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Rebuild Your Marriage 7 minute read

10 Signs of Porn Addiction: Do these describe your husband?

Last Updated: March 1, 2024

Is your husband addicted to porn? If you know—or suspect—he is watching porn, how can you tell if it’s an occasional past-time or a full-on addiction? It can be traumatizing to find out that your husband is entrenched in this habit—and deeply confusing as well. Someone addicted to porn may genuinely desire to quit but feel unable to break free. Here’s some information to help you better understand if your husband is addicted to porn.

So, Is My Husband Addicted to Porn?

Discovering that your husband watches porn can be very painful for wives. But understanding the situation can help you address it. Not everyone who watches porn is addicted to it. While men (and women too) may watch porn for many reasons, a few characteristics usually distinguish an addiction.

Early Childhood Exposure

When someone sees porn as a child—even unintentionally—it can leave a lasting neurological impression. Many people who struggle with pornography addiction as adults can trace it back to an early formative experience. For more, see The Common Reality of Early Porn Exposure.

Children who undergo trauma or abuse are especially vulnerable. Pornography often becomes a means of coping. An adult who struggles with addiction often acts out when experiencing stress, frustration, or other negative emotions.

Long-Term Habitual Use

The more often a person turns to porn, the more it trains their brain to respond to porn and crave it. See our article on Brain Chemicals and Porn: How Porn Affects Your Brain.

Urges or Out of Control Impulses

As someone’s brain is conditioned to turn to porn, they may experience powerful cravings. Many porn addicts describe their urges as something powerful beyond their control—like an itch that must be scratched.

An addict is still responsible for their actions, but they feel helpless to resist. This feeling of helplessness often brings a deep sense of shame and self-reproach. In some cases, a husband may be as upset with himself as his wife is, but he still feels unable to change.  

Escalating Behaviors Related to Porn

As porn use changes from a habit to an addiction, it often escalates in extremity. Sometimes, this manifests in the type of porn being consumed. Addicts often seek out increasingly bizarre or deviant forms of pornography. At other times, the escalation occurs in the frequency and occasion of their binges—such as watching porn at work.

Signs Your Husband May Be Addicted to Porn

If he’s struggling with an addiction, it means recovery will be a journey—for both of you. Here are some key signs that your husband’s pornography use might be an addiction.

1. Your husband has lost interest in sex.

Many porn addicts want lots of sex (see #3), but as the addiction escalates, they often begin to lose interest in their partner. Porn addicts become desensitized to other forms of pleasure—even sexual intercourse—preferring the buzz they get from porn. Not only is their sexual energy tapped, but they begin to prefer the “safe” realm of fantasy over the “risky” real world of intimacy.

2. Your otherwise healthy husband is unable to maintain an erection during sex.

Porn addicts commonly experience porn-induced erectile dysfunction. While there are several medical reasons for ED, for the porn addict the problem is not in the organ, but in the brain. They have conditioned their mind to be turned on only by self-sex and porn images. It is common for addicts to blame their partners for their inability to perform.

In his book The Porn Circuit, Sam Black writes:

“When preparing for real sex, the pornified brain fails to get its dopamine surge and the signal to the penis is too weak to achieve erection. But turn on an Internet device with unlimited pages of novelty, and boom, the plumbing works.”

3. Your husband’s sexual tastes have changed.

On the other end of the spectrum, some men entrenched in porn want to act out their fantasies in the real world. Porn films often pair physical and verbal aggression with sex. This might mean that your husband makes surprising demands during sex—even getting frustrated when you don’t perform to his exact specifications. Some men show a sudden interest in “rough” sex or sexual activities you haven’t discussed and agreed to. Others will begin to show an interest in bondage, fetishes, sadomasochism, group sex, or activities that make you feel belittled and used. These are huge red flags and one of the clear signs of porn addiction.

4. Your husband spends an excessive amount of time online.

A porn user almost always has a dysfunctional relationship with technology—many hours spent online alone, often at odd hours or at times when they should be spending time with their families and friends. He may demand to be left alone with his computer or become irritable if he can’t get online.

5. Your devices’ internet histories are empty.

Check your husband’s web browsers on his phone, laptop, home computer, or tablet. If the internet histories are constantly empty, he may be clearing his history to cover his tracks. The late psychologist Al Cooper wrote that three factors often contribute to an internet porn addiction: affordability (most porn is cheap or free), accessibility (it can be accessed nearly anywhere), and anonymity (no one has to know what you’re doing). He called this the “Triple-A Engine.” The last factor, anonymity, is key. A man’s belief that no one knows where he is going online gives a false sense of security: “What I’m doing online is my own business, and it isn’t hurting anyone else.”

6. Your husband seems emotionally “distant” or withdrawn.

The more a man becomes entrenched in porn, the more he begins to lose interest in real-world relationships, especially with his wife and children. Many men describe it as feeling “numb.”

7. Your husband seems more antisocial.

Like any addict, a porn addict will begin to revolve his life around the next buzz. This means reordering his life so that he can spend time online and away from others. Other antisocial behaviors might include a lack of remorse for his actions, aggression, outbursts of anger, frequent lying, indifference to actions that harm others, or an easy use of flattery or charm to manipulate others.

