If you’ve discovered your boyfriend watches porn, you’re not alone. I got a letter from a young woman asking about how to deal with her boyfriend’s porn habit while dating. She gave me permission to share what she writes.
“My boyfriend has been using porn since adolescence. During college he began to seek help by attending Sexaholics Anonymous meetings and being very involved with accountability and mentoring through that organization.
We are both Christians in our mid-20s, and he has read many other books over the years and prayed so much. He was open with me about his struggle before we started dating, and explained that he was getting help, but purity would probably always be a struggle in his life.
We are considering a serious relationship now, but my question is this—I know he’s serious about gaining victory in the area of sexual purity, and I know it’s going to be difficult, but what should I look for before considering a more serious relationship with him? Complete victory (i.e. not viewing porn and not masturbating) for a specific length of time? Improvement but not complete victory? I believe in God’s power to transform his life, and he does too, but this is still scary.
Most material I find is aimed at wives, and thus encourages them to stay and fight for the marriage, but there seems to be very little material for people considering marriage. What healthy expectations should I have?”
First of all, I love that this young couple has already done a bunch of things right:
- He initiated the conversation about his struggle with pornography habit.
- He got help.
- He continued to be honest about his ongoing struggles.
- She listened.
- She educated herself.
- She’s thinking hard about her boundaries before she takes another step down the road to commitment.
That’s pretty impressive, in light of the harsh realities in today’s dating world. Let’s look at some common realities if your boyfriend watches porn, as well as some excellent questions and principles for any porn-impacted relationship.
7 Harsh Realities About Your Boyfriend and Porn
Again, these are harsh realities, but the best time to hear them is now while you’re dating–before you’ve made a more serious commitment.
1. Almost every young man has had significant porn exposure.
Christian or not—most guys have been significantly exposed to pornography. Therefore, many men you date are dealing with this on some level. Realistically, you can either date a person who’s honest and tells you about his experience with porn, or you can date a person who’s pretending. Or you’ll find someone in the 1.5% of guys who have apparently been living under a rock.
2. You can’t guarantee honesty.
You can promote honesty in the relationship by educating yourself and being open to the truth. You can’t guarantee honesty, though. You have to weigh the words you hear with the behaviors you see.
If you’re not comfortable with what you’re hearing, if you don’t understand what you’re seeing, then let yourself understand that this is a problem. Don’t proceed in the relationship until you feel comfortable and you have a good understanding of what’s going on.
3. You’ll likely need to start the conversation about porn.
Not only will you likely need to get the ball rolling, but you will also need to keep having tough conversations as the relationship continues. Women have to be strong and courageous. We can’t wait around for someone else to do the right thing. If we know the right thing, we have to take action, even though that can be scary and hard. (See my suggestions below.)
4. “Instant victory” rarely happens.
It’s a nice thing to hope for, and maybe sometimes it happens. Most of the time, though, I think you have to support your partner through a series of ups and downs as he learns to manage his issues.
How much of that you want to do while dating is difficult and serious. Individual questions need to be honestly addressed and not glossed over.
The truth is, he may not be ready to do the work, and you can’t do it for him. On the other hand, he may be working really hard and still struggling. Be real about what’s going on. Work to understand.
5. Marriage and sex won’t fix his porn problem.
He won’t suddenly stop looking at porn if you get married and have lots of sex. It’s not about you.
6. A different version of you won’t fix his porn problem.
He won’t suddenly stop looking at porn if you are skinny enough, pretty enough, sexy enough, funny enough, forgiving enough, or overlooking enough. It’s not about you.
7. Victory from porn is possible!
Porn can stop having a huge hold on his life, but it requires that he does the practical work of prevention and becomes more honest, open, vulnerable, and emotionally intimate with the important people in his life: God, friends, mentors, family, and you—if you decide to stick around.
A Few Questions to Ask Your Boyfriend About His Porn Use
Because most guys have had porn exposure, it’s a topic you really should discuss before making any high-commitment decisions. You want to know at what age they were exposed, how frequently, and what their current use is like. You’re not looking for intimate details, just the outline of the issue. Here are some questions and conversation prompts you can use:
- “Pornography use is a real issue for lots of people these days. I’ve been reading some about it, and I’d like to hear about your experience with it.”
- If the person tells you they don’t use porn and have never had a problem with it, here’s a follow-up question: “I’d love to hear how you’ve managed something that most other people find really difficult to deal with?”
- To check if they have a prevention plan, you could ask: “How do you protect yourself on a regular basis from everything that’s out there on the internet?”
- To see if they’re accountable and emotionally connected: “Who do you talk to about this? Who supports you?” “How do you think God feels about you?”
- To see what their expectations are of you: “What do you think my part should be with you in this issue?”
5 Healthy Habits for a Porn-Impacted Relationship
That brings us to two questions: What should I look for? What healthy expectations should I have?
Here are some healthy habits for any couple impacted by porn – dating, engaged, or married.
1. Take responsibility for your own issues.
You should each be able to identify and take responsibility for your own issues. He has a habit, and you have emotions about that. While he does his work, you do yours as well.
2. Understand porn’s effects on the other.
You should understand how pornography affects the other person in the relationship and have emotional empathy for your partner’s struggle. He should understand your pain, and that it takes time to work through those emotions. At the same time, it’s important for you to see him as a person with deep needs, not just a jerk who’s trying to make you miserable.
- Learn about porn’s impact on the brain.
- Learn about why porn is so addictive.
3. Have a prevention plan and a relapse plan.
The person with the porn habit has a plan for prevention and a plan for recovery after a relapse.
He’s consistently and voluntarily doing whatever he can, in terms of practical prevention: internet blocking, filtering, and regular accountability. These things should be an ordinary part of everyday life.
- Learn more about what it really takes to quit porn.
- Learn about creating a porn relapse plan.
4. Invite others into this part of your relationship.
Make sure there are people in your life who are aware of what you’re working on, and who are able to talk with you, give feedback, and offer support. This goes for both parties.
We need to bring our mess to God and to our community of faith rather than trying to hide it or pretend it away. We trust that He is with us and that our community is with us, on the journey.
5. Grow in your ability to talk about these issues.
You are growing in the ability to have normal, non-crisis conversations about how you are doing with your issues, and how the relationship is impacted.
One Absolute Guarantee
Here’s the thing: I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what choices he’s going to make. I don’t know if you’re going to get the happily ever after that you want.
There is only one thing I know, for sure—one absolute guarantee—God loves you with an everlasting love, and whatever happens, you are safe in that love.
Knowing that, be wise, be strong, be courageous. Live in truth and freedom.
Frequent Questions if Your Boyfriend Watches Porn
Note from the editor: Since Kay’s post was first published, we’ve heard many more questions about a boyfriend’s porn use. Let’s look at a few of the most frequent questions we see.
1. Should I be upset my boyfriend watches porn?
It’s understandable if you’re upset by your boyfriend’s porn use. Finding out he watches porn may bring feelings of betrayal, personal insecurity, uncertainty about the future of your relationship, and more.
Here are a few helpful things to remember: most guys were first exposed to porn at a young age when their brains were more susceptible to porn’s addictive nature. His porn use is not about you. It likely started way before he knew you, and likely won’t stop because of anything you do or don’t do.
This doesn’t make his porn use right or even mean you need to stick it out while he recovers (if he decides to). Remembering those few things will help you have more understanding and empathy as you discuss how his porn use impacts the relationship going forward.
2. Is my boyfriend addicted to porn?
Wondering how to tell whether your boyfriend’s porn use falls into the addiction category? We go into depth elsewhere on the symptoms of porn addiction, but here they are at a glance:
- He uses porn to ease or avoid deep emotional pain.
- He has developed a tolerance that’s led to more deviant forms of porn.
- He gets angry or irritable when he can’t watch porn.
- He’ll do things he normally wouldn’t in order to watch porn.
- He’s consumed by an urge to watch porn.
- He feels helpless to quit or has tried multiple times without success.
It may be hard for you to identify these in your boyfriend, depending on your relationship. And ultimately, whether or not you call it an addiction doesn’t matter so much. If he’s watching porn consistently, at some point, it will have a negative impact on your relationship.
3. Is it normal for my boyfriend to be addicted?
There are two underlying questions here. First, is it common for my boyfriend to be addicted to porn? Again, based on the prevalence of porn exposure among guys, yes, it’s common for guys to be addicted to porn. The second underlying question here, though, is: Should I be okay with my boyfriend’s porn addiction? To this question, we’d say “no.” Porn is harmful, and it tends to negatively impact relationships where it’s present.
4. Why does my boyfriend watch porn?
We’ve written in-depth elsewhere about why people watch porn, but in short:
- It feels good.
- It seems harmless.
- Previous exposure to porn.
- Few real relationships.
- It’s used to cope with boredom, anxiety, or depression.
- It’s addictive.
- It makes plenty of false promises about important life issues.
Hi. My internet settings at home are blocked and I cannot download this material. Is there another way for me to gain access to it? Thanks for such great resources! You have blessed my life and my husband’s greatly.
What material are you referring to? You left a comment on this post, so I assume you have access to the article itself, correct? What were you hoping to download?
If your boyfriend uses porn, you should end the relationship. If he’s struggling when he’s still trying to win you over, imagine how it will be once he knows he’s got you married to him. Don’t settle for someone who isn’t sold out completely to Christ. I’m not saying someone who had NEVER used porn in his past, but you shouldn’t be with someone who has it as a part of his present at all. Most pornography is violent and abusive and it is all disrespectful. He can say he loves you all he wants, but his actions say otherwise. He lacks basic respect for women and for humans in general. Many women are naive as to what actually takes place in the majority of porn. It is abusive and extreme. It’s not like a woman dancing around in a bikini or something. Believe me, if you’re dating and haven’t yet married him, it is not worth it. Don’t take on this burden. It will only drag you down. I have been there. The heartache is NOT WORTH IT. God finally gave me a man who cries his eyes out for what happens to women in pornography and who is involved in the fight against human trafficking. Hold out for God’s best and don’t settle for a mediocre life of heartache and playing babysitter to an adult man.
I can’t believe the judgmental attitude you have here when you don’t know the whole story. Just because he has this struggle doesn’t mean he’s incapable of one day gaining victory over it. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect women and humans. Just me, it takes an awful lot of courage to come out to someone about this kind of a personal habit and to seek help for it. It sounds like he’s taking the necessary steps to gain victory over this habit and he’s doing it out of his love for God and his girlfriend.
