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Porn & Dating: Should we break up?

I am aware that many women struggle with pornography addiction as well as men. It just so happens I have only lived life as a man and therefore only feel able to speak from that perspective. I use strong descriptions and harsh language throughout to address the seriousness of the issue. I do want to first state that there is a decision that must be made to flee from pornography but the decision to become addicted is not usually so simple. I feel deep empathy for those caught up in the web of sexual addiction. Society has normalized pornography use to the point of convincing literal children it is justified before they have any grasp on what they are messing with. These situations wreak havoc on adolescent developing brains specifically and make for a painful recovery. This is to say that it is understandable that so many people would be addicted to porn, the media has made it “natural”, and it could not be more easily accessed. Children are unknowingly stumbling into sexual addictions as parents buy handheld computers for them without placing protective measures and allow kids to have televisions behind the closed doors of their bedrooms. All the while never addressing any subject in relation to sex or pornography. With that said, the circumstances do not justify the actions. It is still essential to fight for our lives against the corruptive nature of the porn industry and its sexual corruption. 

Here is the only dating advice you’ll ever need about porn: 

First, ask your boyfriend (or soon to be boyfriend) early on about porn. As awkward as it sounds it is necessary, and odds are he is, or has interacted with it. Just find an opportunity and be blunt. “So, this may be uncomfortable, but what’s your perspective on pornography?” or “What’s your experience with porn?” Something along those lines, the discussion isn’t worth avoiding. 

There are four possible outcomes of this conversation:

1- Honest response of no struggle with porn.

What a place to start. This is most likely a man worth investing some extra time in getting to know. 

2- Dishonest response of no struggle with porn.

This is going to get the relationship off to a great start. However, at the point when the lies start to unravel, things will implode. It will be disastrous and painful but it will be time for you to go. If a man has told you he has no issues with porn and later reveals the opposite, leave him. You may love him sincerely but he has shown you there is no room for trust in the relationship. You need to leave him, not to show him he is a bad man, we are all broken, but to show him he needs to take this seriously and make a change. Don’t stay to help him, you will most likely delay his steps towards freedom. If you stay he won’t recognize how necessary transformation really is. Realize you are making a painful choice to tremendously bless his future wife, which may or may not be yourself.   

3- Casual porn user.

If he laughs at these questions, disappointing, but fortunate for you for asking early. You know there is no reason to further invest yourself. If he states “it’s just what boys do”, run. Better yet sprint! Do not let any man even begin to convince you that porn is a fact of life. You will be emotionally hurt, manipulated, and likely used as an object in his misguided, unending, quest for pleasure. It is not a surprise when a boy takes advantage of others for his benefit. You don’t want to be misused by a boy. You want to marry a man. 

4- Porn addict, wants to escape.

This requires a further split into two categories: 

A- Simply stating he knows he needs help.

B- Has been actively seeking and receiving, guidance, counseling, and support from professionals and strong Godly men in his life.

For option A; at least he is aware, but words without action are all but meaningless. Love is a verb. It requires movement and energy. If I say “I am thirsty”, and you say “let me get you some water”, but don’t stand up, I only get more dehydrated. I don’t think “wow what an incredible friend for offering”. We often find it more difficult to care for ourselves than for others. Such as encouraging others to rest an injury, visit a doctor regularly, make sure to get more sleep; all the while knowingly unable to act out our own advice. Carrying on this analogy, when a relationship becomes threatened by my actions, the need to change becomes obvious when it will impact a loved one, in comparison to simply helping out myself. If someone is addicted to porn and not taking tangible steps to break free, remaining with them is more than likely feeding the addiction. We are constantly progressing or regressing in all aspects of life, not just staying stagnant. Remaining in a relationship with someone in this position is giving them “the best of both worlds”. The confidence that the relationship is unshakeable along with the ability to give in rather quickly when they are struck with temptation. We are not meant to fix, or be the salvation of other humans. You may just have the burden of showing him the true weight of the situation. A burden to break off the relation as a means of blessing him by shortening his path to freedom.   

