Here’s a couple of questions for anyone in a committed relationship consuming porn. N.B. this is not a post with intent to provoke shame rather one that I hope might encourage users to think beyond the obvious.
Q. Is your partner fully aware of what you’re doing—have you casually shared with them that you have viewed porn in the past, maybe occasionally, perhaps more often… you might have even admitted to struggling with it, you’ve “confessed”, that’s an awesome start but is it enough? Q. Is that the whole context of your admission and conversation around the issue? Q. Does your partner know the true extent of your usage and the depth of struggle or compulsivity?
Q. Do you disclose when you watch—before you watch? Q. Do you tell them after? Q. Do you tell them what kind of porn you watch and how often you watch? Q. Do they know if and how you pleasure yourself whilst or after viewing? Q. Are they OK with it, are you both in agreement with what is and isn’t permissible for the partnership?
Q. If they are aware, do you have shared guidelines, expectations and safety rails around the activity or is this kind of a grey area? Q. Are the boundaries clearly defined or fuzzy and ambiguous? Q. Do you assume what you think is acceptable for your partner know?
Q. Have you discussed and mutually consented that this is good for your relationship? If it’s a resolute yes and you’re both on the same page, then apart from everything science and neurobiology tell us about the impact of porn on our brains, one would assume that you are both making informed choices for yourselves and the relationship. Good for you, that’s your right as consenting adults!
Q. If your partner isn’t fully aware of your secret pastimes, why haven’t you let them in? Q. Why are you keeping this from them? Q. Do you think that they would be hurt if they knew what you’re doing behind their back, in secrecy? Q. Are you not telling them because you don’t want to hurt them or because you want to protect your secret? I can promise you, it’s not the truth telling part that damages your partner, it is the hidden secret behaviours, THE ONES THAT YOU KNOW ARE OUTSIDE OF YOUR COVENANT RELATIONAL WALLS. Perhaps it’s not something that you really want to or are able to stop even though you keep telling yourself that you can. N.B. Genuine remorse that results in transformation—is not repent and repeat…
Let’s go a bit further with my simplistic thought process…
If you were to push, slap or hit your partner I’m pretty sure you’d know that would really hurt them, right? This would be called physical abuse and you may be charged with assault. If you were to continue with this physical abuse, you’d be labelled as abusive and an abuser. Your partner would be the victim of your abuse and you would be the perpetrator.
Here’s my simplistic take on a highly controversial topic—If you are continuing to use pornography “secretly”, pleasuring yourself without your partners knowledge, knowing full well that doing so causes them deep emotional pain and disconnection, does that make you an abuser? If you continue to act out regardless of how devastated your significant other would be IF they knew, then yes, I’d say this sits in the abusive behaviour category and your secretive past times are compromising your partners emotional safety and stability. I’m not saying that you began with intent to harm your partner but in essence it is the result…
When their hearts are profoundly wounded by your deliberate and ongoing actions—their ability to choose what is and isn’t acceptable for them in the partnership is overruled by your withholding important information—I’m calling it emotional abuse and coercive control! PERIOD!
Then there’s the question of how you show up during physical intimacy, are you fully present, emotionally intimate and tender-hearted or does your brain get hijacked by images that have been burned into your neural pathways? Is your mindset pornified? Does your partner become an object to be used for your own selfish sexual gratification?
You might read this and think “What’s the big deal?” “What a load of rubbish”. My challenge to you is be honest with yourself, get curious and ask yourself, “If this is no big deal then why am I not having these conversations with my partner? Who or what am I really protecting?”
If you believe that what they don’t know won’t hurt them—I can promise you—what they don’t know IS hurting them. Please—choose courage over comfort and do the right thing. Healing and recovery is possible, you don’t have to do it alone, please be brave, take the first step and reach out for support.
White knuckling doesn’t cut it and doesn’t equal freedom!
Noni & Dave