Signs Your Husband May Be Addicted to Pornography – By Wendell
[August 1, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Many thanks to Wendell and to his wife for being willing to share the following story with us and for offering their help.
Deborah’s excellent post on her experiences of abuse struck a chord with me, not because I have been abused by my wife (I haven’t) but because I saw many signs of pornography addiction in the way her ex-husband treated her sexually. You see, I have a unique perspective on the subject because I had to deal with a porn addiction in my own life.
I won’t go into a lot of detail about my journey there, but understand that I was not caught viewing porn. God’s Holy Spirit convicted me to such a degree that I had to confess to my family and my church, leading me to step down from church leadership for a time. My wife was a real trooper through all of this, as were my daughters and my church.
Because of my experiences, I can tell you some things to look for, some signs that your spouse (especially husbands) may exhibit that might point to a pornography problem. Some of these are immediate red flags, while others are more subtle and must be looked at in the overall context of your sexual relationship. I will try to avoid being overly explicit, but there are some things that just cannot be sugar coated, so if you are sensitive to sexual topics, you might want to stop reading here. Also, this is a Trigger Warning — the following material might bring up memories of sexual abuse for survivors.
Red flags might include:
Does your husband ask you to perform sexual acts that are outside of the norm? This would include shaving of pubic hair, dressing in odd ways (school girl outfits are quite common), anal sex, oral sex, etc. Also included under this heading would be things like bondage, fetishes, sado-masochism and sex with more than one partner at the same time. All of these are huge red flags. Since porn addiction is a progressive addiction, many of these signs may start off slowly and progress to more and more aberrant behaviors or behaviors that seem out of character. Also, some things like oral sex fall into a kind of gray area as some couples practice it. The key here is whether this was a mutual decision, or are you being pressured into it suddenly. A healthy sexual relationship depends on mutual agreement and enjoyment. If there are sudden demands for oral sex, especially if you have communicated in the past that you might be uncomfortable with it, it could be a sign of pornography addiction on your husband’s part.
Does he seem to have an unusually high urge for sex, or conversely, has he seemed to lose interest in you suddenly? Porn addicts often will demand an unusually high frequency of sex, but as the addiction progresses, will lose interest in the wife as a sexual partner. The reason behind this is that, as the addiction progresses, the addict will engage in self stimulation to satisfy their lust for sexual gratification, leaving little room for sexual intimacy with the wife. This behavior usually increases in frequency, further alienating the spouse. Eventually, the fantasy sex will be “safer” for the addict than reality in his mind.
Does he engage in behaviors that make you feel used and belittled sexually? Often this will manifest itself as insulting your performance in bed, being distracted while engaging in intercourse (like watching TV), blaming you for his inability to perform satisfactorily and ignoring you after he is finished with you. Rather than being willing to work through sexual problems, is he simply impatient and telling you that you have the problem?
Is he demanding that you engage in very odd positions, or increasingly risky venues? While some couples do experiment naturally, increasingly demanding such things can be a sign, especially if they seem very out of character for your husband or become more bizarre in nature.
Does he seem to have an inordinate desire for other women, especially younger and younger women? Now guys are guys and we do tend to notice an attractive woman, but most of us do not overly react to them. Porn sensitizes us to look on women as sexual objects and our behaviors, even with strangers will exhibit that. Also, the tendency in the porn addict is to desire younger and younger women, which is why so many get into child pornography, or demand wives to dress in school girl outfits or shave their pubic areas. Again, it is a progression. A wife whose husband was addicted to porn (and who was an abuser) says this:
Men who are viewing porn will sometimes insist on a more violent form of sex in order to bring themselves pleasure, thereby causing pain for the wife. If they are over-stimulating themselves chronically (like my first husband — 6-8 times a day), it takes more and more stimulation to orgasm. So, in my case, sex was painful almost every time. He would tell me it was my fault, of course, and I felt I was defective.
More subtle signs include:
Demands for being alone on the computer and going out of the way to find that time to be alone. This can manifest itself in his locking himself in a room with the computer, or finding excuses not to go with the family out of the house. In later stages, the addict will miss a lot of work so they can stay home and feed the addiction. Porn addiction is an addiction manifested by secretiveness, so the addict will do almost anything to be alone with his addiction.
When you walk into the room while he is on the computer, does he suddenly look nervous and quickly rush to type something on the keyboard? Porn addicts don’t want to get caught, so if you surprise him, he will almost stumble over himself to hide what he is viewing. Note that this behavior as well as the previous could indicate the possibility of an online affair in the making.
Are there a lot of unexplained charges or debits from your bank accounts or credit cards. Porn addicts often spend a large amount of money on paid sites, but most of these sites use innocuous sounding names so as not to tip off family members. Look especially for recurring charges from either the same or multiple companies. If your husband is unwilling to explain the charges, gets angry at you asking or simply does not let you see the financial records, he may be into porn. Note that in abuse situations, the husband often tightly controls the purse strings, so I understand that you may not be able to look for this sign.
Does your husband seem to be less focused than usual? Is he unable to complete tasks that he was able to before? Is he more irritable than usual? More withdrawn? Does he resent you interrupting his time on the computer?
The more subtle signs above can be explained often by other issues in the man’s life, so these need to be taken in context of the whole situation. On the other hand, if you see subtle indicators as well as the more serious ones I mentioned earlier, your husband is probably dealing with a porn addiction.
There are probably other signs that I have missed, but these I know from either first hand experience or through talking with other men who have had the same struggles. I know that dealing with this issue is sensitive and often difficult, both for the man involved and for his family.
Feel free to ask me anything. My wife is fully aware of this post and is willing to help too.
[August 1, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 1, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 1, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 1, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 1, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Posts in this series
Part 1: Is this post
Part 2: A Journey Through the Pornography Sinkhole (Part 2 of Wendell’s Story) — Describes how the Lord brought him out of this pit.
Extra note from Barb Roberts:
On this blog we have a few other posts that partners or ex-partners of porn addicts might find useful.
Resource for Partners of Sexually Addicted Spouses
Archive of all our posts that deal with pornography
Pornography: Lies, Truth and Hope — A helpful booklet by the Mennonite Central Committee, Canada. It can be downloaded for free as a PDF.
If readers have any other resources that they can recommend, please let us know either by submitting a comment below, or by emailing us.