"My Lover Is Hooked on Porn"

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Whether you stay or leave, have compassion for your sweetheart. A raging addiction is agonizing; your subconscious brain screams that only ONE thing will relieve your misery (whether it's a beer, an orgasm, or ?) - and you must have it now, regardless of how destructive it is.

At the same time, if your partner is abusive due to porn use, and unwilling to heal his dependence, realize that you did not cause it, you cannot control it, and you cannot cure it. The first step is his, and you are not obliged to stick around until he takes that step. Often addicts can be helped best by hitting bottom as swiftly as possible. Your departure may help him awaken to what is actually going on in his life.

angelEither way, remember that your mate is not the person you see at the moment. He/she is wearing a disguise. Do your best to continue to love the person beneath that disguise. Understand that your mate's selfish behavior is driven by the brain's reward circuit. When lit up, this demanding, very single-minded, mechanism pushes us to do the things that ensured our survival as a species (one of which was mating, of course). Now do you see why it is so easy to get hooked on sexual stimulation? Your mate inherited a particularly successful evolutionary program for passing on genes - which has backfired.

Your mate may actually be an extremely spiritual person. As humans, our life force energy is both our spiritual fuel and our sex drive. Spiritual work stokes our inner fires, and when we innocently detour into erotic images, we can suddenly become very hooked on sex. Fortunately, once recovered, partners can make rapid progress.

"Angels" are often more susceptible to porn addiction than spiritually-sleepier people, in part because they're more likely to feel guilty. Unfortunately, guilt feelings actually make the addiction worse. It is very important not to use guilt to motivate someone to stop using porn. The more guilt, the more intense the cycle of highs and lows at a brain chemical level.

Support for Yourself

Regardless of the decisions that your mate makes, what positive, concrete steps can you take to improve your emotional situation? First, you can ask for divine assistance in resolving your challenge. Second, you can shift the way you think about the problem. Consider the Hawaiian healing technique called Ho'oponopono. See your mate's problem as your problem. While thinking of your mate, simply repeat to yourself over and over, "I'm sorry. I love you."

If meditatingnecessary, find support. Can you take a dance class, a meditation class, or a yoga class? Can you confide in a friend, or participate in the Forum at this site? (You always have the possibility of sending a private message to a member of the Forum. Click on the member's name, then on the profile page, and finally on 'send private message.') Can you go to counseling? Would it help to visit the support groups at these sex addiction websites?

If the situation is unbearable, can you move out of the house, even temporarily, to live at a parent's or a friend's house? This would give you a rest, and allow you to see the situation more calmly from a different angle. It may also allow your mate to see where his/her true source of emotional nourishment lies.

What Went Wrong?

The usual problem between couples is that their perception of each other gradually shifts for the worse due to conventional sex. That is, orgasm causes a drop in energy during the days and weeks following intense passion. Over time, it is this drop that lovers project on to each other - just as they projected the neurochemical highs at the beginning of their addiction to each other...and were sure they saw the perfect mate.

The drop after orgasm (see "Why Does A Lover Pull Away after Sex?) also gets projected onto each other. It shows up in the typical relationship as irritability, apathy, anxiety, nagging, selfishness, interest in porn or other lovers, and so forth. Over time, mates just don't look as good to each other, due to this problem. At base, the problem is that we project a sense of LACK (low dopamine) onto each other. If we feel drained as a result, we believe our partner is being overly demanding. If we feel needy as a result, we believe our partner is being selfish and uncaring. This drives couples apart...as you are experiencing.

Thanks to our evolutionary programming, porn and new lovers raise dopamine, which feels really good. So we are rewarded for finding new sources of sexual stimulation (whether people or images). What we humans haven't realized is that this is NATURAL. It is nature's way of moving us on to new partners...to increase the genetic variety of our offspring.

This behavior may be good for multiplying our species, but it's bad for us as individuals.

Perhaps the only solution for this problem is for couples to "reset" their subconscious feelings toward each other. Right now your mate associates you with feelings of depletion (at a deep level he/she may not be aware of).

energy flowTo shift the energy between you, you want to be sure he/she associates you instead with feelings of safety, increased energy, and "nourishment." This is why we recommend gentle, generous, non-erotic contact such as foot massages, head massages, and so forth.

It's best if you exchange this kind of affection with each other, but if he/she isn't yet interested, you can begin by simply giving generous affection of this type.1 Be generous with your affection, your smiles, your pampering, your touch. This may not be easy when your mate is seeing you as a body part. However, the only thing that can really nourish your mate is a sense of connectedness and safety. Your loving touch, selfless service to others, and spiritual work are the best sources of such nourishment.