Melissa, what are your struggles? Because it sounds to me and everyone reading your post that you don’t have any…
How very “Christian” (forgiving, tolerant, understanding, loving) of you to say that, and people wonder why attendance in churches are so low/! Obviously it’s not like the guy wants to have it and is trying to improve the situation, and people like you who are judgmental make it that much worse and more difficult to get help. Try seeing it from someone else’s point of view for a change.
Wow. There’s not much grace in your comment at all. I urge you to reconsider your concept of what constitutes a “sold out completely to Christ” person. Do you fit this bill?
From where I sit, either you have the 1.5% mentioned (which is possible), or your husband is 60, or you’re disillusioned.
Please think of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”; Consider your own humility. Also think about communicating more “gracious, seasoned with salt”(Col 4:6)
From a guy’s perspective – I think this article is right-on. Just to give you some background, I am 24, a born-again christian, new father, and recently engaged to my fiance of which we have been together for 6 years. I have had an on and off porn struggle in recent and past years starting before I met my now fiance, but also the porn addiction continued at times throughout our realtionship. As you can imagine, it caused a lot of tension and trust issues throughout our relationship and in some ways, there is still some mistrust and hurt from the past from the porn damage in our relationship. I think being honest was the turnaround piece and sucess in our relationship which enabled me to come clean and continue to trust God to help me and her move forward from the pain I had caused. I immediately seeked help when everything hit the fan and a big part of what I had been hiding from her was revealed. Isn’t it great to know that since I belong to God, he exposes all of my wrong doing to those who I have hurt – I mean that honestly. The holy spirit living within me keeps me so accountable for my actions and my thoughts and sometimes being exposed is such a humbling experience for a christian. I also had an amazing opportunity to go to an Every Man’s Battle conference sponsored by New Life Ministries in Washington DC last summer. I recommend this to any guy (Christian or not) who has a porn/sexual related addiction. There is a substantial cost assoiated with the confernece, BUT it really is worth it – it changed my whole outlook on sex and pornography. I also had my dad with me who went in support of my help which I think was so helpful as well – it was so awesome of him to support me and if you asked him, I know he learned a lot from going to the confernece. Just as a side note – there is one thing about the confence that the world needs to know no matter who you are… everyone has struggThe conference featured great speakers, aweosme accountability and really an eye-opening experience for guys like me who either never really understood the root causes or sexual addiction, or who were told to go otherwise there would be some family readjustments in the future… it opened my eyes to the damage that sexual addiction causes and gave me so much hope to change by the grace of God. One thing that I learned from the conference is that men are like women in the fact that they have ways of dealing with emotion and stressful situations that life brings us. Men are expected to just be tough and to not show that they are struggling with things – we are fixers and doers… that mentality is WRONG and goes against what goes on inside most of us men. We are human beings who have real struggles like all people do and the way that we deal with stress, nelgect, past trauma in our life can affect how we live our lives. (i.e. looking at porn to relieve stress, being tempted to have sex with our significant other, etc…) it goes hand in hand. IM NOT SAYING THIS IS JUSTIFIED, because in God’s eyes it absolutely is not, but that men, and especially society need to realize that there is a root cause to our actions. It is through God and his word that we are able to act accountable to him and that is what is the driving factor to recovery. It goes beyond that though – accountability parterns should be in place, internet filtering/monitoring on software should be installed on computers and smartphones/tablets, constant open communication and honesty to the significant other and from them to you should be happening, isolation should be minimized as this usually leads to temptation. I noticed that I was more vulnerable for Satan’s attack when I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything – that lead me to fullfill my own desires which usually wasn’t a good thing. Overall, it is not an easy road to recovery and I still get tempted to delve back into my old habits and ways, but that is going to happen for the rest of my life. Knowing that I have accountability in all aspects of my life is how I am able to be successful and thank the Lord I have him to lean on when I feel discouraged or have no one to turn to. I am still working with my fiance to build our trust together and hopefully get married in the future and raise our son together. My gave me a visual picture which is so powerful to me – if my relationship with my fiance is a triangle and I am on one end, she is on the other and God is at top of the triangle, that eventually with time and as we build closer toward each other, that we also build closer in our relationship with God with him at the top and center. I am thankful for my fiance for being faithful and patient with me, for my dad for his love and support, and for my family. I also know that through God’s grace and mercy that I am healed and I hope I can one day help other Christian men who are struggling. In conclusion, here is a helpful quote that I use as a daily reminder of hope. I stole this from Tim Tebow, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds it” and that is all that I need to get me through whatever I am going through in life.
I really appreciate your post Mellissa!! As a wife who has been on the receiving end over 25 years !! I agree ! Where is the compassion for the pain the loyal christian spouse must endure ??
This is pretty harsh. As she stated in the article, 98.5% of men have had to deal with this. Since I was 5 years old I’ve been exposed. My dad watched porn all the time and went to strip clubs. I’ve had my ups and downs, but to say you should end the relationship is a ridiculous notion. I’ve been with my girlfriend for over 3 years. When we first were together, we made love all the time, but her parents found out and we had to change our relationship to honor God’s word. For me, this was especially tough. I love her with all my heart, which only makes it harder for me. I had a relapse. I didn’t want to tempt her into sin, so I’ve tried easing my urges. I would lay down my life for my girlfriend and do any and everything for her.
When women say things like you just did, all that makes men want to do is hide it. I was debating on telling her and now I’m not sure I can. I love her with all my heart. I’m in tears as I write this because I’m so disappointed in myself and I don’t want to hurt her. There’s a reason only 1.5% of men are lucky enough not to deal with this issue. Something as easy as a like on am instagram photo of a women dressed provocatively could be a trigger. To attack the person is very harsh. I hate to give advise because I don’t know the man, but the fact that he was open and up front with her about can not be over looked. He obviously to do it, but little moments can take over and leave us men discouraged. The last thing we need is to be attacked.
To the above comment. Some men struggle with pornography because somewhere in the childhood they were molested , and or a generational curse of incest or molestation took place in the family line. Once a person is saved, yes they are sealed with the Holy spirit of promise, but salvation (unless we give it back), is a one time thing. The healing and deliverance from generational curses however is about sanctification, the daily transformation of becoming more and more like Jesus. Some things don’t change over night and can only come out with prayer and fasting. I want to caution you about your comment above because it was very condemning. It’s about an issue that may on the surface, look just like that, something on the surface. When it it really something deeper or a deeper rooted issue (molestation, generational curses, rejection, etc) and the pornography is the bad fruit growing on the tree. To say that this man does not respect woman, and is not sold out to christ, along with the other comments you made is in error. If the young man was not sold out to christ, and did not respect women, He would not have told his girlfriend whom he loves. He could have hid it from her. Love is very powerful and covers a multitude of sins. Jesus loved us, even when we were still sinners. Thank God for grace. But grace is not to be used as a reason to keep on sinning and doing what we want. Im sick of the hypergrace message. Grace is the power that is supposed to help us overcome sin, because where sin abounds grace abounds more. It reminds us that God loved us for who we were when we came to Him, but it also reminds us that He doesn’t want to leave us where we were. I encourage this young man, and exhort him for being open about his weakness and his sin. In being open about his weakness he is saying, “God I can’t do this without you. Be my strength.” James 5:16 “confess your faults one to another, and pray for one for another, that ye may be healed.” So I urge the young lady above- pray, fast and love him through it. IF you choose to. No, it wont be easy or overnight, but his healing and complete deliverance will come. Isaiah 58, the fast that GOD CHOSE, 1) Loosens the bonds of wickedness 2) Undo the heavy burdens 3)let’s the oppressed go free 3)breaks every yoke- well, that seems like allot of work perhaps for this guy’s issue and their not married yet. I got news for you, when you’re married you’LL have to continue to live a lifestyle of prayer and fasting for your future husband and your children. I end my comment here and I urge my fellow brother and sisters to check their own spiritual barometer first, comparing themselves to Jesus and not man. Take the Holy Spirit Sheriff’s badge off. Your comments could damage the soul of the one God is working to heal.
Thanks Melissa. I’m a 55 year old husband and father of 3 boys and 4 girls. I have struggled all my life. And I would give the same advice to my girls. And expect the same zero tolerance from my wife. God does not wink at sin. Jesus expectation is “Go and sin no more” Romans 7 is not the normal Christian life. Where is the hope of the gospel? It is Romans 8:4, not Romans 7:24 !!! As a sold out Christian we should never accept a Romans7 life, for my self especially.
If only you actually knew the struggle.. It’s people like you that make people with problems hide their feeling about this.
My boyfriend of two years just opened up about his porn addiction im freaking out. I dont know how to help or what to do. We used to watch the tv show shameless and it has alot of sex scenes in it and it makes me uncomfortable now is it not good if he watches it while trying to recover. Please help I am so lost. I don’t know what to do I want to help but don’t know how. And i dont want to leave but i dont know what to do. Please help
Hi, Victoria – such a tough situation. My first words are ones to tell you that it must feel like a bomb has been dropped on your relationship. My second words are to tell you that it sounds like there are some things to be hopeful for here.
First, your boyfriend opened up, which is great. This could mean that he really does want to figure this out and find help. He can turn to any number of blog posts from Covenant Eyes as a start, particularly this one.
Second, and I’m not sure how to word this, so please forgive me if it comes across more direct than I intend, but if you need to freak out, that’s ok, but then move to a spot of “we’ll get through this.” Because, there’s a great chance that you will.
Third, it’s not your job to fix him. It’s his job, with your loving support, but you don’t need to carry the burden of his recovery. It’s up to him to sign up for Covenant Eyes. It’s up to him to have an Accountability partner (and it shouldn’t be you). These are all his responsibilities. Not yours.
Fourth, this is your recovery, too. Way too often, all of the focus is on the man’s recovery and the wife/girlfriend is left to wonder “what about me? I feel horrible and confused and I don’t know where to begin.” That’s why it’s so important to find outlets for your own emotions and to find safe places to process what you’re feeling. And, maybe even create some loving boundaries with your boyfriend until you see evidence that he’s owning his part of recovery. Kay Bruner, who wrote this blog, has many other posts about boundaries, and you’re entitled to them. Even though most of culture won’t give you that permission.
Victoria, I wish you the best! God is for you – He’s for real, authentic love. Please let me know if there are any other ways that Covenant Eyes can help.
