How can I move on without betraying his trust?

Discussion in 'Partner Support' started by Deleted Account, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. I discovered my boyfriend's porn addiction about half a year ago and since then he's been determined to fight his addiction for us. Now the event that actually led to him being "exposed" back then was that I discovered his "porn folder" on his phone (he has a habit of sometimes just casually taking my phone and going through stuff, giving me the impression that we don't have anything to hide from each other, so I assumed I could do the same with his (although that was actually the first time that I did it, while he would do it to me regularly in the past 6 months that we had been living together already) Unfortunately, what I discovered in his 'deleted' folder besides what would count as actual pornography was a girl's Facebook profile pictures (3 pictures of the same average-looking girl that pretty much only showed her face), that were obviously in no way whatsoever sexualized or anything of the sort. When I confronted him about these specific pictures, assuming that it was someone he must know since I could not comprehend the sexual attraction in a picture with no nudity or a particularly attractive woman, he told me he did not know this girl personally and he just got a random friend suggestion once and decided that he would just add that suggested friend's pictures to his folder, imagining how she would look like naked, to make it 'pornographic'. When I asked him why he would feel the need to do that with all the actual porn that is out there, he told me he didn't know why. Of course at this point he has deleted his all of his 'material' but of course I never got closure on who that person really is and it still, after 6 months, occupies my thoughts every once in a while. Now by coincidence I've found out about an app that recovers deleted pictures and I am contemplating installing it on my boyfriend's phone so I can do a reverse search on those Facebook profile pictures and maybe find out just who this supposedly random girl is that seemed so attractive to him that he had to permanently download her pictures . Now I know that in some way I would go behind his back by doing that, but it's not because I don't trust him or with the intention of snooping around, it's just for my own peace of mind, although I'm not sure if I'm justifying it wrong in my own mind.. I've tried asking him directly if he remembers her name or the friend she was connected to, but he says he doesn't remember anything about it, and he generally gets mad and defensive when talking about his past, especially about that particular incident. I also tried to go through his friends' friends and find that person, but of course gave up quickly since that is rather pointless. But I just feel like I can't really move on from this feeling of "betrayal" unless I know for sure. Maybe someone could share their perspective on this situation, thank you for reading.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2018
  2. Hi,

    No opinion here at this time about what you should or should not do. But I want to call out some of your wording:

    I say all of this to help you, I mean none of it as an accusation. I hope you take this as helpful.

    You are minimizing your actions. You would not go behind his back "in some way". You would be going behind his back period.

    And you do have the intention of snooping around, that's what you would be doing. And you don't trust him. You may have good reason not to trust him, but you don't. No need to snoop when you trust him.

    Whatever you do, own it. Tell him you did it. You will cause a rupture in the relationship and will have to earn his trust back. Maybe he was lying and you needed to find something out, I don't know. But if you don't tell him, then the tables have turned and you're now keeping a secret. Even if you find nothing in the reverse search, you will still need to be honest about what you did.

    Addicts are often told that if they relapse and don't fess up in 24 hours, it counts as a lie. Same goes here. If you do this, find out what you feel you need to know or find nothiing, and don't fess up in 24 hours, you have lied.

    Peace to you,
  3. Thank you for your honest reply. I understand and realize that I'm contradicting myself there, but that's probably because I want to believe one thing but subconsciously also believe another. Although I know that doesn't make it any better. What I meant to say is that I do not expect to discover something that I know he's being secretive about (sorry, English is not my first language). I do believe him when he says he doesn't know this girl personally. I just feel like I need to know for myself who she is, if that makes any sense. I wouldn't be doing it behind his back if there was another way, that's why I've asked him face-to-face first if he can help me finding out. But I realize that I have to be honest with him either way. Either telling him afterwards, or maybe trying to ask his permission to do what I need to do. I'm not good at expressing my thoughts and feelings, but I appreciate your words.
  4. Thank you for your advice. You are right that my gut instinct has usually been right in the past when I was suspecting something to be a lie. However in this case I'm positive that he really doesn't know this girl, at least not personally, because he is most definitely not the type to go out and meet girls. I've done my own research and found out that it is apparently not that uncommon for guys to use "average" looking girls as fap material, if the regular porn stuff gets boring after a while. Although I can't help but always ask myself why her. But maybe there have been others before. You are also right about the trust issues being a relationship killer. The only way I could and can justify him breaking my trust is that his addiction was/is manipulating his mind.
  5. Hi @AngelofDarkness,

    I totally understand that you feel you need to know.

