someone will become addicted to something, anything – food, sex, porn, drugs, addiction is addiction. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not your fault, so let yourself off the hook for this one and try to be supportive of your loved on during this time. 

Reference
Pikiewicz, K. “The Hidden Wisdom or Porn Addiction”. Psychology Today. (Website). September 2013

  • 11 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I hate to watching porn but one of my friend is very addicted with it. I hate porn but I used to watch porn for few times then I realized that this habit can fattaly destroy anyone. I taken this decision that I will never watch porn because for watching this intended to masterbation.   
  • @sherimcfarland glad you don't watch... it can become quite addictive, so good for you for recognizing that!! :)
  • I am dealing with my husband’s porn addiction. We have been married for 38 years. I had random glimpses of his use. Therapist and friends said nothing to be alarmed about. Then 10 years ago illness and serious family crisis hit and our sexual relationship started to change. 5 years ago he became a closeted alcoholic. I hated the person he became and our marriage has been sexless. He recently went to alcohol rehab and also admitted to having a porn habit since his teens that has become daily for the last 10 years. He wants to stop the porn too. He says he loves me deeply but I now have zero self esteem left. I love him and hate him in the same breath. I feel our marriage is a sham and that I was always second and always will be to all the porn images. He is coming home from rehab tomorrow and I just don’t know about the future. It’s too heavy.
  • @Dkallgren hello and welcome! thanks for reaching out. i am not that familiar with porn addiction, but addiction can certainly cause some grief and fear in loved ones. i think it's good that he wants to stop and address his addiction, and that he went to rehab! that's very promising!

    your task is to learn how to take care of YOU. let him take care of him and you, YOU. practicing self-care can not only keep you sane and happier, it'll help your marriage. (well, it can).

    his addiction isn't about you. i know it can affect you, but regardless of what any person does or does not do, WE ARE GOOD. and you, are good and you're worthy of your own unconditional love....

    if you keep struggling, consider therapy. i'm thinking that will help you in wonderful ways!

    i'm sure others will pop in and share their experiences and hope - @JoshuaShea has a great website that maybe your husband will benefit from checking out (and you too!) https://recoveringpornaddict.com/

    we are here to listen and share.... you're not alone!
  • @Dkallgren Wow...you could have been my wife about 7 years ago. I hid both my porn and alcohol addictions from the world...until I couldn't any longer. You need to get into some therapy pronto. I'd also urge you to check out the Betrayal Trauma Organization website. You can find the link on the resources page of my website. You need to work on yourself for a while, as my wife had to do. When there's an addict in the house, everybody gets sick. Despite the fact I think you logically understand that he has a disease that has NOTHING to do with you as a person, it's still hard to accept it because you've suffered for a long time.

    As for your husband, if rehab for alcohol worked, he should try it for the porn. I did both alcohol and porn addiction rehab and I'm now at a little over 4 years sober from both.

    I don't push my ventures very much here, but since @dominica opened the floodgates, I also would urge you to check out my site https://RecoveringPornAddict.com Check out the blogs, but I'd also suggest for both you and your husband to check out the Media section with links to a ton of interviews and podcasts I've done. This is one of the best:

    I'd also urge you to get a copy of my book. You can get it through my site and it's now in over 100 libraries throughout the country, but I think you'll see a story probably a lot like the one you're going through. If nothing else it could be a HUGE cautionary tale for him to get help sooner than later. It's a memoir, and while our specific stories are very different, I think my descent into alcohol and porn addiction will ring very true.
  • @Dkallgren... Welcome to the community, my friend. I'm sorry that you've been dealing with your husband's addictions to porn and alcohol. I know that is absolutely draining.

    You've gotten some great advice and insight from @dominica and @JoshuaShea. Josh is especially well-versed in this area and I think his suggestions can be very helpful to you. Dominica is right about self-care, too. You have to take good care of yourself!

    Definitely look into seeing a therapist, too. I think that would be a wonderful thing for you.

    We're here to help and support you however we can. Please know that I am sending you positive energy and lots of hope.
  • I cannot thank both of you enough for your responses. I have been open about his alcoholism because it seems with the opioids crisis we as a society are much more sympathetic to those caught in chemical addiction than ever before. But I feel so alone in the porn addiction. I am very reluctant to talk about this openly with family and friends. So many levels of fear.

    Joshua, I have asked my husband for full disclosure. He was reluctant because he knows how much pain it will cause me. I believe addiction draws its power from being in the dark. My heart is already broken in a million pieces from learning of two powerful addictions. But I still don’t know any details. He was in that extremely small percent that was able to be completely hidden. Even a close family friend who is an AA board member and former longtime alcoholic had no clue. As for the porn, because of the the differences in our schedules he viewed it while I was at work. The last five years the neurologist diagnosed his symptoms as something else and I accepted that— as bizarre as it sounded. I will definitely get help and check out your resources. I feel so thrown away and discarded by someone I gave my entire heart and trust to. He says he has deep remorse for all the pain he has caused. But realty tells me that is not enough to make an addict permanently stop.
  • @Dkallgren first the pain, then the rising....

    powerful tedtalk i watched yesterday on that topic. opportunity all around to dig deep and heal on various levels.
  • @Dkallgren DO NOT DO A FULL DISCLOSURE. Think about this for a while. Really think about what you need to know vs. what you want to know. And if you are going to do a full disclosure, do it in the company of a trained therapist. Your living room after a long day is not going to end well.
    It's very easy to miss something when you're not looking for it. Don't beat yourself up over it. And I think it's actually a small percentage who don't successfully hide it. Aside from the guys who were found out, like he and I, there are statistics that suggest there are at least 10 people still out there suffering for everyone one like us.
    And remember...alcohol or porn...it's a symptom of a bigger problem. His problem is not that he views porn. His problem is that he's using porn to cope with a larger problem he may not understand. 94% of porn addicts have some kind of unresolved trauma in their past.
    His neurological problems were a good mask for the addiction, and may have contributed in some way. I know that my bipolar diagnoses, while absolutely correct, probably hid the fact I had these addictions.
    And in a strange way, realize this: He doesn't want to hurt you. He didn't want to hurt you. The lying and manipulating was -- in a strange way -- partially to hide you from a behavior he couldn't stop because he knew how much it would hurt you. He's probably also very embarrassed and ashamed. The best thing you can do is not judge his addiction and keep your home as a space safe for him to express himself. If you want full disclosure, and then start losing your shit, do you think he's going to open up again?
    Get yourself help independent of him. You really can use a professional, independent voice in your life right now.
  • I have been thinking a lot about what you said Joshua. “He didn't want to hurt you. The lying and manipulating was -- in a strange way -- partially to hide you from a behavior he couldn't stop because he knew how much it would hurt you”. really hit me. It was almost word for word what he told me. I definitely I want a safe space to reconnect with him but so much feels wildly unsafe. And yes, we also talked about the importance of daily communication (which has been minimal over the last 5 years or more) in helping him to reach out before there is relapse. He is willing with the alcohol but not as confident with the porn because he sees my pain. So it’s going to need to be someone else. I’ve made an appointment with a therapist with specialty in addiction. The rehab center is helping him with finding a therapist for his own follow on care . I will ask him to table the disclosure until a time when we are further along— and in the presence of a therapist.
  • I am new into the discovery of the depth of my husbands addiction. good luck
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