Sex After Battling Porn Addiction

Dr R. Y. Langham

Dec 04, 2021

“Porn use” has gained in popularity over the past 10 years. And, with COVID-19 keeping people “holed up,” porn has become a regular commodity in some homes. Humans need social interaction, so being prohibited or restricted from being around others can trigger depression, anxiety, and/or boredom. And, depression, anxiety, and/or boredom can re-trigger “porn use” or cause porn addiction withdrawal symptoms in people, who have a history of “porn use.”

The problem is “porn use” can quickly spiral out of control, leading to a full-blown porn addiction. Think of porn addiction as a “gateway drug” only the “drug” is porn instead of illegal substances. Porn addiction could also lead to sex addiction or compulsive cyber-sex behaviors. The truth is porn addiction can cause a lot of damage. It’s powerful. It can break up families, devastate your health and well-being, lead to job loss, and cause you to doubt yourself.

Porn addiction can take over your life, making it difficult for you to break free from it. It can wreak havoc on your sex life – even after you have “healed” from it. Moreover, porn addiction can alter your desire to be intimate or have sex with your partner. So, what if your “porn habit” isn’t out of control right now, but you still occasionally look at porn? What does that mean? It means you are having a porn addiction relapse.

The truth is porn has decimated your sex life, making sex with your partner feel dull and uninspired. So, what do you do? You decide that a clever way to “spice up” your sex life is to watch porn with your partner. You’ve battled porn addiction, so you think you know your limitations. But do you? You broach the topic and are immediately shot down. No way! You become irritated because your partner won’t even consider your request. You are frustrated and your partner is hurt.

But what if your partner agrees to look at porn with you… Is he or she only doing it for your sake? Maybe, he or she is going along with your suggestion out of fear of losing you. Perhaps, your partner is not happy but is too afraid to tell you. Then, there is a slim possibility that your partner may be fully on board with the porn-watching, because he or she wants to try something different – even if that something is porn.

Perhaps, your partner realizes that you’re spiraling into another porn addiction, but feels powerless to stop it. Or, maybe he or she is so desperate to please you, that he or she is willing to try anything to connect with you – even if the thing that connects you (porn) damages your sex life even further.

Understand that porn addiction involves a constant, unending urge to satisfy a sexual compulsion. It is an urge that never completely goes away. Porn is always lurking, looking for a way to take over your life…again. Fortunately, porn addiction can be managed and “cured” to some extent, but there is always a risk of relapse. And, once a relapse occurs, a nasty cycle of porn and neglect begins again.

So, yes, people, who have battled a porn addiction, can still have problems in the bedroom. This can stem from residual feelings from the porn addiction – feelings like shame, guilt, resentment, and/or distrust. Just because you recover from a porn addiction doesn’t mean those feelings simply disappear. For many recovering porn addicts and their partners, those feelings remain.

Although most porn addicts are aware of the damage their “habits” can do – i.e., destroying relationships and sex lives, they simply do not care. Or, they do not care enough to try to stop the behavior. They also do not care about the long-term effects of their porn addiction. That is why it is important to seek porn addiction help if your sex life has taken a “hit” from your previous porn addiction.

A porn addiction recovery program that involves therapy, support group meetings, lifestyle changes, couples counseling, and/or sex therapy can help you grow closer to your partner – in and out of the bedroom. Although rebuilding your sex life after battling porn addiction isn’t easy, it’s definitely possible – with the right tools.

Could My Previous Porn Addiction Damage My Romantic Relationship?

Absolutely.

 

Your “porn habit” could ruin your romantic relationship, especially if you keep your partner in the dark about it. If your partner discovers that you once had a “porn habit” – one that you deliberately didn’t expose, it could cause mistrust and a feeling of betrayal – two emotions that can destroy a relationship or marriage – even after you have conquered your addiction. It is easy for a recovering porn addict to say that he or she didn’t cheat because it was on a screen or in a magazine, but for many “porn-free” partners, it can feel like cheating, regardless of the platform. This can hurt your relationship and sex life long after you’ve won your war against porn.

It is common for porn addicts to tell themselves that “viewing porn” is not cheating to make themselves feel better. But even though, “porn users” are not technically having sex with the people on the screen or in the magazines, it is still a form of cheating. Because, the intention of porn is to become aroused, masturbate to, or fantasize about someone other than your partner.

Porn can affect how your partner feels about you long after you have stopped engaging in the activity. And, if your partner feels betrayed or no longer trusts you because of your previous “porn habit,” he or she is less likely to want to have sex with you. To you, viewing porn may have been a “meaningless activity,” but to your partner, it may have felt like an affair.

Thus, your previous porn addiction may have caused your partner to feel neglected, abandoned, inadequate, disrespected, embarrassed, ashamed, sad, angry, and confused, leading to a breakdown in trust, confidence, and a desire to have sex.

