QUESTION: I know my boyfriend is addicted to pornography. That’s obvious. He’s a very sexual personal overall, making comments and jokes about never being satisfied. Of course, he won’t admit he’s an addict, but I wouldn’t expect him to. Since he’s addicted to pornography, does this mean he cheated on me?

ANSWER: I think this is one of those individual situation scenarios. I can tell you that in the first 11 years of my marriage, all while addicted to pornography, I didn’t once cheat on my wife in the traditional sense. We can debate if talking to women in chat rooms is cheating, but in the case of a traditional affair, I never went down that road.

This is one of the reasons I don’t like being labeled as having a “sex addiction.” I think when people think of the word “sex” they immediately jump to intercourse. I had no interest in pursuing women outside of the pages of a magazine or on a computer screen. Frankly, I think that if I had ended up in a situation where it was possible, I would have fled out of fear.

In talking with male and female porn addicts, it’s clear to me that men use pornography as a coping and soothing mechanism. They are not using it as a substitute for intimacy. I never saw it as a replacement for real intimacy. The only thing that sex with my wife and masturbating with pornography had in common was the physical end result.

That said (and this may be a stereotype) but I believe that women are seeking romance and value a deeper bond with their partner than a man generally does. If all women needed to be satisfied was a naked body on a screen, wouldn’t the pornography industry have been catering more to women long ago? The economics proves that women don’t use pornography in the same way men do.

I’ve only known a handful of female pornography addicts and almost all of them acted out beyond their relationship because they were seeking a connection pornography alone couldn’t provide. It’s not just my anecdotal observations either. Statistics prove that women take their porn addiction to a different level far more than men. If you’re asking yourself this question about his fidelity, it could be that you are a woman and like most women, the wiring in your brain is different than a man.

Yes, some men start with pornography and move on to having affairs and develop intercourse addictions, but there are also plenty of men with intercourse addictions who have no interest in pornography. And as we all know, there are plenty of men with no addictions whatsoever who still cheat on their partner.

It’s impossible to say for sure if he cheated on you, but I don’t think it’s a conclusion that should be reached or an assumption that should be made. This speaks directly to the issue of how much you really want to know.  Please, used a trained facilitator if you think this is a conversation you should have with your partner. A random Tuesday night on your couch after a long day will not have positive results, regardless of his answer.

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years.While many have labeled me as a pornography addiction expert, please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

5 comments

  1. Joshua, I love your blog, but may I quibble a bit here? You say “men use pornography as a coping and soothing mechanism. They are not using it as a substitute for intimacy.” If you define intimacy solely and exclusively as physical intimacy, you may be somewhat accurate (some wives would take great issue with that, however), but intimacy within a relationship is so much more than that. It’s openly discussing your hopes, dreams, and fears with your partner. It’s letting them see you at your best and at your worst and allowing them to support you through both. I agree with you that men use pornography as a coping and soothing mechanism, but I’d suggest that means they lack emotional intimacy in their primary relationships. If you can’t self soothe and you can’t share with your partner what void you’re trying to fill, occasional hits turning into addiction isn’t all that surprising. While not every intimacy anorexic is a porn addict or sex addict (and vice versa) there is substantial enough overlap that it seems hard to write off as mere coincidence.
    Just my thoughts…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the context of the paragraph I wrote that statement in, and the following paragraph, it was more a hypothesis of why women statistically take a porn addiction to the next level of seeking physical interactions at a percentage far higher than men. Men may lack emotional intimacy in their relationship, but I think much like their porn use, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem and not the reason they turn to it in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a tough question to answer, and you handled it well. There really isn’t a black and white answer as so much depends on each individual’s definition of “cheating” and “sex.” I often swing back and forth between saying my husband is a porn addict or a sex addict. He was formerly diagnosed as a sex addict, but his acting out behaviour was porn and compulsive masturbation. There was no physical involvement of anyone else. And yet, because he withheld all sexual intimacy from me, while still pursuing and meeting his own needs, I personally consider that cheating.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Cynthia. Cheating is one of those words that I think not only means something different to almost everybody, it’s level of betrayal or importance in a situation is different to everyone as well. I think it’s one of those things that needs to be defined early in a relationship.

      Liked by 1 person

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