Question to PMO addicts in long term relationships

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by JohnDoe84, Jul 26, 2023.

  1. JohnDoe84

    JohnDoe84 Fapstronaut

    Hello guys,
    I am 40 years old and I’ve been addicted to porn since my teen years I’d say.
    I am (was) a very shy teen with very low self esteem and I guess porn allowed me to replace the real interactions with girls I couldn’t have because of my extreme shyness and lack of self confidence.

    I have now been in a relationship with my wife for 17 years and have been struggling with different issues for about 15 years…

    The first two years of our relationship were great. We were inseparable and felt crazy in love.
    Despite that I was still watching porn in her back, because this is what I always had been doing, and at the time it just felt normal. I didn’t think of it as an issue.
    I was nevertheless fantasizing on a lot of other girls, all the time. Apart from a fee times where it bothered me, I didn’t pay much attention to it, because the feeling of love was so strong between us that I didn’t pay much attention to it.
    But as the passion of the first months/years slowly decreased it started bothering me more… I was feeling less attracted to her, and I was fantasizing about other girls all the time…

    one day, I got hit by a huge panic attack. What caused that panic attack was the thought that I didn’t love her anymore. How could I ? I didn’t find her pretty anymore, wasn’t attracted to her anymore (sometimes I would even feel disgust and rejection when she’d try to get intimate), and at the same time I’d fantasize about having sex with half of the girls I would walk across in the street. I feel like a dog when I am walking in the streets, just looking and fantasizing about every girl, and I hate myself for that. But I just can’t help it…
    I know a lot of guys do that, but I have the feeling that the extent to which I am doing this is not normal. Girls are just pieces of meat to my eye…

    this thought was, and to this day is still putting me in a huge distress, I guess because deep inside me I love her like crazy, but my behaviors, problems being intimate with her, seem to tell a different story, that I don’t love her, and this makes me sick, litterally. I’ve spent the past 15 years suffering of intense anxiety and sort of OCD, constantly checking how I feel every time I look at her, every time we hug, hold hands to try and see if I am feeling the way I am supposed to feel…
    Very often, on my way back from work, I will imagine our evening, how when I get back home I am going to hug her and kiss her, but when I am in front of her, I just can’t do it, because somehow it feels wrong, or I don’t know why…

    Since I am a not attracted to her sexually I’ve also been looking in extramarital sex, with escorts and hookups.
    In those relationships, I am looking for the sex and the passion, but not for love. Never.

    All of these behaviors are of course completely against all of my values. I used to be very romantic, believing in in true love and faithfulness. I guess some part of me, now deeply burried still does, and the conflict between my behaviors and those core beliefs/values is probably what’s causing all of my problems/anxieties.
    At the same time, if I didn’t have those values so strongly rooted inside of me, I probably would have left my wife years ago and probably would have jumped from failed relationship to failed relationship. Instead, despite of this hell I’m living through every single day, we got married 12 years ago, bought a house 10 years ago, now have 2 kids (6 and 3), which I guess is the sign that I deeply love her and that all the rest are just side effects of my addiction…

    Today I’m really feeling extremely bad, anxious and distressed, and would like to know if you guys can relate to some aspects of what I am describing, or if I am just fooling myself and don’t actually love my wife anymore, but for some reason am just holding to the relationship and I’d be happier with another girl I feel attracted to.
    Is all I am describing symptoms of my addiction to porn/sex ? Am I fucked beyond repair or is there any hope that if I ever manage to stop things could get back to « normal » and I could be happy in my mariage again ?

    thanks in advance
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2023
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  2. Bobske

    Bobske Fapstronaut

    Hi @JohnDoe84 ,

    My advice is, read up on (Porn) addiction. And quit PMO altogether, completely, forever.
    (and exmarital sex of course)
    Everything you describe, the anxiety, the depression, the not being attracted to your wife, the OCD, the disgust and rejection, the panic attacks, it is all because of P(MO).

    Your addicted to a hyperstimulus and your brain gives you all these feelings when it doesn't get it.
    You ar an addict not getting his shot. And everything else seems dull and lifeless.

    It will be very hard (I'm 49 years old, 19 years in a relationships, addicted since teens, haven't had intercourse in over 3,5 years, still struggling to not PMO).
    The will be pain, withdrawal symptoms.

    But do it, for yourself, love yourself, get rid of that extreme shyness and lack of self confidence by experiencing and going through stuff. Running away into PMO etc, only makes you weaker, less confident etc.

    You might confess to your wife. She might leave you.

