Is He Addicted To Porn? 8 Ways To Help Him

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What To Do If He Is Addicted To Sex In Porn
What porn does to his brain — and what you can do to stop it.

One of the ways that relationships go sideways is when one or both partners have an addiction. That addiction may be to alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, shopping or even to the Internet, particularly pornography.

Recent studies have shown that Internet addictions can actually change brain activity in humans. In a 2014 study porn users had a smaller reward center in their brain than non-porn users and required more porn use to activate it. Meaning that if your guy is using porn, he needs to watch more porn today than he needed yesterday in order to feel pleasure.

Dopamine is the primary brain chemical produced in your body that activates the reward center from things that are pleasurable. When your partner met you, the dopamine released in his brain was enough to keep him interested in you early in the relationship. The more he looked at online porn, however, the less dopamine was released when he saw you. He required more "hits" of instant and varied images of pornography to get the same level of dopamine that he got from you early in your relationship. Remember this is an addiction and has nothing to do with you as a person.

Another point the study makes is that the brain of a porn addict will weaken the brain's innate braking system, GABA. When this happens, the brain is left on autopilot and is essentially hijacked. The person is not able to stop looking at porn in this phase and is in a state of numb and unconscious acting out. Often, when the addict stops looking at porn, he will feel shame, disgust and regret for his behaviors.

So what does all this mean for you as a partner of someone who has an Internet pornography addiction? Here are some recommendations for things you can do to help him.

  1. Recognize that this is an addiction. The addiction will be your partner's first priority until they begin to accept responsibility for it and get help for it.
  2. Get help for yourself. Join a 12-step program for partners of addicts such as ala-non, COSA, S-anon or CO-dependents.
  3. Get a therapist. Ideally one that is experienced in Internet Behavioral Addictions, online gaming addiction, social media addiction, porn addiction or sexual addiction.
  4. Practice good self-care. Take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs before caring for others.
  5. Set good boundaries for yourself. People are often abused because they don't know what their limits are for behavior they will and will not tolerate. Set limits for yourself (e.g. I will not let my partner put me down, ignore me, shout at me or not respond to my concerns) and be prepared to enforce them with your partner if he or she is crossing those boundaries. For more information, read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.
  6. Learn what healthy intimacy is and begin to practice it with yourself. Be gentle with yourself emotionally, stop the negative self-talk and replace it with words of affirmation like, "I am worthy of love," "I am perfectly imperfect," and "I am peaceful." Learning to have a loving relationship with yourself is the first step to developing healthy intimacy with another person. You teach others how to treat you based on how you feel about yourself.
  7. Heal from unresolved childhood and adult issues from the past. You can only focus on your own healing. Hopefully, your partner will notice how much healthier you are because you are dealing with life's stressors and he will also be inspired to want to heal as well.
  8. Learn to love yourself and see yourself as having worth and value.

Some of you may be tempted to cut and run. For some, this may be the best choice. For others, you may be running from an opportunity to grow and learn about yourself. Don't you owe it to yourself to try out new behaviors with a known person who you have a connection with? Maybe your risking and growing will spark some changes in your partner and maybe it won't, but isn't it worth it to at least try? You may find that you'll rekindle the flame that brought you and your partner together in the first place.

If you would like more information to make your Couple-ship Thrive please sign up for my newsletter. You may also connect with me on my website and on twitter.

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Article contributed by

Teresa Maples

Counselor/Therapist

Teresa Maples MS, LMHC, CSAT, CMAT

Wanting something more from your relationship?, Join my newsletter. and you will recieve free practical relationship tools helping you develop a closer more connected relationship.

 

Location: Tacoma, WA
Credentials: CMAT, CSAT, LMHC
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Infidelity / Affair Recovery, Sex Addiction
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