    This is what I want you to think about: you said you need to know for "closure". I doubt knowing who this person is will actually bring you closure. It may answer some questions but it will create many new ones. There are always more questions.

    I would like to think about this need to know as "control", not "closure". There's uncertainty that you are sitting with and it is discomforting. The natural instinct in uncertainty is a control response. The thing with control is, just like addiction, it is insatiable. There is no amount of control you will have over your boyfriend, over the situation, over the amount of knowledge you have, that will ever be enough. You can't control him. Like @GhostWriter said, he either rises to your level or he does not. And you get to decide what that means. No matter what he does, you get to decide.

    "Having all of the facts" does not necessarily translate into clarity of mind. There's a lot I don't know about my situation with my ex-wife before I left that relationship. Some Psychiatrists were saying she had multiple personality disorder, some were saying narcissism. Whatever, there's no way for me to know for sure. And, you know what, figuring all that out wasn't the basis of my decision to leave the relationship. I still don't know and it doesn't matter. What mattered was that _I decided_ it wasn't the right relationship for me. Having "all of the facts" doesn't necessarily give you that answer.

    Peace to you,
  6. I understand your point and I believe you are right, if I go by what I want to believe (shout out to Agent Mulder). If he doesn't know this girl personally, getting a look at her profile and getting some idea of who she is, won't bring any closure but only more questions, if anything. But maybe my subconscious is still stuck to the image of his addict-self that had been lying to me and going behind my back before. In that case, getting an idea of who she is will at least give me closure on the possible doubt whether he has some personal connection to her or not. I think I'm just trying to tell myself the 'closure for myself'-excuse because I don't want to realize that I still don't trust him when it comes to his addiction, maybe also to protect myself.

    Of course I could never have the closure/control of knowing about every single woman he's ever fapped to. But I don't need to because I know that they were random pictures from the internet. Actual profile pictures from Facebook add a whole new personal dimension to it that has been unsettling me from the start. I can understand that they might offer something new for someone who has become bored or desensitized by 'regular' porn and I know for a fact that he is not the type to have an affair or meet girls behind my back, but maybe that's also why it's even harder for me to understand the motivation behind his actions. Now I'm sure you could ask what would be the big deal if it was just someone he knows superficially but has no interest in being with physically or emotionally, but masturbating to a person he knows in one way or another definitely violates my personal definition of being commited to the person you love. And he knows that.
  7. No, I wouldn't ask that (the superficially part). I get that.

    Are you in any sort of counseling together? If not, tell him you want to do that about this issue. His defensiveness is a definite red flag. If you take that approach, you will not compromise the high ground no matter what the result. If you snoop and are wrong or the results are inconclusive, you will be one down. His defensiveness will turn to offense and the whole situation will get so muddled you'll open yourself up to all kinds of counter-offensive tactics of the addict. Been there, done that. Been there, had that done to me. It's a mess.

  8. Ancheme

    Ancheme Fapstronaut

    Hi AngelofDarkness,

    I'm having trouble with my partner as well at the moment, but it's the other way around since I'm the guy...

    I'm very curious: what will change if you find out that he knew the girl? I might speculate that probably he knew her, but not too well; probably he never slept with her or took any steps to sleep with her, but nonetheless he did know her. She seemed interesting enough to have her pictures saved in a folder, but was still discarded with the rest of the pictures, like a used napkin.

    Will you feel like breaking up with him? Will you feel a relief of confirming what you were afraid of? Will you feel betrayed or devalued because he had pics of a regular girl, not a P star?