Hello, I am very detailed with telling stories so this will be long. I am currently in a situation where I have a boyfriend I have been dating for almost a year. He turns 21 this month. I had a toxic on and off 5 year relationship before him which I told him left me scarred in many ways. I told him at the beginning I did not believe in guys who watch porn when they have a girlfriend. Or who follow trashy girls/past flings while having a girlfriend. I told him I believe it’s no different than cheating and that if he’s going to be with me he only needs to be looking at images of me if he’s needs to touch himself.
I am his first girlfriend. He’s had severe anxiety his whole life where he’s constantly randomly throwing up in anxious situations (which is why he has not been with anyone other than me). The only reason we are together is because I perused him so much and pushed him out of his comfort zone vs. other girls his whole life did not. But even though I am his first “girlfriend“, he has in the past had girls he used to talk to, had huge crushes on, and also used to look at their pages and fantasize about them. He told me later on when we first began dating that he used to watch porn a lot (especially with how anti-social he is). This is where I told him I don’t mind him touching himself if he has to but only to me, which he replied he 100% agreed and did not want to look at other women if he’s with me. Later on in the beginning of our relationship he unfollowed all girls on social media that he used to talk to/like. A week after, I see that he’s following a girl again (that he had unfollowed during that time) that he used to talk to and fantasize about. I brought it up and he lied and said he didn’t, and finally I got it out of him and he said he did, “but only because I still followed guys on social media” but later on i’ve come to find out that may have been part of it, but more of an excuse. After having a long talk with him about that and saying if that’s how he’s going to be i’m gone. Later on at 6 months into our relationship (i now had his social media accounts connected to mine so I get his notifications) a “____ accepted your follow request” pops up. And it’s that same girl from before. I go and look at his instagram search history and there are 5 other girls he has searched up. I thought everything was completely fine between us and this was SO out of the blue for me. I called my parents not knowing what to do or how to react to it. I had a long talk with him saying that without complete honestly I cannot continue to be with him. And if he’s not ready to be serious then to not drag me along. He replied saying it was an accident that he followed her, yes he did go look at those girls pages, but it was an accident that he clicked the request to follow button. Next I asked him, “have you been watching porn while you’ve been with me? be honest” (side note I always asked him if he was throughout the relationship and he always said no, that he just looked at videos of us). He replied, “Yes i have”. He said he had started watching it again from the 2months point of our relationship to the 6months (4 months of constantly watching it and lying to me…). I then told him “Thank you for being honest but since you’ve decided to pick false images over what is real (me) I can no longer be with you.” So i broke up with him, but on the goodbye phone call later that night I told him that this breakup doesn’t HAVE to be forever. That it depends on if he’s ready to give that up and be a one woman man. I did a lot of research on this in which many things said lots of guys struggle with this but as long as they’re trying not to it’s okay (if you’re someone who can put up with it). I told him he might just be at a point in his life where he just wants to look at a million naked women, and if that’s the case to go on without me. He replied saying he loves me and he hates what he did and he’s always wanted to give it up and he’s always tried but it’s just hard. We were broken up for about a week and got back together because he said he would talk to his dad about his struggle, read these addiction books my brother read to help him, and would take safari, app store, and anything having to with social media/internet off his phone and laptop. So i went and put the restrictions on for him. A month has passed and he hadn’t touch himself at all, he was reading the books, praying. But lately, I slowly started to see him not really reading anymore and only doing it when i reminded him, and hanging out with his older brother more (who is a very bad guy). Then I get a text the other morning saying he “touched himself earlier this morning and he’s sorry he couldn’t help it”. He didn’t look at anything, he just did it. He said he thought about me but mainly nobody. He said he just did it to relieve stress so he could go back to sleep. After telling me this he then says his grandma (who he lives with) wanted him to download the family dollar app on his phone so she could get more deals. He said he didn’t know what to do and was asking me for the passcode so he could take the restrictions off and get the app for her. I didn’t know how to react, I told him no i’m not giving him the passcode, it’s only 4 digits he’d remember it, and because of what he did i wouldn’t be speaking to him for the rest of the week which he replied “Okay”. A day and a half passed and I couldn’t take it anymore so I texted him last night and asked if he’s done it again. He said no he hasn’t, that he’s been depressed and hating himself for what he did because he knows he hurt me. He also adds that he’s taking the week off to basically recharge and relax. And that not talking has been relaxing for him (mainly probably because I normally like to sleep on facetime and he hates it but does it to make me happy). He then proceeds to say that he wants all restrictions taken off his phone immediately, that’s hes “tired of feeling and being treated like a kid”. He says he doesn’t need the restrictions anymore and that he just wants to be able to search things when his family is asking him to and go watch youtube again. He justifies this by saying “I have my ps4 in the living room, if I really wanted to watch porn that badly i would bring it into my room and search it on there”. I replied “yes, but that takes much more effort and you’re less likely to do that vs. having easy access on your phone”. He doesn’t agree, but I know deep down he knows he doesn’t need the restrictions taken off. It’s only been a little over a month since he was watching porn. I don’t know what to do or how to respond to this. I told him that I guess I can’t force him to do something he doesn’t want to and that i guess I have no choice but to take the restrictions off. I just know if I do he’s going to slip up. He’s one of those people that is overly confident in saying he can do anything but when it comes down to the hard part he’s weak and gives in super easily. I had a panic attack and later on asked if he can just wait to turn them off once i drive down to go see him in 2-3 days for his birthday. He said yes. But really i’m hoping to introduce covenant eyes to him and seeing if he’d be willing to atleast do that. Because if not I don’t see how either of us could equally be comfortable. It’s only been a month and it takes way longer than that to regain my trust back. But he’s wanting to rush it. I know it’s like impossible for him to “completely stop”, but I believe it’s not impossible if there’s no way for him to even access porn. Many people say that if i really loved him I would help him though this even if he messes up. But if he’s not even willing to do the covenant eyes or change his mind about turning off the restrictions I don’t know how else I could be with him except to just settle, because like y’all said above there’s only like 1.5% of guys who don’t do that and have been living under a rock their whole life. It’s very unlikely (especially with my luck) that I would find someone who’s basically perfect. I know all of this is just negatives about him but there are definitely a lot a positives like he’s literally all i’ve ever wanted in a guy besides this problem he has and just his life kind of being “stuck” right now because he parents could not afford to get anyone a car and so he can’t get a job, doesn’t have a car etc. But that’s something I overlook and know with time it will not be like that anymore once he finished with college. He really is a great guy and we’re practically the same person. It’s just when it comes to these things it makes me question us and i don’t know what to do or what is the correct way to react.
So the real issue is this: will he take responsiblity for himself? None of us are perfect, we are not going to find perfect partners. However, we can all choose to take responsibility for ourselves, and we can expect our partners to do the same. It sounds like you have a good idea of what’s okay and not okay with you, and a plan for asking for what’s okay with you. Trust yourself!
In response to melissas post:
I think if that’s what feels right to you as a person, I completely agree with Melissa. I know it’s not the holy Christian forgiving thing to do. And you don’t have to be vengeful by removing yourself from something or someone that is causing you trauma and what will more than likely be a long term pain.
I think the general problem for females within this subject is accountability for their pain and hurt feelings.
For some backstory before my point. Now I know from experience women can face the same struggles as men in this area. I am a woman and was addicted to porn and just found out my boyfriend has been lying to me after I made him aware years ago, and since, multiple times, how it has impacted my life negatively and that as someone who was sexually abused at the age of 4, I have strong feelings of hate for the industry. And I myself struggled with my addiction with porn for years and years because of my introduction into it at such a young age. I have successfully not looked at porn. I have successfully changed my habits out of the pain that it has caused me in Reference to finding out previous partners were using porn during our relationship. I was able to drop it on a dime without any sort of help or encouragement or family or friends to talk to after 20 some years of being affected and addicted to porn and the trauma that also came from a young age. I never thought I could do it but I decided to when I realized how much it hurt me, it was also hurting other people. So, no, I would not have wanted someone to stay with me because (IN MY MIND AT THE TIME) I wasn’t ready and could not overcome it. When in reality I put it down cold turkey and haven’t touched it since. Even after I found out my boyfriend was lying to me about it, and revenge seemed so easy at first and I struggled with the idea but never went back to it not even once even while mad and hurt And sadly wanting them to hurt in return. So I think the problem for women Comes down to accountability because all these sites try to say it’s OK that you’re doing it, it’s OK that you’re going to keep doing it as long as you “try”. Yet most of the people suffering from the effects of it are women while the men go on viewing it as if it’s OK because they are male and it is common. To use these ideas of it being common and gender, you’re not holding yourself accountable for the fact that it is completely possible for a man to remove some thing, a already formed habit, that’s been in your life for 20 some years that you never wanted but didn’t know how to deal with. And it’s also demeaning to women that men get coddled while “trying” to recover, no matter the true effort that only they know they did or did not put forth into recovery.
In other areas do we do the same thing? If a man repeatedly physically abuses a woman do you tell that man it’s OK he’s doing it as long as he tries to do better? No. If a man is repeatedly lying to their partner do we say it is OK that they are lying as long as they try to do better? No. If a man is continuously cheating on his wife do we say that that is OK as long as they try to achieve better? No. Nor should we. And vice versa for women being the perpetrator. We are taught that if you hurt someone, if you lie or you cheat that it is unacceptable.
And so is Secret online infidelity if you are in fact aware it is hurting someone. Instead We are taught From a young age to stop the action or stop your involvement with that person opposed to continuously hurting them. Why does porn get to be different? Everyone, is responsible for controlling their urges.
Life is too short to spend it degraded and miserable on someone else’s behalf because of choices they are willingly choosing to make.
Porn kills love. And fuels lust.
The author has it right when she says you are on the right track to starting victory in this area. While I would not agree entirely with the author of the above comment – I would tell you that there is never true joy without victory over some struggle or another. Rest assured that you two will be SO much stronger after God has worked in him ( and in you, though primarily in him). Pray for him, love him, and expect BIG things of him. If he is the man you want, he can claim some sort of victory. Many men have. Complete victory sometimes comes in the form of a very expensive internet filter and a very tech savvy friend who holds you accountable. The urge might always be there for him – but both he and you can ensure that he doesn’t relapse in the future. Take all I say with a grain of salt, but know that victory in this area is attainable. God is on your side. I wish nothing but the best for both of you, and I will pray for both you and him.
– keep up the good fight.