8. Your husband’s financial patterns have changed.

Are there unexplained charges on your credit card statement or bank statement? Have you noticed new credit cards opened in your husband’s name? Since there is an abundance of free porn online, addicts can indulge without paying, but often, when the addiction escalates, they resort to paying for online material or even physical items (like DVDs). Charges to these accounts may not look obviously pornographic since these companies usually work hard to ensure the anonymity of their patrons. If your husband refuses to talk about unexplained charges, this is a sign he is hiding his behavior.

9. Your husband has become secretive, evasive, or defensive.

When you walk into the room where your husband sits at the computer, does he suddenly get nervous or make knee-jerk reactions? When you ask what he has been doing online, does he become defensive or easily irritated? When your presence suddenly threatens to invade an addict’s secret world, this can be very jarring for him, and often his nervousness will be obvious.

10. Your husband has become critical of your appearance.

Has your husband started to criticize your looks, your weight, your bust size, or your sexual performance? The more a man spends time with porn, the more his mind becomes conditioned to the novelty, variety, and convenience that porn provides. Many studies have shown that the more a man watches porn, the more he devalues the attractiveness of “average people.”

Next Steps to Take if Your Husband Is Addicted to Porn

Many wives are devastated when they discover their husbands are watching pornography. If you believe your husband has a porn addiction, what can you do? Here are some important next steps to take, for your own benefit as well as your husband’s.

1. Remember that his addiction is not about you.

When a husband is caught in pornography addiction, he will often lash out and blame his wife for his behavior. However, he is not addicted to porn because of something wrong with you. It is simply not true that if you looked different or acted differently during sex that he would not struggle with porn. A porn addiction means that he’s been conditioned to prefer that to real sex.

2. Get help and support for yourself.

Regardless of whether your husband is seeking help for his recovery, you need to make sure you seek help and support for yourself. Find other women who can come alongside you and provide encouragement and community.

3. Establish boundaries.

Boundaries don’t mean that you can control your husband’s behavior. As we say in our series for couples, Restored Vows, “A boundary defines what is your responsibility (your feelings, attitudes, choices, and behaviors) and what is your spouse’s responsibility.”

4. Learn more.

We have more free resources available, both for you and for your husband as starts the recovery journey.

  1. Mike Tripp

    Yes. Great story.

    We destroy shame best through the grace of a group of “A Few Good Men”!!

    Thanks

  2. Mike

    Thank you Noah for responding to God’s call to be pure. Thank you also for not settling for mediocrity or status quo in your struggle with sexual sin. I am 3.5 years removed from acting out (counseling, Castimonia.org, Celebrate Recovery, and accountability to other men). Yet, I also know in my walk that I too have to continue to be transparent and watchful. God is faithful, He did not create us to live in shame or defeat.

  3. Paul M.

    This is a beautiful article. I greatly appreciated this profound insight, “your soul’s longing for validation will also move on to other sources of satisfaction once you take the buffet of porn away.” This has certainly been a second step for me in the battle for purity. God Bless you Noah and your ministry. JMJ

  4. Charles Conner

    Joey, Try to find a Celebrate Recovery group in your area. This is a great place to find those accountability partners. Though this group, I have been able to gain freedom of an addiction of over 60 years! It is never too late and it is possible.

  5. Sherri L Feehery

    Yes, this is all very good.
    As St. Josemaria said he prefers to talk about the positive side which is purity. And priests are available for spiritual direction. Which is awesome! And of course like you said friends, very important. And they can be a good source of help also and you can be a great source of help. God will be the one to help you in the long run. Trust in God and consult a priest for spiritual direction if you have not already. And they will not tell anyone you don’t want to hear about everything. A good friend can tell you what works for them but also cunsulting about it with a priest or someone you trust is GREAT for everything.

  6. Joey

    I gotta say that everything you said is what I’m struggling with now. Trying to find some good men in my church or other men that I know in other churches that can help me. I’ve told a few guys including my pastor but they’ve all fallen through to check up on how I was doing with my lust/porn problem. What you did to get 15 men to help you challenged me to do this as well. I Just need boldness to expose this sin again in my life. Especially as I am a leader in my church.

  7. Linda

    Thank you for your honesty. I am in a very strange position as I am an older missionary woman counseling a 30 yr. old Christian young man who was deep into porn for four years. Finally he came to me, because I am closer to him than anyone else, and confessed and asked me to be his accountability partner. God is moving us along to victory, but I am open to any counsel along this line. It is a new field for me, of course, but by God’s grace he is making exceptional progress. Still, I am very open to counsel on how best to move forward. And I see, through all, that he will need ongoing help, even after victory is achieved.

  8. Dale Trujillo

    Such a good article. Thank God my church has a Celebrate Recovery. I too, had a porn addiction. Mine lasted ten years, and I even struggled as a leader in CR. But I can honestly say I have been clean for two years now! God bless you Noah and your courage to direct other men into freedom! And I thank God for Covenant Eyes, without which I’d still be.in my addiction.

  9. This is a great story and I can surely relate. We do need accountability partners. I found my help at a local Celebrate Recovery group. This is a Christian based recovery program very much like AA, but Jesus Christ is the center of the program, and one and only “higher power”. I highly recommend this program for help. And of course Covenant Eyes is a wonderful asset, but we still need that one on one personal accountability.

  10. James Ditillo

    This was the BEST TESTIMONY I have ever read. It really makes me step as an ally. God is do good. Tell Noah I support him with prayer and wish him every good gift from God and if he wants he can text me anytime

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