So even if you are in the recovery stage of your porn addiction, previous emotions may linger long after you become completely free of porn. It’s hard to push away hurt feelings, and it is hard to be completely intimate with someone, who has hurt you. So, there is a chance that your relationship and sex life will be vastly different after battling porn addiction.

How can you save your relationship and sex life, while trying to maintain your “sexual sobriety?”

Well, you can talk to your partner about what you experienced, how you felt, and what you need and want to feel fulfilled in your relationship. And, if you are experiencing a porn addiction relapse, be honest with yourself and your partner about what is causing it. Talk to each other about how porn has affected your self-esteem, finances, relationship, sex life, behavior, emotions, etc. Ultimately, the key to maintaining or even improving your sex life (after a porn addiction) is being open and honest with your partner.

Could My Previous “Porn Habit” Destroy My Sex Life?

Possibly…

Porn is thrilling. It’s different, fun, exciting – and anonymous. Porn delves into your most taboo and daring sexual fantasies. Anything you’ve ever thought about or wanted to do, sexually, is right there in front of you. But, although porn may get your “sexual juices” flowing, it could have the opposite effect on your partner.

It could alter your partner’s desire to be intimate or have sex with you. And, it could change your perception of “good sex.” Perhaps, your partner is unable to perform the sexual positions demonstrated in the images, videos, and movies, causing you to lose interest in having sex with him or her – not on purpose, but because you’ve developed unrealistic expectations from viewing porn.

Porn can also negatively affect your sexual performance. In other words, if you become too invested in what you see on porn sites, it could lead to long-term sexual dysfunction – i.e., porn-induced erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation (PE), low sex drive, and/or performance anxiety. Porn sets up impractical expectations. Because these expectations are nearly impossible to meet, they can trigger porn-induced impotence long after you have stopped viewing porn.

These illogical expectations may also affect how you “see” sex with your real-life partner. In other words, you may expect your partner to behave like a porn star when it’s simply not possible. As a result, real-life sex may feel tiresome and unoriginal, causing you to lose interest in sex. And, prompting you to wonder where this “disinterest” is coming from – not realizing that it stems from your previous porn addiction. Therefore, the only way you can truly restore your sex life is by seeking porn addiction help.

How Can a Porn Addiction Harm Your Sex Life?

A common myth about porn is that it enhances sexual intimacy. However, that is not always the case. Research suggests that “porn use” can cause people to experience reduced sexual satisfaction. And, multiple studies indicate that “porn use” can lead to porn-induced erectile dysfunction (ED) in young adult men.

And, according to researchers, married men, who view porn regularly, are more likely to have multiple affairs, be less attracted to their wives, and be disinterested in having “sexual relations” or being physically intimate with their spouses. Moreover, a 2008 study found that women, who view porn regularly, not only have a more negative perception of their bodies but also have sex less often than “porn-free” women.

Case Studies

Andra

Andra Day, a Golden Globe winner, Oscar nominee, and Grammy-nominated singer, 36, opened up about her past struggles with porn and sex addictions in InStyle magazine. Day shared how playing Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday helped her embrace her femininity and sexuality after grappling with addiction.

Day admitted that she “didn’t want any element of sexualization” when portraying Holiday, who constantly dealt with objectification and hyper-sexualization in a male-dominated jazz environment. Day’s hesitation stemmed from her own bouts with addiction.

“I had come out of something in my own life — dealing with porn addiction, sex addiction,” Day said. “I’m being very, very candid with you because I’m not the only one. But I knew I wanted all of that very much gone.”

However, once Day finished filming, she realized playing Holiday transformed her own ideas of beauty and sexuality.

“I feel now, after playing Billie, that I’m honoring her, and the strength that is femininity. I’m definitely in a healthier place to enjoy that because I’m outside of my addictions if you will. So, yeah, it’s been really fun because it’s been very new for me.”

Sam

One week before Sam’s wedding, he walked into a convenience store telling himself that it would be the last time he would ever use porn again. Sam, an active Catholic, had been using porn since junior high but thought he wouldn’t “need” it after getting married. After all, his bride, Beth, was gorgeous, smart, athletic, and faithful. She was his best friend.

Sadly, the first several years of their marriage were filled with heartache, loneliness, and broken trust due to Sam’s “porn use.” Beth and Sam sought porn addiction help with multiple counselors and priests, however, it was the early 2000 and most people didn’t know how to help them. However, by God’s grace, they found one of the best counseling centers specializing in porn addiction in the US.

Sam and Beth received porn addiction help by spending several years in marital counseling, attending support groups, and rebuilding the trust and intimacy currently missing from their marriage. And, for the first time in Sam’s life, he was able to find hope, healing, and sobriety. Then, their marriage began to “heal.”