    It might be that either jealousy or subconscious desire to sabotage the relationship to go free drive your behavior. If it's the former, you decide what you do. If the latter, you better save your time and just walk away.

    If you decide to use the software, you should know a) it's a bit too late after half a year - such software can only restore things that weren't written over on the hard drive, and with time the chances of rewrite increase, and b) you may never receive your answer, because it's impossible to prove a negative statement - there is always a chance that he did know her even if you have found no evidence. You better move on with your life, whatever "move on" means to you.
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  9. We are not in any counselling, no, we haven't been in a relationship for that long (three years, but the first two years were long-distance) and apart from the whole porn issue, we are pretty much made for each other. I guess it's really best to tell him about my worries and see how he reacts. If he gets defensive and refuses that would only make the whole situation look even more suspicious for him and he would have to come clean one way or another. Thank you for all your advice.
  10. I'm sorry you are having trouble with your partner as well. I hope you will find a way to figure it out.

    I'm not sure if anything will change as in change the relationship itself but for one thing, I personally would have the clarity that he did know her. That in turn would open up a whole new issue about him lying to me and breaking my trust again. Also, I would have to consider how to deal with him having a different idea of commitment than I do. But I doubt that it will lead to me ending the relationship. This really all comes down to the always subjective concept of what cheating means to a person.

    To me personally watching porn is a form of cheating. I know that I'm a minority, and I've always tried to compromise with my boyfriend for the sake of love and respected his view on it and didn't guilt trip or bother him for watching it (even watching it with him while in long-distance; my sexuality prevents me from feeling any sort of sexual attraction/arousal just based on someone's physical appearance, which is why I look at porn differently) before I realized that he actually had an addiction. I also acknowledge that it's not on the same level as what most other people define as cheating, having sex with another person, but I feel cheated on in one way or another. This feeling for me reaches another level if the sexual attraction is expressed not only based in the most superficial way on someone's looks, but also based on a more personal attraction (fucking a prostitute is not the same as fucking a coworker or a friend). I'm sure there's not many people like me, but when I love someone, I've not only fully committed my feelings/my heart to them, but also my body. The latter aspect most people define as they don't want to have sex with someone else while in a romantic relationship. For me that goes further since I do not need to physically be with another person to have a physical reaction based on my attraction to that person. If in a relationship I connect physical pleasure and sexual attraction (although that is nothing you have control over but you can choose to not act on it if you want to) with the person I love, it will just naturally feel wrong to me to to give that to another person. I realize that this connection of sexual attraction and love is not as strong for most other people or sometimes not even present at all (open relationships). I believe you can't cheat if you truly love someone. Either you have a different definition of love so that the other person will feel cheated on, or you were never in love in the first place. If you truly love someone, you would never do anything to hurt them. The problem is when in a relationship the ideas of love are too different from one another. (Maybe this is all trivial information, but there you go)

    When someone feels like they have been cheated on, it's one thing to be able to forgive and move on with the relationship, it's another thing to become aware of the fact that the person you love has a different idea of what love means to them. The feeling of being cheated on can be a temporary feeling, and if the person is able to move on and their partner willing to compromise, it might never occur again. But asking your SO not to fuck other guys is still not the same as knowing she doesn't WANT to fuck other guys because it's an expression of how much she loves you. I'm not saying she would be loving you less by fucking or wanting to fuck other guys, she might love you just as much, it's just a different kind of love. And I think if in a relationship these ideas are too different from one another it can lead to a lot of conflicts and feelings of inadequacy. But what the consequence of this is in my case, I'm not sure myself. I don't have as much life and relationship experience as a 40+ year old person, but I'm willing to find out.

    I'm sure you could be right about these points. About a), I did try the app on my own phone and it had restored pictures that I took over a year ago, but of course that is no guarantee that it will do the same on his phone. What you mention in b) is also a very likely possibility. I don't doubt that the end result of my actions can be unsatisfying, but I feel like it could be worth a try, given I have his permission. I already look back with so much regret thinking that I could have simply tried to reverse search the pictures the moment I found them, but at that point I was just in shock and of course my boyfriend deleted everything the moment he knew I found out about it.

