My Big Fat Secret Porn Addiction

    man-with-secret-porn-addiction.jpgA lot of men have a big, big secret. It's a secret that most partners don't really want to know about too. Many men have a secret porn addiction. In fact, it's not just men that have this secret addiction either. Google and Bing searches show that a lot of women watch porn as well.

    Porn is becoming more and more a culturally acceptable subject to talk about, yet for most people that is only if the talk is about someone else. Very few people will publicly admit, "I have a secret porn addiction." In fact, actor and former NFL player, Terry Crews, became even more famous a couple of years ago for admitting just that -- "My Secret Porn Addiction Began at 12."

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    Even more famous people such as Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, and Cameron Diaz have admitted to it too. Although nearly all only do so after they've been caught and are forced to be honest.

    Every week I counsel men who come to me to unburden themselves of problems like a secret porn addiction. Often that's not even the reason why they begin meeting with me. Usually they seek counseling because of a relationship or mental health problem, and then towards the end of our meeting they'll get around to saying they also watch porn and want help to stop.

    Why is Porn Addiction Kept Secret?

    Even with all of the changes in our society over the past 50 plus years since the sexual revolution began of the 1960s, sex is still very much a taboo subject. Married partners still have a difficult time talking about sex and sharing their thoughts, feelings and desires about it with each other within the privacy of their own bedrooms.

    DOES YOUR PARTNER MEASURE UP? TAKE THIS QUIZ AND FIND OUT

    Add to that reluctance to talk about sex the now easy, instant and seemingly secret accessibility of porn today to anyone with a cell phone and we've got a big, big problem. Here's an example:

    Secretly I have watched lesbian sites on my phone & pc, sometimes I masturbate watching them. I have a great sexual relationship with my wife, do I need help? Should I seek counciling? My wife knows that I used to watch porn some time ago but now I do it secretly, I would feel terribly embarrassed if she new I masturbated also." -Byron

    Some people will argue that what a person does in private, especially regarding sex, is solely their business. But here are a few of the outcomes of Byron's private behavior for himself and his wife that make it far from harmless and a problem for both of them:

    • Guilt. Typically men have promised their partner, often over and over again, to stop watching and they don't want to admit they've failed to keep their promise again. This failure cycle is a common sign in alcohol addiction as well as other addictive behaviors and it feeds keeping the behavior secret.
    • Shame. Obviously, Byron is feels shame about his porn habit too. If he didn't feel something was wrong with him (the meaning of shame) then he wouldn't be wondering if he should seek counseling.
    • Pleasing. We all want others to be pleased with us and for some people avoiding others being displeased or disappointed in them is a significant problem and barrier to honesty. Guys either know from past experience or suspect that if their partner knew they look at porn they would be very hurt. So not wanting to hurt your partner is a big reason for keeping addiction to porn a secret.
    • Accountability. Many people really don't want to stop looking at porn. This is understandable when you think about how strong the appeal of it is in the first place, which is why it is so addicting. One guy I am helping with a porn addiction told me,
    One thing I'd ask God for is that I could look at porn. I just don't hate it enough."

    Embarrassment, guilt, shame, wanting to please, and not wanting to be held accountable are just some of the many reasons why a porn addiction is kept secret. Here's another example of how it becomes a big problem for couples:

    I just found out recently that my husband of 16 yrs secretly watches porn. He knew before we got married that I don't like porn. I made him throw out his porn magazines 16 yrs ago and thought it ended. He was a pot smoker in the past. He stopped smoking pot yrs ago but now there's porn. He tries to convince me that every man watches porn and that it's normal. I tell him that it's wrong and it's an addiction especially when he does it several times per week. I don't know what to do. We have 2 kids. He tells me that I'm not perfect either and that he loves me very much and doesn't want anybody but me. I don't get it. I told him that if it affects our relationship it's not OK. He tells me that if I was watching porn it wouldn't bother him. He got caught and he said he was hiding it because he didn't want to hurt me and he knew I would get upset." -Haley

    Can you relate to either Byron or Haley?

    How to Break the Porn Secrecy

    Breaking the secrecy of a secret porn addiction is crucial to changing it. The hidden nature of this addiction is one of the most powerful factors in its control over users. Just like lying leads to more lying, so does secrecy lead to more secrecy.

    WANT TO KNOW WHAT OTHERS DO? LEARN WHAT OTHERS DID IN YOUR SITUATION

    It has to start by telling one person. It should be your partner, but unfortunately most often that disclosure happens in a way that you don't want it to by getting caught and accused with evidence that's been found -- "What's this on your phone?"

    Most guys feel more comfortable breaking the secrecy of their porn addiction by telling a professional counselor like myself who won't react emotionally, is understanding of the struggle, and has no connection to their daily life so that what they say will be kept private. From there they can get guidance in how to stop as well as how to tell their partner when they're ready.

    With professional help stopping a secret porn addiction is totally doable. Watch out for the common mistake of letting pride fool you into believing you can do it yourself without telling anyone. There's a good reason why much of addiction recovery is done in groups.

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