Hello everybody! Before I start this blog post, today is Nov. 8! Election Day in the United States. I’ve already cast my ballot, so should you. Remember your vote always counts and could make a difference in this election. 🇺🇸
This blog post is going to be on an important part of the recovery process, honesty.
Addictions feed off of dishonesty, deceit and shame. Especially with the topic of pornography. Pornography is taboo, not often discussed, and when someone realizes it is addictive, they are often shamed by others. My partner is struggling with pornography and when I have gone to others to cope, I have been severely shamed for my views on it. He’s a man, he has the right to use porn. You’re just being an insecure, jealous woman, let him use porn. It’s better he look at porn than cheat on you! There’s no such thing as porn addiction, men just love women’s bodies! You better get used to it now, you’ll never be able to be with someone who doesn’t use porn. As you can see, the significant others get shamed for wanting to help their addicted partners. This article, like the previous one, tackles this issue from a male addict and female partner perspective. I know there are many female addicts and male partners out there.
With the backlash against the significant others, one can only imagine the backlash against the addicts themselves. When an addict (primarily a man) comes forward, people laugh at him and shame him! Ironically, at least in the US, there’s this drive for political correctness, but also a drive for sex to be forced upon us! We grow up with sex and are exposed to it at as ages as young as 8! It is very difficult for those with an addiction to porn to get proper support, so often it comes from the significant other or others struggling with this addiction.
Due to all of the shame surrounding this topic, honesty is sometimes difficult for the addict and the partner of the addict. In the early stages, the addict may not feel that they have a problem. The partner does feel it is a problem. Because the addict does not feel that it is a problem and they know it bothers their partner, they will probably lie a lot in the beginning. They want to spare their partner’s feelings and does not want to deal with the tears, yelling or fighting that may result if their partner finds out they were looking at porn again. In the early stages, on the partner’s part, the partner typically holds their feelings of disappointment, pain, sadness and anger inside of them. This causes tension on both sides.
Hopefully, sooner than later, the addict finds out that his behavior is problematic and attempts to make subtle changes. They acknowledge and understand that the pain they are causing their partner is real. They realize that the pain they are giving their partner is their fault, that their partner’s feelings are valid and that they have to change. However, change is not easy in the beginning, especially with an often 10+ year habit. The addict tries to make basic changes: This website tempts me, these types of advertisements tempt me, talking about this makes me feel tempted, browsing at these times tempt me, etc. But in the beginning, due to this being a long habit, there will be relapses. Relapses are an important and necessary part of recovery for most addicts. Some addicts can quit cold turkey. A majority of addicts have addictive personalities and can quit some addictions easier than others. But even taking these precautions isn’t always enough. An addict can be browsing a website with no pornographic material and see trending today advertisements that are pornographic and it can cause a relapse.
I will do a post on advertisements and social media soon, but just know that advertisements are about 50% what you click on, search, etc., while 50% are called “trending today” advertisements. Trending today ads are that are typically revenue generated. Meaning, the ad companies get money for every click (e.g., $.10 per click). These ads are unfortunately not avoidable without ad blocker software. If you clear your cookies, browsing history and search history and you still see pornographic ads, it is likely a trending today ad. Unfortunately for porn addicts, it means they have to avoid websites with trending today ads.
In the beginning of any addiction, dishonesty is to be expected. The addict does not acknowledge they have a problem and lies to avoid hurt feeling. The addict does know they have a problem and lies to avoid hurt feelings and disappointment. But the sooner an addict and partner realize that they have to be honest with one another, the better. In my experience as a partner, I realized that I myself was not completely honest about my feelings on pornography, and I realized I was hurting myself by trying to force myself to be okay with something that hurts me. I also realized that you cannot get too angry or upset with your partner. In order to facilitate a healthy open discussion, you have to resist the urge to freak out at your partner. I am learning this skill now and have been dealing with this issue for over a year.
Partners, you are never to blame for the addiction. But that does not negate the fact that it hurts you. I think about everything I’ve seen from my partner’s addiction almost every day, if not every single day. I can’t unsee the searches. Seeing searches for the most beautiful and perfect women hurts my femininity, ego and heart more than you could possibly imagine. Knowing my partner has seen the bodies of thousands and thousands of women hurts me. Worrying that there are possibly more relapses than you are aware of, and your partner being too scared to tell you is hurtful. Despite all this pain and sadness and depression you may be feeling, you still have to work with your partner. They are hurting too deep down. A lot of addicts are channeling feelings of boredom, sadness, loneliness, depression and anger into this addiction. This addiction needs to be starved. Express your feelings! Don’t hold them in in order to prevent a fight. Your voice deserves to be heard. Find a support network or activity, whether it is writing a journal, blogging, joining a support forum (e.g., No Fap, Fight the New Drug, Reboot Nation).
Addicts, you have to acknowledge sooner than later that your addiction is hurting yourself and others around you. Know that even if you try to rationalize that it has nothing to do with your partner, your partner will never feel that way. Your partner knows that it is not their fault that you are addicted to porn, but they take it personally when you are fascinated with ogling naked, beautiful women. Know that even though you feel alone, so does your partner! Your partner gets chastised and told to submit to you and let you be a man. There are not many support networks for your partner to go to. Use these feelings to come together rather than becoming divided. As hard as it is for you to digest, understand that when you lie to your partner about a relapse, it makes them feel like they are not enough for you, makes them question things they shouldn’t question, and makes them feel even more alone.
Addicts, we know that you love us very much and do not intentionally cause us harm and pain. We know that this is a 10+ year struggle for you and that it is not something easy to talk about. We know that you love us, our bodies, making love with us and being with us. We know that it is very easy for you to be triggered by anything and everything. But just know it is not easy for us to deal with this. Every time you lie to us, it digs a knife into our hearts. 😦 When you get scared to tell us when you slipped up because you don’t want to upset us, it upsets us even more. As women we are nurturers and care givers and want to help you, so when you reject our help it is painful to us.
Every day is a battle and a mystery. We don’t know what tomorrow holds and you have to live in the moment. Making simple changes and involving your partner gives you that accountability to someone. You won’t beat an addiction without involving someone else. You have to learn to cope with whatever is hurting you in a healthy way. You have to love your partner as much as I know you do and open up to them. But as partners we have to be open and understanding. As easy as it is to shut down when our partner tells us they’ve relapsed again, we have to be open and understanding. “You’re stupid and don’t understand me! You keep messing up and hurting me!” is not the way to get this addiction out of your lives. “I understand. If you don’t mind me asking, what were you doing when you relapsed. How many minutes/hours/days did you relapse? What do you need to do differently.
As easy as it is to walk away from a porn addict, you can’t. You have to work together to cope with this. You are both hurting and have to work on communicating and building trust. If these two things are missing, you are potentially jeopardizing your relationship. Addicts, support your partner, encourage them to vent their feelings (if you can’t handle discussing because it’s a trigger, encourage them to write), and reassure them that despite your shortcomings, they are number one to you. Partners, support your addicted partner, vent your feelings and get support, encourage your partner to be open and honest, and develop a system where they feel they can talk to you.