    At this point it just feels like a messy combination of many things. One part of me feels tempted by having the opportunity so close to get closure as in what @TheMightyQuinn said control, which is not necessary to move on and be happy in the relationship. Another part of me wants actual closure on the possibility that he had lied to me and he actually does have some personal connection to her. But if the result is inconclusive, I have no other choice than to be rational and realize that there is no threat to our relationship and hope that with time it will be water under the bridge.
    goodnice likes this.
  11. I just want to say that I agree with you on many fronts. I’m starting to believe that a big part of compatibility comes from similar definitions of love, loyalty, and commitment. If you’re not on the same page, you’re in for a whole lotta hurt. For a long time I naively thought that people were pretty similar in this only to find out that was a huge mistake on my part. A painful lesson to be sure.

    I also agree that when you are devoted to someone it should mean physically, emotionally, and mentally. The others go without saying most of the time but I think too many people underestimate the power of repeated fantasy involving others who are not your partner. Kind of like self-made mental porn guaranteed to make you feel less satisfied with what you have in real life. Plus it promotes ogling and objectification which I am firmly against on several levels. It’s so demeaning and disrespectful.

    It truly sickens me to see the ongoing and escalating commodification of people (especially women) and sex in media today. Distracting and blinding the masses with ridiculous non-news, superficial celebrities, and titillating images because “sex sells.” It’s actually pretty terrifying to watch as we regress in so many ways while advancing in others. Ok getting off my soapbox now.

    It’s so difficult when everything else is perfect but... I remember reading somewhere that when sex is good it’s only about 5% of the relationship. When it’s bad, it’s 95%. Of course what we’re dealing with here is not merely good/bad sex but it still feels like the numbers ring true in the case of this awful addiction.

    Anyhow, thank you for sharing your perspective. It’s good not to feel alone in that. I hope you can find happiness and peace. This is a wonderful place for support and tough love. All the best to you.
  12. Thank you for your insightful and supportive post. I am glad also to see that there are other people who share my opinion.

    I think it's important to be aware of each other's boundaries and respect them to not (unintentionally) hurt the other person. If those boundaries are not the same, one or the other has to decide if they are willing and able to compromise in order to be with the person they love. Then again, I'm not sure if it's right to ask the person you love to compromise a part of who they are, what naturally feels right to them, and if they can ever be truly happy that way. I'm guessing it depends on the person and how big the compromise. I'm sure the easiest solution is to be with someone who shares your boundaries or at least has very similar ones. But unfortunately the easiest solution is not always the best solution, "if everything else is perfect", like you said.

    I agree that it's scary to see how in todays oversexualized society the gentleman species is slowly dying out. At least this forum has given me hope when reading about guys who after quitting porn have slowly been able to see women as people and not just objects to use for sexual pleasure. Porn seems to justify this behavior by creating the illusion that as long as it's a "fantasy" and only happening in your head, it's not bad and not "real". And supposedly all these women in porn have also given their consent to be objectified which certainly doesn't make it any better. And obviously this mentality will affect real life sooner or later, objectifying random people against their own will. This is also what I told my my boyfriend when I confronted him about the pictures, that his behavior was disrespectful to whoever this girl is whose profile pictures he downloaded to use them for his own sexual pleasure. What if she had a boyfriend who most likely would not approve of other guys objectifying his girlfriend, let alone the girl herself.

    If I associate my sexual thoughts (which is directly linked to my sexual arousal) with my SO, why cheat on that with thoughts of someone else? If I associate my sexual arousal with my SO, why cheat on that with sexual arousal for someone else? If I associate my visual sexual attraction (linked to thoughts and sexual arousal) with my SO, why cheat on that with visual sexual attraction to someone else? Why would thoughts and physical reactions not count as real? Or not as real as touching or having sex with someone else? I will never understand that.

