(pt 2) However I am thinking about it a lot because I have always been vehemently against the porn industry and porn use and I’m anxious it may become an issue of unnecessary focus for me at some point in the future. As his girlfriend, how do I effectively deal with this in the long term, so it doesn’t become a problem? And also, I assume I should leave much/all of the accountability for the men in his life but should I have any role in this, particularly while we’re unmarried? THANK YOU!!
I’m glad to hear you guys had that conversation. It’s an important one to have before you commit to a long-term romantic relationship.
I asked my wife, Ashley, to give her input on this question as well, because we’ve been in your shoes before. I know what it is to overcome a porn addiction by God’s grace. And she knows what it is to support a man as he does so.
It’s important you understand exactly where your boyfriend is in his healing process. Is porn addiction merely a part of his past? Is he actually making progress toward overcoming it? Or is it something he still struggles with on a regular basis?
If your boyfriend is still struggling, you’re better off ending the relationship—for both your sake and his. He needs to allow himself time and emotional space to get a grip on his addiction, because he won’t make progress without it. And you need to protect your heart from bonding to a guy who still lacks control over his mind and behavior, because you will get hurt if you don’t.
If your boyfriend is actually making progress, you should carefully support him. I say carefully because, if you discover down the road that he’s still struggling in a big way, you may need to end the relationship. But if he’s actually making progress, God could use your support to help him.
By progress I mean:
- He’s going for longer and longer stretches without porn.
- He’s got men in his life lovingly holding him accountable.
- He’s figuring out what his triggers are and how to protect himself from them.
- He’s looking to God to make the difference in his life.
From what you’ve said, this is the situation you’re currently facing.
But if porn addiction is merely a part of your boyfriend’s past …You need to get over it.
Ashley says it’s also important for you to understand what porn addiction really is, because some of the tension porn causes in relationships is due to misunderstanding what’s actually going on.
Porn addiction is almost never about sex. Sex is the bait, but the hook is something else. This is what I mean about your boyfriend figuring out his triggers.
For me, porn addiction was about emotionally escaping into a fantasy world I could control. It was about contriving wholeness within myself and harmony with the world around me. And it was about believing lies about my true identity.
The hook is whatever lie we believe about what porn can give us. So your boyfriend should prayerfully search his heart and challenge his assumptions about why he does what he does. For me, this was the hardest part of overcoming my addiction, but it was also where I experienced the most healing—and moved closest to God.
We overcome porn addiction by overcoming its lies.
You said you’re not angry and that you have forgiven your boyfriend. But you also said you’re thinking about it a lot and that it could become “an issue of unnecessary focus” for you in the future.
…If that’s true, you haven’t really forgiven him.
A guy who has overcome—or is overcoming—an addiction like porn has done no small thing. He is forgiven. He is cleansed. He is made new. And he deserves to be with someone who will recognize and affirm God’s work in his life. If you can’t do that, you might not be the girl for him.
If his addiction is in the past, leave it in the past and get over it. And if you can’t, give him a chance to find a girl who will.
…That being said, I believe you can. And you already know how, because you’ve been forgiven too.
You’re right that you should leave accountability to the men in your boyfriend’s life. Any attempt on your part to hold him accountable will just be heartbreaking for you and unhelpful for him. Other men know better where he is and what he needs, so leave the accountability to them.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have a role to play however.
God brought Ashley into my life on the tail end of a years-long process of freedom and healing. Most of the work of overcoming porn had already been done, but God used her to really drive home the last nail in porn’s coffin.
And he did this by letting her speak truth to me:
- She recognized God’s work in my life and affirmed it.
- She demonstrated His forgiveness to me by forgiving me herself.
- She reminded me of my identity in Christ.
- She saw me for who I am—not who I was—and helped me to see it too.
- She didn’t allow me to dwell on my past mistakes, but kept my focus forward.
- She prayed for me and encouraged me.
Your role is to come alongside the work God is doing and support it.
You’ve asked some really good questions. I hope my answers have been helpful. Your boyfriend is lucky to have a girl in his life who cares enough to learn how to be there for him effectively.
Peace, love and Jesus,