A Letter to Someone Who Loves a Porn Addict

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Dear incredible someone,

You and I both know that loving and supporting someone through a pornography addiction is much more than standing on the sideline and cheering them on. Because when you are in a committed relationship, whether it be a close friend, significant other, spouse, sibling or parent, you are standing with your loved one, stuck between the crossfire of the war raging between that person and addiction. You get bruised and battered in such combat, and sometimes it feels like it would just be so much easier to just give up.

How Porn Affects You

Tell me if you relate to this story of someone who has been through the same thing. She wishes to remain anonymous. Of her experience, she said, “Over time, he began to change. He was less affectionate during his relapses, depressed, irritable, very defensive, incredibly unhappy… It was hard to see him becoming this other person and it was maybe even harder to know exactly why: I knew he was going to go watch pornography when he left me for the night.”

couple hugging sad

But, he was not the only one who changed. She became depressed and hyper-sensitive. “It made me feel insecure about myself. Not only about my outward beauty, but my inward beauty. I lost what makes me, me, because I was trying to morph into someone who I thought he wanted me to be,” she admitted, revealing yet another negative effect of pornography. She began to question herself, her own value and asked, “What is wrong with me? Why am I not enough?”

She, along with you, has discovered that pornography’s toxic reach hurts the people who aren’t even looking at it. It makes you believe those lies that you are not enough, or that there is something wrong with you, and it’s really not fair.

Why Objectification Hurts

I think we can agree that the a lot of the pain that pornography causes is directly connected to the fact that it objectifies women. It hurts to be seen only for your body, and although they may not realize it completely, but that is what pornography trains the brain of your loved one to see and desire, but with no emotional connection whatsoever.

Such an attitude towards women can develop in the life of someone older, someone who is beyond teenage years when they become addicted to pornography. These people probably understand what creates the foundation of a loving, committed relationship. They most likely have already felt and are aware of the difference between a real relationship with another person, and an image on a screen.

However, what seems to happen more often than not, is that boys are exposed to pornography in their early teens and become addicted from a young age, without really even understanding what addiction is. It is also around this same time that they are introduced to sex education (see the Comprehensive Sexual Education curriculum in many states) at school. Combine that with the raging hormones of adolescence, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a disaster, one that deprives these young boys of a true understanding of what constitutes as a real, loving relationship. Instead, the development of their brains is influenced heavily by pornography, and their principles shaped by its exhibition of objectification, unrealistic expectations, and unabated lust.

sex educationI know. Scary, right? With this being a reality, it’s pretty easy to see the worsening condition of the world and feel hopeless. You probably feel hopeless a lot, especially about your own loved one. Will they ever be whole again? Or are they forever consigned to giving in to the temptation to look at pornography?

Don’t Lose Hope

My purpose in writing this letter is to tell you that there is always hope, both for you and that person you love.

Jan Kingston, a trauma counselor and specialist in physiologic responses to trauma, believes this as well. “People can heal from addictions,” she says. She continues, reminding us that it is not our function to make them feel even more guilty than they already do.  “Shaming people actually has been shown in research to make the shame behavior worse… [pornography] needs to be seen as a reaction to something else, a coping mechanism.” Of the suffering of the partner she also adds, “This can also take some weight off the partner of the addict. It is affecting them, but is not necessarily about them.”

love takes two-fight the new drug couple
Image from Fight the New Drug.

While talking to a bishop of a Young Single Adult ward in Arizona, he said something that blew my mind. He said that when young men come to him with a pornography problem, the first thing he tells them is to not call it an “addiction”. I realize that I’ve been using that word in this letter, and I won’t argue that porn is addictive, because I know it is. But, when we call it an addiction, its connotation seems to convince us that a pornography addiction is something that cannot be completely overcome, and even if it is, that person will live the rest of their lives craving it and fighting the temptation, because its an addiction.

While it is true that the temptation is always there and it is not an easy thing to overcome, such a mentality negates the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It implies that try as he might, someone that views pornography is not worthy until he is completely and totally clean from the sin. What we forget is that not only are we all human beings with weaknesses and flaws, but we also are also children of a Heavenly Father whose love, grace and mercy will never not be ours to claim. That love, grace and mercy is extended through the Atonement of our Savior, not when we are perfect and already clean, but as we are striving to overcome and become. As we see them not as addicts, but rather as children of God who are striving alongside us, hope will flourish.

What This Means For You

Alma 7:11-12 says:

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

You need to know that Jesus Christ and his Atonement are not just for the person you love, but for you too. He knows exactly what you are feeling, and because of that, you are never ever alone in your suffering. Through his matchless love an power, your wounds will be bound up and he will heal you.

So, to quote Elder Jeffery R. Holland,

Elder Holland- "Don't you quit" quote

You got this, and He’s got you.

And remember, you are enough.

With love,

A friend who understands

Emma is an intern at the More Good Foundation and a student at BYU studying Communications with an emphasis in News Media. A returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and self-proclaimed nerd, her passions include (but are not limited to): the gospel, her family, writing, sports, world travel, Harry Potter and Mexican food.