Should I Start a New Relationship with a Recovering Porn Addict?



Alex:

I have a question, please. I have been dating a man for a couple of months. We are both older and previously married. The relationship seemed to be going much slower than I wanted, and he recently told me why: he is a recovered porn addict and wanted to tell me so I could make a decision as to whether or not to continue our relationship.

I have attended a couple of lectures on how pornography affects the addict and those around him/her, and understand it on the surface only. I even feel now (looking back) that that was what lead my ex-husband to him having extra-marital affairs. And my best friend’s marriage was destroyed by it, as well. So I am an advocate for recovery, if possible, but what I understood was that there were very few “good” professionals out there that could really help, and it was a very long process.

My question is, however, can one ever have a truly healthy sexual life again after that kind of addiction? Can he have ‘normal’ desires to be with a woman? Would a normal woman, whose body is old and saggy be attractive and desirable to a recovered addict? Certainly a healthy sexual relationship has more to do with commitment and love than attraction, but that plays an important role, too. I feel I still have a lot to offer physically, but maybe not so to a recovered porn addict.

I hope I have worded my questions in a way that you can understand what I really need to know. Do you have any research articles that you can point me to that will answer these questions? I would like to be as well-informed as I can before making a decision to continue in this discovery period of our relationship.

Many thanks.
Anon2012

Hi Anon2012,

Thank you for this beautiful question. I don’t have a well researched article to point you to, scientist are still debating whether to qualify overuse of pornography as an addiction, or as a subset of some other problem, and as a result the research in this field is very limited.

What I am going to say, I am going to say from my personal experience in recovery, and from observations that I’ve made up to this point. In my opinions recovering porn addicts make pretty good partners. Non of us are perfect, and a lot of  porn addicts that I’ve met were humble, honest, and often shy men at their core.

I think that fact, that he waited this long to tell you shows both his honesty, and his concern that you might reject him based on his condition. However, I would advise you not to hold his history against him, given that he now has some good record of recovery.

I  like to view porn addiction not as something black or white, but in terms of levels such as these proposed by Dr. Kevin B. Skinner in his book, “Treating Pornography Addiction” :

Level 1. Mild exposure – once or twice a year, no effect on regular life.
Level 2. Pornography use does not indicate addiction – occasionally looking at pornography with increased interest.
Level 3. Signs of trouble – person looks few times a month, usually tries to avoid it, but occasionally urges get so strong that it cannot be controlled, and person gives in.
Level 4. Individual notices increased sexual fantasies, and attempts to control them, which results in stronger withdrawal symptoms.
Level 5. Pornography impacting day to day living with significant portion of the day spent thinking about pornography.
Level 6. Pornography dominates most of the day to day life, affecting work, school, and personal relationships.
Level 7. Pornography and acting out consumes most of individuals time, leaving him feeling completely out of control.

I think if the men that you are referring to was able to stay bellow level 4 for at lest 6 months to a year up to this point, he is in a pretty good shape to start a relationship.

I agree with you, that there are not that many professionals that understand this issue well. If you are looking for a professional to further discuss this issue, I would highly recommend finding one certified via Certified Sex Addiction Therapist(CSAT) .

Additionally, I am a member of Sex Addicts Anonymous(SAA), and while I do not blindly endorse all aspect of 12 step programs, I am a strong believer in the community based recoveries.

One of the key points of SAA is that while we are working to stop some addictive sexual behaviors, such as viewing pornography, we don’t have to stop all the sexual behaviors, and we can and should learn to embrace and explore the healthy side of our sexuality.

There is also a group called Recovering Couples Anonymous, and most of partners there had dealt with sex addiction in one way or another. It might be beneficial for you to go there as a couple to see for yourself, that people do have very good, loving, and sexually satisfying relationships after they remove pornography out of their lives.

I also would like to add that I am 100% confident that a recovering porn addict, not only will be able to have a desire for a “normal woman” but would have a much stronger desire for it as compared to a regular Joe. Recovering porn addicts have to shelter themselves from a lot of sexually explicit messages that all members of our society are constantly bombarded with on a daily basis. As a result I believe our brains reach certain level of clarification that allows us to see the beauty and love the normal healthy bodies of our wives and partners.

If you haven’t seen the video series titled: “Your Brain on Porn” created by our friendly site http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/ I think it would be very beneficial, and would help you further understand that healthy sexual relationship is very much possible for a recovering porn addict.

As a last note, I would encourage you to give this relationship a shot. While I don’t know neither of you and it is possible that the things might not work out, I think you have a very good chance of making this work, and turning it into a loving, carrying and sexually fulfilling relationship that both of you are looking for.

