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Living with a porn addict

It's not a question of morality, says Asha Anderson, but porn does affect lives and destroys relationships

January 21, 2008
5 min read

I have been reading the pro and anti-porn debates with mixed feelings. Putting aside the morality, I am going to talk about the reality from a personal viewpoint.

My first experience of porn was when my sister and I, aged nine and 11 years respectively, went hunting for hidden treasures in our loft. Among boxes of old VHS cassettes, we found one cryptically marked XXX. It intrigued us.

I can still clearly recall the opening scene – a transvestite French maid getting a blowjob. Did it affect my young mind? Well, I can still feel the purity of my shock in that moment … unaware that the shock I had experienced as a child would return when I married. By then I had grown up into a feminist not afraid to question the raunch culture rooting itself in our society.

Post-honeymoon, we were just settling into regular married life. I know I’m not the first woman to suddenly unearth her partner’s porn habit, but it’s just like infidelity, you know you’re not the first but that doesn’t make the hurt any less.

Lust in space

I’d noticed lots of viruses present on my partner’s laptop, so he bought a software program to eliminate them, asking me to check how it was running. In the classic ‘to my horror’ cliché, I noticed it deleting in nanoseconds hundred and hundreds of porn websites – words flashing by – cheap, pussy, anal, cum, cheap, smut, urbancandy, bootyhunters, big breasts, blondes, Asian teens. It’s a serious headfuck when you’ve got hundreds of links wiping out before your eyes yet permanently branded on your psyche.

I let it go that day, or tried to, but I soon found myself stalking his cyber movements. My husband wasn’t too keen on morning sex. In the mornings I would hear him switch on the computer before he went to the bathroom. I even walked in on him once and caught him wanking into the sink. At night he would switch it on again before joining me in bed. The unpalatable truth was he needed virtual hardcore stimulation before he did it with me.

Before the libertarian brigade attacks me for my lack of sexual initiative let me inform you I never lingered on initiating – we were newlyweds! I dressed up, role-played and shared fantasies. I am an unrepressed, secure and pretty young woman. Until now. I found myself wondering whether he preferred the porno plastic lip and tit dolls to me. Was I not enough? A thought that I’d never had before.

Most mornings, most nights, the familiar sound of the computer switched on. I checked its history every day and found the lists of websites that got him off. I even discovered an account for unlimited rear-end access to the site owner’s bottomless charms. I found myself comparing my beauty to theirs, but luckily it hadn’t affected my self-esteem or so I thought. There was an increasing insecurity about my sexuality…having been a late starter was I a non-starter? Hard to believe since I never subscribed to the notion that quantity of sex equals quality of sex. We had super sex…or did we? I know he had many lovers before me so maybe he was missing something?

Soon after I confronted him and expecting remorse, apologies, a sensitive response, I got annoyed denial. After telling him I had evidence, I got sarcasm ‘Well haven’t I seen a website with your name on it?’, ‘It’s for ‘stress release’ and ‘All men do it.’ But he did promise to stop. Only he didn’t.

First the secret and now the lies

Did our relationship suffer? Yes. I found myself resentful, insecure and disgusted at him. The stuff he looked at was misogynistic in tone, which didn’t help. I found myself fucking more because ‘making love’ is a fantasy. Women were mere submissive orifices, reduced from a whole to a hole. So I took control back by fucking.

I also made an effort to dress sexier to reassert myself and rein in creeping insecurities. I experimented with porn and surfed women’s porn online. Sure, I was titillated but that my sexuality was being dictated by sterile stuff of Barbara Cartland novels ultimately turned me off not on. ‘If you can’t beat them join them’ strategy wasn’t working, I just got bored.

Since then we’ve only discussed it seriously at an introductory counselling session. He casually explained it away as a normal male drive that I’m obsessing about. The counsellor informed us that many couples seek therapy about their partner’s porn habits so its affect shouldn’t be underestimated. To date the history on his computer is on auto-clear so I can’t even monitor it now. Twisted relief. He knows that I know that he’s still doing it. Just, I don’t have the evidence; well I am married to a lawyer.

That’s my experience of porn. We have ‘made love’ since, although my initiation and confidence has been affected. I try to blot it out because despite it all I feel he loves me…But not enough to stop? These kind of destructive thoughts don’t stop.

I know it’s an addiction but I am living with it. Should I fight to get him deprogrammed or do I ignore it like an understanding Stepford wife? One of only two choices …

Or should I leave?

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