    You can become a better man and you 2 might fall in love all over again.
    Life, real living is making choices and taking risk.

    I'm discovering all this myself and it is scary

    Read up on it and start. We are here to support you.
    Goog luck
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  3. JohnDoe84

    JohnDoe84 Fapstronaut

    Thanks a lot or your message even if some parts are scary :(
    I have read a lot about porn addiction, and I haven’t found that much I can relate to, not so many things that look similar to what I described. that’s what’s making me doubt whether all of my problems in my couple are linked to my porn addiction or if it is something else :(
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  4. @JohnDoe84 listen to what @Bobske is telling you. He knows what he's talking about...P addiction can definitely cause all the things you describe. It happens to people all the time who are deep in P addiction. There are stories just like yours here in the forums as well as elsewhere. What have you been reading to learn more about PA? Have you checked out Your Brain on Porn? There are numerous articles and studies there discussing the many damaging effects P addiction has on relational and sexual satisfaction as well as other aspects related to your issues.

    No, you're not beyond repair. No one is. If you truly want recovery and to save your marriage and you're committed to doing the work, consistently, you can do it. It won't be easy. It won't happen over night. It will take a lot of dedication and willingness to stick with it through difficult times, but if you do, it will all be worth it.

    Does your wife know about your addiction? Have you told her that you don't feel attracted to her anymore? Regardless of whether she knows about any of this (yet), she's almost certainly going to have her own healing work to do from the betrayal trauma that has very like been affecting her...even if she knows nothing about your addictive behaviors. You need to be honest with her from now on if you really want to save your marriage. So many SO's are as much or more damaged by the lies and deceit as they are from the sexual acting out, and every time they discover another lie, the wounds get deeper and more painful and take even longer to heal. As I said, she will have her own healing work to do while you work on your recovery and trying to rebuild trust.

    If possible, it would be a good idea to seek professional help for both of you...individually at first. It's best if you can each find a good CSAT because it's really important to have someone who specializes in PA and betrayal trauma. Sometimes, seeking help from someone who isn't properly trained can be even more damaging. If there aren't any available in your area, there are many online therapy options you can try.

    Look around and perhaps interact with others who are going through similar situations. Start a journal so you have a place to get out whatever thoughts you have and where can ask others for input. Maybe you can find a support group in your area. They have been very helpful for many others who are trying to get in recovery. Also, you might want to find an accountability partner as they can be helpful as well. Just find whatever works and is most beneficial for you in your situation. Most of all, no matter how hard it gets, don't give up. You and your family deserve it.
  5. ANewFocus

    ANewFocus Fapstronaut

    These are all symptoms of porn and sex addiction. I have a background and addiction story very similar to yours and have experienced almost all of the thoughts you’ve had about your wife and a similar worldview that is created by porn and sex addiction. But porn and sex addiction is a symptom of a deeper problem. Recovery from porn and sex addiction is often a journey to discover what underlying mental, emotional, and physical issues drive you to use porn and sex as a coping mechanism for life.

    You are not broken beyond repair. Repair takes a tremendous amount of work. I started this when I was much younger and though I have struggled to fully eliminate porn, recovery from addiction has made my life better and richer, helped me achieve more career success, more peace in my life and saved me from extramarital sex.

    Life is better on the journey to recovery because once we open our eyes, it is harder to close them again and commit the worst activities that would ruin our marriages, destroy our careers and jeopardize our families and lives.
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  6. JohnDoe84

    JohnDoe84 Fapstronaut

    Thank you very much for your supportive messages :)

    I have read a lot about PA on different websites (including your brain on porn) but never have really find testimonies of people experiencing the same fears and doubts about their SO and the love they have for them (or fear of the lack of it)
    And since this is what is causing me the most pain and anxiety/panic, I was wondering if other people here could relate or not.

    my wife knows about my P addiction, not about the extra marital sex, and she felt very hurt when I told her 15 years ago. her strategy has been to do as if it didn’t exist. She doesn’t want to talk about it, probably because it makes her very sad and hurt.
    She also obviously knows about my lack of desire since our sex life has been almost inexistant for the past 10 years. I told her it is a symptom of my addiction and that I hope to recover and that things will come back then.

    I will try and read more threads here, to try and find people who share similar experiences, which will comfort me in the fact that it is my addiction that is causing all those problems and that the idea I don’t love her anymore is not true and that I shouldn’t be listening to it…
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  7. ANewFocus

    ANewFocus Fapstronaut

    When I was in the worst part of my addiction, my wife was never good enough. Too overweight, too self centered. I would be ready to divorce at the drop of a hat because she wasn’t meeting my needs. It was convenient because it would justify my porn usage, not stopping flirtation from other women and my fantasizing about women in better shape.