Regards,
Alex

Call (916)259-3827 For Professional Help

P.S. Recommended Resources:

  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
    I cannot imagine my recovery without this program.
  • Free Podcast and Mini Course from Candeo Can
    I owe my first 90 days of continuous sobriety to this program and highly recommend it.
  • Internet Accountability Software
    Using this software allowed me to get truly honest with my internet usage for the first time in my life. For some reason knowing that my every step was being observed and reported on, made it really easy to use internet only in a healthy way.
  • Treating Pornography Addiction by Kevin B. Skinner Ph.D.
    I have read over 15 books on Pornography and Sexual addiction and this truly is one of the best books on the subject. The reason is I recommend this particular book is because it is full of excellent actionable steps. Other books do a good job describing the problem, but don’t really offer a realistic solution.
  • Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – How Partners Can Cope and Heal by Barbara Steffens Ph.D.
    I know that about half of visitors to our site are spouses of people who might be suffering with pornography and sex addiction. To the best of my knowledge this book is one of the most helpful books for the partners.
  • Free Consultation from Coach Craig
    Coach Craig has been a good friend and supporter of this site since January 2013. He has worked with people from all over the world, including famous musicians and other high profile individuals. Yet, he is only a phone call away and would be glad to give you a free consultation. Call him anytime, with any question you might have, and I am know he will be extremely happy to help in any way he can.

Relavant Keywords:dating a former porn addict, how a couple can have good sex again after a pornography addiction, can a porn addict enjoy regular sex, ponography dating, perving and porn ruined my relationship, is perving on women what is an addiction, in a porm starting to have sex, if watch porn all life can you have a normal relationship, how to start the sex using porns, porn addict and new relationship

Comments

  1. Julie says

    My husband is a newly discovered sex addict. His entire life (he’s 27), has been a struggle for him. Inappropriate sexual exposure beginning as young as 4. His parents divorced when he was young, and it was terrible. His parents failed him miserably. When we were dating, I was aware that he watched online porn. He saved videos and had quite the archive of them. I didnt like the idea of this, but dismissed it as normal for men. he was single and a man… But as we got more serious, I wished he didnt have all the videos, I longed for some sort of a compromise. He deleted much of the saved videos. But continued to watch on line of course. He belonged to an online Forum, that was centered around pornography. So he used this as an excuse, ..he was just checking the forums…
    Before we married, he came clean that he had paid for sex in the past. WHile this disgusted me, I chose to believe that this was his past, he was young and curious. Right? sounded logical at the time. THe day after we married, I discovered things on his computer that devastated me. He was so sorry.. and vowed to never look at these sites again. A year after we were married, he was alwsy angry, distant, picked fights, I’m sure you know the typical signs at this point. But I had no idea. I blamed it on the fact that he was young (12 years younger than me), being married and a new father was stressful, he couldnt find a good job that made him feel proud, and then there is the terrible turmoil he was always in with his past and present relationship with his father. So,like a good wife, I was patient, encouraging, supportive. I waited for the day he would come out from the hole he would hide in.. aka, our bedroom. He would come home and just sit at the computer desk in our room, tv on behind him… and surf the web for hours. He would emerge for dinner and take it back to the room. He has missed out on nearly the entire first 3 years of his daughters life….LASt month he asked me, “so…she’s like, potty trained?, I feel like I should have known that, like I should have been a part of that”…. I remember looking at him like he was an idiot. And completely feeling like he was, .. an idiot.
    How did we get here? Passing each other in the halls, arguing over the most ridiculous things. He was always defensive, no matter how hard I tried to tell him I was miserable and lonely. If I cried, he would just look back at the tv and change the channel. THe past 7-8 months have been even worse…I pretty much stopped sleeping in our room, it wasnt our room. It felt like his bachalor cave. ANd I no longer felt welcome. WE would have sex 1-3 times a week. But both of us not really present.
    We just got wifi in the house a month ago. THis is where it finally came to the exploding point. He would fall asleep with his ipod in his hand…hours and hours lost at searching porn. Or so I had thought.
    I remembered I knew the password to the ipod. I took a look about a week after the wifi was set up. It wasnt porn. THey were hook up sites. woman after woman… he read the reviews on them… their prices, picked the characteristics, like he was picking his side dishes. I was in complete shock. I felt sick.
    Every day for 3 weeks, I would wait for him to leave for work, and look at what he had been searching. Every day, hoping he didnt. Hoping it had tapered off. But then, I saw, he was searching specific phone numbers… these girls were local. In our town. FOr 3 weeks, I was sick, nauseous every day. I thought I had the flu, that I had something wrong with me…even pregnant.
    FInally his horid and coldness toward me last week was unbearable. I finally got him to sit down so we could talk. After he had hardly spoken to me for days.
    I trembled and shook…and I began my story. What I discovered, that I suspected he was looking for someone to be with. THat he had already gone to a massage hookup… He said nothing.
    He slowly admitted it. He admitted to going to a massage 3 times… with of course happy bonuses in the end. I told him he had a problem…he agreed. He said, I think I’m addicted. I made him go to a hotel that night. He was beside himself at the thought of loosing his family. I of course didnt care.

