Help Your Relationship Heal from Porn Addiction

relationship heal from porn addictionI’ve spent some time recently on Reddit answering some questions about porn addiction and porn addiction recovery. Someone asked me how to help her partner heal from his addiction and how they can begin healing their relationship together.

 

One thing I didn’t stress enough in this response was that it’s important, even empowering, for partners to have boundaries. Boundaries can sometimes be difficult for partners, but they’re simply ways of expressing needs. E.g., “I request that you tell me when you have a momentary slip or relapse with pornography or masturbation, because you’ve lied to me before about this.”

 

As I discuss below, boundaries can be a great way of taking care of yourself in the relationship. Boundaries can also help you feel safer when there’s been a betrayal of trust, which is a very common experience for partners.

 

So how can your relationship heal from porn addiction? Let’s dive in.

 

What a fantastic question. I’m glad that you’re on this journey together. I’d be happy to share a few general thoughts. I hope they’re helpful.

 

The Trauma of Porn Addiction for Partners

First, porn addiction can be traumatic for partners. Depending on how they found out, how long it’s been going on, the kinds of porn he was watching, and especially the deception involved, discovery of the addiction can be quite devastating. More than that, they can quite understandably take the porn use personally: Porn can bring up body image issues, so that partners wonder if there is something wrong with their appearance. They’ll say, “I can’t compete with these actresses he’s watching.” It’s very painful.

 

I’m not sure if any of that’s true for you, but if it is, it’s very important that you take care of yourself. He may not be able to support you in ways you may need right now, so going to your own therapist or participating in a support group or something like that is great. The idea here is to tend to your own healing, but you’re also not going to be able to support him if your cup is empty.

 

Talking about Your Needs

Second, talk to him about what you need to start trusting him again. It may seem counterintuitive, but asking him for concrete steps that he can take to help you feel safe is going to support his recovery.

 

He may need help with understanding how all of this has affected you, and when he really gets that, he’s going to deepen his own recovery because it will help him further understanding the effects of his porn use in his life and may strengthen his motivation to change.

 

Learning More about Porn Addiction

Third, and this may be a hard one, try understand that his porn use was not about you. Porn addiction is at its core a means of self-soothing, a way to alter one’s consciousness, like any addiction. It’s a way to escape reality and the reality of painful feelings. Porn addiction is really a way to manage feelings, as are all addictions, at least in part.

 

So, I’d encourage you to learn more about the beast. The more you can do that, the more you may be able to empathize with him (though he should be showing you plenty of empathy right now), and the less you may take the porn use personally, if that was true for you.

 

How Can Your Relationship Heal from Porn Addiction?

Let me say a few words about a couple’s relationship. After the porn use first comes out, couples are often in crisis. There’s a lot of shame and blame, anxiety and conflict. Couples often need a lot of help in this stage as partners can feel betrayed and addicts a lot of shame and fear about losing the relationship.

 

If they can become stable, however, they can usually begin healing separately at first; partners need the addicts to show initial signs of recovery and trustworthiness to be able to more fully invest into the relationship’s healing.

 

If they can reach this stage, which can be anywhere from about 3 to 9 months or more after discovery, they can begin to understand the addiction, how any deception hid the addiction, and why the addiction took root in his life. About a year or two years in, partners also begin to deepen their understanding of their own pain and personal history, which can deepen intimacy as well.

 

Live near Ventura, Camarillo, or Oxnard, CA?

I’d love to connect.

Contact me today to get started.

 

Jeremy Mast
jeremy@jeremymast.com

Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (CA LMFT90961) in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California.

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