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Living with the aftermath of porn addiction

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Posted

It has been almost a year since my partner's porn addiction came to a head when I had a complete collapse of my self estee. It was more or less a total emotional breakdown. My partner had been using internet porn for 15-16 years which I knew about. In the early days when I discovered it in his internet history he half heartedly agreed to quit but he never did. He became very thorough about hiding and deleting any evidence and without anything to "prove" I felt powerless to raise the subject even though I knew he was using it – the closed door, rapidly clicking and closing the browser window as soon as I walked in, sitting in his dressing gown with tissues on his desk. I felt there was nothing I could do.

By the time I reached breaking point in 2015 I don't think we'd had sex in 7 or 8 years, and I really do mean nothing at all. After porn arrived in our home via the interest our sexual activity was affected, not greatly to begin with, but the tailing off dramatically with faster connections and streaming video. From my perspective, he totally lost interest in me sexually and I believed that he no longer found me attractive. He didn't notice me even if I was stark naked in front of him, there were no compliments about my appearance, nothing. What finished of four sex life was that on the rare occasions he reciprocated my advances - and it was always me doing the initiating - he would lose his erection and be unable to finish. Sometimes there would be no physical response to my touch at all. All this compounded the belief that  he was no longer interested in me sexually and was not attracted to me. When I used to see that closed door when I knew he was watching porn, it broke my heart because he had plenty of drive for that rubbish and NOTHING for me. I interpreted that as "fact", that I was an unattractive, sexually boring old prune whose time had been and gone. I felt that the evidence was right there, staring me in the face and I just had to suck it up and hope that his interests didn't go beyond "just" porn  

After it all came to a head, I probably felt even worse because he wouldn't be straight with me. He admitted to having gone to strip pubs a few times some years ago but insists he hadn't been for years, not since before he could watch all the internet porn he wanted for free without having to go anywhere, but that only came to light by accident otherwise he'd never have told me. If I am being honest, I don't know whether he's told me everything, but I do know that he lied to me about aspects of his porn use even though he agreed to be open and honest with me.

Over the years, life happens so there have been many stressful situations to get through. I know that plenty of other things can affect relationships but where there is a porn addiction an emotional distance will also happen and I have to say he wasn't always "there for me" emotionally and when I tried to be there for him it's almost as if he was resisting me or pushing me away. I felt very isolated and I still do. 

He agreed to quit porn last year. I had no idea but it was making him miserable. He had tried to quit but couldn't and when the ISP blocked adult content when the law was changed he got a bit desperate to get his porn fix. I was surprised at what a grip it had over him. He was also completely oblivious to how much his behaviour was hurting me. 

My life hasn't been the same since the day I broke down. It was an emotional roller coaster. It's not as bad as it was but I still feel confused and bewildered. I feel very uncertain about everything. Was our past just a lie? Everything I once believed going back to our very happy years before porn feels like one big con. Was he always living a secret life? What else don't I know. This is a man who could look me in the eye and tell me an outright lie. Trust is never the same again. I don't even know what trust feels like any more. If he can lie about something as stupid as porn, how can I expect him to be honest about more "serious" issues like fidelity? What other lies has he told me? 

I had a course of counselling and further help for low level depression. I've read the self help book for partners. I'be slowly improved my self esteem which was non existent a year ago. I  hate what his porn behaviour has done to me. My sense of self worth, my identity even. Yet I know I'm an attractive and intelligent woman. It's just that no woman can ever feel sexually confident and attractive when she's with a man who has ogled and objectified and fantasised about thousands of other women, even if it's just make believe on a screen. There have been occasions when the thought of him touching me has made me feel sick and made me want to get in the shower and scrub myself clean of him. Some days I just feel so rotten and alone.

There hasn't been a happy ever after. Tackling the porn issue has turned my world upside down. Sometimes I feel optimistic. Other times I feel very, very low. I always feel uncertain. I still feel emotionally disconnected from him sometimes, especially when this situation gets me down. 

