Men: Here Is What It Looks Like to Break Free from Porn Addiction and Reconnect with Your Partner

Posted on January 20, 2017 by Aline Zoldbrod

I work with a lot of men who have gotten caught up in watching so much pornography that it interferes with their ability to be sexually connected to a partner they love. They find it difficult to be interested in being sexual with a real person.  They may have difficulty maintaining erections in a sexual situation.  Sometimes, they seem completely mentally and emotionally “checked out” to their partner during sex.  Sometimes, depending on a many factors, it’s very difficult to break free of the pornography/masturbation compulsion.

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For some men who are partnered,  it can be an easier process.  I like to be able to give you hope. Here is what it might sound like if you were watching way, way too much porn, but you are in a loving, committed relationship where you are still sexually attracted to your partner, and you now have made a commitment to getting better.

Here is what a slice of a session with a heterosexual patient I will call Henry might sound like, after he has been addressing his porn addiction for three months and has abstained from watching porn and masturbating. Given, this is a best case scenario. But I thought I’d share it with you. 

Henry: “I’m feeling really good about my progress. Those books and articles you suggested have been so helpful. I have not watched porn in several months, and things are going much better with Greta.”

Dr. Z:  “What is Greta noticing?”

Henry: “Well, she is noticing that we are communicating much better.  She sees that I am more present and more open when we are being sexual.  I’m noticing that my desire to be sexual with her is increasing.”

Dr. Z:  “What does it mean when you say you are more present?” 

Henry:  “Well, I am in the situation with her.  My mind is not wandering, and I’m not having any pornographic images.  I’m finding that it’s helping me a lot to focus less on what I’m feeling, and to focus more on what Greta’s feeling. I’m noticing her breathing and what seems to give her pleasure. I’m spending less time worrying about “the act.””

Dr. Z: “You mean you are out of the mode of just looking at your performance?  You’re not thinking so much about intercourse?”

Henry: “Right, I’m spending much more time touching her, really touching her.  And I’m paying attention to her face, whether she looks like she’s enjoying it. I’m paying attention to her breathing.  This is really helping me.  I’m keeping it slow.  It helps so much to not worry about the actual act of intercourse – the pressure to just do “the act.””

“The irony is that I’m enjoying sex so much more now. Much more than I used to. Much more than I had been enjoying masturbation.”

Dr. Z:  “What do you think is making sex with Greta so much more pleasurable?”

Henry: “I think it might be the buildup of the sensations in my body.  That feeling of our skin touching without all this pressure to worry about the state of my erection.   That and feeling more connected to her on an emotional level.” 

“It’s kind of like a virtuous circle, Dr. Z.  When I talk to Greta and tell her how I’m feeling, I feel more open emotionally, and so she is more open as well.   And I’m not hiding my masturbation, so I feel less defended, less guilty, less ashamed.”

Dr. Z:  “Wow, Henry.  You have been doing such good work on this.  What a shift!”

Henry:  “Yes,  I’m feeling so much better.  I think Greta’s beginning to forgive me. She’s beginning to trust me again.”

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So, Readers, I’m not saying that breaking free of porn is necessarily easy. I just want you to know that it can be done.  And that it’s not the kind of terrible loss you think it might be. It’s a huge boost in relationship quality and self esteem.

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Dr. Aline Zoldbrod is a licensed psychologist, seasoned sex therapist, teacher and trainer in sexuality, and author of multiple books on sexuality.

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Dr. Z is a repeat author, including the award-winning book Sex Smart. Dr. Z has been featured or quoted in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Parenting.com, Los Angeles Times, Yahoo.com, Boston Globe, Ladies Home Journal.com, and in many other publications.