How To Help Your Partner With Porn Addiction?

How to help your partner with porn addiction

What to do and not do when dating someone addicted to porn

Getting into a relationship only to find out that he struggles with porn can be devastating. On one hand, you want to assume the best, support him and be strong… but on the other hand, you feel angry, confused, and hurt. This is a real tension point for any relationship, be it dating, engaged, or married… they all suffer when pornography addiction is discovered or disclosed. The good news is that the suffering doesn’t have to be a life sentence or a reason to call it quits. My wife knows firsthand what it’s like to date and marry someone who is addicted to porn and lying on a daily basis. She knows full well what was helpful and was not helpful during my recovery and in this article, I am going to unpack some of the insights from our podcast episode so you can learn how to help your partner with porn addiction in ways that are healthy and helpful.

PS – This episode and article came from an awesome question we got from a listener, check it out 

“My boyfriend told me a few weeks ago that he struggles with pornography and in the midst of processing that I’m also trying to understand what my role is in his healing and how I can be supportive and encouraging while still maintaining an appropriate relationship given that we’re not married. I know walking through an addiction together can be painful and can also bring couples to a really deep level of intimacy because it’s such a personal issue, and I want to be wise about how emotionally intimate we become at this point in our relationship”

3 ways to help your partner with porn addiction

Have a Standard With Grace (Truth & Grace)

Having a standard is really important. It means you have values that are non-negotiables in your life. When these are rooted in Jesus and the Bible, it’s fair to say that you have decided that obedience to God’s will is more important than anything else. When this rules your life, you will naturally set up boundaries to protect what you hold dear. Anyone that oversteps or breaks your boundary will have to suffer a consequence. That may sound harsh, but that’s how discipline works! However, this is why we want to have a standard WITH grace. Grace says that you’re loved and imperfect and yes, you may at times make a mistake, but I am looking at the heart. When trying to help your partner with porn addiction, it’s really important to set up your boundaries and make them very clear, but it’s also important to ensure you’re looking at his heart just as much as his performance. This is a beautiful combination of Truth and Grace. It’s casting a vision, creating a path for him to talk down and communicate consequences, but it’s also reassurance that he is loved if his heart is in the right place and he is humble and willing when he makes mistakes. There’s a great book by John Eldridge called “wild at heart” which talks about men wanting beauty to rescue and a battle to fight. This is what you can stir up inside of him! Help him see that there is a fight worth winning and a beauty who desperately wants him to win.

Read our recent blog to better understand the big picture of healing: 4 Stages of Porn Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

To cast vision and help him see the bigger picture, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are we going?
  • Where do I want us to go?
  • Why are we together?
  • What may life look like without porn addiction?
  • What will life look like if he never quits porn?

2. Focus On Emotional Intimacy

When you’re dealing with a partner who is addicted to porn, it’s really important that you don’t get caught up in his recovery. You are his girlfriend, fiance, or spouse, NOT his coach, accountability partner, or support system. It will be crucial that you keep your focus on the relationship you two have together and the relationship you two have with Jesus. This will prove much more important. CAVEAT: This only works if he is in recovery with people that can help him. This may be a coach, therapist, or a recovery group. He must be involved in recovery for you to be able to solely focus on the emotional intimacy. If he is not, you will wonder where he’s at, and lose trust and desire to be more involved in his recovery. Not to say you don’t get updates, but you don’t need to play a role you’re not called to play.

If you are looking for some extra tips and resources on how to stop porn addiction while dating

One of the best things you can do to help your partner with porn addiction is to really nail down your values, help him understand them and then stick to them at all times. He will show his level of willingness and respect towards you based on how he upholds your values. 

To get into recovery with a professional, check out porn addiction help for men 

3. Really Get To Know One Another & Seek Professional Porn Addiction Help

We have a mantra we love to live by… not because it’s easy, but because it’s TRUE. “You must be fully known to be fully loved”. This quote gives us insight into how important vulnerability is in recovery. You need to know a heck of a lot more than just “my partner is addicted to porn”. You need to know his story, his aches, and pains, his deepest longings. This is what we call “story healing” and it is often done in a “full disclosure” process.

Knowing your partner’s story, and afterward, ideally, both of you know each other’s stories, brings such a deep empathy, understanding, and curiosity to your relationship. When I work with men and help them write their stories I get them to write it so it can be read to their partner. They go all the way back to as far as they can remember and begin writing down all the ways they were influenced, programmed, and hurt growing up which caused them to believe, think and do things that go against God’s will. Doing this really opens the eyes of both partners… it helps them see that this addiction to porn is about so much more than porn or sex. It actually has nothing to do with porn, sex, being horny or perversion. It has everything to do with pain, numbing, and safety.

When things like this begin to be known and understood, your relationship will have such a wonderful opportunity to grow. You will begin talking about the deeper things at hand and feel as if you can truly help your partner with porn addiction. This is where you will be able to develop emotional intimacy. Learning about each other’s pains, fears and regrets is the doorway to deeper love between one another.

Professional Porn Addiction Help

In conclusion, how to stop porn addiction in a dating relationship?

When you come to the reality that helping another with porn addiction may look radically different than you anticipated, you can take a deep breath and focus on what you can do, and leave the rest to him and to God. Your role as partner and non-addict is to set the standard, hold your standard, extend grace when the will is present, focus on the relationship with him and Jesus, and focus on the deeper story at hand and really get to know who you are dating (or engaged/married to).

Professional Porn Addiction Help

Shawn Bonneteau

Shawn Bonneteau

Author of this Article

Shawn is the co-founder of Secret Habit. He loves to write, speak and coach men. He has a story of addiction to porn and masturbation, as well as a struggle with Erectile Dysfunction that haunted him for many years into his marriage. He feels called to use his story to bring hope and healing to those stuck in sexual bondage.

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