Porn is everywhere, it seems. TV and movies keep pushing back standards of decency. Even many mainstream websites are plastered with suggestive images and links promising more sexual content.
Like many men, Mike enjoys checking out that stuff. He likes the more explicit stuff, too.
From what he can tell, he’s no more caught up in it than any of his buddies. And yet if his wife finds out he’s been on porn again, she flips out.
Why does porn bug her so much? She seems just as turned on by erotic novels as he is by porn. So why is it such a big deal to her?”
I hear all the time from women who are upset by their partner’s porn viewing. Here’s what they say:
1. I hate that he’d rather be on porn than with me!
“But that’s not true!” many men insist. “Porn is just something to pass some time, she is the actual woman in my life. They don’t even compare!”
And yet their women have the distinct feeling that porn can hold a more potent influence on him than she does. For Gwen, it’s the intensity of her boyfriend’s fascination that gets to her.
It seems to her that he’s more into porn than he is into spending time with her or having sex with her. “Every chance he gets, he watches porn. I popped uptown for an hour the other day – come back and he’d been watching porn.”
Myztikone commented: “I’m pretty cute: 5’1, 100 pounds, blonde hair, petite. Yet my boyfriend loves porn. In fact, he watches it more than he pays attention to me! It hurts me so much. I cry about it when he’s not around. If I bring up how much it hurts me, he gets really upset and a fight starts.
He makes me feel like crap when I try to tell him how I feel. It’s like he doesn’t care at all that it hurts me. After we clear everything up, he’s leaving me alone in bed the next morning to go watch porn on his iPhone and pretend he’s in the shower. I don’t know what to do anymore. I love him more then anything, but he would rather look at other girls’ bodies than mine.”
2. I hate how porn makes me feel about myself and my body!
Gwen finds that it makes her feel worse about herself: “I hate it. It makes me feel disgusting, knowing he’s doing it.”
Senen said, “I checked out his browsing history and was able to see every picture and video. I’m nothing compared to those girls. I hate going out with him now – in fact I can’t, because I feel ugly and I’m aware that he may be looking at girls with big boobs and butts. I wonder if the girls we see in real life look like the girls he’s been looking at online. I don’t know what to do.”
Rachel agrees: “I really hate porn and how it makes me feel. I feel fat and ugly, I feel the need to make myself look better than those women–although I never could.
Why can’t people be decent nowadays? If you’re in a relationship, realize you are making this woman’s self esteem flush down the toilet. They may even hate themselves. I wish men could empathize better.”
3. I hate how porn affects our sex life!
Rachel noticed, “Sex with my boyfriend has just been mechanical lately.”
MK described how it interfered with her and her husband’s ability as a couple to connect sexually: “My husband’s addiction came long before we were married. Since he already had very false ideas of how sex should be, how I should be, sex didn’t work very well.
And why would I want to have sex with him when I always came up short, no amount of sex was enough, and sex was far more about lust and his ‘needs’ than it was about love or emotional connection. I tried to be that wife that ‘fulfilled his yearnings’ so there wasn’t a problem with pornography, and it didn’t work. No amount of sex will keep him away from pornography.
For the most part, I orgasm every time we have sex. Does that make me want sex? No. Because even with orgasm, it’s not fun to feel like a piece of meat, have no emotional connection, and wonder if he was with me or the woman he saw on the screen.”
Najat wrote, “For the 12 years we’ve been married, my husband hasn’t been interested in sex. I have to beg him for it. He was happy if we only did it every three or four months. When we did have sex, it was the same routine.
I want him to open up to me; he just wants to do it quickly. We had loads of talks about it and every time he said he will try but after few days he forgets about every thing I said. It went on so long I stopped asking him. There was a time we did not have sex for two years. He was not slightly bothered.
He finally said he would go to the doctor to find out why he has a low libido, but he never followed through. Well, recently I accidentally found porn on his phone. He only admitted to watching it when I showed him the proof.
The worst thing is that he has been doing it for long, long time with out me realizing it. That entire time I was blaming myself for the problems in our sex life.”
4. I hate how porn affects his personality!
Tristan said, “I know when he’s back on porn because he gets more irritable. He flies off the handle over the littlest things. He yelled at our four-year-old for spilling his juice. He threw the hammer and left the house for an hour because he couldn’t get a hook to hang right for a picture he was trying to put up.”