    I really appreciate your kind and honest words and I hope you can find happiness and peace as well. Have a wonderful day/night.
    Numb likes this.
  13. Ancheme

    Ancheme Fapstronaut

    I had similar ideas and in part still do. It brought me a lot of pain, especially in my first relationship, when I suffered every time I thought about all the guys my ex slept with and how there wasn't anything at all that made me unique s-xually. How was I supposed to dedicate my thoughts, arousal, attention, and all other things you listed to her if I knew she dedicated these things to someone else so many times? What helped me, besides time and getting older, was hearing a podcast once about s-x anthropology. I thought it might help you too. I feel what you describe as an idea of monogamous relationship is based on the preconceptions of our society, which are based on.... nothing really. People just decided that some things are moral, others are immoral (except for the clear-cut cases, like incest, murder etc.). Read/listen about the topic - I was quite shocked to find out how s-x was done millennia ago or in the currently primitive societies. It took some time to assimilate these ideas in my world view. But it made my life so much easier.

    I'm not advocating for polygamy or cheating. Not at all. I myself wouldn't even want an open relationship. But I also don't feel infinitely guilty and ashamed when my lizard brain pushes thoughts about a random girl I'm looking at higher into my consciousness. It happens. It's what we are. What's important is what we actually do, since this is what is in our conscious control. If the boyfriend is ready to not upset you anymore and try to keep you happy to the best of his abilities, why bother with what came to his mind (unless it's the same girl over and over again, but I hope it's not the case since he got rid of the pics quickly and wanted to stay with you).
  14. Ancheme

    Ancheme Fapstronaut

    Give us a break! :) You think men have it easy? You probably haven't struggled with the question of what it means to be a man. There aren't clear guidelines now. The society is changing rapidly. The economic power is shifting away from men; women aren't so much dependent on men for stability due to the help of their families and the state (at least in Europe); contraceptives are easily accessible and society says it's okay for a woman to have as many partners as she likes; the society protects women even if they walk almost naked on the street (hello summer) - you probably have little understanding of how much it was a struggle to suppress my (read, almost any guy) lizard brain urges during the teenage years and behave 'properly'.. This all leads to an imbalance between the genders and to a rise of an army of "nice" guys (hey... I was one of them.. I hope I was and not am :) ) - women are much less dependent on men for stability and finances, whereas men are still very dependent on women, which leads to pleasing of any of her wishes. P is one of escapes from this, which I'm ashamed of doing myself.

    And we are back to the question of what it means to be a man:

    I can no longer be a good boy, follow what parents/elders told me to follow, and one day a girl would be obliged to marry me and stay with me. Life doesn't work like this anymore.

    I could be a nice guy, but I hate it.

    I could be a gentlemen (in the 19 century sense), but it doesn't combine well with the whole equality thing, because the girl would need to "allow" me to be a gentlemen by playing her part - I can't and don't want to argue time and again over what table we sit at a restaurant, especially if I, as a gentlemen, pick up the tab. I just need to be able to choose.

    I could be a bastard and care only for my wishes and desires, but it attracts unhealthy women. (Well... after the teenage years, cause during that period it attracts all women... Ah... if only I knew the secret when I was 17 :) )

    I could be a good, reliable guy, but women say they marry those guys and then feel bored, so the guy ends up raising someone else's child.

    I could be an exciting guy, but women don't stick around for long, and I'd end up a lonely childless old man living with his mom because she is the only woman that ultimately cares for him.

    So, what does it mean to be a man (or gentleman, if this is the word you'd like to use to describe a 'proper' man)? Thinking about it might be a useful exercise to appreciate the guy next to you.

    P.S.: I may be wrong, about everything. If I am, don't be too cruel pointing it out - I'm not evil, merely ignorant.
  15. Just to clarify from my perspective... we are talking about having such thoughts while with the person you supposedly love and are devoted to. Past relationships are in the past. So I don’t see the link between what we were saying and having a problem reconciling a partner’s past relationships.