I would keep my eyes wide open. If you feel something isn’t right, or that there is something lacking in intimate conversations like just agreement statements and not anything from his own thoughts– beware. Does he have good friends that are helping him with this? If he is a loner, I would be very careful. Make sure that you have the support of close loved ones of yours for this relationship. Find at least 1 friend that can help you specifically with this issue in your relationship–not for gossip but for support. Finally, take it slow and ask God for very clear signs that this relationship is okay and that nothing is hidden in darkness. Save yourself lots of wounding by being wise.
Melissa has a commendable hatred for this sin. It is probably right to categorize any addiction (in this case sex addiction) as idolatry and it is to be hated, both by the offended and the addict. Unfortunately, addiction is often not only sin, but a neurological and psychological issue as well (that happens to result from sin). I’m afraid Melissa’s counsel is a little oversimplistic, especially because the counsel is a little blurry. What exactly does “you shouldn’t be with someone who has it as a part of his present at all” mean? What is present? Any former addict is always a present addict, what may vary is the length of sobriety and quality of that sobriety. For example if John was acting out with sex and porn daily in 2011 and by was a one a month guy by 2012, then got to the point when the last time he acted out was in January 2014 and hasn’t since then, he’s still an addict, he just has 7 months of sobriety. It would be the same if the given dates were 2001, 2002 and January 2004. He would still be an addict, he just has 10 years and 7 months of sobriety. The addict is always one slip away from relapse. He has to live one day at a time, and if you decide to be in a relationship with him, so will you. Yesterday’s sobriety is as useful today as yesterdays shower.
My counsel (albeit I’m a recovering addict) is to follow the advice of the above columnist, and look for signs of healthy progress, not just empty progress. Also, you will have to make a decision as to whether or not you want to bear the burden of relating with this guy. It’s hard, I can promise you that. He can’t promise sobriety. That’s tiresome. You can’t fix him, that’s frustrating. So is this the kind of guy you can handle dating? That’s the question you get to answer, not anyone else.
Side comment: “Or you’ll find someone in the 1.5% of guys who has apparently been living under a rock.”
To be fair, there ARE men who are have not really had a tough time with porn. Few in the US (I can’t speak for men in countries with less media resources) haven’t seen it, i’ll concede that. But it’s important to know that families that foster healthy communication, emotional and psychological development will produce men with less “struggle” with the porn they have seen. You can probably increase the odds of meeting more of that “1.5%” by looking under the rock, which in this case would be the Church. When you see a strong family that lives in community and openness in the church, when you see elders well respected for how they govern their families, there are often good sons that follow.
If you want to be married one day you don’t have to date an addict.You can look in the right places and for the right things (by living those out yourself too). But you should also know that you CAN date an addict, and that it CAN be a healthy relationship, you just get to deal with some junk.
I found this to be one of the last biased comments on this article, and I think it is very encouraging. However, if he has shared this and is still struggling, she’s gotta tell him is pornography or me. I used to be addicted to weed, but the way my girlfriend treated it was key. I knew that if I smoked weed evert again I would lose her. If you tell him that he has to choose between you and porn, chances are that if he really loves you, he will choose you. Going “cold turkey” might be difficult but if he loves you enough, he’ll do it.
I actually found the way you stated that he will always be a recovering addict to be a challenge. I have no doubt in my mind I can and will conquer it. But your boyfriend has to have no doubt too. Good will undoubtedly keep you two together if you walk together in faith with him, if he truly is the one.
Thank you for this comment from a man’s perspective. I wish my boyfriend had the ability to articulate all these kind of feelings with me, but I’m sure they are similar to what I have read from you. Another plug out there to all the girlfriends trying to understand whether or not to marry this guy, is that this really sucks, and I hate the whole situation so much, and that’s ok. I wonder sometimes if I can handle the pain…It’s so hard to try and make a decision about this, especially when I love my boyfriend so much. I know that somehow he really does love me. I don’t understand him, but God has helped me know and see the value in him. I know that just because this is his challenge, it is not his character. He can still be a really good person, and struggle with porn. My boyfriend has done everything I’ve asked him to do to try and “get clean”. We study conference talks from the prophets and read the scriptures every day that we are together, and sometimes over Skype too. I pray for his temptation to be taken (who knows if that can happen) and he prays for my broken heart to heal. And God has promised me no matter what I choose, that He is going to be there for me, and it will all be ok.
After writing this article, I got so many private messages from young women struggling with their boyfriends’ porn problems that I went ahead and wrote an ebook about it, called Porn and Your Boyfriend. That might help support you through this as well.
I’m wondering if you or your boyfriend have been involved in any kind of group work, or is it just the two of you? If you haven’t found groups for both of you, here are some places you can check into, both locally and online: Celebrate Recovery, Pure Desire, SAA for him, S Anon for you, xxxChurch, Candeo. Those are just a few resources to check into. I especially want to encourage YOU to get support, as so often all the attention goes to the person with the problem, while the partner carries a lot of pain alone. I don’t want to see that happen to you!
My heart goes out to this girl because I was in a similar situation; I married a former addict.
My husband told me about his former addiction very early in our dating relationship. I decided to continue dating him because he had completely left the porn behind. I could see that he loved the Lord, was growing in Him, had set up accountability partners and was extremely careful about avoiding images that could be a source of temptation. I could see that he had been set free. If he had still be viewing porn I would not have continued the relationship because that would have been evidence that he was not walking with Christ. I may have asked him to have his accountability partner contact me regularly to let me know how things were going but I would not have dated him until I was 100% confident that he had truly been set free.
Is this an unrealistic expectation? Aren’t porn addicts just one slip away from a relapse? Don’t believe what the world says: once an addict, always an addict. John 8:36 reads “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Freedom in Christ is complete. Yes, my husband still deals with temptation, but has remained pure, by God’s grace. He often calls me when he is tempted and we pray together. Even though He has never gone back, as a wife I can tell you it is incredibly hard when he tells me that he is tempted.
But the key distinction between my situation and this girl who asked Kay Bruner the question is my husband was set free before we started dating. Pornography is so incredibly destructive that it must not be glossed over in any way in marriage. To any girl in this situation, I would say that if he is viewing porn and masturbating while dating you then I promise he will continue when married. He is not ready to be in a dating relationship until his porn viewing and masturbation have completely stopped. How long should you wait before you continue dating? Only when you are sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is set free. The previous commentor wrote “But you should also know that you CAN date an addict, and that it CAN be a healthy relationship, you just get to deal with some junk.” The answer is not to find someone who has never viewed porn or deal with the “junk” of your addict husband but to find a man who puts Christ first in his life. If he is serving the idol of pornography and self gratification then he is putting himself first, and not Christ and in marriage he will not put you before himself either.
You care about this man; if you didn’t you would have already walked. For his own sake, for his own walk with the Lord he must deal with this sin fully and completely. You cannot fix this for him. You can support him as a friend but I encourage you not to date until he is in a postiton to marry (so absolutley NO porn and NO masturbating, or any other sexual sin). For your own sake and for your future children, expect your future husband to be a godly man who will love you as Christ loved the church. It is possible, even from a former porn addict. I know it’s possible, because I am the incredibly blessed wife of such a man.
Hi Anne I read your comment and I agree most of the explanation you have share and encouraged. Im a Christian woman who have been praying and asking for a husband for many years. I’m recently star a new relationship with a Christian who is involved as I do with the issue of Human trafficking. The reason today I’m researching about dating a boyfriend with a pornography issue is due that yesterday I caught him getting out quick of a web in internet and quick going to a bible, pretending that he was reading the bible. I didn’t have much time to see what he was looking at but if I saw well I saw a prostitud women by draw, like cartoons. The problem was that as soon I walk into the room he quick got out of that web. I carefully confronted him toward his past, be admitted it that many years back he has a pornograpy problem but he claim him self today’s date clean. But yesterday night I leave with a unsettle heart, my spirit doesn’t witnesses truth. I love Christ and I believed in Grace as I also have my own struggles, who am I to judge? But the whole night I couldn’t sleep because I feel he is been not a hundred percent honey with me, there is something he is hiding, and since that was his past struggle it make me to think it can be struggle but maybe fears to share with me. What would be the approach I should apply with him? Any tools maybe you can share? As I know he fears of been honest. Thanks so much
Hey there. Let me point you first of all to some resources you could share with your boyfriend. Here’s a link to our free download, Your Brain on Porn. And here’s an article that can help him think through what successful recovery would look like for him.
Secondly, here’s a short ebook I wrote just recently for dating women in your situation. It’s got questions you can ask, and tips on what healthy recovery means. There’s another article here on boundaries in dating.
Trust yourself. You know what you’ve seen. He must learn to take responsibility for himself to work on his problem. If he can’t do that, he is not in a healthy place for a relationship right now, sadly.
Anne, thank you for sharing your story. My boyfriend and I recently had a discussion about this. A friend of mine jokingly asked what was wrong with him because he seemed “too perfect,” (my friend’s words, not mine), and he later mentioned to me three things, two of which are character traits of his that I am well aware of, and the third was that he used to struggle with self-control. This wasn’t something that fit with what I have experienced as his character, so I asked him about it, and it led to a discussion about where it began. He said that he used to struggle with porn as many teenage guys do, but that it was before I was a part of his life (we met four years ago when he was 16 and have been close friends ever since, but only started dating last year). He said he had been worried about what I would think, but had been wanting to tell me. He just didn’t know how to bring it up, so when my friend made the comment, he said he had never felt more prompted to say something. I know that is a sign that he is being honest, but it still has rattled me. I asked how God worked through it, and he answered saying that it was through conviction, constant prayer, and seeing God’s faithfulness in his life that helped him to overcome it. I want to believe that this is true, and though the nature of the struggle means the temptation will likely never go away, that it is something that he has been set free from. I have noticed (though I originally thought it was because he was just more conservative than I) that he is the one to first reach for the remote to fast-forward through any sort of romantic or sexual scene on tv or in movies, and he is one of the most respectful men I know in how he treats women. However, I don’t know if he has shared this with anyone else or if he has accountability/support for this… should that worry me? Also, a part of me is heartbroken for him and for me, and yet, I don’t feel like I should be, as I don’t want to make his struggle about me. I know he says that it is in the past, and as I said before, him mentioning any sort of issue with self- control surprised me as it doesn’t fit with what I know of him (though he said the form it takes now is more of not being able to resist that piece of chocolate cake in the fridge), but I cannot help but be concerned. I am pretty certain that this is the man I want to marry someday and this is the first time that I have felt any sort of disquiet about him/us. I don’t know what to do. Any advice??
