Why Does Porn Feel Like Betrayal? 3 Reasons Why

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    A lot of women want to (or feel like they have to) be okay with their partner viewing porn, yet struggle with the true feelings they have about it. Porn can be a confusing topic. On one hand it seems fairly common and something all guys like, and on the other hand it can feel disrespectful, repulsive or many other things. One common feeling is that of betrayal. But why would watching porn feel like betrayal?

    It's not at all uncommon to feel this way. Many women struggle in secret with their feelings and have no idea that there are thousands and thousands of other women just like them in the same situation. They wrestle with the same feelings of betrayal about porn too, and wonder why they feel this way about images on a screen.

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    Why Feelings About Porn Are So Confusing

    Talking about porn is just not what people do, women or men. It’s typically very uncomfortable and embarrassing. Many women feel pressure to accept it because they think it’s necessary for their partner to be happy. So they struggle with it in secret.

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    Here's what it looks like for one of those women dealing with porn in her marriage: 

    Porn seems to be a common problem between men and women. I am currently re-married and have had the same porn issues with both men. My current husband doesn't look at it as frequently as the first, so for that I'm thankful. However, I have told him from the beginning of our relationship how porn makes me feel. He agreed that it was disgusting and couldn't believe my ex would do such a thing when having such a beautiful woman by his side. Since then, my current husband has been and continues to look at porn. He's admitting he has an addiction and that he has suffered from it since he was 16. I feel so betrayed and hurt. I wish I didn't mind him looking at porn, but it's so hurtful to me. He says it's a way for him to get an easy off and that it has nothing to do with our relationship, but I don't believe it. Please help me shed some light on the situation. Right now, I'm fed up and ready to leave. He wants to work things out, which is a road that has been traveled multiple times." -Wendy

    The feelings that porn can trigger, and those that arise out of the conflict between women and men over it, are varied, but common. It’s normal for women to feel hurt, angry, devastated, sick, disgusted, or outraged. They may also feel unattractive, inadequate, not good enough, less than, even ugly. And feeling insecure and uncertain, having doubts, suspicions, and having lots of unanswered questions, or that you can't trust anymore is pretty typical as well.

    And although all of those feelings are normal there is one other that women can struggle with the most. The feeling that porn is a betrayal is one of the most confusing feelings of them all. Alyssa’s story below is a good illustration of that.

    My husband and I have been married just 10 months. Three months into our marriage I started noticing he wasn't as interested in having sex with me. He said it was because he was tired or stressed, always coming up with an excuse. I figured out not long after that he was watching internet porn quite frequently. I was devastated and worse he denied it repeatedly. He said he would stop but didn't and I begged him to go to counseling. When he refused I went by myself to a Christian counselor who was very helpful. Through her help I felt like we were getting better and stronger. We were more intimate and he had stopped watching porn, so I thought. Last week I found more and although we are doing better I'm still so hurt and feel betrayed. I feel like he is cheating on me and lying about it. I'm considering giving him an ultimatum of either he goes to counseling for his porn addiction or he leaves. Please, any advice would be much appreciated." -Alyssa

    How Porn Can Make You Feel Betrayed

    Although men will tell you porn isn’t cheating, watching other women in a sexual way can certainly feel like it – just ask any woman. Most women want to feel like they’re the only ones who can elicit a sexual response from their husband, and that their husband doesn’t want to be with anyone but them. Bringing porn into your relationship can feel like this intimate connection has been broken or shared with other people.

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    There are a number of reasons why a woman may feel betrayed by porn. Here are just 3 of them.

    1. Porn feels like betrayal because it's a form of cheating. Although porn viewing seems like an individual act that hurts no one, this is just not true. Just like flirting with others is cheating, porn is cheating too. When men watch porn, they're giving part of themselves away (this goes for women who watch too). When we're in a committed relationship or marriage, we have agreed to give our self sexually only to one person. But porn gives our sexual interest, desires, and attention elsewhere. Even though with porn this is given away to an image on a screen (this isn't always the case), it still doesn't make it any less real or wrong. When the sexual exclusivity of the relationship is broken it's a betrayal.
    2. Another reason porn feels like betrayal is because sex is very, very personal. Sex is the most intimate way we can connect with another human being. When that's being shared elsewhere it feels like a violation of the relationship, which it is. As I described earlier, porn can trigger a lot of very personal, individual feelings that can also make a partner feel violated, and these lead to feeling betrayed.
    3. Finally, porn feels like betrayal because it's almost always done in secret. A pattern of hiding, lying, and breaking promises almost always accompanies porn in relationships. This breaking of trust leads to feeling betrayed as well.

    Most men will argue that they have no intent to betray their partner when they look at porn, but unfortunately intention doesn't change the impact. Just based on what it is and what it does, porn is a form of betrayal and most likely will make your partner feel that way. There's just no way around this fact.

    Another danger with porn is what it can lead to next – sex chats, live webcams, messaging other women, sexting, adult dating sites, just to name a few possibilities, that change the interaction from an image to a real person. Many porn sites link to and have pop-up ads for these other options, so taking that next step is pretty easy, and repeated exposure to these temptations can be difficult for some men to resist. Women whose partners have taken these next steps feel even more betrayed by porn.

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    When the trust in a relationship is broken through repeated betrayals with porn the relationship is no longer healthy. In this state it can be very difficult for partners to talk about the subject or know how to fix things and get to back to a good place. So having the assistance of an experienced, professional counselor with knowledge about porn can make all the difference.

    Why does porn feel like betrayal? These are some of the biggest reasons why. We all want to be the desire of our partner and when that desire is being directed elsewhere it's natural to feel betrayed.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published July 29, 2015. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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