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Cutting out porn repaired a bunch of things about our relationship

I am a lady who from my teenage years was always very sexually eager and curious. I watched a good amount of porn and was psyched to “finally” lose my virginity at 17. I dated guys, slept with guys, had a couple (dysfunctional) relationships but nothing long term enough in my “adult” years to really explore sex in a committed relationship context. But I would never have imagined ever having a problem with a boyfriend watching porn. It was just something people did to satisfy momentary urges and explore their sexuality. No big, at all. The idea of getting angry about it would have just seemed silly and pointless.

I entered my first long-term relationship at 23. Never did I think it would turn into that, because he was a little older – 6 years and change – and we were coworkers, so it seemed more suitable for the fun sexy fling category. I didn’t see him in that “boyfriend material” way. But we clicked emotionally and intellectually enough that things started to roll forward from there, first to a commitment to monogamy, then to official BF/GF status, which was exciting and new and weird for me. But he was a serial monogamist, so such things weren’t as scary for him. 🙂

Pretty much everything was great at first, but then problems started to emerge with our sex life. First, I was in that fun “honeymoon” phase and was always pawing at him, wanting to fool around, or fuck, or whatever. He would as often as not brush me off, sometimes thinking I was just messing with him, or maybe he was tired, or maybe he was more interested in watching the movie/TV show that was on. Whatever it was, there was always a reason. So his response rate was not great, and he almost never initiated sex – maybe a couple times a month, and this while we were spending 3-4+ nights a week together. And we couldn’t communicate about sex either – he couldn’t talk openly about my needs, his needs, or how to bridge the gap between the two.

In addition to this, he had a really hard time expressing his attraction to me. For whatever reason. In the very beginning, there were a few little flattering comments here and there, but they faded away fast. Women on TV or in magazines or even other guys’ girlfriends could be “hot,” but not me. I would put effort into a sexy outfit and instead of calling it what it was, he would make a wisecrack and deflect somehow. Or just look confused, like me dressing sexy and wanting to do it was a “change in plans” that had to be pondered over and digested before he could respond positively. This was baffling because past boyfriends had always complimented frequently, and sincerely. I had always felt sexy up to that point, no matter if my clothes were on or off.

Add those two things together, and the insecurities started to grow at an alarming rate. Of course, when I brought them up, his answers were “Insecurity is an unattractive quality” or “You shouldn’t care if I find other women attractive, it’s inevitable” or “Why would I even be with you if I didn’t find you attractive?” None of this was untrue or illogical, strictly speaking, but it didn’t address the core issue: that he wasn’t communicating his attraction to me in words OR actions. That I felt “invisible” to him sexually, and that by wanting sex, more often than not I felt I was pestering him. That I didn’t feel desired by the one person who was supposed to desire me most, to make me feel beautiful and sexy and adored.

Now throw this into the mix: one day I picked up his phone to set a picture of me as his wallpaper – just as a joke, nothing weird – and discovered a huge folder of porn clips featuring other women. Sorted by first name. I didn’t snoop – they were right there when I picked it up. He had barely if ever mentioned porn before, so I hadn’t had a chance to wrap my head around the idea – and now my physical and sexual insecurity was thrown into the stratosphere. He seemingly only tolerated sex with me, never made me feel sexy…and at the same time had collected all these clips of other women??? It was heart-breaking and confidence-shattering. Especially for me, a previously extremely confident person who had never thought there was anything wrong with her wanting sex in the least. It wasn’t that he had a low sex drive, I realized – it was that he preferred porn to sex. He preferred images of these other women, these strangers with their clothes off, to me. Half of me was devastated and wanted to curl into a ball and cry forever – and half of me was furious. I mean furious. Drive-around-the-block-so-I-could-scream-inside-my-car-at-the-top-of-my-lungs furious.

After months of back and forth about sex, porn and insecurities, including some really vicious fights and intense cry-fests, I finally reached a place where I had to ask him to stop watching porn. We had to try, at least – to see if this was a way to reprogram our sex life as a couple, his ability to express attraction to me and my ability to feel secure and wanted. Believe me, I was asking myself all the time if he was capable of giving me what I needed at all, or if it was a waste of my time. I wondered if it was fair to ask that of him. But I knew that ultimately, if he wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice, I shouldn’t be willing to continue the relationship. In my heart, I knew my complaints were valid and he should want to improve the situation however possible, up to and including abstaining entirely from porn use. Without both his willingness and ability to change, the long-term life we were planning together was pointless. I simply couldn’t go on in our relationship without a dramatic change.

So he stopped using porn. And guess what? He started initiating sex a ton more, groped me on the couch during movies instead of pushing me away, was more vocal and generous in bed than he had ever been before. He also started complimenting me way more, even calling me sexy – something he never had before. He told me what he wanted in bed, and made a bigger effort than ever before to give me what I wanted. Things didn’t change overnight, but they changed dramatically in a matter of months, after years together. We still have a long way to go with our sex life, and I’m a long way from feeling confident enough to – gasp – watch porn together, though we have in the past, or see him openly ogle other women without getting upset, but enormous strides have been made. Due in such large part to him abstaining from porn.

Now, this is only my experience. I’m not saying that cutting porn out of your life is some magic bullet for fixing every relationship issue ever. But it sure as shit repaired a bunch of things about our relationship that were really dysfunctional. Deep-seated issues with pornography are rarely isolated to that topic – often they stem from other things, like a lack of communication surrounding sex and attraction in a relationship, for example. For me it was a complex cocktail that was as much about the secrecy, shame and selfishness surrounding it as the actual fact of it. I don’t doubt that two people in a relationship watching porn together could actually improve their sex life, or that porn could benefit them as individuals in various ways. None of that is wrong on any objective moral level. But porn isn’t always “no big deal.” Sometimes it really is a big deal. And sometimes, it isn’t wrong to make it go away for the sake of your relationship.

-/u/sea_warrior

Comments

  1. David says:

    Amazing, honest, victorious testimony! I appreciate the non-judgemental attitude you have in this testimony! I hope both of you are doing better as the days go by!…I wish you both happiness.

  2. Jon says:

    “None of that is wrong on any objective moral level. But porn isn’t always “no big deal.” Sometimes it really is a big deal. And sometimes, it isn’t wrong to make it go away for the sake of your relationship.”

    Very well put. Reading this from a woman’s perspective is eye-opening.

    Reading about how his recovery brought him closer to you is really inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Geezy says:

    what a great and inspiring testimony.
    and I agree that hearing it from a women is eye-opening.

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