After having many conversations with women who are struggling with their partners’ use of pornography, I want to share some thoughts on the matter.
Pornography is present in almost every home, often hidden and accompanied by shame and guilt. When a woman “finds out” about her partner’s porn use, or when a man “chooses to share” it with her, it can lead to dramatic, chaotic, and painful situations.
The feelings that arise in this situation are complex, ranging from mistrust and disgust to a sense of betrayal and powerful painful feelings such as anger, helplessness, fear, and abandonment.
Perhaps if we examine the disconnection from the heart that is inherent in the use of porn, we can find common ground on this issue. From my perspective, the use of porn is a deep call from the soul to connect with the body, much like the use of any other addictive substance.
The pull towards disconnection is an unconscious call for connection, and when it comes to light in a relationship, the wise and healing path is to understand that there is a call from the heart to connect. Even if the choice of porn does not truly serve the original intention, it is still better to focus on the deeper issue than on the symptom or “betrayal.”
If betrayal occurs, it is primarily a self-betrayal in loyalty to the heart and love. No man who watches porn consciously wants to hurt his partner, but unconsciously, he wants to hurt himself. On an even deeper level, he wants to reconnect with the path of love but doesn’t know how. He uses the momentary thrill of porn to forget the disconnection and experience a temporary connection to his body and himself.
I whole heartedly recommend treating the topic of porn and the person who uses it with respect and acceptance. Ask questions and listen deeply. Start from the premise that if the issue has come up within the context of your relationship, you can grow from it together.
It is clear that watching porn damages the quality of the sexual and intimate connection in a relationship. However, condemnation and self-flagellation also damage the quality of friendship and trust in the relationship.
An intermediate approach is needed that acknowledges the negative effects of porn while recognizing that those who are addicted to it must go through an inner journey to understand what drives their urge to watch it.
They must freely choose their own rhythm as they go towards a renewed connection to their own sexuality, both in masturbation and couple, marital, sexuality, with presence and awareness.