With regard to option B; this is a tough situation. So many men fall victim to the confines of pornography. The first step to being freed, as with all addiction, is acknowledgement. Evil thrives in the dark, but is suffocated in the light. Once the first step has been taken, there are likely years of fighting ahead in order to escape. The brain must be convinced that it is wrong in the idea that those images which award incomparable pleasure, are not actually a necessity for life. Gary Wilson, in his book Your Brain on Porn explains that your brain does not understand what porn is or even that it is fake. Your brain’s only understanding is that it has hit the genetic jackpot. Wilson explains; “Your brain now believes that IT – in this case, internet porn use – is an important goal, and equates it with your survival”. If this is the lie that has been bought since adolescence began, it will be incredibly difficult to overcome. Certainly not impossible, but likely the most difficult battle of a man’s life. 

Now is the time to honestly assess where the man is in his journey to overcoming addiction. I’ve heard it said in my own experience with counseling on this subject that there is a massive difference between the man walking the road and tripping in the mud only to get up quickly and continue on; versus the man who falls in the mud and feels content to roll around in it awhile. Returning to habits should not be expected, but it shouldn’t be a massive surprise either. To help prevent further relapses, prohibitive measures should be placed on all devices. If you don’t want to eat excessive amounts of candy, you don’t keep it in the house. Progress is measured by the openness a man is willing to give about his struggles. The willingness to discuss temptations before they even happen and certainly after experiencing them. Before they happen by having accountability set up with trusted friends and recognizing difficult situations before they occur. You can and should be part of his accountability group, but certainly cannot be the only member. Also undergoing counseling in group or one on one settings is going to be a necessity in most cases. Pornography is too pervasive in our minds and easily accessible by our hands to be managed under ones own strength, or lack thereof. In the brilliant words of C.S. Lewis,

“No man knows how bad he is ‘till he has tried very hard to be good […] Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is”. 

There is a lot of grey area in such a situation. Ensure a man is well into the recovery journey before joining him on his path to freedom. Incredible pain is in store otherwise, and truth be told, likely no matter what. Pornography is adultery. There is no space for it within a truly loving relationship. Mercy and forgiveness are essential to our relationships but do not prevent the deep wounds of a partner going to someone else and leaving you feeling you are not enough. It may be worth entering a relationship with someone you know has struggled with porn. Just be careful. Ensure open lines of communication. If he is frustrated by your desire to continually ask about it, he is not ready for commitment. Establish guidelines, for example; if he views porn twice in a week you will take a break for a certain period then re-address the situation. There is no one size fits all solution, the important part is continual progress toward victory over pornography. If it is ever discovered he has been dishonest with you, hidden a return to porn, tried to downplay it, drop it there, he isn’t ready. You would only be condemning yourself to emotional torture. 

One final disastrous lie that must be addressed is the idea that you must provide sexual release for your boyfriend at all. To reiterate an earlier statement, going to porn willingly is the mark of a boy, not a man. Similarly, masturbation is selfishness. It is an act of taking something that has not been earned. Sexual release is not a requirement for life. It is an action meant to connect a husband and wife down to the soul level. Not to bind your soul to a screen. Marriage is the only medium capable of managing such deep connection. Stealing that connection before the commitment and work of marriage is not a mark of manhood. 

This means it certainly does not become your job to fulfill his desires. Sending naked pictures of yourself is demeaning to your true worth. You are beautiful and valuable not because of what you have available to bring momentary pleasure to an addicted, selfish, manipulative child. Never feel you must fulfill your duty of providing physical pleasures either, in order to prevent him from viewing porn. If that is the case you are being emotionally and physically abused and need to free yourself. You are a child of God, a glorious creation worthy of the wait to enjoy the richness of marriage. 

All of this is to say that women have the opportunity to help men grow. The ability to establish the way women deserve to be treated and that pornography has no space in that agreement. A marriage cannot survive when riddled with adultery. There are men who have struggled and overcome or are on a direct path to overcoming the stranglehold of porn. If you join such a man on that path, take the above information seriously, love him deeply and sincerely, extend forgiveness to a point (a conversation for another time is necessary to address porn within the covenant marriage). Whatever you do, do not enable him. Ensure your understanding of porns wickedness, that you may be free to develop a loving relationship and marriage. One day the two of you may have the opportunity to teach your own young boys and girls how to genuinely love a fellow human. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically. 

– Josh

Encouragement

CATEGORY

6/23/2020

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Porn & Dating: Should we break up?

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