2015-06_LT-BoyfriendPorn

Dating/My Relationships/Pornography/Sex and Chastity

My Boyfriend Watches Porn: What Do I Do?

We don’t talk enough about porn.

I will never forget the time a high school girl asked me, “My boyfriend recently admitted to watching porn for our entire relationship. I forgave him but still feel hurt. How can I learn to move on?”

I’m not sure how long this couple had been together, or how long her boyfriend had been an addict, or if he had reached out for the help and support he needed to break his porn habit -– but I do know that the moment that young woman discovered that her boyfriend had been watching porn, her heart broke. She knew that the way things had been was not the way things ought to be.

FORGAVE, CAN’T FORGET?

How incredibly graced this young woman was – her first move was forgiveness. That’s the first step, and that step isn’t easy. God is already good at this… the moment we ask His forgiveness, there it is. Instantly, fully, unwaveringly. Pope Francis said that God never tires of forgiving us, but it’s we who tire of asking for His forgiveness.

But we humans forgive, and then hold on. That’s because forgiveness isn’t a feeling… it’s a decision. And it’s a decision that we are going to have to make over and over and over again, because we will get hurt over and over and over again. We must choose to forgive every time we get hurt – and every time we were remember how badly we were hurt in the first place.

The best place to start with forgiveness is in the confessional. Not only can we be forgiven there for the things that we’ve done, but we can also receive grace to forgive others who have hurt us.

Then the next place to turn is prayer. Talk to God every time someone hurts you, and then again every time that hurt reappears. When Christ was on the cross, He called out, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” He knows what it is to be hurt by someone, someone who probably has no idea how bad the pain is that their actions have caused. Ask God to make your heart more like His and help you to forgive.

WHAT NEXT?

If someone you love has an addiction to porn, there are a lot of options out there to help him or her find freedom. Talk to a trusted adult for some advice – even if you don’t want to name the loved one who is struggling. It’s perfectly legit to talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or youth minister and say, “Someone I really care about recently told me that they have an issue with porn – what should I do?”

There are great blogs, cable and Internet and smartphone filters and blockers, accountability, spiritual direction, counseling, therapy, apps, prayers… There are more and more resources becoming available every day to help us all stay free from porn. Freedom is possible, and the pursuit of it is worth it.

And definitely talk to that trusted adult about how you’re feeling. Since we don’t live in isolation, all of our actions have ripple effects that can impact the people we love. And when other people’s choices impact us, we need to talk to someone about how it makes us feel. If a boyfriend or girlfriend is struggling with porn, we can feel betrayed, hurt, insecure, cheated on, and many other painful things… all valid feelings, and feelings we need to process. So make sure to talk through those feelings with someone you trust.

If someone you love has struggled with porn in the past, but is currently in a good place, and just recently confided in you that it’s a part of their history, then it’s important that you talk with them about how it makes you feel. As that young woman said, she forgave her boyfriend but still felt hurt. Process those feelings with that person, and with your most trusted friends and adults.

Just because that is in a person’s past doesn’t mean it will be in his or her future – but that also doesn’t mean it won’t be. Check with that person to make sure he or she has everything in place needed to continue that fight for purity. I know people who haven’t interacted with porn in years who still call themselves addicts (much like recovering alcoholics) because they know that the temptation will always be there.

If porn has been a struggle for your boyfriend or girlfriend, that doesn’t mean you have to break up with them the moment they confide in you. They might be in a good place and just opening up to you for support – that’s legit. We are all broken, struggling people… and Christ makes all things new. We can forgive the unforgivable in other people, because Christ has forgiven it in us.

HOW TO RECOVER

But… if someone you love is looking at porn but doesn’t think it’s a problem, then you’ve got a problem. True love works for the good of the beloved – and it isn’t good for anyone to engage with porn. If all the negative side effects of pornography addiction don’t concern them, or the fact that their porn use is hurting you doesn’t concern them, then this is not a person you need to be dating. And as difficult as that may be to hear, it might be time to end that relationship.

Remember, our actions create a ripple effect, and the effects of their porn use can be devastating – to your confidence, self-esteem, trust in that person, and purity. If you’re trying to live out the virtue of chastity, which can already be so tough in our world, there is no reason to make it more difficult by dating someone who doesn’t have the same goals.

St. Paul would agree… like he wrote to the Corinthians, “Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Chastity is about purity and self-mastery. Dating someone who isn’t pursuing the same goals for purity will only make it more difficult for you to live virtuously.

You were made for so much more than porn. The temptation is real – but so is freedom from it. Seek that freedom in your own life, and encourage those around you to do the same.

About the Author

Rachel Leininger

I work for a retreat ministry called the REAP Team, where it's my full-time job to talk about sex, love, dating, and chastity (which can sometimes lead to some awesomely awkward moments). I love being Catholic, my bearded husband, watching movies, and browsing antique malls. The only thing I have against winter is the fact that there's no baseball. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @raleininger