Boyfriend’s Addiction to Pornography is Damaging Our Relationship

Reader’s Question

I am in a very serious relationship and engaged. It it is very difficult for me to just walk away from the relationship. The problem is that my fiancé looks at and uses porn at least once a day. This is happening despite the fact that I am willing to have sex with him 1-3 times a day. The addiction has manifested itself in our sex life, with problems maintaining arousal or finishing too early. He is only 26 and is not on drugs or prescription medications. Twice I dressed up and gave him a strip tease, and he had absolutely no sign of arousal.

He even admitted to me (after I tricked him) that he thinks about other women during sex with me (he imagines I am the celebrities he likes). I even caught him snooping through my Facebook for pictures of female friends of mine. He told me that he looks at nude pictures of celebrities on the internet as well. I even found a video of his ex in a bikini on his laptop. (He told me that he didn’t know it was there; yeah, right).

This has resulted in some serious self-esteem issues for me. I feel like I am not sexy enough to turn him on or that he just uses me as a blow-up doll (since he thinks of other women during sex). I feel like I must be horrible in bed. Why can’t he maintain his arousal with me as often as he does? This has ripped my self-esteem and self-respect into shreds.

To top it off, he lies all the time about these things. He has lied to me hundreds of times. I can read by his body language and know he lied, plus he admitted to lying many times. The trust is completely gone, and I don’t believe anything he says anymore.

Why do some people (especially men) that I’ve talked to say this behavior is actually normal? Is it because it is in fact “normal” or because they do the same thing? And if it’s normal, then why does it hurt so much and create such an unsatisfying sex life for me?

What can I do, as a woman, to regain my self-esteem? I feel totally hurt and heart-broken. I just want to feel like a person to someone and feel sexy again, the way I did before this relationship. Please help!

Psychologist’s Reply

I think your concerns are totally justified. While you are experiencing a problem in self-esteem and self-confidence, your boyfriend is destroying the relationship. The destructive and abnormal aspect of his behavior is not the interest in sexuality or sexual behavior, but how his excessive preoccupation has created problems with sexual functioning and is damaging you. Equally important is his willingness to deceive, lie, and justify his behaviors at your expense. Right now, he’s more concerned with his needs than your feelings and self-esteem. That’s not a good sign. While you mention that his actual behavior occurs once a day, he’s showing signs that his interests are intruding into other aspects of his daily routine.

An interest in sexuality is rarely a problem. It’s not uncommon to include sexually-related clothing, materials and activities into our normal sex life. When the sexual-expression system works well, by sharing these experiences/interests we become sexually attracted and obsessed with our relationship — creating passionate love. However, when we become obsessed with aspects of sexuality that are often only partially involved in a relationship, that can cause problems.

Sexual expression and making love is relationship oriented. It increases the emotional/sexual bond between the individuals, creates thousands of positive Emotional Memories, and creates such a strong, positive connection that the mere sight or mention of the person warms our heart.

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Pornography, however, is orgasm-oriented. Excessive use of pornography produces Emotional Memories that are orgasm and body-part oriented — not relationship or even person oriented. Excessive sexual solitaire doesn’t “bond” us with our partner, and in cases such as you describe, creates an individual who can no longer respond in a normal sexual manner as a partner in his romantic relationship. While male friends may comment that this behavior is “normal”, they are not aware that your boyfriend’s ability to sexually function is impaired or that you are being emotionally damaged by the issue. Everyone would tell you it’s normal to enjoy watching television — but no one would support watching television 24 hours a day, not going to work, or not eating and not taking a bath for weeks at a time due to watching television. No one supports a “normal behavior” that is emotionally or physically damaging, because the damage moves the behavior outside the normal range.

Your boyfriend has a serious problem in my opinion. He has become so obsessed and selfish in his interest in pornography that he is now putting his desires as his first priority. He is showing little interest in your distress or your deteriorating self-esteem. For this reason, I would recommend placing the relationship on a probation. Talk with him, suggest couples counseling, and try to see if the problem can be fixed. If there are no changes in a few months, I’d consider leaving before you experience more damage to your self-esteem. He appears unwilling to protect you from his behavior. This issue is not you or your love-making ability. Your boyfriend has become fixated in sexual selfishness and fantasy. He may not be mature enough to recognize the problem. In that case, you’ll need to move on.

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