Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

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?

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi

Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh

With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook

‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali

Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.

Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent

Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art

Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs

Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox

Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole

Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part

Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper

Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s

Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach

Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.

Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead

Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee

Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power

The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced