I just found out that my boyfriend's erectile dysfunction stems from an addiction to porn. What now?
posted by BecquerelReindeer to Human Relations (55 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend (38) and I (34) have been together for six months. Both of our previous marriages ended about two years ago - I was married for eight years, he was married for one year. While neither of us would say we are "soulmates" and our relationship isn't a whirlwind of sizzling, over-the-top romance, we love one another, we've had good chemistry from the start, are very physically and verbally affectionate with each other, have compatible values and life goals, and just enjoy each other's company. We have fun and inspire each other and bring out the best in each other. Both of us want to remarry and have a family in the near future, and he is someone I can see myself doing that with. He says that he feels the same. He's definitely a "catch" in many ways, while I'm not so much (divorced mom with a young child, just finishing a degree, very little money, nearing the end of my child-bearing years, etc.)
It became apparent early on in our relationship that he had some type of ED - he can only get and maintain an erection when I go down on him, and then he comes pretty quickly (in about 30 seconds to a minute). We can't have PIV sex at all; even if I get him hard using my mouth, he immediately loses his erection if we attempt intercourse. We haven't actually had PIV sex yet, just oral. He won't (or can't) tell me any of his preferences or turn-ons, so I feel a bit like I've been flailing about trying to turn him on - trying to initiate, suggesting different positions, wearing lingerie and heels, and so on. He initially told me that his ED was anxiety-related and that it was something that had been an ongoing issue for him. He told me that he had seen a sex therapist and that as he became more comfortable with me, the issue would subside. I have been patient with him and haven't pushed the issue, thinking it would work itself out.
Well, obviously it hasn't. This weekend, after getting into bed together and having him roll over and start to fall asleep, I asked him point-blank if he was attracted to me and what we could do together to work toward a more mutually satisfying sex life. I felt guilty, but I was honestly very frustrated from the lack of sex and from his lack of effort. I have a fairly high sex drive and am definitely sexually adventurous and somewhat kinky. Ideally, I would like to have sex once a day (or as close to it as possible.) And yes, I've shared all of this with him. I just didn't feel that we were moving forward as a couple and that things were in danger of completely fizzling out.
He then confessed to me that he is completely dependent on pornography and has been unable (with a few exceptions) to ever have intercourse with a partner. He started using porn at a very young age and has been masturbating to it daily for most of his life. Many of his relationships, including his marriage, deteriorated in large part because of this fact. (I don't know if it's relevant, but he's only had one long-term relationship - his marriage, which lasted just over a year from the time they met until the time they separated.) He told me that the few times he has been able to have PIV sex with a woman, it was "like masturbating using a person instead of my hand", which really upset me. However, he said that he has been doing a lot of reading about his issue and is attempting to "reboot" himself sexually by abstaining from porn and masturbating. He said that this should "rewire" his brain so that he can be turned on by a real woman and not just by porn.
After learning this, I now feel very hurt and insecure because I don't know how I can ever compete with porn stars in the bedroom. I struggled with body image issues when I was younger and have worked very hard for years, both in and out of therapy, to overcome them; I can feel those thoughts rearing their ugly heads once again. (FWIW, even though I'm certainly no 20-year old hottie anymore, I look good for my age - I work hard to stay in great shape and am conventionally attractive, tall, thin, and blonde.) I know he frequents strip clubs and makes comments about hot younger women a lot. He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties, which I find hurtful (that might just be me being thin-skinned and uptight, though). After this most recent revelation, the thought of being intimate with him fills me with dread and shame about my body and appearance. I also dread the thought of a sexless or sexually-unfulfilling relationship. A lot of the advice out there for partners of men who have ED is to focus more on orgasming from oral sex or sex toys, but neither of those things really does a lot for me.
I'm very overwhelmed by all of this. I guess my questions are: if you ever been with a partner who was recovering from this level of porn dependence/addiction, is it really as simple as "rebooting" one's libido, or will this always be a struggle for him, like a drug or alcohol addiction? Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society? Given how compatible we are in very other way, should I try to just get over this or work around it somehow? And finally, how do I not let my body image issues get the best of me?