    That said, I see nothing wrong with noting attractiveness. That is innate and natural. There are attractive people everywhere. It’s what happens after first glance that matters. Objectifying and fantasizing and lusting for others crosses a line for me. And the influence of PA/SA typically leads to perpetually crossing that line.

    It’s a matter of respect. Both to a partner and to other PEOPLE who should be considered such, not just objects for one’s own sexual gratification. All of this starts in the brain one way or another but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to take accountability for ourselves and our thoughts.

    A lot has changed in those millennia for many societies. Knowing where we came from is important but knowing where we want to go and what we’d like to become may be even more so. Because we can actually do something about that. We can’t change what has happened, we can only learn and grow from it to become better.

    Good luck in your journey.
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  16. I was going to mention one other thing: that finding someone in agreement is what really matters. If y’all are both cool with fantasizing and getting off to others, you do you. It’s about that compatibility factor and being on the same page. It is wrong to portray yourself as being on the same page and then acting very differently. Words and actions need to line up.

    Now re: the rest, I do feel sorry for men. They’ve been raised one way then asked to be another. BUT hopefully now with more awareness we can raise men to be more prepared for the new world where hopefully equality will be the focus and men will realize that in a lot of ways the new perspective is a better one. For everybody. It’s not easy to be faced with the reality of privilege and what that means to others without that privilege.

    How do you think women have felt for those millennia? Forced to rely on men because we had no other choice. Enduring abuse and rape and degradation because we were second class citizens and considered to be the property of men. Feminism believes in men. It wants to raise women up, not bring men down. I sure as hell hope it succeeds but I also worry for the future.

    You mention a lot of types of men and results from that behavior. Have you tried being all of those or is that from movies/tv/forum/hearsay, reply just stereotyping? All women are not the same nor are all men. Why don’t you figure out who you want to be, for you, then be that. The right people will then find their way to you. If I’ve learned anything it’s that any happiness comes from within and from being ones authentic self. I’m still working on that but I’m liking it so far.

    I’m glad you’re here, participating and questioning. I hope you find insight and whatever else you’re seeking.
  17. Kenzi

    Kenzi Fapstronaut

    And I feel the need to ask "how do you think it is for women? Easy? To be the constant prey of man's sexual lust and objectification?"
    How do you think it is...
    You know what... There's too big of a speech here and I just don't have it in me without more coffee.
  18. The soapbox is large for me too. ;) I would say, though, it is nice to see someone who self-identifies potential ignorance and seems to be open to other perspectives and input.

    I’d wager many of those who find their way here show arrogance/ pride/ etc. in the beginning but through the process find a different attitude and outlook along the way. That’s not nothing. :)
    Kenzi likes this.

  19. I don't ever want to be cruel to anyone and I hope I haven't been in my past posts, I apologize if I have. Also, there is no wrong or right. You have every right to share your opinion and I respect your opinion.

    So if you are saying you don't want an open relationship, can I ask, what exactly is the motivation behind you saying "no" to your natural urges when you would have the opportunity to have sex with another woman? Isn't it that in that moment you are thinking you are about to experience something that has become special because it's an expression of your feelings for your SO? Why is that same motivation not there if your natural urges make you want to look at or think of another woman? Don't you look at and think of your SO in sexual ways because of how much you love her in the same way?

    Maybe I chose an exaggerated phrasing there, I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I'm sure it's hard to be a man, but generally speaking, it's hard to be a human being. I'm not looking down on a child that has done or said something wrong, but when you have reached the point that you are an adult, you are fully responsible for your own actions and your judgement of what is right and wrong. Of course, you never stop learning your whole life, but still putting the blame on "nature" after having gone through puberty and having learnt how to deal with your natural urges is a bit narrow-minded, if I may say so.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2018
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  20. EyesWideOpen

    EyesWideOpen Fapstronaut

    I think this is one of the biggest "poor me" speeches I've ever read on these boards.

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