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Being fair to myself

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I am writing this post for some advice, and also for some peace of mind that the things I feel are fair. 

I'll start by telling you a bit about my situation. I've been with my boyfriend now for almost 5 months. Not long I know, but we fell for each other quickly. He is kind, caring, funny, all the things you'd want in a partner. I found out about his problem when confiding in him about a previous boyfriend of mine, who had a severe porn addiction. We got to talking about porn and masturbation, and how he'd thought before if he had a problem. So, from that, and personal problems in the bedroom, my boyfriend decided he'd stop, to see if this would help to solve the problems we were having during our intimate times. 

However, it soon became apparent that it wasn't as easy as that for him. The initial conversation happened at the start of December, so since the past couple of months he's confided in how difficult it is to stop, how on a number of different occasions he's watched or listened to porn or masturbated. This was worrying enough for me, as something that seemed like an easy decision at the start was proving to actually show problems and habits that he couldn't kick.  The thing that hurt the most though, was the lying. I'd ask him, due to knowing it was difficult, if he was managing okay and on a number of occasions he'd lied. 

This is where I need some help and advice for myself.

It can be a lot. I used to suffer badly with anxiety and also depression in my last relationship, and these conversations, along with other life stresses, have brought my anxiety back. I find it difficult not to take it personally if he does relapse, thinking what did I do wrong, why could he not talk to me this time, and he also goes through times of saying he's not addicted and it's normal. But, from the conversations we've had and the things he's told me, I know there is a problem and so does he. It's just those times he doubts it which are exhausting, as it's like I'm fighting him to see everything he's told me previously. 

I would really appreciate some advice on how to not take it so personally, so that it doesn't become all I can think about or if it does happen again how I can support him whilst at the same time remain strong minded, so that I can help him, but also myself. 

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Your situation is difficult and I'm saddened to hear about it. Rationally, whatever your boyfriend is doing (or not doing) is not something you can control. It's up to him to stop and get help for his behaviours. I appreciate emotionally it may not feel like that to you or you might blame or question yourself somehow. But it's not your fault in any way and you're not doing anything wrong. Another way to look at it would be actually that you cannot do anything right because he is going to carry on his regardless until he can find enough help to stop. That's huge strain on any relationship and especially if you've already had one prior serious relationship with a porn addict already I can only imagine what you're going through to find out about your current boyfriend's problems.

I hope you can find people who can support you, particularly as this is triggering problems for you of depression and anxiety, which are also tough things to handle on their own regardless, let alone with your boyfriend's problems to worry about too. You have a lot on your plate and anything you can do to help yourself and take better care of yourself I think is a good thing for you, for example, finding a therapist or a group to help you handle and cope with these things. I think this is the most important thing for you - to look after yourself as best you can and be well. Often I believe partners can feel isolated by being unable to talk to friends or family about these problems, which complicates finding a suitable outlet and you're left trying to contend with all this alone.

It's positive your boyfriend can talk about it and be open during some discussions but keeping up the lying sounds damaging and I think he would benefit from accepting that he cannot handle this on his own - he is addicted and needs help for that. That's something he needs to choose to do for himself ultimately and takes a time and effort to achieve.

The stories of other partners here and their input on here is also particularly illuminating. I'd like to encourage you to read some if you haven't already.

Again, I'm sorry to hear about all your troubles and hope you find some more help here and outside too.


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Hi Rob,

I've read the advise you gave to g21. I would be in a similar situation as in my husband and I can talk about what happened ( when we are not arguing about it ) but he can't give me any answers.  He was watching porn and mastrubating for 20 years on a daily basis but before I discovered this he hadn't watched it for about 6 months. He said that it wasn't a concious decision to stop but maybe age and he didn't need it anymore was the reason ( he doesn't really know ). Because of this he says that it wasn't an addiction he has but just something he started doing that became an issue and now  he is totally disgusted with his behaviour. When I ask him if he ever thought about how I would feel if I found out or did he ever think this is wrong and I need to stop he says no because he never thought he was doing anything wrong but he can see that now.

Can I ask your opinion if you think it was an addiction or can I really believe that it's something he can just forget about and can you shed any light on why he never felt the need to look at or stop his behaviour. 

I know everyone situation is different and I am at a place where I can say that this was a behaviour and not my husband but I still can't understand why he never thought of me ( am I being selfish ? )

I suppose I have so many questions and I'm so confused that I just don't know what to believe anymore .

Would appreciate your thoughts xxx

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Hi Nanook

Based on what you say in this post, and from personal experience (rather than as a expert therapist, which I am not!), I find it interesting that he doesn't try and appease/reassure you when he says that he didn't think about how you feel or think it was wrong.  That makes me think he is telling the truth.

I wonder, and everyone is different, whether he was addicted but is now in recovery, even if he doesn't call it that?  It could last indefinitely but he would have a better chance of that if he did see it as an addiction and looked at the causes, had some support and made various changes to his life.

You aren't being selfish at all.  However addicts are very selfish and they lose their moral compass.  Addicts it seems to me are actually very conflicted - deep down they often know what they are doing is wrong/shameful - that is why they keep it a secret.  The problem is that they can't see a way out.  They can't stop doing what they are doing - so they bury/deny/split off that part of their psyche that tells them it is wrong.  It goes very deep it seems to me.

The encouraging thing is that he now sees that and is 6 months into recovery (although he doesn't see it like that).  That is basis for real hope.  

If he subsequently slips, that might be the moment to raise the question of addiction with him again.  Given you have had the conversation already and he doesn't see it, I wouldn't I think raise it again - but that is up to you.   If he doesn't slip, then perhaps he is right - he wasn't addicted, and even if he was - he has come free. 

Paula has written a very helpful book for partners of addicts - I would recommend it.

I hope that is helpful.


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Hi Pj

Thank you so much for your reply, I can't say enough how much it means to hear from someone who has been through this and is winning , lots of respect to you.

I left my job in 2015 and according to his history he didn't look at any porn for 6 months but then it came back in June again daily. Then in 2016 again nothing until I discovered in the middle of that year. Again before 2015 it was daily for around 18 years. This is so confusing for me because I read so much of husband's who realise what they are doing and feel the guilt and shame then make that concious dissision  to stop but my husband says this never happened. 

Since then I really do believe that he hasn't looked at any porn and is extremely aware when something comes on TV that he knows we are not comfortable with he will switch channel. 

I think I was probably wrong in my initial reaction. ....first anger, disbelief, overwhelming sadness ect then back to anger, due to this I swore he would never need porn again and had sex every opportunity we had. Then one day everything changed, I felt that when I was with him he was thinking about what he had seen and of course this changed everything again. He tells me that he can't remember any of the videos he watched and he doesn't know why, weather he has just blocked it out or because it meant absolutely nothing to him. This is hard to believe as when we are together I still see their faces and what they were doing ect    ( as I was able to trace most of the videos watched in his history  )

I suppose I think our marriage is now failing because I can't forget or forgive, i have to say he is doing  everything he can. I guess I'm so afraid to give everything I have to him again.

I really respect everyone here who can give their partner lots of love and support and also the partners for their honesty.

Sorry for the rant.

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