GW wrote, “The emotional absence can be crippling. In fact, the emotional disconnect was one of the first signs I noticed. While he was into porn he never did anything around the house, was angry much of the time if not allowed to do his own thing, and put nothing into parenting.
His logic was skewed, too, and he sometimes seemed to have the emotional maturity of a preteen. As he’s progressed in his recovery from the addiction to porn, I’ve watched my husband go from a completely disconnected spouse and father back to the loving man he once was.”
5. I hate that he lies about it!
Sandra said, “I’ve been with my boyfriend two years. We agreed to not watch porn at the beginning. I found out that he did four times in the last four years yet he still denies it.”
Senen commented: “He gets mad when I accuse or ask about porn. He claims he stopped four months ago, but he’s lied so much I don’t know whether I can trust him.”
Sharlene described her heartbreak: “My boyfriend told me when I was pregnant that he didn’t look at pictures of naked women anymore. He lied to me for months, saying that he’d only watched a particular sex video because his friend showed it to him at work.
Then I found it on the search engine in the ps3. And last night I found other porn websites on his ps3. I am really disgusted because he used one of my pajama tops to wipe it on! I am really angry. I’ve always tried to be there when he needs me. I can’t get over the fact he lied to me all that time while I was looking after our baby.
If he can lie about that he can lie about anything else. I confronted him last night and he shouted that every guy does it.
6. I hate that I feel so confused and helpless!
Most of the women who comment on my blog say, “I don’t know what to do!”
Sharlene feels torn: “Inside I desperately want to leave.” But there’s another part saying, “Don’t! Just be a family.” Then there’s a part saying, “I’m not happy constantly being lied to, I would be happy without him.”
One woman commented, “I started to feel crazy for feeling the strong emotions I had. I had to recognize the betrayal and heartache and hurt that I felt and work through it and turn it over to God.”
K recalled feeling disturbed by sex early in her marriage to a narcissistic porn addict and not understanding why. “I wanted this lovely, tender connection and instead it felt dark and vulgar. Later I read Jaycee Dugard’s memoir, A Stolen Life, and realized that I related to a lot of how she felt. Instead of just concluding that he must be involved in disgusting things, I felt a dirtiness inside myself.
I couldn’t get rid of a gross feeling in my torso. It got so bad I remember wishing one time that I could take a razor blade and cut that icky feeling out. Looking back now I can see it more clearly, but at the time it was very disorienting.
Sex, this way of connecting that’s supposed to be beautiful and wonderful, instead was a constant downer, a drag not only on the relationship but on my entire life. After years I realized that he was never going to change, and I finally left him. Only now that I have some distance from the entire experience do I see all of the ways it effected me.”
Mike and the rest of us need to take these women’s feelings to heart. They’re not overreacting. They don’t need to get over it and realize all men look at porn.
As men, we need to respect women for who they are and trust their sensibilities. We can find it within ourselves to empathize with them and let that empathy guide our behavior. When we feel drawn to porn, we need to take women’s reactions and perspectives into account as we decide whether or not to act on our desires.
We have a choice whether to cause such harm to the woman we love…
How has porn affected your relationship? Please share in the comments below.
Note from Dustin: I am so glad that Mark shared this testimony about the deep pain that porn is causing in marriages. If you’re looking for help right now, I’d encourage you to check out Mark’s site and also take a look at Covenant Eyes.
Covenant Eyes not only prevents porn use by men, but by women and teenagers as well. Given that the fastest growing users of porn are women under the age of 25 and that 43% of kids first view porn before the age of 13, now’s the time to take action.
Mark Chamberlain loves helping people heal from the effects of sexual addiction. He is a psychologist and the Clinical Director at Suncrest Counseling in Salt Lake City, which offers an intensive treatment program for individuals and couples struggling with porn and other addictions.
He is the author of several books including Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity and a blog on the same topic. He has found that most clients’ recovery is greatly strengthened by deeper emotional connections in relationships.
Their clinic uses Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to help couples heal the negative cycles that can sabotage such closeness. His greatest reward comes as clients discover that true, deep attachment is “the real deal” that old addictions could never counterfeit.