Dealing with partner’s porn addiction

Every individual enters a relationship with a partner to experience blissful companionship. Relationships would mean a need for nurturance, a support system, an emotional cushion, and a need to belong to someone.

Relationships require sharing, caring, and communication. It requires attachment and bond to grow between the partners.

Every relationship has ups and downs; they have their own share of good times and bad times. Whatever the trouble, both the partners are supposed to address the situation as a couple, and at the same time, both of them get affected equally.

Maintaining a healthy couple relationship

Every couple wants to enjoy blissful companionship and having a healthy sexual life is one of the paramount concerns. To have a positive sexual life, all that is required is a good understanding of each other, understanding the partner’s sexual, physical, and emotional needs, a good amount of bond and attraction, and so on.

In a healthy relationship, it is not just about the individual needs but also being concerned about the needs and comforts of the partner.

The sexual health of a relationship determines to a lot of extent how each of the partners sees themselves- their self-concept.

The thought process is such that- if one is able to make their partner sexually happy, it boosts a sense of self-confidence, and when it comes to men, it makes them feel complete.

Hence adequate sexual health in an intimate relationship influences the social and emotional well-being of individuals.

What porn does do to an intimate relationship?

When emphasizing healthier sexual relationships are essential for the good health of an intimate relationship, porn-watching behavior brings about a detrimental impact on the quality of intimate relationships.

A lot of literature and practices say watching porn within limits brings about positive changes in sexual relationships and enhances sexual experiences. It aids to understand the sexual fantasies of the partner and helps in being more creative in sexual interactions.

But the question is how much is too much? That ‘too much ‘actually causes more harm than good. A widely circulated article in The New York Times back in 2012 stated the idea that porn should be strictly avoided by people who have been sexually victimized or/and who have body image issues. But in case no such red flags are evident, porn can help in rebooting sexual experiences and understanding a partner’s sexual fantasies.

But it turns problematic and becomes a concern when porn tends to dominate one’s day-to-day schedule, dominate the thought process, and alter a sexual experience with their partner.

When a person acquires porn addiction, he tends to stay occupied with it all day round. The craving gets so severe that the person has the urge to watch porn every now and then; irrespective of their situation and the people around them.

How does porn cause trouble between partners?

Someone who is a porn addict remains occupied with problematic porn watching for the most part of the day. A number of couples, attending couple counseling, often report that their partners develop a tendency to stay aloof, sleep alone in a separate room, and avoid spending time with the partner, only in order to make time to browse porn.

A number of couples report their partner’s reluctance to sleep together at night or some others would say they have some work and need to be in some separate room while the other partner can sleep off. “I have some calls to make or some emails to clear, why don’t you go to sleep, I will join you later,” a common complaint often reported by the non-addicted partner.

Usually, the distance begins to grow between the partners from instances like these. Although once in a while, or in some rare situations, when the reason sounds genuine, the non-addicted partner would be very cooperative and understanding. But when things become persistent is when the other partner gets alerted.

It looks very astonishing to the person seeing that their partner consistently avoids sleeping together or is spending less time together. This makes the non-addicted partner feel very neglected and experiences emotional emptiness.

The gap thus increases, and partners are hardly spending time together. These further strain the relationship.

By now, problematic porn-watching behavior has been causing harmful neuro-psychological consequences. The person is likely to develop difficult emotional problems, stress, and most importantly a sense of craving to watch more.

Either, till now the non-addicted partner knows about their partner’s problematic porn-watching behavior or might have been in complete darkness.

non-addicted partner

Mostly, another person, i.e., the non-addicted partner discovers very late about their partner’s porn consumption problem. All these times they get mentally exhausted to figure out what could be possibly wrong in their partners’ behavior; what could be the possible reason for the behavior change. This in itself is highly stressful for the partners.

The other partner becomes emotionally vulnerable and develops chances of developing Depression, Anxiety Spectrum Disorders, and to even developing suspiciousness towards the partner

What happens when the partner finds out about their partner’s porn addiction?

When an individual discovers that their partner is a porn addict, it kind of brings a shattering experience. Firstly, they have no idea how to cope with it; secondly, they have no clue if at all they have any role in helping their partners to overcome this, thirdly the non-addicted person questions themselves, if at all they are the reason for which their partner has developed porn addiction.

As a healthy sexual experience is an important concern, the partner feels what might go wrong and what things haven’t been enough for the other person to indulge in porn.

A series of questions come to their mind; questioning their self-worth, questioning their sense of themselves; questioning their contribution to the recovery, or whether they have been a reason or the cause of the problem.

There cannot be a more helpless situation than this for any individual knowing their partner is a porn addict. There is a sense of guilt or even anger or irritability to being in this situation; questioning “why me?”

Some partners deal in a way that they go ahead in pursuing their partner to seek professional help in recovering from the porn addiction. They constantly assist them in the therapy sessions and actively participate in the recovery process of their partner.

This could be made possible only when the porn-addicted partner realizes that he/she is in some problem and gets determined to come out of it and share a blissful relationship with their partner. In such cases both the partners co-operate and fight the problem as a team.

There is so much social and emotional support for each other.

Porn addiction is not only a difficulty suffered by an individual addict. It causes a lot of collateral damage to the people around- immediate family members- partners, parents, friends, and even children in case the couple has kids.

Whereas, on the other hand, some partners find it excessively difficult to accept it. Based on a lot of personal factors such as beliefs, customs, their ideas, they find it difficult to sail through this situation. Often, they have the thought “what is my fault; it’s my partner’s problem and he/she needs to deal with it.”

If the addicted partner is not accepting and remains un-co-operative, the non-addicted partner may choose to put on effort to an extent and then choose to give up. It gets beyond their control and they don’t want to feel trapped in a problem upon which they have limited control.

It is quite commonly reported in the clinics of Clinical Psychologists, wherein the non-addicted partners present serious symptoms of mental health issues; most common being Depression, severe condition of Anxiety Spectrum Disorders, increased suspiciousness, and so on.

They become pessimistic about themselves; irrespective of whether the affected partner is accepting of the porn addiction or not.

The major challenge for partners

The partners mostly feel terrible and negative upon finding out that they have been living with a porn-addicted person’ mostly because, firstly, it’s not their problem; second, they have absolutely little or no control over it; thirdly, they are sufferers of just doing nothing and become a victim of the whole situation.

To be honest, it is purely the choice of the non-addicted person how he/she goes ahead addressing the situation. They remain of their free will, whether or not they want to be part of the struggle with their addicted partner; or choose to walk away from the relationship. Such decisions are purely based on the personal and intimate experience of both partners.

divorce

A lot depends upon how the unaffected partner has been treated, and to what extent the affected partner takes the onus of the problem, gets committed to recovering from it, and how much effort is actually acted upon.

The roadmap of the therapy absolutely remains neutral and gives utmost respect to the decision of either or both the partners.

To experience this challenge and go through this struggle is never easy for the partners, irrespective of their decision of whether they want to continue staying in the relationship or parting their ways. They go through mixed emotions about everything.

Hence, it is very important to address the mental health challenges of both addicted and non-addicted partners.

Seeking couple counseling in such situations will either help both the partners deal with the problem together as a couple; or help the partners navigate through their separation process with utmost guidance and support.

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