Melissa, you seem to be pretty tenacious in your own self righteousness. The Christ you claim to serve said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” The Pharisees also looked down at others. “I thank you God that I am not like that tax collector there”. If YOU claim Christ, I encourage you to follow what He teaches too.
I hardly ever comment on anything online but i am having hard times. My boyfriend and i have been together for 10 months and we have opened up about our past. He told me he used to watch porn off and on and he said he stopped because he felt horrible doing so. I know that is his past and there nothing i can do about it. But i am worried because at moments i can’t stop thinking about that. It makes me wonder, how do i move past this? it might sound dramatic. But i love him and i know that the Bible says to be patient and loving and forgiving..but i have nothing to forgive him since this did not occur with me but before me. Yet i can’t help but feel disappointed, Can anybody please give me tips or pray for us.
Well, I think it’s important that he have a good support system, first of all. I didn’t hear you mention that–he said he quit because he felt horrible. That’s fine! But it’s really a good idea for him to have his own system of accountability, and to be using it successfully so that this doesn’t BECOME your problem as the relationship continues. You might want to ask him about his support system, what kind of accountability software does he use on devices, who does he talk to when he’s tempted or when he has an episode. Or, if he’s clean, who WOULD he talk to, just in case.
He absolutely MUST take responsibility for himself.
You be patient and loving and forgiving, yes. But he has to be TRUSTWORTHY. No matter what happened before your relationship, he has to be trustworthy now and in the future, and you have to know if that’s happening. Once you know he’s taking responsibility for himself, you’ll probably be able to worry less–or if he’s not taking responsibility, you’ll know that too and you can decide what you want to do about that!
I wrote a little ebook called Porn and Your Boyfriend that has questions and conversation starters so you can think things through and make good choices based in reality–if you wait til February 20-21, it will be free.
You are absolutely okay being disappointed and sad that it’s like this. Find a safe person who can help you process your feelings–a counselor if you need one.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year now and we are thinking about getting married. He has had a problem with porn from the age of about 7 and it’s been engrained within him eversince. He has tried to stop many times (it appears) and recently told me he hasn’t been watching it when I check up on him. But I found out (God is the best revealer of things, I tell you) through a Godincidence that he has been watching it, even at work. I’m deeply hurt and troubled not only by the fact that he’s been watching it and (in my eyes) defiling our relationship (we have been celibate, he initiated the decision and I totally agreed, to keep the relationship honourable in the eyes of The Lord) but also that he lied about it. I’m so troubled tonight by it that I can’t and haven’t slept and I don’t know what to do anymore. I wan’t to stay but I’m not sure if I’m able to do so any more, it’s starting to feel like I hurt more than I’m loved and it’s caused a massive strain in our relationship. Any support would be appreciated.
Hi there. Well, it sounds like you’re being really wise in this relationship–and we’re all grateful for those Godincidences that open our eyes to what we need to know! I’m so sorry that your boyfriend has this struggle. So many, many kids have been exposed at such early ages. It’s just an epidemic. I do think we have this terrible combination of porn exposure plus enormous shame around sexuality in the religous world, and that leads to the lying and hiding, which just makes everything more difficult and painful.
I would say that this is an issue he absolutely must address responsibly himself. I think he probably needs to find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) who can help him unravel this long-standing problem in a healthy way.
My own personal view is that exposure to porn at that early age is a form of sexual abuse, and that definitely requires therapy to heal.
Meanwhile, I would recommend that you find support for yourself. The lack of sleep you mention here indicates a high level of anxiety to me; you might want to talk to a counselor to help process your emotions and consider healthy boundaries. There’s also a great new website called Bloom that provides discussion groups, classes, and other support for women. There is a monthly fee but there’s a 2 week free trial so you can check it out before you commit financially.
This is very hard for me and has been for months. I caught my boyfriend watching porn; not once or twice, but three times. The 1st time was horrible. I told him how I felt about porn. My ex husband use to watch it and make me do things I didn’t want to do; so porn brings me very bad memories (psychological trauma). My boyfriend cried and told me he loves me and that he would never watch it again. I went on with life; didn’t lose any sleep over the matter. After about 5 or 6 months later I had this gut feeling that something wasn’t right after seeing a different email address that was sync’d on his cell phone. I asked him about it and he acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about and soon erased the email address. I started investigating his phone and gmail account and long and behold I found all the evidence I needed to confirm my suspicions. He had been lying to me for 9 months (the entire time we started dating). I was crushed and hurt. He said he was going to get a phone with no internet and that he would get help. I wanted to believe him, but days passed and I noticed he never sought the help he promised he would get. Well, about 1 month ago I caught him again looking at porn and I about lost it. Things heated up and things were not pretty. He finally admitted to me that he has been exposed to porn since the age of 7. His mom would go party and leave him with some woman, who was a stripper, and made him watch porn. And when he didn’t want to she would say, “what you don’t like woman?” Then he mentioned that he saw his younger sister get molested; the molester then knocked him out when he asked, “What are you doing to my sister?” I did not know this about my boyfriend. I have been through a lot growing up and evidently my boyfriend has to. I have been traumatized through all this. I don’t know how to deal with all this. I am so hurt. I hurt for him too. I just don’t know that he will ever get over this. I don’t know that I can get over the hurt.
We have sought help through our church and they recommended counseling and getting connected to a Life Group. I don’t know that I want to. I am meeting someone from one of the Life Groups at my church and I am scared. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel because I am afraid to fight this battle with him. I know that sounds selfish, but it’s the truth. I hate that I found out the way I did; rather than him tell me the truth I had to play detective and catch him red handed. He is trying to work on it. My boyfriend has already began to get connected with a guy from our church. I know he loves me, but I am skeptical and maybe it’s the trust issue. What should I do?
I’m so, so sorry Veronica.
The truth is, this is not a battle you can fight with him.
HE HAS TO FIGHT THIS BATTLE HIMSELF.
You have described a very significant sexual abuse history that he needs to deal with. He need to find a counselor who can help him process those childhood experiences, and the impact those experiences are making on his present choices. And he has to figure out how to cope with himself without the crutch of porn. Getting connected with an accountability partner or friend is good, but he needs professional help.
Meanwhile, I want to make sure that you have help processing your own pain with a counselor just for you. You might also want to find a group. And there’s a great online community called Bloom with classes and all sorts of resources that may be helpful to you in your recovery.
Two days ago I found out that my boyfriend has been watching porn all throughout our relationship.. we’ve only been dating for 5 months but talking for a year. Since I found out I have struggled with a heap of emotions.. insecurities and doubts. We are both Christians striving to maintain purity in our dating relationship.. but now this brings so much more confusion. He has told me that he’s going to stop.. in fact promised.. but part of me has such a hard time trusting that. I feel like he’s so weak… but I care about him so much that I don’t want to just run out of his life in this shameful moment. What do I do? I really love him.
I’m so sorry. This is such a difficult issue to face.
I think it’s important for both of you to realize that your boyfriend is unlikely to quit porn on his own. He needs accountability on his devices. He needs friends and family he can be honest with. He might need a group, or even a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, depending on his level of use. Most of all, he needs to take responsibility for these things himself.
If he doesn’t take any of those steps, then you’re wise to doubt! We can only trust people who are trustworthy, and we only know if people are trustworthy by their trustworthy behavior over time. He needs to start being trustworthy in this now, and continue to be trustworthy going forward. No matter how much we love someone, if we can’t also trust them the relationship won’t be viable. Marriage will not solve this problem, and it will be much, much harder to extricate yourself from marriage than from a dating relationship. It’s very important that he take responsibility for this now, work on his own recover now, rather than waiting for marriage.
After I wrote this article, I got so many questions that I decided to expand this into a short ebook with more ideas and conversation-starters. I won’t tell you what to do (and I think some people find that frustrating!) but you’re the person in the relationship, so you’re the only one who can decide if he’s doing his part and you’re feeling okay to continue the relationship.
If you need more help, you might want to find a counselor for yourself, someone who can help you process emotions and work on what’s healthy and right for you.
Be honest with yourself. Know your own boundaries. Trust yourself. Get more help if you need it!
Let me know if that helps, and if you have further questions. Kay
Thanks for opening up this conversation about porn for women who are not yet married.
I am 24 and my boyfriend of 5 years is 26, he has the same problem. He started watching porn at a young age and just recently relapsed. I used to handle this problem absolutely terribly but throughout the years i’ve prayed long and hard for God to help me transform and handle it properly. We both have a lot of faith in God. That has helped me a lot over the years. He seems to want to stop, however hasn’t completed kicked his habit. We speak of marriage but I fear of the commitment solely because of the porn usage. I don’t want that to be a part of our future, especially because we both hope to have kids together after marriage. Porn has had a terrible impact on my trust for him; I’m fearful to leave him alone in the house because i’m so scared of it. Obviously over the years i’ve worked through this but it’s a slow process. I don’t want to break up with him but sometimes his issue with porn makes me second guess myself. I wonder if this is “normal”. It’s definitely taken a toll on my mental and emotional health, but i’m working through this as well. I feel as though I have nobody to talk to about his problem so I pray mostly all day long. He seems to do well for a while, and then has a relapse which makes it feel like were back at square one. I’m trying to be strong for him now and support him. I need support as well though. He used to lie about it until i’d pry it out of him and now when It occasionally occurs, he is open and honest which i’m thankful for. He has admitted to being addicted to this terrible habit and I can see he is trying hard and feels guilty and very embarrassed about his problem. I think he may be interested in having a blocker on his phone but I want him to suggest it because I want to KNOW he wants to permanently stop. Am I doing the right things to help him and support him? What more can we do? Separately and together? I love him dearly and don’t want to give up on him but I need him to face his demons and help himself, so our relationship can be solidified.
Hello, Anonymous – I can sense the struggle in your post. I can also sense how much you want this to work. But, he has to want it more. Yes, it’s good to love him and support him through this, but he has to bring every asset to bear on defeating this monster before he’s fit to marry you. You’re ending statement about “I need him to face his demons and help himself” is true. He won’t be able to do it alone – few, few men can defeat porn alone (I was not one of them). It’s a full-fledged battle. Bring God. Bring The Word. Bring an accountability partner. Bring a ticked-off attitude of “I will not allow this to rule over me!!” every morning. That’s what it takes. But, it’s his decision. It’s not “well, I might be interested in a blocker for my phone.” Instead, it’s something like, “I’ll do whatever I need to do to my phone! If that means a “dumb phone” for a while until I’m stronger, then so be it. If that means Covenant Eyes, and turning over all control for my phone’s settings and controls to an accountability partner, then that’s what I’ll do.” There’s no “kinda” when it comes to defeating porn. If he “kinda” wants to stop, then he will fail.
