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My Boyfriend Is Addicted to Porn: What Should I Do?

Ten o’clock p.m. rolls around, and you’re ready to get into bed. You tell your boyfriend you’re heading to bed, and he replies with the words you have come to dread: “I’ll be up in a little bit.” 

Why have you come to dread those words? Well, you have a clue of what he is up to, and you don’t approve.

It’s a tale as old as time. Or at least a tale as old as the internet. The readily available nature of pornography in the digital age has made it incredibly difficult for some people to control their pornography viewing habits. 

This can cause worry for the spouses and significant others who are peripherally affected. Not quite sure what to do or where to start? We’ve got you covered. 

Read on to learn more about pornography addiction and what you can do to help.

What Is Porn Addiction?

The topic of pornography addiction is a tricky one and a subject of contention for many medical experts. Because it doesn’t necessarily fit into the same cookie-cutter box as some other types of addiction, some in the medical and psychological fields don’t classify it as such.

However, whether we are talking about the semantic differences between an addiction and a compulsion, a dependence on pornography stems from compulsive, problematic behaviors surrounding the consumption of porn. 

If you or someone you know has any of the following characteristics, they are probably struggling with pornography in one way or another: 

  • Excessive porn viewing is causing relationship issues. 
  • Feeling less attraction for a significant other or less interested in actual sex.

  • Engaging in risky behavior to watch pornography, such as doing it in a public place.

  • Shirking responsibilities or putting off important tasks just to watch porn.

  • Watching more and more pornography as the habit progresses.

  • Spending money on pornography.

  • Utilizing pornography as a defense mechanism to deal with anxiety or depression.

  • Watching pornography to fall asleep at night.

  • Having intense feelings of shame after watching porn.

  • Attempting to stop watching but being unable to do so. 

How Can I Cope With My Significant Other’s Porn Addiction?

First, it might help to know that you are not alone. There are millions of people out there watching pornography and many thousands who feel that their viewing is problematic. Many of those people are in relationships, and many of their significant others are struggling.

As the partner of someone with compulsive behavior surrounding porn, it’s important to take care of yourself and fill your cup first. You can’t take care of anyone else if you are not okay. 

You need to remember that you didn’t cause this addiction, and you cannot do anything to cure it. You certainly can be supportive when it comes to your boyfriend getting the help he needs. 

He won’t quit until he is ready, and no amount of convincing will work until he has reached the point when he is ready to change.

If you are struggling to come to terms with your significant other’s porn addiction, you might consider a support group for family members of those with addictions. If you are not already seeing a therapist, it would be a good idea to consider it. 

Dos and Don’ts 

Though there is no single path to curing addiction, there are absolutely some proven techniques and things you want to avoid. Here is a list of some dos and don’ts when it comes to supporting a loved one who is addicted to porn.

Do:

  • Educate yourself. Learn as much as possible to understand (to an extent) what he is going through.

  • Give your support. Make sure your boyfriend knows you are there for him and will be by his side as he tries to get help.

  • Set healthy boundaries. Know where you draw the line and what you are willing to put up with. Setting boundaries will help keep you safe and on track.

  • See the good in them. Know that your partner is not their addiction, and remember why you love them.

  • Ask how you can help. It sounds so simple, but sometimes we assume that we know best, and that’s not always true.

Don’t:

  • Don’t condemn your loved one. Be kind, and remember that addiction is a huge struggle.

  • Don’t guilt trip. Your partner probably feels an incredible amount of shame already, and they don’t need you to tell them they are a bad person.

  • Don’t give ultimatums. It’s super tempting to use the phrase “...or else” when it comes to addiction and treatment but trust us — it doesn’t help.

  • Don’t go around telling everyone. You may want to, but keep your lips sealed and don’t gossip.

  • Don’t lash out. It can be hard not to be hostile when you feel hurt, but remember that your partner is hurting too, even if it doesn’t look like it.

  • Don’t ignore the problem. Be honest about your feelings, but don’t keep them inside. The problem will just keep festering. 

What Types of Treatment Are Available for Porn Addiction? 

So much help is available for those with a problematic relationship with pornography. It’s simply a matter of how bad the problem is, how much time you are willing to put into recovery, and how badly you want things to change.

Again, whether or not porn dependence is an addiction is up for debate, but either way, there are options for overcoming the problem. Here we will lay out some treatment options, going from the least to the most intensive.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy is a great way to get your feelings out and talk to an objective party. It is especially useful for those struggling in other areas of their lives.

By talking to a therapist about your feelings surrounding pornography, sex, and addiction, you may be able to pinpoint some of your triggers and find ways to cope without visiting any of the Forbidden websites!

Many therapists like to utilize cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help the person learn different methods to deal with their emotions other than the destructive behaviors they were engaging with before.

Support Groups and Group Therapy

Another fantastic tool is a good old-fashioned support group. Believe it or not, many support groups are available for people who are going through the same thing that you may be going through or that your loved one is going through.

Not only are there local support groups depending on where you live, but in the internet age, there are now hundreds if not thousands of options for online support groups. If you are already in therapy, your therapist might suggest group therapy. Knowing that you're not alone in what you're going through is helpful.

Outpatient Treatment

If you feel like you want to go the route of an entire treatment program, this would be something to discuss with a therapist or doctor. There are options for you to be able to attend therapy, group sessions, and other helpful activities without having to stay overnight in a facility.

Typical outpatient treatment might consist of three to four days a week, and you would be engaging in therapy sessions, group therapy, etc. A benefit to this is that you would be able to maintain a job, the time commitment is doable, and you would be able to sleep in your bed at night.

You may have heard of the term Intensive Outpatient Treatment. This is a more intense version of outpatient treatment and is typically a 5-day-a-week program. The sessions you do might be all day long, depending on the program.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive option available for addiction. It is far less common for those with pornography addictions to attend inpatient treatment, but it is an option. 

Typically in an inpatient program, you would have the same programming as an outpatient program, but the difference is that you would stay overnight in a facility for a set time.

In general, when it comes to addiction, inpatient treatment is used for those who need round-the-clock medical monitoring, so it's not often necessary for those with pornography addiction.

Conclusion

If you're worried about your significant other, the first step is to talk to them. Although there are many types of treatment available, there are also a lot of steps you can take before you go that route. 

The most important thing is not to take it personally. Remember that nothing you did was the cause of this addiction. With a little help, anyone can overcome problematic pornography habits. Don’t give up on your person; they can change as long as they want to. 


Sources:

Pornography Addiction: 5 Treatments That Are Proven To Work | WebMD

Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update | PMC

Is pornography addictive? | APA