    THis was only 5 days ago. ANd I feel like its been weeks….
    THe very next night, he went to an SAA meeting. I went to a therapist yesterday..he goes tomorrow. WE go as a couple on Friday.

    I am obsessed with searching for more and more and more information…reading everything I possible can. THe thought of this taking a year or more to get sober… the thoguht of relapses…, how, when is it ok to be intimate again..together. It’s all so new and fresh. We havnt even hugged since sometime last week. I long to fall into his arms..but then remember he’s the monster right now.

    THe more I read, the more I understand.. he’s so textbook with his crappy childhood…the inappropriate influences… the continued increase of what he sought….how he functions with relationships, how he communicates..or how he doesnt, actually….

    So I find comfort in that. But then I remember… I remember what he did..because I asked for detials.. and it wasnt 3 times, it was 5(in 8 months)..sometimes right after we had been together.. when there was nothing going wrong between us. 10 days after our wedding anniversary…

    I have no idea what my boundaries should be, how much I help, and dont, when to call him on something… and when is it ok to hold hands again? , to embrace the man I once loved with all my heart?, when can I BE with him again. I feel like I have cover up now. I dont walk around without a bra for example. …

    I dont know what kind of responses I am hoping for..please nothing cruel. It’s the first itmeI journaled anything about this…

    • Michelle Perra says

      Julie … this was soooo brave for you to reach out!!!! I know how hard this is and you really need some support .. and also a BIG HUG!!! First of all I want say that I am sorry that you are going through this … it truly sucks and just know that I understand. I have been through the ringer myself with my hubby, Craig, and know that we have SURVIVED this insanity and are happier now than we have ever been. This happiness has come from a hell of a lot of work though … but do know that it is possible.

      Here is a link to the blog that I write, it tells some of the story of recovery and healing on my part … it talks about my boundaries, empowering my voice, how to deal with the crazy emotions and lots of other stuff to SUPPORT YOU!!!! Here is the link … many women find it helpful and feel so understood by my it .. so read through it and hopefully that can help a bit! http://mishkawifeofsexaddict.blogspot.com

      So, there is a part of us that can understand what they are going through, how sadness and loneliness they have created in their lives, the pain … I can keep going … and all that is true. Very true so it is wonderful when we can find a way to understand and support them. AND … it is so important to not lose ourselves in the process. It is NOT ok to treat you like crap, it is NOT ok to shut you out, it is NOT ok to not allow you to have CRAZY emotions (like anger, hurt, sadness, etc.). So, that is where it is important to find your balance and create your boundaries.

      Creating your boundaries is unique to you .. it is different for everyone. This is something you will work on with a counselor / therapist / coach that you see. What does his recovery look like to you? Learning to communicate is a way that sticks with the “how his actions make you feel” and not how awful he is and how much he did TO you … is an REALLY important way to support him AND be true to your hurt and your needs. You are an EQUAL part of the healing in the relationship and that is really important for you as well.

      I don’t agree with having to cover up around him. I have read that in certain places but I don;t agree with that. They are usually triggered by people outside the relationship anyway .. but covering up to me takes our power away from us and that isn’t cool. I want the women who work with me to feel EMPOWERED and feel amazing in their own bodies!!! It’s important for us to maintain that security of owning our own bodies .. so I say, no just be true to yourself through this.

      Anyway, I hope this helps a bit!!!! It’s hard … I know! Here is also a link to the podcast that Craig (also a coach on this site) and I do together has helped many couples. The guys really connect with Craig so it can help! Here is the link … http://www.spreaker.com/user/sexaddiction

      Ok .. BIG HUGS to you again …. good luck with the work that you guys ar starting. Just know my hubby has been through this hell too and has created the amazing life that he deserves!!

  2. Angela says

    I have been dating a guy for six months, he is a recovering drug, alcohol and porn addict. I just broke up with him because something changed. I figured he had returned to one or more of his addictions. Within days of breaking up, he said he is looking at pictures of porn on the internet. I have never dated an addict. I am the opposite, I do not drink or do drugs. I am just looking for some support through this difficult time.

