How to Overcome Your Partner's Pornography Use

Three Parts:Helping Your Partner Set BoundariesOvercoming the Problem TogetherTaking Care of Yourself

Pornography has been an issue in many people’s lives. For the user it might seem to be a simple distraction, or not something worth discussing. But for the user's partner, it can be a painful and even destructive issue. Many people have been through this pain. When dealing with a pornography using partner, it is important to communicate with your partner and practice self-care to minimize the emotional damage done to you. There are also many preventative measures you can take to help curb your partner’s behavior. The good news, however, is that you can rest assured that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It might be difficult to see while you are living that situation, but there are many things you can do to overcome your partner’s pornography use.

Part 1
Helping Your Partner Set Boundaries

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    Explain your feelings. Tell your partner how their behavior makes you feel and why their pornography use bothers you. Help your partner understand what kinds of behaviors will not be tolerated. Have honest discussions about what your expectations are, what you are comfortable with, and what you will not tolerate.[1]
    • It is important for your partner to know what the boundaries are and what you expect from them so that they can work to improve the situation and give you what you need while also dealing with their problem.
    • Try saying something like, “Your pornography use makes me feel like I am not enough to satisfy you sexually or emotionally. I should not have to feel like this in the context of our relationship. So I would like for you to consider my feelings and to decide to change the situation.”
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    Ask your partner to take a break from porn. If your partner is willing to try to quit using pornography, then he or she needs to take action to stop the behavior. This means removing porn usage in all forms from their life.
    • The idea of quitting cold turkey might be hard for your partner to handle, so try suggesting that they just take a break instead. Maybe they could try to go for one month, or even just one week, without watching porn. This will make the change less intimidating because it is only for a finite period of time, not forever.
    • Try saying, “I think it would be a step in the right direction if you just tried taking a break from porn. You don’t have to quit cold turkey. How about we just try to quit for one whole week? It would really mean a lot to me.”
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    Install porn blockers on your internet. Giving up an addiction is a hard thing, so it can be helpful to add safety net features that will help make the transition easier by eliminating some temptations. Most people need the internet for work or other reasons in their daily lives, so it might not be feasible for them to give up the internet altogether. Instead, you could install porn blocking software on your computer to help remove some temptation.
    • Some porn blockers are designed specifically for people who suffer from pornography addiction and allow one partner to monitor their partner’s online activity and check it remotely from their phone or another computer. The program can even send a text message to the partner if the program’s rules are broken.[2]
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    Downgrade your partner to a “dumb” phone. One way to help your partner give up porn is to take away their smartphone. Many people use their smartphones to look at pornography, so downgrading your partner to a phone that has no internet capabilities might be a good idea to help them reduce their porn usage.[3]
    • Your partner can probably get by with a phone that is only capable of calling and texting for a few months while they handle their pornography problem.
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    Help distract your partner. When your partner has the urge to look at pornography, help distract them in whatever ways possible. Just like with any other kind of addiction, it is important to take your mind off of the thing whenever you feel a craving.[4]
    • You could go for a walk together every time your partner has the urge. Or you could watch a movie together.
    • You could even try engaging in sexual behavior together whenever your partner feels the urge to help them overcome the feeling and readjust to a normal, healthy expectation of sex.

Part 2
Overcoming the Problem Together

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    Exercise kindness and understanding. Your partner’s pornography use probably has a negative impact on you. It might even make you feel bad about yourself from time to time. However, it is important to remember that your partner is struggling with a problem and that they don’t mean to hurt you. Remember, this is not your fault.
    • Show as much kindness to your partner as possible because they are struggling through this as well.
    • Try saying something like, “I know that this is hard for you and I appreciate your willingness to try to work on it for our relationship. It means a lot to me.”
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    Keep the lines of communication open. While your partner is going through this struggle, it is important to let them feel like they can talk to you. You are the person they are closest with and they will need your support to overcome this. Make yourself available to discuss any problems or struggles they may be having.[5]
    • Try saying something like, “I want you to know that I am here for you and I am here if you ever want to talk about this stuff.”
    • You can also try to communicate with each other about your sexual thoughts – including sexual fantasies and desires. Talking about these things might help your partner realign their ideas on sex.
    • Make sure you choose the right time and place to discuss these issues – like when you are home alone together. It might not be a good idea to bring this conversation up at dinner in a crowded restaurant or while you are on vacation with your family.
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    Establish accountability measures. It is important to keep your partner accountable for their behavior during this time while they are trying to change. Have them check in with you about their thoughts and behaviors every day to see how they are progressing. Or have them write their thoughts down in a daily journal so they can reflect back on their progress.[6]
    • The main thing to remember is that your partner needs to be honest about what is going on with their behavior and how they want to change.
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    Seek professional help. If your partner doesn’t seem to be able to change their behavior on their own, it might be time to enlist some professional help. Try going to counseling together or individually – whatever seems to work for your specific situation.[7]
    • Spend some time finding the right counselor. It is important that your partner feel comfortable with whatever counselor you choose.
    • Your counselor may also suggest some other measures to take like a 12 step program to help your partner overcome their addiction.

Part 3
Taking Care of Yourself

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    Don't blame yourself. One of the first mistakes people often make when they discover their spouse's pornography usage is to wrongfully blame themselves for it. Remember however, that it is absolutely not your fault. [8]
    • Pornography addiction is a process that usually starts earlier in a person's life, so odds are, your spouse/partner has been having this problem long before he/she met you.
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    Avoid comparisons. Don't compare yourself to the images and videos you spouse/partner is watching. Again, the reason for your spouse's addiction is not you. You are not the cause of your partner’s porn addiction.
    • Pornography addiction is about fantasy. Comparing yourself to these images and acts of fantasy is completely unproductive and damaging because real life people can’t possibly exhibit the same traits as something that exists in a fantasy world.
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    Meet your own needs. When your partner is suffering from an addiction, it is often easy to overlook your own physical and emotional needs while you help them through their problem. However, it is important to take care of yourself during this emotionally and physically exhausting time as well.[9]
    • Make sure you are eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and maintaining some sort of physical exercise regimen.
    • You could also look into meditation to help you cope with the struggles of dealing with your partner’s pornography use.
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    Find a support system. It is important for you to have people in your life who love and support you during this difficult time. You will need to discuss your feelings with someone other than your partner. This will be a difficult struggle for your partner, so you need someone else to support you during this time that your partner can’t.
    • Your support system could be made up of friends, family members, or even church group members. You just need people who care and who will listen and help you.
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    Spend time having fun. This can be a very stressful time for you, so try to take care of yourself by allowing yourself a break from the stress to enjoy some simple fun. It’s important for you to let yourself relax and let go of the stress of your situation so that you can be more present when your partner needs your help.
    • Go out with your friends for a night on the town or take yourself to a movie. Do something you enjoy that will make you feel better.
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    Follow your heart. If the partner does not show sincerity in getting rid of the problem, you'll have to ask yourself the hard questions. You can only truly heal when you can be completely honest with yourself. Ask yourself questions like:
    • Is this relationship worth it for me?
    • Can I fight this battle without compromising my health and my outlook in life?
    • Am I willing to help my partner despite their non-sincerity?
    • Can I maintain my sanity during this ordeal?


  • Remember there's a lot more to life than sitting in front of the computer searching history, or searching the trash cans for dirty tissues and the laundry basket for evidence. Life is too short and too precious to be wasted like that.

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Categories: Commitment Issues