For you, my friend, be strong. Do not enter marriage until he starts to take this seriously.
Reading all the encouraging comments has been helpful. Unfortunately, my boyfriend of 7years about to 8 in couple of months has opened up to me about having porn addiction since the 6th grade. I first thought he was cheating on me since he told me was tempted and was talking to coworker. As time passed, he opened up about his addiction and that he wanted to take brake and work on his issue but I wanted to be by his side and help him. He literally has no one to talk t to about this. He’s a leader at church and doesn’t feel comfortable speaking to anyone. I’m trying to find us counseling and helping block the internet from adult sites but I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. 8 years is along time and I love him dearly but I don’t know how to move forward. I’m putting my trust in God and letting him take control but my heart is broken. Fasting and praying, hoping things get better but I just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Well, Nomi, your boyfriend has GOT to get some help to take responsibility for himself. No matter how uncomfortable he feels, or what repercussions this would have for his church role, he needs to get help if he’s serious about his recovery. He can find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. He can find a group like Pure Desire. He can read books like Your Brain on Porn to better understand what’s going on. He can speak to trusted friends and make them his accountability partners. He needs to do that work.
You can’t do his work for him, because you’ve got your own work to do. You need to consider what healthy boundaries will look like for you: here and here are some articles to help get you started. If you want support for yourself, look at the resources at Bloom.
Frankly, you’re doing way too much work on his problem right now, and he needs to take over his problem and do his work himself. Even God is not going to take your boyfriend’s work over! He has a free will, and he needs to start using it in healthy directions.
Peace to you,
I am actually struggling with a person trying to get over porn. It has been quite a rollercoaster. I once, was young and dated the guy that watched porn, and thought it will be over once we got married. I kept giving myself excuses that its a men thing, it wont happen to often, etc etc.
10 years down the road, our marriage has struggled due to porn. I have been strong for us. We started going to church and he has accountability, and people to help him, but no one to help me understand it, or how to forgive him or move on and look at him as a normal person again.
If you are young and in your 20’s, dont settle for less. He needs help. Mean time, keep living your life. If God has meant for you two to be together , He will bring you two together again.
It will be a struggle full of resentment if you move on with this guy. Just my opinion anyway. I am still married, fighting it, but the way I look at my husband is not the same anymore.
Please do not enter this marriage till he takes it very very seriously. Its a bad bad bad addiction to overcome it.
Ela, Thanks for speaking up here. I think you’ve addressed the biggest hole in our treatment protocol for the porn problem: support for the spouse. I hear this story over and over: the husband gets help, the wife does not. Meanwhile, many women will meet the clinical criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If the spouse’s healing is not addressed, you’ll end up with a husband who’s “recovered” and a marriage that’s “saved,” but a wife that still has numerous symptoms that are the farthest thing from okay!
PLEASE FIND HELP AND SUPPORT FOR YOU.
Find a counselor JUST FOR YOU who can help you process your emotions and build healthy boundaries. (Read about boundaries, here and here.)
Find a group that will help support you.
Look into the online resources at Bloom, where there are forums, classes, and other helpful tools for women in marriage betrayal recovery.
Whatever your husband chooses, YOU choose to be healthy.
Peace to you,
Me and my boyfriend moved in together. My problem is he watches alot of porn. He mostly does it behind my back even though he knows my views on it. Normally i don’t bother, it’s something men do right. My problem is he wil leave me on bed to watch it letting me fall asleep alone. I asked him if we can watch it together and work it into our sex life, this idea did not sit good with him. I just dont get it he watches porn 24/7 but wont have sex with me. Most of the time he is like im not in the mood or not now. I did have a talk with him and he told me if i have a problem with it he wil stop but he stil keeps doing it. I feel like he doesn’t want me and dont know how to approach this problem. I was thinking of breaking up with him a couple of times but all other aspects of our relationship is good its just the porn and the sex. And it drives me insane he is the only mind blowing sex i ever had but it seems like this problem keeps coming back up. Im scared it might cause us to go our separate ways but i dont want that at all
Please run the other direction. You are worth his 100% affection. By watching porn, he is cheating on you every night. Deep down, I bet this wrecks you. If he won’t change, he’s not worth it. Give him an ultimatum. If he lashes out, then walk. You have your entire life in front of you to find a man who will love, respect, and adore you as he should. Sometimes, I can be too direct. I hope I haven’t offended you. Give him one chance. Then you’ll know.
I keep coming back to these articles to help me close the circle. The popular “Porn kills love” was made true in my life. I ended the most significant relationship in my life because he was addicted and failed at achieving long term sobriety and working consistently on his recovery. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of strain and suffering this caused me in the past 3 years. He’s a good man but even though he claimed to want to overcome his addiction by his own admission:
1. Hasn’t given his recovery his all
2. Isn’t talking to someone about this
3. Has wasted too much time
This has left me with so many questions like “Did he ever love me?” “If he’s not working hard enough, does that mean that he doesn’t want me enough?” and such. He seems heartbroken that we can’t be together but I just don’t see that he’s fighting hard enough. I wen through hell to support him, but I don’t see him doing the same for me.
I’m so heartbroken to see that really good men are ruined by porn, and they won’t be able to be in a healthy relationship until they heal. I feel so hurt of having given my best to him, supported, listened, comforted and even loved him despite de dissapointment and anger, only to end up like a chapter in his life. Yes, I have learned a lot, but I do regret loving someone so much just to see him walk away. Porn really destroys love. Now I hope I can find a man that understands the dangers of pornography and strives for purity. I’m ready to be loved the way I loved.
I’m so sorry that this chapter ended as it did–and I’m also glad you were able to face a difficult reality and make those tough, healthy choices for yourself. I wonder if you’re familiar with the work of Dr. John Gottman? He’s got a great book called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, which is the best research in the world on healthy relationships. Good stuff as you consider the way forward! Peace to you, Kay
My boyfriend admitted to having a sex addiction, having been with prostitutes and going to strip clubs before we met. He’s struggled with periods of sobriety and then failing, now pornography is the main issue. I know that this addiction is very difficult, he seems to want get to the bottom of what he’s compensating for and dealing with deeper issues. I want to be with him, but how/when do I know when he’s made a real enough change? I feel split like I should trust that God can heal him completely and the other half of me thinks this is something he’ll forever struggle with and may relapse over and over. Should I take it as a blessing that I found out before we got married and run?
Yes, it’s a huge blessing that you found out before marriage. I would say, separate for a period of time (6 months?) and let him work on his own healing. He needs a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. Given the level of acting out, I would say, go no-contact during that time and see what he’s able to do. Then check in to see what kind of progress he’s made and whether you want to continue to invest in the relationship–I’d say that depends on the level of his investment in therapy and recovery.
While he’s doing that, YOU work on your own emotional processing and your own healthy boundaries. Here and here are a couple of articles on boundaries. Find a counselor who can help you think about your own values and standards, and the vision you have for any relationship you form in the future.
Take this level of sexual acting-out very seriously indeed. It will not be solved by getting married and having lots of sex. It will only be solved by his hard work in therapy. And I suspect that it will take years before he’s fully recovered; he would have to work hard for a long time, I think. 3-5 years would be a benchmark in my mind.
Peace to you,
Reading this was such an absolute encouragement. My boyfriend (whom I’ve been dating for about a year & 3 months) and I have a relationship INCREDIBLY similar to the one described. As we’re seriously considering taking the next step, engagement, it was such a comfort to read someone dealing with the same things as him and I. Don’t get me wrong, I would never wish this struggle on any couple, but it is still an encouragement. Thank you so much to whomever wrote in and also much thanks to the author. ❤️
I’m glad it was helpful to you, Jess! This is an incredibly common struggle. I would URGE you to be sure that he is taking responsibility for himself and his choices before you take the relationship further. He doesn’t have to be perfect, but he does have to be responsible. I would say that the level of secrecy and shame matters immensely: does he have close friends, a brother, a dad, someone constantly in his life, who helps him with this. And, he needs to have the capacity to care about your feelings and to connect with you emotionally. Peace to you as you go forward, Kay
Kay, thank you so very much for writing this. It was like a dose of fresh air that reminded me to breath. God bless you!
(In our 20s) I started dating this absolutely incredible man 9 months ago. I knew he had struggled with lust of the eyes before we started dating but dismissed it and told myself guys go through it. For the duration that we have been dating, I started to feel like he was doing a bit more than just lusting but potentially looking at things. I voiced my opinion on the matter multiple times in hopes he would tell me if he was or not. It got to a point where I confronted him last night (not in a rude or harsh way) and he confessed and told me he has been struggling with it for years and has tried to stop so many times but keeps going back to it. He constantly tells me how dirty he feels when he does it (going on sites and watching porn). I did not think he went on sites so that was a complete shock to me as I thought he just used social media platforms like Instagram.
We just attended a weekend young adults conference last weekend and he had an incredible break through with God and we talked about his struggles (he vaguely mentioned lust of the eyes but did not go into detail about it until I confronted him about it last night). His youth leader from his teen years was at the retreat and spoke on his struggle with sex and porn and how he overcame it. While we were talking last night (we are in a long-distance relationship), I told him to text his youth leader and ask him for help. He did it because he wants this to work really bad.
He is scared that if it gets cut off that his ‘urges’ will build up and he will do something he will regret. He is extremely scared of hurting me and is very ashamed of his actions.
We had a long conversation earlier today and I told him I want to be there 100% to support him, but I need him to make as much effort as he can or else I have to leave despite loving him so much. We have been planning to get engaged / married. I told him I would be checking up on him and he has to continue to be open and accountable to me. He mentioned the reason he didn’t want to tell me earlier is because he knew my opinion of it and was scared I was going to end everything with him on the spot. He also went on to say how relieved he feels to be able to talk to someone about it cause it was weighing on him so much to keep this to himself for so many years.