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Posted

Hi,

I have just found this site and your post made me want to reply. My husband has been addicted to porn for around 13 years. I found out many years later after installing a keylogger on the computer, I thought he was up to something else so was gobsmacked when it dawned on me.

He has tried to stop on 3/4 occasions but failed, not because he doesn't want to but because he's addicted. The final straw was only Friday night just gone when he was next to me in bed on his tablet looking at porn images. He thought I was asleep.

I have given him an ultimatum, me or porn. I can't do this anymore. I feel unattractive, worthless. It is terrible. Is it my fault? Maybe, but he has to beat this. Love him so much it hurts really bad. Been married for 23 years and have 3 kids together.

Anyway, if you want to talk some more please get in touch x

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Posted

Hi dw

Porn addiction is awful. I had no idea that porn was addictive and my husband certainly didn't. It turned out that he was finding the experience quite miserable. He tried to quit but always went back to it. I had no idea it had its downsides. I was under the impression that the way of thinking was was "this is fantastic, these women are amazing" and in their heads imagining they were having some sort of incredible sexual experience. The other side of he story is a lonely man searching compulsively for the "ultimate" video clip to "finish" to after trawling through all the movies that fail to deliver. It's the brain chemistry that they get hooked on. There's a really good website that explains the addiction theory called YourBrainOnPorn.com 

When men say it's not a reflection on their partner and we shouldn't "take it personally" etc, the addiction theory explains why. Once I understood this dopamine/reward cycle that was going on, then it didn't feel so personal. Having said that, my self esteem was non existent and I had an extremely negative body image. I hated my reflection in the mirror. His porn "tastes" didn't do me any favours. When Paula warns about having mental images, or in my case actually seeing for myself, it causes even more harm to one's self esteem. We only have one body and as a woman, to have my body rejected felt like a rejection of my very existence as a human being.

It took a lot of pain, a lot of tears and a lot of work to get me to where I am now but I don't think I'm over it. Far from it. I'm still hurting. I'm still recovering. We both are. He has stayed away from porn. Finding out about the addictive process of porn and its effects on the brain  helped us both. He didn't want his behaviour to be just some sort of Pavlov's dog response. He woke up to reality. His "sessions" were no more than just him and a laptop. There was nobody else in the room, just pixels on a screen. There was no sex happening. He was masturbating to pixels. The movies were just recordings of performances done for the camera. Nothing was real. It was all an act. He wasn't having sex, he was consuming a product.

It took a lot for me to even try and feel good about myself again. I'm still trying. Porn addiction is never really "over". He could relapse. It happens. He hasn't relapsed so far but he acknowledges that he could. The addiction pathways have been created and were reinforced by years of porn viewing. They might become weaker with lack of stimuli BUT they  never disappear, just like you can't unlearn how to ride a bike  That's why it's so important to build ourselves up again and feel good about ourselves regardless of whether we are married to a porn addict. If you don't have Paula's book for partners, buy it. It makes even more sense to me now than it did 6 months ago.

You and your husband can overcome this as a couple but believe you me, it's like a crazy roller coaster ride that will go on for months. Tackling this problem takes a lot of inner strength and resolve, so be prepared. I always knew that it was going to be a big thing to face up to, and perhaps that was why I turned a blind eye for so long. But I reached a point where I realised that for the sake of my sanity and my dignity, not to mention the survival of my marriage, it had to change. He was relieved to stop though. It had gone on for too long and he was caught in a cycle of misery with it. 

Good luck, and please check in and tell me how it's going. 

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Posted

Can I add that at anytime you wish to seek counselling, make sure the individual knows about sex addiction. I've heard some devastating stories that alas with best will in the world, havent helped . There is more research being conducted on the relational impact of porn addiction and how the relationship can repair. Please if and when the need arises do ask an we can provide good supportive pathways

BW
Ian

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