Do not make your contact erotic - although it can be sensitive and even sensual. Erotic feelings are a problem because - for the moment - they are still associated with feeling drained afterward. Just make the contact selfless and nurturing. He/she needs at least two weeks of this type of exchange to soothe his/her nervous system. Maybe more. Then you may see some improvement, especially if you stick to sacred sex (non-orgasmic lovemaking) when you do finally add intercourse back into your lives.

This may seem like a giant step from where the two of you are at the moment, but it may be easier to make a radical change than to agree on a middle ground. Over two thousand years ago, Chinese Taoist master Lao Tzu observed that lovemaking without orgasm heals cravings. If you succeed in mastering this ancient skill, you may notice other improvements, too.

A Few More Thoughts

However insulted you may feel when you learn that your lover apparently prefers pictures of god-knows-what to YOU, remember that you are dealing with an addict. If your mate were an alcoholic and you served him/her a hand-squeezed lemonade made with tender loving care, and he/she sneaked a vodka instead, you would understand what was going on. The difference with porn is that it feels like competition.

Truth be told, your partner would prefer to find the images he/she is hooked on totally uninteresting. Unfortunately, the primitive part of his/her brain has temporarily been hijacked. Your compassion and correct nourishment can be a major factor in helping your mate regain control.

Whatever holding handshis/her primitive brain may be hooked on at the moment, the only thing that will actually nourish your mate is loving energy (safely supplied). You cannot satisfy him/her by catering to pornographic fantasies, you would only fan the flames of the addiction. Do your best to evade erotic encounters, while still sharing soothing touch. When you are both feeling balanced and centered, it's time to reintroduce intercourse.

You, too, may think you'd like to settle for a compromise of "normal" sex at some negotiated frequency, but you may have to discover a whole new approach instead. In fact, try something new first, if you can. Compromise does not work very well, because "normal" sex is potentially addictive. Your crisis may, in fact, be a springboard to a far better destination - one that allows you both to tap deeper satisfaction and greater harmony as a couple.

It's hard to recognize sexual addiction as a problem. After all, orgasm and masturbation are natural. However, alcohol is natural, too, and you don't help an alcoholic by giving him what will only make his cravings worse. He needs to balance his brain chemistry to restore his sense of well-being.

Be patient. This transition can take time. There is an ancient Indian practice that calls for a season of celibacy in order to shift from genital preoccupation to true emotional nourishment.

If your mate is too irritable to try a new approach immediately, begin by sending him/her loving energy.

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Special note to women

It is easier for men to value us correctly if we value ourselves for the right things. Be a "safe harbor" for your mate - a place that is nurturing, and where there is as little emotional friction as possible. Above all, be receptive and magnetic...but not deliberately enticing or arousing. This balance grows easier as he feels nurtured and calmer...and you tap your true female power. Think of yourself as a spring of clear, sparkling water. You cannot give him an unpolluted drink if you allow yourself to be used like a porn image.

The argument goddessthat "men are different from women" is both somewhat true, and somewhat irrelevant. In the world of porn, the biggest disadvantage men have is that they are extremely visual - and have for millennia chosen mates on that basis. In contrast, women often choose using their sense of smell. That is how a woman perceives that a potential mate has inherited different immunities from hers, which is very good for any offspring. Neither method, however, is ideal for choosing a compatible life companion.

Men's visual tendencies mean that visual images are more compelling, more visceral experiences, for them than for many women. However, when it comes to sexual discipline, this weakness may not matter so much. There are women who are just as easily addicted to orgasm as any man. And there are men who, despite very high libidos, have chosen to master their sexual energy with the aid of their partners, and found it to be very satisfying.

If you want to help your loved one, make his safe use of his sexual energy your top priority in your intimacy. Don't try to

  • please him, by agreeing to what will make his addiction worse, or
  • please yourself, by giving into those compelling urges coming from your own sexual center.

Instead do your best to raise the sexual energy through your bodies, and stabilize it. Breathe it up your spines, into the top of your heads, and then store it in your navel areas. This helps spread it throughout your bodies.

Good luck! A pornography crisis can lead to a vast improvement for you both. Your mate's rebellion may, in fact, move you from stagnation in your intimacy to a more creative solution (sacred sexuality) that nurtures both of you better, enhances your spiritual growth, and puts the sparkle back in your lives.

  • 1. We have developed a three-week program of nightly activities for couples who don't have time to think up their own. We call them the Ecstatic Exchanges, and they make up the second half of the book Peace Between the Sheets. Each Exchange consists of a pep talk, a "time out" exercise, and an activity to do together. To get an idea of the type of activities we included, visit the "Resources" page, where you will find a link called, "Exchange of the Day." Each time you refresh that page, a new exercise comes up at random.