By Josh Gilman:
Short answer: “yes”. Now before you, or your boyfriend, start throwing things at me, let me clarify.
I’m not talking about a guy who has seen pornography. I’m not talking about a guy who was addicted years ago. I am talking about the guy that is a slave to his craving for pornography. (And yes, this goes for the guy who “could stop watching anytime I wanted to.” In that case: prove it).
Also, yes, many girls are addicted as well, and their boyfriends need to wrestle with this question. But in order to keep this article a readable length, I’m keeping it to a more narrow focus because this is a question we get from a lot more girls than guys.
For those who are in the midst of their journey out of a life controlled by porn, the conversation is obviously more nuanced. For now, I am only talking to the girl whose boyfriend is addicted. Or was, as of yesterday.
While you may have read a lot of good articles about dealing with a porn-addicted partner, the majority that you have read is aimed at wives. I would caution against treating your dating relationship as a marriage. It isn’t. You can break up, walk away, even get back together without too much fuss and bother.
All that is just introduction to state this:
It is almost always wiser to break up in a dating relationship where pornography is a factor.
The simple logic is, it would be unwise to marry a man who is addicted to porn, so seeing as he would have to be free in order to marry him, then it would probably be wiser to wait until he is free to continue a relationship with him in the first place. It doesn’t mean that you will never be with him again, but he needs to get free and be able to stay free without the immediate reward of getting back together.
It is what is best for both of you.
He needs to be free from pornography. He needs this more than he needs you.
You need to NOT be in a pornified relationship. You need this more than you need any specific person.
Being free of pornography and it’s effects are far more important than any benefit either of you can get from staying together. And staying together means you are trying to “work on your relationship” while trying to deal with something that is proven to make relationships NOT work.
It is safer for you.
Science has told us a lot about the the brain and pornography. Besides the studies that show the higher chance of violence and abusive behaviour in frequent porn consumers, the anecdotal evidence is equally damning.
When 88% of mainstream pornography contains violence against women, we are sadly not surprised at the amount of girls who come to us asking if the violent and degrading acts their boyfriends are asking them to perform are normal. Or even safe.
So how should you go about it?
If your boyfriend is either fully embracing his addiction or even if he wants to be free but his victory hangs in the balance every day, then I would suggest that you break off the relationship. Don’t do it in a vengeful or humiliating way, just in a way that says “I care about you, and what you need is to be able to find sustainable freedom.”
Say “When you have everything in place – the support, the accountability and the building of a track record of success – then feel free to ask me out again.”
But remember, you are not obliged to go out with him again. That is completely your prerogative.
You should also seek counseling.
Besides counseling being good for everyone, coming out of a relationship that was ended because of porn is a difficult thing. Counseling can help ensure that you process what you’ve been through in a healthy way and deal with the bitterness, betrayal and broken trust. It’s important for YOU to be in a healthy place as well before entering into another relationship, or even re-entering with your now ex-boyfriend once he is healthy.
To the girl who isn’t sure where things are at
How secure are you in the friends he has around him? Is he open enough with them and are they involved enough in his life that you know they would be hard on him if he started to slip back into it? If he refused to deal with it, would they rat him out? That’s not a bad thing. If he has said that he doesn’t want porn to be a factor in your relationship then he has given permission to his friends to blow the whistle on him if need be.
Is that how you would describe his accountability circles? If you aren’t sure, then ask him. If you don’t think you can ask him, then there is probably a problem and you should go back to the beginning of this article.
No matter how much you like your boyfriend, you DO NOT want to be married to a guy addicted to porn.
It will ruin your marriage. If you have kids, it will ruin his relationship with them.
The best thing for him is to be single so he can work on this problem.
You are an incredibly valuable human.