I’ve seen a lot of articles as of late discussing porn from the perspective of the hurt partner. The viewpoints have been very enlightening and tend to follow a pattern of doing their best to support their significant other, married or otherwise, but sadly with a total lack of understanding. It is seriously appalling to me how little most of these women understand about addiction and porn considering how much it seems to have influenced their lives. I’d like to shine a little light on the subject.
I remain anonymous because it allows me to write more freely and honestly without the worry of being misjudged by family and friends. Here’s my story. When I was probably close to 13 I was browsing the internet, I came across an advertisement that had some sort of enticing text, I can’t remember what it said. I clicked it, not looking for porn and I didn’t find porn, but a gallery of women in bikinis. Unrealistically top heavy women that barely fit in their swimsuits. My mother walked in and emphasized how inappropriate the site was but that is where it started. I was aroused by pictures, that was the moment of weakness when my brain figured out that it could be aroused with images, I remember a feeling of guilt of having clicked something I shouldn’t have.
That did not necessarily lead to porn addiction but it did create some mental wanting, whether that would have been as strong as it would’ve had I never seen the bikini clad women I have no idea. The first time I saw porn I think it was an unwanted pop up part of some malware. Someone had accidentally downloaded or installed something that caused frequent pop ups trying to get people to go to porn sites. The first time it happened I saw and looked away, closing the window. I knew porn was bad, I knew I shouldn’t look. I had seen it though. It happened again. I told my parents there was something wrong with the computer, they had a tech come fix it. I honestly cannot remember when I began actually looking for porn, when the addiction was in full swing, I just know that when it started I wasn’t looking for it, it found me.
I don’t say that as an excuse for my own weakness. I have never done drugs, I have never said a swear word in front of anyone, I have never drunk alcohol or smoked and I went about 24 years without ever drinking caffeine, we’ll come back to that one. I don’t say that as a way to brag but as a way to point out that porn is unlike any other kind of addiction in that way. It’s based on an inherent weakness of the human mind. It is not a gender specific issue, though it may have started that way. It makes me incredibly sad that pornography is becoming an increasing problem for women as well. It was freshman year in high school when I saw porn for the first time. A good friend and I were in our first class, only 1 other kid there, he asked if we wanted to see something. Not thinking it would be porn, because who does that, we said sure and of course, he pulls out his wallet and it’s a naked woman on top of a car. We both looked away and sat down but we had seen it, we did not ask to see it or want to but if found us.
That is one of the most important things about porn that most women and older people don’t seem to understand. It used to be porn was limited to VHS tapes and magazines, however now it is in the wallets, calendars, phones, pamphlets, computers and the possibilities of where it could be are endless. It is no longer a matter of avoiding porn, or situations where there could be porn, but what to do when you see it, because you WILL see it even if you were very careful to avoid it. Thankfully that is beginning to become the new strategy in combating porn. Teaching young men and women how to react WHEN they see it instead of how to supposedly avoid it.
The road to full blown addiction is blurry, I don’t remember any particular time where it was worse or better for any particular reason. It eats away at your soul. I became fairly addicted, 4 times a week probably around 17 years of age. I remember getting a girlfriend, talking to my church leader about my problem and that helping some. At that time in my life however my girlfriend was enough. I got away from porn long enough to stop feeling the cravings, she saved me at the time. The relationship ended and I stayed porn free til about 22 years old. Not sure how I got started, but again, PORN FINDS YOU. I believe I had hit a bit of depression (another hugely misunderstood mental state), I was up late at night, unhappy and eventually I became addicted once again. I hated myself for it. I knew it was wrong, I tried to stop but the most I could seem to go was a few weeks without watching porn. I spiraled bad, disgusted with myself and hating who I was knowing that I could tell no one.