    The less I use porn and the more I work on myself, the more I see my wife as the imperfect queen that she has always been.

    There’s an old adage in AA about a man that hated his wife, his children, his boss and his job. He got sober and then found that he loved his wife, his job and his children. They weren’t the problem. Getting sober can be like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing the world clearly for the first time.
  8. Warfman

    Warfman Fapstronaut

    Your ability to express how you feel outwardly is an asset. It's important to work through life experiences, traumas, and pain as you work to remove addiction from your life.

    P addiction can be a coping mechanism for all sorts of things. For me anxiety and stress were particularly typical triggers for me. Some traumatic life events were also quite powerful.

    Continue to assess how you feel like this. Start looking for reasons you are triggered to go to P. I eventually started seeing cycles and patterns of what triggered me to use P to "feel better" or a better way to put that is hide from issues I didn't want to address in my life.

    At first it seemed as if all I really wanted was to be fulfilled sexually, and thought that was my only reason for using P. But slowly I am realizing that it's down the list a ways. It's a real feeling but I made it bigger than many issues that were keeping me from making progress.

    What can be difficult is dissection of what is a real natural feeling, and what is P induced. My experience there is the addiction took even my natural feelings and twisted them up into a pretzel.

    That's where your honesty will really help you out. Be mindful that much of this addiction can be rooted in shame and self loathing. As you work though your cycles and triggers you may find feelings and emotions you've repressed since childhood. Whenever possible find a new way to outlet those emotions. There are already some who have expressed options in this thread.

    Always remember you are never alone, there are people willing to talk with you and hear you.
  9. KevinesKay

    KevinesKay Fapstronaut

    First of all. Welcome. Glad you're here. Sounds like you belong here.

    Second, how did you get inside my head? It's like you're reading my mind. Woah!

    Anyways, I appreciate your honesty and thoroughness about not just the porn and the escorting, but also the lusting. Lusting after women will lower attraction towards my wife in a heartbeat. Then having to resort to fantasy while having sex, and often rejecting her advances because my subconscious is more turned on by someone else. And the oggling. I'm the scopemaster. Always scoping after women. I've been out of control for a long time. And quitting the porn didn't necessarily stop my lust and fantasy, which I did all day long. And craved all day long. So I relate a lot to what you've shared.
    Anyways, being here and accountable helps. Finding a counselor and support group would be a good step and show that you're taking matters seriously. When it comes to lust, I accept that I cannot look without lusting. So it's been easier for me to practice not looking rather than to train myself to practice looking without lusting. Keeping women in my peripheral vision,
    if I don't look, I'm not going to lust.
    And if I don't lust, I'm not going to crave.
    And if I don't crave, I won't cave.
    Game over. I win.
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  10. JohnDoe84

    JohnDoe84 Fapstronaut

    Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your replies.

    To reply to warfman, when it comes to the underlying reason why I am using P, that’s the part where I am struggling to understand.

    I know that ever since I was a kid, I used MO to sooth anxiety and boredom. Later on, during my teen years, my extreme shyness, low self esteem and fear of being rejected, lead me to use P as a substitute to real interaction with girls while my friends were experimenting in the real world and enjoying real relashionships.

    I don’t know why I have been stuck in P and extra marital sex since I met my wife. Is it just out of habit or because it is an addiction but the initial reason is not releavant anymore ?
    One other reason that haunts me is if the reason I am addicted to P is because I don’t love my wife, or am not satisfied with her, but am just too much of a coward to leave her. That idea is a huge trigger of anxiety/panic. It feels so real that very often I myself thinking that it must be true…
    Why am I attracted to so many women but repelled by her ?

    but at the same time, something deep inside me, tells me that I love her. I can’t explain it but I just feel it (even if sometimes my anxiety of not loving her completely mutes that little voice and make me feel terrible to an extent words cannot express)

    @Kevin : that’s actually a good strategy you’ve put in place, not looking. I need to try. I noticed that if I manage not to visit escorts websites, after some time I won’t miss not meeting any. I guess it’s the same principle. Staring at other girls or visiting escorts listing websites keeps the wheel of lust spinning.
    You said I am reading your mind, does it mean that you also are having the kind of OCD overthinking part where you check what you feel towards your SO in different situations ? The feeling of not loving her causing intense anxiety ?
    I would be really useful for me of you could maybe elaborate a bit on which parts of what I am experiencing you can relate.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2023
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  11. Psalm27:1my light