  3. nguyễn hoàng says

    Tôi là người quốc tịch việt nam tôi bắt đầu thích trang website này lắm tôi chỉ mới tình cờ tìm gập thôi tôi nghĩ rằng rất hữu ích

  4. Dan says

    Alex, I just found out about you online and I want to thank you for what you’re doing. I’m 45 and have been struggling on-and-off with an addiction to porn, phone sex, and other sex-related behaviors for over half my life now. I’ve been married for five years to a woman who I’ve been in a relationship with for ten years. She is the love of my life and knows about some of my issues but they have recently resurfaced. I’ve been having performance issues for awhile and though we are very close emotionally and physically we’ve not been intimate in a sexual way a lot lately. Over this period, I’ve gone back to my addition. She caught me acting out yesterday and I took that opportunity to confide in her about a very bad string of slips I’ve been having lately. Our relationship is on hold and I must regain her trust be once and for all getting my addiction under control. I believe that I’m in a better place now than I ever have been to tackle this problem that’s been hounding me for so long and have been pouring over your materials all afternoon. I am making a promise to myself to try and recovery right this time as I’ve never had so much to lose before. At 45 years old I want to be my own person – not a slave to my compulsions. I want to start feeding the right wolf. I have a feeling that I’ll be referring to your materials a lot lately. Thank you for your service to our country as a Marine and for your continued service to sex addicts everywhere through your work at “feed the right wolf.”

  5. Ganoo says

    Hi Alex,

    I’m surprised that you consider that as long as a guy remains below the level 4 he is in “pretty good shape”. I would have thought that at level 3 somebody was already starting to be an addict: “Signs of trouble [...] few times a month [...] urges get so strong that it CANNOT BE CONTROLLED, and person gives in” ?

    I was supposed to get married in 3 weeks. But a bit over a week ago, I questioned my fiance about a weird feeling that I have had for a long time that he was hiding something from me. That’s when he told me that he has a porn addiction, and subsequently decided to cancel our wedding. Though he says he wants me to stay with him, and that he loves me and still wants to marry me one day, but that he wants to get treatments and get rid of his addiction first.

    We have been together for 5 years, I followed him from Europe (where I’m from and where we met) to live with him in Australia, his country. After 1 year of being together he was increasingly distant, I was constantly finding him perving on every girls. He was embarrassed to act like that, but it was like if he couldn’t control it. I am a good looking girl but he rarely wanted to have sex with me. And when he did I always felt like we were just not emotionally connected. I felt something was wrong. After 2 years of being together we had an argumentation and he told me for the first time about the fact that he was watching porn. But I didn’t realize it was like a proper “addiction”. He said he was stopping it and that he had it under control. I believed him. He now says that he tried and managed to stay away from porn for a period of time, at the start. But then the addiction came back, and got worse and worse again. So during these last 3 years he’s been lying to me again, the whole time. Again he rarely wanted to have sex with me, always pretending to have a headache, to be too tired or to not have time. There’s been periods of time where he was fully impotent, for weeks and weeks. Other than that he is a nice guy and we get on well. He is rather on the shy side and from what I understand of his childhood, he was quite lonely at school, with absent/passive mother and alcoholic father at home. He also explained to me that during his 20′s he only had sex with 3 girls. He was so scared to be intimate with real girls that he was always pushing them away. So on that respect porn has almost been the only thing in his life since he is 12. He is now 34.

    Now he has canceled our wedding, at the last minute. He says he wants to get rid of the addiction first and has booked himself to a specialized psychologist. Though Im wondering if he even would have told me at all, if I had not asked… He says He wants me to stay with him, that he will win over the addiction and we’ll get married on a clean slate.

    I don’t know… I don’t trust him anymore. I don’t know if it’s possible that he actually ever manages to stop this addiction. I am also 34 myself, I’d like have a chance to have children and a normal family. I am scared to waste my life waiting for him… I feel so lost and hurt, I don’t know if I should believe him or not, give him another chance, again, or not.

    • stef says

      You have to speak about it. Often. How he feels, what he wants.And what do you want also. Don’t became a slave but, just try to understand him. Support him! As Mark says: You have to be honest! I lost 8 year relation hiding the addiction most of the time! It is disgusted :(. Now I find it disgusted and it help me to keep under control. So information is very important. Educate both of U, permanently. The other think is the thrust in God. I was an atheist, but now I feel that he help me also. Educate yourself about the God. I pray every morning and every evening after the breathing exercises described in this site. Good luck!

  6. Mark says

    In response to the above I’m an addict. I think you can have a healthy relationship. But for me it’s always better when I’m away from porn. Many times to shame affects my performance. When I’m able to stay away for a few days I always do better. I lost a relationship because I was honest So I think as long as the truth is there a relationship can be fine. Just have to be under control.

  7. Anon2012 says

    Thanks for the very prompt response. I am learning a lot with the links you provided (still going through all the video slides) and also your input. I very much appreciate your candid response, and was very much hoping to hear what you said. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Current day month ye@r *