My boyfriend's porn habit

I hate porn. I hate how I feel when he uses it. I hate worrying that he can't stop. Should I stay or should I go?

Published May 31, 2012 12:00AM (EDT)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

I am 20 and have been living with my boyfriend, who is much older than I am, for over two years. We have always had a healthy sex life. Previous to being with me, he was single for five years and he watched porn daily. Soon after I moved in, I discovered he was into teenage porn. I asked him to stop watching it, and he promised he would. A few months later, I found he was still watching it daily. He told me later that he would sneak it while I was in the other room and masturbate to it. I explained to him that aside from it being creepy, I also considered it unfaithful.

I did not understand why my body wasn't enough to satisfy him. I was willing to give him sex whenever he wanted, yet he chose to relieve himself to other girls. He explained to me that he had "this urge to see other women naked." He promised to stop, but once again, a few months later, I found some porn on his phone's browser history. He confessed that he had been watching it during his lunch breaks at work. I was very upset and went to stay with my mother for a few weeks.

He was very apologetic but told me he would never get over his craving for porn. He also promised that he would go to therapy for his porn addiction and would try to stop because it hurt me. He went to therapy, but it seems like they just talked about why porn was so alluring to him rather than how to stop it.

After a few months of therapy, he quit going. I decided to take action, and I monitored his computer daily and kept tabs on him to check if he was watching porn. I also decided that keeping him away from triggers would help him not crave it as much (he agreed). Whenever we would rent movies for example, we would choose ones without nudity in them. I also went as far as refusing to go to the beach with him (because I knew that if we went he would be checking out young girls and may even have to masturbate to them later on).

By placing these limits on his behavior however, I am worried because I adversely made him hypersensitive to seemingly nonsexual things such as a girl wearing short shorts. Now that he is deprived of nudity he has admitted to becoming very aroused by things that were formerly not very arousing, since that is all he has access to.

Now simply going into a supermarket full of teenagers dressed in provocative clothing worries me. He admitted he would never get over this teen fetish/desire for teen porn he has. Currently he swears he hasn't watched porn for over six months. I have no idea if he is lying or not because I have stopped checking his computer for evidence because it started too many fights about how I was "too controlling."

I am not sure what to do. I love him, but at the same time I hate that aspect of his personality. I am staying with him hoping that he really has stopped, but deep down I do not think he has. If I were to catch him again, I would leave him for good.

But I am a bit worried that if I leave him, this problem will exist in my future relationships, since most men watch porn these days.

Should I stick around and hope that he is telling me the truth? Should I tolerate my significant other watching porn despite it hurting me? Or should I just seek a guy that does not watch porn or is willing to give it up for me?

Porn Widow

Dear Porn Widow,

You could just leave, you know. You're 20 years old. You have options.

Think about it. If you deeply, deeply love him and want to devote yourself to being with him, of course you can do that. But you don't have to.

You don't have to stick around and help fix him or wait for him to fix himself or sit up worrying about what he is doing. You can just leave.

He'll be OK if you leave. It will hurt, but he'll get over it. If he wants to devote himself to recovering from porn addiction, it might even be best for him. He could be celibate for a while. It might help.

You are not married. You haven't made a solemn promise in front of friends and family to stay together. You don't have children. You don't own a house together. You have not blended your families. Few practical obstacles prevent your separating.

You can stay with your mom while you find a new place of your own.

Of course you have deep feelings. I'm just looking at it from a detached viewpoint. From here it looks like leaving him makes sense.

The overwhelming question is this: Do you really want to spend your crucial, wonderful 20s struggling in a relationship with a porn addict?

Here is a scenario: You tell him that you respect his efforts to change, but you don't want to risk it. You know he's tried, but you're just going to cut your losses and move on. And then do it.

In your new life, you can tell every man you date, right off, that you are absolutely anti-porn and that you are looking for a relationship that is completely porn-free.

You may spend months or years looking for the right man. But why not try to get what you want? You have time.

Once you find a new relationship, here is a very wise suggestion about how to say what you want.

And now, because I did a good bit of reading in the course of coming to a decision, here are a number of interesting resources and links:


By Cary Tennis

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