Mandy & Craig

For Mandy, improving sexual intimacy and rebuilding trust after her husband’s porn addiction was not an easy task.

She wanted to leave her husband, but she stayed.

“I stayed – even though I felt defeated because I was terrified of losing him. I felt like I needed to remind my husband that I was still there – still worthwhile – still able to enchant and satisfy him. Maybe, I stayed because I needed a way to reaffirm that I was his wife – a way to remind myself not to give up. To keep trying.”

Every time, Mandy caught her husband, Jake, looking at porn, she would go through this terrible cycle of shame and self-blame. She would become an emotional mess. But she could feel her husband’s remorseful heart and her iciness would melt. Mandy’s anger would recede and she would try to show him how devoted she was to him.

Each time, she would tell him that she would try to forgive him – and move on. Then, the couple would have sex – but it wasn’t good sex. It was “tainted sex.” Why? Because Mandy believed that sex was an extension of the vows they made to each other on their wedding day – vows to love, honor, and cherish each other forever. And, Jake had broken those vows.

In Mandy’s mind, sex wasn’t just a “physical act” or “activity,” it was a way for them to connect on a deeper, more spiritual level. Sex was her way of “offering” herself, emotionally and physically, to him – forever. Little did she know that her wedding day “offering” would one day be clothed in fear, distrust, shame, guilt, and uncertainty, instead of love, affection, respect, and loyalty.

“Healing” was a lengthy process for Mandy and Jake. It would take time to become intimate with each other again. Mandy believed that she would one day fully trust Jake with her body, however, she was unsure if or when she would trust him with her heart – at least not without porn addiction treatment.

The truth is not every person reacts the same way to her partner’s porn addiction. Some people withdraw emotionally (but not sexually) from their partners. Other people withdraw sexually (but not emotionally) from their partners. These individuals no longer desire physical intimacy or sex with their partners. These individuals view their partner’s “porn use” as a betrayal (digital cheating). And, still, some people, like Mandy, are unable to truly connect with their partners on any level – emotionally or physically. These individuals may have sex, but it’s not healthy sex. It’s “habitual sex“.

Mandy wondered how she could become physically intimate with Jake when she was not sure she could trust him. How could she fully “give herself” to him with the threat of betrayal lurking on a screen in another room? How could she be physically intimate with her husband knowing he could be comparing her to what he was seeing on a screen? And, how could she address her feelings and move past Jake’s previous porn addiction, so they could both reclaim their sexual prowess.

Mandy knew she could not fix their relationship and sex life alone. She was too broken. She was carrying heavy “baggage” consisting of shame, guilt, embarrassment, anger, and fear – all of which was connected to Jake’s “porn use.” These emotions prevented Mandy and Jake from reconnecting on a deeper level. It was getting to the point where every time Jake wanted to have sex, Mandy declined. She just could not go there with him anymore. She loved Jake, but she was lost and hurt.

Jake explained to Mandy that he turned to porn because he felt inadequate in the relationship. In other words, he felt like he was not emotionally or physically satisfying her, which “messed” with his self-esteem and self-confidence. Jake was afraid that Mandy would eventually leave him because he could not make her happy. Porn allowed him to “brush off” his fear of losing Mandy. Jake never considered that his previous porn addiction would or could negatively affect his relationship and sex life in the future. But it did.

Jake sought porn addiction help again, which helped improve his sex life and rebuild trust in the relationship. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) taught Jake that he needed to share his concerns with Mandy – tell her how he is feeling and what he is thinking, so they could work on any issues together. Porn addiction treatment (i.e., CBT and ACT) helped Jake recover from his porn addiction, while couples therapy helped him and Mandy work on restoring their relationship and re-energizing their sex life.

The good news is porn recovery programs, like Stop Together, anti-porn blocking tools, and porn addiction support groups can help a couple “heal” from a “porn habit” so both individuals can experience an emotionally and sexually satisfying relationship.

How Can I Prevent My Previous “Porn Use” from Wreaking Havoc on My Current Sex Life?

You can invest in a porn recovery program, like Stop Together. What is Stop Together? Stop Together is an online porn recovery program designed to help you “quit” porn for good. This online program uses anti-porn tools, such as education, CBT, mindfulness, acceptance, and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive restructuring and reframing, articles, expert advice, etc., so you can recapture your sex life.

In as little as 8 weeks, you could have a healthy sex life. How is that possible? Well, Stop Together provides porn addiction support for you after battling porn addiction. In fact, about 97% of our Stop Together members experienced a decline in “porn use,” along with better sex upon completing the program. So, not only is this program convenient, but it is also affordable and effective in various aspects of your life!