    Psalm27:1my light Fapstronaut

    You were watching ( using) porn long before you met you wife. She is not the problem. Many porn addicts think if they marry, their porn addiction will just stop. It will not, because it’s an addiction. It’s interesting you say your wife repels you, this is many times a symptom of Intimacy Anorexia which about 30 % of sex addicts have. Personally, I don’t believe addicts love anything except their addiction. They don’t even love themselves. Stop all pmo for 90 days then reevaluate how you feel. Took my husband 4-6 months before we stayed to see any changes.
  12. You started using PMO as a (unhealthy)way to cope with uncomfortable feelings. It works because, besides being a way to escape, it also gives you an enormous amount of dopamine. The more you want to avoid dealing with difficult emotions, the more you use...and you become addicted. So, you're using it to avoid/escape, and you're addicted to dopamine. The amount of dopamine you get from P (which is a super-stimulus) is much more than the amount you get from normal, natural things like sex with your wife or any other activity. Nothing else can match it. Once you're addicted, just like with nearly all addictions, you build up a tolerance so it takes more and more to get the same "fix." That's why many escalate, either to more extreme genres or to other acting out behaviors like escorts, affairs, etc.

    This is the reason that getting married/in a relationship does not cure someone's P with a real person can't compete, nor does it fix the underlying problem that made you seek P in the first place.

    This is why P addicts often experience withdrawal symptoms during early're no longer getting the same huge dope hits as before. But, the good news is you can get back to where you're able to once again enjoy things that give you normal amounts of dopamine. You just have to stick with it.
  13. True-Self

    True-Self Fapstronaut

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  14. KevinesKay

    KevinesKay Fapstronaut

    If you think that being married to a better women would have repelled you from seeking out porn or escorts, you are so wrong. I could be married to the most beautiful, amazing, loving woman in the universe. And that addict within me won't seek better, but more. As an addict, I tend to think of people like objects similar to food. Not desiring eating the same food at the same restaurant everyday, I push away monogamy and exclusivity to embrace a hedonistic lifestyle. Thinking of sexual solely for it's physical pleasure as opposed to an emotional experience used to build up love and relationship with a committed partner. And unless I condition my mind to embrace reality, my instincts will lead me to embrace a fantasy where 2 is better than 1, and 4 is better than 2, and 10 is better than 4, and 100 is better than 10, and 1000 isn't even enough.

    Non-users intrinsically know this false way of thinking to be nonsense. When it comes to relationships and sex partners, they know that 1 is better than 2; certainly better than 4.
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  15. Warfman

    Warfman Fapstronaut

    It can take some time to sort through everything. And I most definitely am not finished. I question if this is something that will ever be fully "finished" as stresses and difficultly are all just a part of life.

    I probably spent the last 2 years of my marriage trying to figure out why I wasn't happy. It's interesting how we can for years feel a certain way, change our coping mechanisms and look back and say wow I totally was missing what really was going on.

    It seems many who come here (me included) initially feel that the real reason they aren't happy or fulfilled is because of the sex situation in their lives. Much of that mindset is that if this one little thing someone else can do for me (fill in the blank) was different then I'd be happy and things wouldn't need changing. Typically it's something like if my wife did so and so, looked a certain way, or if she just would have more sex with me, then things would all be ok. While this definitely can feel like the answer, it most definitely is ignoring anything that we can do to change.

    What isn't noticed initially, is that there are deeper issues, just like you are describing. Rejection, self esteem, anxiety, fill in the blank. Sometimes very traumatic ones, (I experienced a heart attack at 29 years old months before our wedding) That we in a way medicate with coping mechanisms like P. In any case I think we become so good at using the coping mechanism to hide from real life issues that we don't even realize they exist.

    Remove the coping mechanism and it becomes apparent what those issues are. The challenge then is feeling them, and learning a whole new way of dealing with them.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2023
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  16. Warfman

    Warfman Fapstronaut

    I think it's important to point out that it seems this is a part of what someone tells themselves, maybe it's a defense mechanism or something. In my opinion I see a trend of people expressing themselves and others not fully relating to how that person feels, I definitely have felt that way. It actually can be quite difficult because so many people here are at different stages of things like grief, forgiveness, recovery, etc. We all have unique life experiences, and we often can say well... "They have it so much easier than I", or "I'm not that addicted", or "That's just not me". In any case this can be a way we convince ourselves to just not change anything, rather than determining that we are ultimately only responsible for ourselves. The best way to determine if this is an issue or not is to try removing it.
  17. Newwaters22

    Newwaters22 Fapstronaut

    Hey man! I see you have got a lot of great advice up here.