The youth leader responded fast and sent him scriptures and asked him to call him at some point that day. He said that was moving too fast as he doesn’t know if he is ready to talk to someone about it but wants to within the near future. I understand that admitting to something is scary and its terrifying to let someone know your dirty secrets. He has been extremely open with me about it but is scared to talk to his youth leader (who he has known all his life and is close with).
I just don’t know what to do. I sent him the link for Covenant Eyes and said this or another filter site would be good to use. I don’t have any friends that I can go to about this or really anyone to talk about my feelings as they all know him and he asked me to not tell anyone. So the only people who know about this are myself and his mentor.
I loved being able to read everyone’s postings and seeing that I’m not alone in what I’m personally going through. I’ve known he was engaging in this for so long but it all became incredibly real after confronting him about it in a respectful manner.
Any advice for my current situation?
PS. I apologize if this was poorly written and hard to follow. So many thoughts all at once!
Side note: 2 hours after I made this post he made the call to his mentor to talk about it.
A while back, I wrote an article here for dating couples. Later on, I wrote a short ebook for dating couples as well.
The main thing is, he must take care of this for himself. It is NOT your job to carry this for him. He needs to get his devices monitored and filtered. Covenant Eyes on computers, Accountable 2 You on phones. He needs to find accountability partners for himself which are not you and not someone who lives far away that he never sees in person. It’s fine that he talks to his youth group leader, but he needs FRIENDS who will walk together with him, daily. He needs to figure out how to deal with his emotions in healthy ways, rather than turning to porn when he’s distressed.
The real deep problem is a toxic combination of shame (here’s an animation on interrupting shame cycles) and “he can’t help it” ideas around sexuality, combined with men being raised without a great deal of emotional intelligence. So “big boys don’t cry,” “be a man,” “boys will be boys,” “it’s just locker room talk” PLUS “be the spiritual leader.” It’s no surprised that men aren’t doing well in this toxic stew. He has to figure this out for himself and get healthy! And keeping it a big secret is the worst possible way to deal with this. He should talk to his friends and his parents about it and get support from them.
THIS IS NOT YOUR JOB!!!
I hope some of those things help, but most importantly, let him do his own work on this, and you be wise about whether he’s actually doing it or not. He should have a plan and have support and utilize those things without you having to push him into it. If he’s not doing anything, and if he continues to keep it secret and be ashamed, well, you know what’s happening: nothing good.
Peace to you,
I would just like to thank you for this advice. My boyfriend and I are serious, both Christian, and both love God so much. But he struggles so much and hates himself for it. It’s not a choice, it’s an addiction. It takes time to heal. I am not going to break up with him just cos his issues are sexual. I have my own issues in other areas of life, and he supports me through that. Sometimes we just need a little help. So thank you.
Addiction is real, and there are elements of choice in how we deal with our struggles. He does have to be responsible for how he manages his struggle: therapy, groups, education, accountability. And of course you have the responsibility to weigh the impact of his choices on you and create healthy boundaries for yourself.
Thank you everyone for posting here. I literally read every single post and screen shotted alot of the comments to help encourage me. I just found out my bf is addicted to porn and idk what else to do other than to let God do the convicting, while fasting and praying for his deliverance and freedom. I didn’t know how porn can ruin marriages, until I did a tad bit of research and asked some siblings in Christ about it. To recall that I was sexually abused by a porn addict ex, makes me hesitant to continue to date my bf. He seems to hide things from me, and idk if it’s is out of fear, but he is working on being completely delivered from lying as well.
I just don’t have a good feeling about him. I do love him, and he says he loves me , but I just always had doubts. He said that he knew I was the one from the start. Of course, I had high hopes as well, however, maybe it’s the woman’s intuition thing that we ladies have that just tells us that something is just not right. I’m sure the woman’s intuition that we have is simply the Lord. Regardless, I’m glad I came here and got to read everyone’s struggles. It’s comforting to know that I’m not in this shock and betrayed mode, all by myself. I too struggled with porn but I’ve been delivered (praise Jesus Christ!).
I do get tempted but I’m disgusted at Satan and his tactics to make me want to sin that I just close out the window if something pops up.
Today, I was in his computer and I saw some ads that made me wonder “what’s going on? Why are these ads here????”
Didn’t think much of it until I went to sign on my email, and his email was already signed in.
I get junk mail too, but for some reason , I just felt uneasy when I saw his junk mail. I saw that he viewed an email that was new, but right underneath that email were junk that made me question why he would be getting these mails in his inbox and not his spam folder?
Anyways, did more searching and found out that my honey has an addiction. I can’t help but to sympathize w him as I’ve been there, however, I can’t imagine marrying someone that is getting turned on by sexy girls that have nicer figures than me (I’m fit, workout and I know I’m attractive but I def don’t look like a porn star). This just bothers me.
I have been cheated on in the past before, abused, lied to, and an array of things. Not wanting a pity party, but explaining why I’m more than concerned about any tiny red flags.
I took Melissa’s warning as a blessing. Seriously, I can’t imagine finding out that a porn addiction that he hasn’t been delivered from would cause him to cross the line and do things that could end the marriage and cause me to be a single mom.
And I thought that this could be the one.
It’s so disheartening.
Haha, we want someone that’s great in bed, but doesn’t have a porn addiction … Maybe I’m just speaking for me, but Lord I need Him to convict my bf and give him intervention and give us both wisdom.
I just don’t know what to do.
I don’t want to make him feel shameful or guilty, but going back to the, “I feel like you are being dishonest with me again. I don’t like you continuing to hide things from me thru denial/lies/broken promises. I’m still having a hard time seeing progress and wanting to make an effort to being delivered”.
I just feel like I’m a broken record sometimes, and that it goes through one ear and out the other.
I’m so offended and turned off.
And it’s easy for me to say this now bc we had an issue earlier this morning about him keeping his word ..
But I know I might get weak and forgive him and overlook the red flags if he’s loving and nice.
I don’t want him to give up on love.
I just found out that two months before we met, he was doing hookups with strangers in Craigslist. This is two months before he was saved, since he accepted Christ and the gift if salvation on the first day that we met!
Fast forward 9 months later, I care about my bf alot but I don’t think that I can say that I truly love him like I have loved in the past.
The trust is not there fully, it’s been broken by a lie about sleeping with someone that I really despise. Although this was before I met , when I found this out after we started dating , I chose to forgive him as we prayed about it, because I saw that he was willing to be delivered from being dishonest.
As sad as this sounds, I just want to hurry and find my future husband. I’m very loyal and too honest for my own good. I admit I lie to my professors but to my significant other , I quite often have said too many things that actually ended up hurting me later.
I just want a flat out honest and loyal guy who is sold out for Christ.
Someone that can’t put the Bible down , that can’t stop going to Bible studies, serving , worshipping , praying & fasting for global issues, etc.
I want a husband who actually does cry and has the broken heart of the Lord for those girls in the porn vids, as someone has mentioned above.
I want to go on mission trips and build churches or at least start them with him, however I don’t want to be a broke couple scraping for our next meal.
There’s much more that I want , but I also feel guilty for having such a stringent list when I’m far from perfect as well .
My bf accepts my flaws and challenges that I’m overcoming as I told him from day one .
I thought it was odd that he accepted all of them and didn’t share w me of any of his struggles.
I’ve become comfortable dating him, but I feel as if he just wants a partner to start a family with.
I want someone to be in love with , someone who will be head over heels with me.. someone who can’t stand unfaithfulness, dishonesty, lying.. someone who is so fearful of the Lord that he is anxious to be in situations that he knows might cause him to stumble …. And therefore flees from it.
I try to block myself from my struggles. I know my struggles and I know how sinning opens the doors for the enemy to attack. I know this very well since I used to get sleep paralysis and bad nightmares when I had premarital sex in the past, or sinned in other ways.
My current bf and I have not had intercourse. We messed around once or twice but we both repented, begged for forgiveness from the Lord and decided that we both wanted His blessing by staying pure until marriage.
His birthday is this Thursday.
Last year for his birthday, the girl that I absolutely cannot stand, took him out and they had drinks and of course , sex.
He lied about it for a while. This was the like that lost my trust in him, however , the Lord is good about bringing things into the light !
I am stressed that this Thursday , of course we won’t drink or have intercourse, but why does that bother me?
There’s just so much little things that stresses me out about our relationship.
I think I wouldn’t have thought about this had I not found out about the porn that he is watching 10-30 min a day , sometimes 40 or 90 minutes.
To know that this is what he is doing , makes me feel confused. I don’t know what to think, or feel ..
And I’m absolutely disgusted ..
Bc I was delivered from this and I know how hard it was for me, but it started with me WANTING to be delivered from it.
I don’t know if he wants to, but I know that he is excited to go “in his man cave ” at night.
This is his way of saying he needs space lol, and I’m happy to give it to him..
I always wondered why he had headphones on while on his laptop and now I know why.
Now I know the things he watches at night.
I even found out that this occurs at all times of the day, even three hours before church .
Right when he gets off work , right before he sleeps , during work hours , in the morning, etc.
He’s secretive and I just don’t know if I can marry someone that isn’t able to be 100 percent honest with me about their struggles and their everything.
I feel like at the least, I can be with someone that is willing to communicate as much as I am about my struggles and what I’m doing to be delivered from them .. for me.. it’s like guarding my mouth (lol), anger.. etc..
Anyways , sorry this was long .
Ty all for your posts. Any and all encouragement and advice would be greatly appreciated. Prayers would be more appreciated.
I just need God to open and close doors according to His will , soon…. And without pain….. In my life.
But I know His timing and His way is the best so idk..
I’m just frustrated.. mostly bc whenever I had something on my mind , I would share things with him, but now that he is the concern …
U know what I mean ?
Thanks for reading guys , if anyone read this book haha.
Btw, by no means am I saying I have my stuff together , I just want an honest and loyal man that is sold out for Christ and wants to worship 24/7 with his life like I do. And if something I said seems off, please don’t hesitate to correct me in love. Ty. :)
Wow so many others going through similar seasons.
A week ago today my whole world changed. My boyfriend and I had been talking engagement and marriage and now we are talking healing. Both on staff at church a week ago it all surfaced after he said something completely vulgar (in a joking way, but absolutely unacceptable regardless) to a workmate friend.
Long story short, he was completely honest with our pastor his upline about the issues he is dealing with and that porn has been a problem also. He lost his job because of it and because we were both of staff st the church this is now really hard for me. Not everyone else on staff knows what happened but they know he is dealing with personal stuff.