I spend a lot of time online, playing video games is a hobby of mine, much of my college work has required the use of the internet and much of my actual job involves using the internet and computer. Not using a computer is not really an option for me. I will not be able to make money without using the internet. I remember hitting a point in my life where I had been addicted for a few years and couldn’t even remember what it was like not to be an addict. I felt like a shell of my former self. Quitting felt impossible. I still hated myself for it though I was becoming more and more numb to the pain. I started having thoughts about it. That maybe it was just part of who I was, why would God create a mind so weak that it could be conquered and ruled by videos and images? I began to accept that perhaps porn was just part of who I was. I tried to date to help overcome my addiction. Unlike the first time it didn’t work. I just felt like I was cheating on the women I was dating and would end up breaking it off with them. The interesting thing for me is that it was less about the computer and more about the phone when it came to porn, it was always near me. Falling to sleep was so much easier if I just watched some porn before bed.
That, that is the hardest part of addiction. When you’re trying to quit, the first day or 2 are usually not too bad. I would have a few cravings but overall I could pretty easily overcome them. After a week or so I would have an especially bad craving and after a week and a half it would be so bad that literally 9 hours straight I would fight against myself, the urge to look at porn would be insane. It was all I could think about, wanting to look at porn. My mind would keep saying over an over that’s all I needed and all this stress would go away. Imagine sitting in a buffet feeling like you are dying of hunger, you know the only way to overcome your hunger pains in the long run is to not eat any of the food but you’re SURROUNDED by food, the sights and smells. In your mind you know that all the hunger would go away RIGHT NOW if you just ate one small plate. The temptation for porn is even worse than that. I have become so much more loving and understanding of people who suffer drug and other addictions having had an addiction of my own. I literally did not understand what it was like. I have had addictions to other things, video games, soda, and many others have had those same cravings. That said, none of it compares to porn. So, if you have never been addicted to hard drugs, if you have never been addicted to porn, then please do not pretend to understand because I promise you that you do not understand and you should thank God that you do not. Addicts need your love, not your solutions or empathy.
My recovery was a very long process, I had nearly given up. I went in once again to my church leader. He offered the same recommendations as all the others. Most somewhat useless but a few things do help. I will say this, if you can make it past that really bad craving, the one that seems impossible, it may last up to 2 days, or so did for me, if you can make it through that it becomes so much easier. I began to thank God every day that I didn’t look at porn, it not only helped me stay closer to God but it also helps me keep track of how long I’ve gone without it. Looking for signs of depression or situations where I might be weak are another important step. Being mentally exhausted is a tough spot for me. It is almost impossible for me to sleep unless I am completely mentally exhausted but that is also the time I’m most vulnerable to being tempted to look at porn. The road to recovery is hard. Many say once an addict always an addict. It’s tough to have that mentality and still feel good about yourself. It’s hard not to think, I beat this, I’m better now. I think there’s some middle ground there where you can move past who you were and still keep in mind that you could be vulnerable in the future.
When it comes to those who have dealt with a loved one that is or was addicted to porn at some point, I never wanted to talk about it. I don’t need or want notes reminding me in any way that it happened. I don’t need anyone else’s approval but God’s. I don’t mean to be rude in saying that but I don’t care what you think about me, and I sure as hell don’t need to be reminded of my mistakes even in a supposedly ‘positive’ way. Through the addiction I’ve learned to see people for who they are and not what they were or what they’ve done. That’s not an excuse to others for my own behavior and not avoiding owning up to my mistakes. It’s how God lives his life. God forgives and forgets, it’s as though nothing had happened if you truly repent. Who are you to remember my past sins and hold it against me? Are you a greater judge than God? No, and that’s ok, all we need is love people.
That said, I do have some recommendations for women who are in a relationship with a man addicted to porn. If you are married, I don’t really know what to tell you, that is going to be a very tough time that I hope you will be able to overcome. If you are dating a man, or woman I guess, who is addicted and things are becoming serious. Give them a chance perhaps, but if they aren’t able to break the habit in a few months you should probably look elsewhere. I could not live with myself dating someone while addicted to porn and having had a friend on the other end of that your relationship will have a lot of problems if you continue while one of you is addicted. Sometimes it just takes time to break the habit, but that’s not something you need to suffer through with your addicted partner. You deserve better. As an ending piece I would just like to say it is wholly inappropriate to ask a date or girlfriend/boyfriend if they’ve ever seen/looked at porn. I am positive that 99% of men my age have seen porn, it’s unavoidable. The right question, which I do recommend you ask eventually is, do you look at porn? It is important not to judge someone for their past but also not to get into a situation in the present.