Do I hang in there and hope my porn-addicted boyfriend changes?

Do I hang in there and hope my porn-addicted boyfriend changes?

I’ve been dating a guy for 11 months now who’s always been very open and honest with me about his porn watching habits. Basically, he’s been watching/masturbating to porn since he was in middle school (we’re now 30). In the beginning I thought it was great that he was honest and believed he was an occasional porn user. Now our relationship’s grown I’m realising he’s addicted. He watches 4-5 days a week, 1-4 hours throughout the day when he is away from me (we live in separate cities … about 2 hours away). He says he does it when he’s bored or stressed because it is ‘an easy mind-number’.

I’ve also found out he is making up fake profiles on dating websites to antagonize girls to send him tit pics. When we are out at the store or restaurant or even riding our bikes he blatantly ogles other females and has even said ‘damn’ or made smirky faces when he sees them right in front of me … like I am one of the guys. He has no filter.

He’s told me he will stop and he’ll do well for a couple of weeks then start it up again. He’s sneaky about it and I find out because he gets sloppy or feels guilty and let’s it slip what he’s been up to. The latest occurrence, he mentioned he has to decide what’s more important to him: me or the porn. He says this is a nasty habit that he is having a hard time breaking. I have mentioned that he should go to counseling but he says it won’t work because he has to be willing to make the change and talking to someone won’t make a difference.

We truly enjoy each other’s company and spend our weekends together. We text regularly and speak on the phone almost nightly. We have even talked about finding a place together and having one of us make the big move. I have given him numerous opportunities to make a change and I don’t want to give up on him. But if I continue to let him repeat this cycle, will he ever respect me? And can I ever trust him? 

He can see that it’s hurting me – and I’ve lost some self esteem and confidence because of it. Do I turn a blind eye in hopes he changes? Will this wane over time? Does he need to lose me in order to realise he has to fix it for the next girlfriend? (I can’t imagine there is a girl out there that would allow him to watch this much porn, ogle other girls on the street right in front of me, and allow him to text random girls and converse with them to get tit pics). Help, please! S

Whew, that is some serious monkey-spanking dedication right there. Your guy needs a new hobby or at the very least, some evening TV commitments. Seriously though, after 20-odd years of using porn sites as a crutch for boredom and stress it’s likely he’s worn a few seedy superhighways into his brain. Ask any sexpert about the neurological effects of too much porn – studies show it changes not only the reward centre in the brain (making addicts crave more), but it also changes sexual tastes (making addicts crave more and more hard-core stuff). Teenage brains are apparently particularly susceptible so it’s also not great he got hooked on it so young. While it’s noble that he’s honest about it and all, unless he wants to put in the hard work to change – and let’s not kid ourselves, he doesn’t – you’re pretty much up porn creek without a paddle.

But there are some far bigger concerns at play here. Fake profiles? Harassing other girls for ‘tit’ pictures? This isn’t just creepy deal-breaker territory – it’s borderline criminal. He’s a sex addict with zero boundary issues (let’s face it, most guys who’d openly perve on other women in front of their girlfriend and expect their girlfriend to join in (!) probably know they’re risking a karate-chop to the nuts). That you’ve worn any of this behaviour for a weekend, much less 11 months, is the biggest worry so I’m going to cut to the chase. This isn’t a 20-year marriage or even a long-term live-in relationship you might fight to save when a problem develops. In the case of your relationship, I can’t see it changing and I can’t see you trusting him ever. I do think you should give yourself a one-year anniversary gift: tell him instead of straining his brain deciding what’s more important – porn or you – you’re going to make it super easy on him by dumping his ass. I’d also do some work on your self-esteem going forward so if you’re ever faced with anything a smidgen comparable to this again, you don’t give two, three or four chances. You just think, ‘No. I deserve better’. Because you do.

Love, reality chick

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).

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