Im catching up with our Counsellor weekly and he is committed to counseling as well as having a mentor/accountability partner that he’s catching up with weekly.
I knew that he had a history with some stuff but felt completely blindsided by it all at the same time.
It’s hard because I love him so much and I trust that he really is committed to dealing with these issues and seeing restoration and healing. But I also know I need to protect myself, be wise and not brush over this stuff cause it’s really serious.
I have people who will walk the journey with me, but sometimes I think it’d be nice to have people that had first hand experience with it. I guess it’s nice knowing you aren’t alone in it as horrible as that sounds.
I think it would be really helpful for you to find a therapist who can work just with you, to help you process your emotions and work on healthy boundaries. YOu’ll probably also really appreciate the online resources at Bloom for Women. I find that very often women are left out of the recovery picture, and it’s vitally important that you get help and have a safe place to process as well.
I’m not religious, on fact I have great difficulty believing in a “rumour” or an old story from the past told over and over again each time with slight changes until, until it’s an entirely different story. None of us here today would believe in something they just “heard”, nevermind devote their every waki g moment and life to this “,phantom”, it defies logic and defies everything we know to be true.
That being said, I have trouble relating to the references to Jesus and religion and hope people can find a way to stop doing something that’s wrong because it’s wrong and not because they’re being watched by “God” or “Jesus” and will “get in trouble”,:my wish is for everyone to realize how twisted and disgusting it is to watch other people have sex. Sick. Abnormal. It ruins lives and families. It needs to STOP! LASTLY, I have great reservations about dating a guy who can’t help himself or even “struggles” with the “temptation”! If a man loves me he won’t be “tempted” not whole in my life! None of these men ever stop to think how THEY WOULD FEEL IF the roles were reversed their women being “too tempted” over the gorgeous men who are much better looking than YOU! GUARANTEED men would have a problem with this. It is a problem, it is put in society to cause harm to families and love between men and women and nobody is doing ANYTHING ABOUT IT! THE FILTH SHOUKD BE BANNED PERIOD. ITS KILLING FAMILIES, ITS POISON! HOW about we all ADMIT ITS SICK AND TWISTED RATHER THAN MAKE EXCUSES FOR MEN WHO CLAIM TO be unable to control themselves. We need to stop giving them excuses!!! They can behave when they need to behave they just dont any “problem” they have is a self control problem! It’s not a disease!
For a non-religious view on the harm that porn causes in relationships, you might appreciate this article from The Gottman Institute.
I have been dating my boyfriend for 4 years he reveled to me his addiction to pornography early on in his relationship I was extremely hurt he continued to struggle with it and reveled to me that I was a huge fight I would find myself frustrated everytime he would tell me that he fell to porn again….I knew that it was about him not me but it still affected me making me hyper vigilant….not too long ago a girl came up to me and told me that he had told her an inappropriate dream he had of her (later to find out she was also instigating it)I felt so broken and cheated on I confronted him about it and he starting crying uncontrollably saying that he feels like it’s destroying everything in his life….I told Him that he had to be truthful to me about everything he uncovered something shocking To me from the ages of 8-11 he was molested as a child by a cousin…my heart dropped…he said that when he was 10 his addiction began he had to see a…psychiatrist because of his childhood.I know how hard it is I can see in his eyes the agony. He has never disrespected me forced me to do anything or done anything inappropriate He is caring and kind…I have seen him struggling And cry out to God his sister passed when he was 18 his mom passed when he was 21..he got cancer Twice when
he was 16 and then again when he was 20……I told him that I can’t be with him I want him to overcome I want him to defeat it I want him to be the person God wants him to be ..he has already impacted so many people with his testimony he is only standing because of God I can see the way God speaks to him the way he loves Him…..but he told me the hardest thing was not to fight cancer it’s to fight this addiction….. his best friend talked to both of us I told him I needed a Month break to pray and fast ask God to help me make a decision as to Whether or not to break up with him
I’m still praying about it does anyone have any advice
What a sad story. I would just say that your boyfriend needs help for the trauma he’s been through. It seems to me that he’s using porn and acting out sexually as a way to deal with his pain. Not surprising, but also not your problem to deal with. He has to take responsibility for getting the treatment he needs. He needs trauma-informed care. I would suggest that he search the Psychology Today therapist finder for therapists in his local area, and then filter his search for “trauma informed care.” He needs to get into therapy and stay in therapy for a while, because he’s got so much pain to process.
That’s the most basic step he should be willing to take, in my opinion, if you are going to stay in a relationship with him. Whether or not he is able to learn how to cope with his pain in more functional ways, I don’t know. But I do know for sure that while you can love and care for him, you cannot do his work for him. He has to do that himself.
You might appreciate the online resources at Bloom for Women, which are trauma-informed for you and attachment-focused for relationship, should you decide to continue the relationship. While he’s taking care of himself, you take care of yourself too.
Hello! I found this article because my boyfriend opened up to me about his porn addiction of ten years… I asked him if he ever had conviction and he said he felt a lot of despair that he could never get out of it but that now he’s working toward purity. He ended porn in July of this year, literally a month before we met. He had told me at the time that he hadn’t looked at porn in a year because of the shame for the fact he had done it so recently.
We’ve been together now for four months and about two months ago he told me in all honesty that it had actually been in summer that he stopped and in September a few weeks after we started dating I found out he still masturbated, claiming to be doing it without porn and that it was okay so long as it was just a “bodily function” and so long as he didn’t sin in his thoughts, that it was just a release. That really saddened me and I cried right in front of him and honesty a week later he told me his opinion changed on it and that he was ending all of it. I didn’t believe him, beleive that he could or would do it or that his opinion had changed for the right reasons. However, since then he has only fallen back into it once, and then was guilty the next day when we hung out and he told me what he did the night before. Since then however, which was November 7, he hasn’t done anything. I have such a Hard time believing him since he struggled with it for so long, I really want to but the fact that he lied to me about it at the beginning of our relationship I have my doubts. He’s a very honorable man who really does want to serve the Lord, and he absolutely hates the fact that he struggles with this sin. He’s been very open with me about it since then as well as the process that he’s taken in setting up precautions and every victory he has as well as the things he is filling his time with instead. It’s just been heartbreaking to know he struggles with it, and given how recent his change for purity has been I’ve been really doubting staying in the relationship since he has this sort of struggle. I don’t know what to do.
I’m really glad that your boyfriend could tell you about his experience with porn. It’s hard to hear, I know, but the fact that he’s been able to tell you about it is a good sign that he’s taking responsibility for himself and working on it.
I think there are a couple of different things to talk about here. One is that our sexuality is a normal and healthy part of our selves, for both men and women. Purity culture in the church has caused a great deal of harm in the form of toxic shame to both men and women, and honestly a lot of the distress that we experience around our sexuality is not because our sexuality is wrong or sinful but because we have a whole raft of toxic beliefs about our sexuality.
As a therapist, it is my opinion that a lot of the porn that kids get exposed to at early ages is highly traumatic. The images of women as objects to be hurt and degraded in any way a man chooses is devastating to a young person of either gender. Most young people have very little support in understanding sexuality at all, much less in relation to what they see on a screen. Then add in purity culture with its messages of shame around sexuality and you have the perfect storm to create “porn addiction.”
I think the way out of this mess is to create a whole new, healthy narrative around our sexuality. Ditch the shame. Educate ourselves about respect and consent and equality in all aspects of relationship, including sex. Stop treating women as sexual objects. Learn to enjoy and appreciate our sexuality as a gift rather than as something to fear.
So now I’m going to say something that really shocks people who have grown up in purity culture. I personally agree with your boyfriend that masturbation in and of itself is not a sin. It shouldn’t take over your life, but it’s fine as a part of your healthy physical self. You have a sexual appetite like any other physical appetite, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your sexuality. I think that women in particular should learn how to make their bodies feel good sexually, as often depriving ourselves of bodily enjoyment has been part of the toxicity of purity culture.
Problems arise with masturbation, as with many other good things, when we use it as an unhealthy coping mechanism. We can all be vulnerable to using good things–food, wine, exercise, Netflix–to cope in unhealthy ways. Instead of feeling our feelings and processing through them, we substitute a behavior that feels good in the moment but didn’t actually solve the problem and may in fact produce more problems due to the shame that arises. So, do your emotional work, don’t use sex as as substitute for emotional work, and enjoy your sexuality.
The bottom line is this: your boyfriend does need to take responsibility for himself. And you probably both need to work on a healthy view of sexuality in general. You might appreciate the book Pure by Linda Kay Klein.
I hope that helps,
I need prayers my boyfriend quits watching porn and want to he won’t want to any more
Do you have any advice for how to get over the shock of the lies and betrayal? My boyfriend of four years has just admitted to me he has been addicted to porn for 3 of the years and it’s completely blindsided me and heartbroken me. I love him and have decided to work through it with him and he is getting help through mentoring, blocking, reading the bible and praying with friends now but I just still can’t get the images out of my head that he would choose to watch that every single day, multiple times a day whilst he told me he loved me? I just feel like our whole relationship has been a lie when he’s done this in secrecy and been looking at all these horrible videos while I went on having no idea about any of it. I have been praying and reading different plans on forgiveness and trying to understand that it’s an addiction and comes from being exposed at such a young age but I’m just finding it so hard that this is my reality now. I don’t know how to get over the hurt that he was watching it all this time and every memory of us together feels ruined because I don’t know what he looked at that evening. Any advice is appreciated if it’s said in love please, as I’ve said I want to work through this with him because I think it took a great deal of courage to admit it to me after all that time and shows he wants to change its just that I literally don’t trust him one bit anymore because of how long the lies went on and how severe the addiction was so it makes me really anxious about our future and if I’ll ever be able to look at him and not think about what he’s done and feel upset about his betrayal and lust for other women especially while all that time we were trying desperately to remain pure before marriage. Now I don’t even know if I ever could marry him, unless I can get over this and heal from it and him too? I’m so lost with the whole thing and have no idea what to do or think
Thanks for your comment! I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. Experiencing betrayal is heartbreaking, and trust is the most difficult thing to rebuild. We have a free ebook written for wives that I believe will be helpful for you. It’s called “Porn and Your Husband.” It will help you think through your immediate situation as well as future marriage. It explains the addictive nature of pornography, and how a person can get trapped in it, provides you with encouragement and hope, as well as practical strategies for moving forward with the healing process for yourself and your boyfriend.