    All I would like to add is that you are currently living a double life. And that feels shitty, I was there, haven't been married for so long as you have, so I can't imagine the weight of all that crap on your shoulders. It weights heavily, to me it felt like the floor was gripping my shoulders and pulling me down. Honesty man. You are lacking that fundamental and that puts you in the shadow, conceives shame embarrassment anger etc. Gotta reconnect with your values and honesty will help you. Be honest to yourself and then consider being honest to your partner.

    In relation to your partner, being honest doesn't necessarily imply you confessing anything as it sounds like she may not want to hear it. Which in that case the best way for you to be honest would be to be honest to the recovery. Honesty also leads to accountability, and without accountability it's hard to move forward. You gotta recognize when you are about to slip and tell yourself yikes man I gotta stop that. Or after the fact, recognize that it happened because you didn't stay diligent with your goals whatever those may be.

    Also before re-kindle the spark of love you gotta learn to love yourself. You are destroying your life, as you mentioned, you moral compass got all twisted because of your addiction. You are on a crossroad where you can mend things up and recover that passion for your wife and life, it's there for the taking. Make recovery your passion and life goal and you will see things slowly fall into place.

    There is a lot of information in the forum, there is books and podcast. My advice is to study this, I did. As if I was preparing for a thesis, just going cold turkey wasn't cutting it for me. I have a folder with material on addiction recovery, I listen to podcasts, and read books, took notes on information and methods that people do. Tried counting days, wasn't helping so instead I focused on learning of what I did wrong when I relapsed. Anyway it's a long journey but in the end you will come out a new better man, and at least for me it was worth every time I buried my head under the pillow screaming for my brain to shut up lol. Your brain on porn is an excellent book that will help you see your problem from a scientific aspect and an excellent start point.

    Trully wish for you to find solutions!
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2023
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  18. Lots of good advice on this thread so far. You are definitely not alone. Other men on this forum struggle to love their wives because of this addiction. I know I do.

    Others have already abundantly described the dynamic: the supernormal stimulus of porn makes it impossible for your wife to compete. You said it yourself in your first post--you are afraid you no longer love your wife. But you are comparing your wife to the plastic, fake women of porn. The plastic, fake women of porn have got your mind ramped up to search for more, at all times and everywhere. When you're on the street, you look at women--probably mostly younger women--like pieces of meat. When you're on your bed, your flashing images of women in your head. Porn has blinded you to the truth. You are not able to see your wife--or any other woman--in any way besides something to please you. You have reduced all women down to just the quality of their appearance. You no longer see them as fully human.

    I'm sure you are aware of this, but people on this forum come from different backgrounds--so we have different values, commitments, beliefs, and definitions. I speak as a Christian. One thing that hasn't been noted so far is that I think your definition of "love" is seriously skewed. Love is not a feeling. It is a choice, a commitment, a contract, a covenant. Feelings fade and change and do all sorts of things. And your feelings are going all over the place because you have believed the lie that love is based on what you get from someone else. If your wife is no longer as attractive as she once was, or as attractive as other women you see on the screen, or on the street, then you feel sad and depressed and the feeling of "love" flies out the window. Love is not a feeling, though it may give rise to feelings--happiness, joy, comfort, etc. Listen--and I speak as one learning this same lesson--love is not based on what you get from someone else. Your wife is worthy of love no matter how she looks. And you promised love to her. Her worth is not tied to her appearance. If you think it is, then you're not loving her and you're treating her like a piece of meat. Your children do not become worthy of love because they're cute, or smart, or make you feel good. They're worthy of love just because they're human, and all the more because they are your children.

    I think you can get away from the fear of no longer loving your wife by coming to a better definition of what love is. People on the street are not pieces of meat. And neither is my wife. I made a commitment to love her. I do not always feel like I want to love her. And porn has made it almost impossible to love her. But I am called to love her and getting free of this addiction is going to open the door to love.
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  19. Real Jerry Seinfeld

    Real Jerry Seinfeld Fapstronaut

    Maybe I'm misreading this here, but it sounds as though you want us to reassure you that you do love your wife in spite of your behaviour. I'm not really getting that where the love is in this scenario. You've said it doesn't feel right hugging her, you're not attracted to her, you spent years thinking she wasn't good enough, you've barely touched each other in a decade, and you have sex with prostitutes. I'm not getting where the love comes into it here.
  20. tawwab1

    tawwab1 Fapstronaut

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